a 95 bus with a vacant rack & roll setup. photo by Simon Cremer
The Ottawa Citizen had an article on OC Transpo's Rack & Roll program yesterday, and users--or, more accurately, one user and one cycling advocate--criticized the program for it's unreliability and inconsistency.
From the Citizen:
Buses on nine OC Transpo routes are supposed to be equipped with fold-down bike racks over the front bumpers, under the “Rack & Roll” program that runs from April to late October. But cyclists report buses on these routes often show up without racks.
The racks, when present, are handy: Cyclists can take their bikes from home to the bus, and then from the bus to their workplace. Of course, it doesn't always work that way, as not all buses can be outfitted with the racks, not all those that can be outfitted are, and sometimes the racks are already full.
Overall, it can be a difficult problem to address. There isn't really a good reason for certain suitable buses not to have the racks installed (apparently 350 buses have racks on them, and "most trips" for routes 12, 85, 95, 96, 97, 99, 101, 106 and 118 are supposed to have bike racks). But as the service becomes more commonplace, it becomes more popular, and as it becomes more popular, it will become a rarity for cyclists to have a spot in front of their bus. Expanding racks to more than two cycle-slots would have to be a challenge, for the designer as well as the operator who has to navigate that bus.
If Ottawa had the Bixi bike rental service set up in time, though, maybe people wouldn't even have to bring their bikes with them...