SEPTA Is Trying to Become More Bike Friendly
SEPTA Regional Rail is booming. Last year the service set a ridership record: 37.4 million trips were made last year. To meet demand, SEPTA is buying new locomotives and looking for bi-level railcars.
But there’s a bottleneck in the system: parking. The largely diminutive lots surrounding SEPTA’s regional rail stops in the suburbs are usually jammed.
One potential answer? Bikes. SEPTA’s 2016 budget includes $3 million for new bike infrastructure at 15 regional rail stations over the next three years, Next City reports. It’s one key element of the agency’s new Cycle-Transit plan, which aims to make SEPTA more convenient for the growing number of bicycle riders. As the plan puts it:
For SEPTA, the benefit of better integration with the bicycle network is increased system capacity. At a time when SEPTA’s ridership is near quarter-century highs and auto parking lots are approaching maximum utilization, encouraging cycle-transit use can serve as a relatively inexpensive strategy to grow and accommodate ridership … Research consistently demonstrates that tight integration of bicycle and transit infrastructure and policies can expand the reach of the transit network, improve the connectivity of the bicycle network, and have the combined effect of reducing private automobile use and ownership. Reduced private automobile use and ownership, in turn, makes the region’s overall transportation network more efficient and sustainable
To do this, SEPTA would like to make it safer for bicyclists to get to its stations, more convenient for riders to store their bikes when they get there, and expand opportunities for riders to take their bikes onto SEPTA vehicles.
Today, cycle-transit integration in Philadelphia is promising but patchy: All regional rail stations have a limited amount of bike parking, but suburban stations often are difficult to reach without a car. A limited number of bicycles are permitted on subways and regional rail during off-peak hours only. Bike racks on buses and trackless trolleys can carry two bikes at a time. Trolleys can’t accommodate bicycles at all. (Folding bicycles are an exception; they are permitted on any type of transit at any time.)
In addition to more bike parking at more stations, SEPTA’s new plan calls for exploring new bicycle pathways in the ‘burbs along unused SEPTA right-of-ways. The agency is also going to consider easing restrictions on taking bikes onto its vehicles during peak service hours.