Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Buses, Bikes in New Alliance Racks Let 2-Wheelers Go along for the Ride

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Buses, Bikes in New Alliance Racks Let 2-Wheelers Go along for the Ride

Article excerpt

Bicycles and buses aren't supposed to get along. Belching

noxious fumes and hogging pavement, a city bus is usually just

another impediment in a cyclist's path.

That's what makes a new program the Jacksonville Transportation

Authority is developing seem all the more novel.

In January, the authority attached bicycle racks to buses on

three of its routes, a move aimed at cyclists who want to expand

their range.

One of them is Robbert Bouman, who began riding bikes as a

child in his native Holland, a small and densely packed nation

where folks practically live on their two-wheelers.

"I like to encourage anything that has to do with bicycling,"

said Bouman, a 36-year-old Atlantic Beach resident.

"Jacksonville has been rather unfriendly when it comes to

bicycling."

Although he's still dependent on his car, Bouman is

experimenting with the "Buses and Bikes" program.

It starts in the morning with a 1 1/2mile ride to the bus stop,

where Bouman meets the Atlantic Boulevard-to-downtown bus. After

signaling the bus driver, Bouman lowers the rack mounted on the

front of the bus and loads his bike. A spring-loaded arm holds

the bike in place for the journey.

Meanwhile, Bouman, executive chef at the Barnett Center, pays

his fare, grabs a seat and gets out his newspaper. If traffic

cooperates, he can be downtown in less than an hour. For the

rest of the day, Bouman says, he has a cheap and easily stored

vehicle he can use to get around downtown if he needs to.

No one expects to see thousands of cycling commuters fanning

out from downtown bus stops, but it's a start, said Mike

Blaylock, the authority's mass transit director.

"In order to avoid the pitfalls of other high-growth cities, we

are going to need a wider variety of transportation," Blaylock

said.

Thus far, fewer than a dozen people have signed up for the

program, which requires riders to buy a $3 permit (good for five

years) and attend a Saturday training session on how to operate

the bike rack. Once on the bus, cyclists pay the same fare as

regular passengers. …

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