Should RIPTA increase bike capacity??



Should RIPTA increase bike capacity??

bike on RIPTA bus rackThe question of expanding capacity on Ripta’s bike racks came up at a recent meeting between a group from the Ripta Riders Alliance and RIPTA planners.  Currently just about all the regular full size 40 ft buses have bike racks that can carry 2 bikes (at no charge beyond the passenger fare.)  The 35 ft trolleys that are used on the RIC to East Side Market #92 line don’t have a rack at all.    However, due to overcrowding on the west side (RIC to Kennedy Plaza) they may have to split the route to use the bigger full size buses there, but those couldn’t run thru to the East Side due to tight turns required near East Side Market.

Racks that can carry 3 bikes are available and could be phased in.  However, there are some lines (for example #56 Chalkstone) with tight turns that might make carrying 3 bikes problematic.  We were told RIPTA operations do not permit the buses to be segregated by route so they are reluctant to order the 3-bike racks.

So there is a question about how important it is to the bike community to press RIPTA to solve the problems to allow expanding of bike carrying capacity on the buses and trolleys.  What do folks think?




  • Mark Dieterich
    Dec 6, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    I live along the 60 line. Between late Spring and early Fall, if you aren't getting on a bus at either Kennedy Plaza or Newport, you can pretty much forget being able to get your bike on a bus. It would certainly help to have an extra slot along this line, but what would likely help even more is RIPTA just maintained their existing racks! I've occasionally used the RIPTA racks when I was in a hurry and paid the price last year. Coming across the Henderson, we hit a bump and I saw my bike go down. It ended up being suspended by the front wheels sideways on a the rack, completely destroying my rear wheel and torquing my front badly enough that it actually twisted my front fork! The bus driver was nice enough to pull over and let me collect my bike, but when I went to do so, the arm literally separated into two and came off. RIPTA wanted to hear nothing about repayment for the damages, their opinion is the cyclists assumes all the risk. While I understand that mentality, I think it goes without saying that the customer should be comfortable in knowing that the racks are properly maintained. I got nowhere when I even tried to get them to assure me this particular rack would be fixed! Needless to say, I'm done ever putting my bike on a bus. Unfortunately, this means if I'm in a really big hurry, I'm often defaulting to the car 🙁

    • Jen
      Dec 7, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Yes, it's too bad about no route segregation of buses, because I feel like the 60 would be a particularly useful route to have more bike space on. Half the route between PVD and Newport is very bike-friendly (along with Newport itself), but having the option of RIPTA in between would be very valuable. The few times I've had to put my bike on a RIPTA rack inside PVD due to flats, there haven't been any other bikes in the way, so more racks don't seem necessary for most routes…

  • Randall
    Dec 7, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    That's too bad that RIPTA didn't pay for what it did to the bike. I can confirm from personal knowledge that they DO pay when a RIPTA bus accidentally clips off a car's side mirror.

    It would be great to have bigger racks, and to maintain the racks better. The more people who speak up about making larger-capactity racks, the better.

  • James
    Dec 7, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    What's the cost of this? If RIPTA didn't put the money into bigger racks, would it still allot the money to other bike purposes?

    I'd like to see bike share more available around the state, not just Providence (where it's coming soon). I think that a great focus would be to get bike share of some kind around the URI campus/Narragansett/Peacedale/Wakefield area, and in the denser small towns like Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket. Those are places where I've often taken my bike on the bus with me, and it would help to not have to worry about whether 2 (or 3) bikes have already taken my place.

    If there's a way to balance to cost-benefits of those two models of bike access, I'd like to hear it.

    • Mark Dieterich
      Dec 7, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      To the best of my knowledge, I don't think that RIPTA has any connection to the various bike share initiatives happening around the state. RIPTA is struggling enough trying to keep the buses running, without cutting routes, I don't seem them expanding into the bike share business.

  • Dec 9, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I think concerns about lengthening the buses are overblown, Most of the 3-bike racks I've seen in other cities manage to fit 3-bikes into space that is about 6 inches longer than the current 2-bike racks, I'd suggest that they just start ordering new buses with the larger racks.

    Of bigger concern to me is the user of the Trolley's as a primary vehicle. It has reduced seating capacity, and no bike accommodation. Since the 27 has been eliminated and replaced with the 92 on the Atwells run, there's a whole corridor of the city that doesn't have RIPTA+Bike coverage for passengers. RIPTA should sell the trolleys to some other agency and put full size buses back on this route.

    To Mark's point, RIPTA's policy needs to be fixed. They don't even take responsibility for maintaining the racks.

    Rack N’ Ride Safety
    For a safe and secure trip, please follow these
    Tell the driver you plan to load or unload your bike, as he or she may not see you.
    Always approach and load from the curbside and load your bike in the outside slot if empty.
    For safety reasons, the driver is not allowed to help you load or unload your bike.
    Bikes may be loaded and unloaded at any designated RIPTA stop only.
    Motorized bikes, bikes with child seats, large carriers or other attachments are not allowed.
    The user of the bicycle rack assumes all responsibility and all risks with respect to the
    use of the bicycle rack and any consequences which may result from said use, including but not limited to physical injuries and/or damages to personal property. The RI Public Transit Authority is not responsible for the functioning or functionality of bicycle rack equipment and assumes no liability for any physical injuries and/or property damages which may result in any defect, within or upon the said bicycle rack.

  • Cyclist
    Dec 11, 2013 at 10:46 am

    The Henderson strikes again. Call it Hinder, son. Forget Rack-n-ride. Ride that bike instead. Only time I ever used it was to cross the Newport Bridge from Town Center while wondering why they don't suspend a cable car beneath for cyclists and pedestrians to get to Jamestown. Then again, you need bus again to cross Jamestown Bridge although it is easily traversed on 2 wheels in its wide shoulder and restricted only by repressive edict.

  • Dec 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I take RIPTA to work in the Cranston Industrial Park. Starting in January, they'll be discontinuing service past the WalMart on Plainfield Pike. Since that means those of us who work in the industrial park will now have to find another means of travel (it's about a mile, depending on where you work), I certainly hope RIPTA will add more bike racks!

    • Mark Dieterich
      Dec 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm


      This is a good argument for adding additional bike rack space. I wonder how many other routes are being shorted by RIPTA and if RIPTA has any idea how many people currently ride their buses beyond the new stopping points. All of these people will need to resort to some other form of transportation now; walking, biking, or a cab.

    • Dec 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Plainfield Pike is a long climb to Walmart. Once past, you could pedal a mile.