Licence plate surveys have revealed some commuters drive less than 400m to park at crowded Perth train stations each morning, prompting calls for more to be done to encourage cycling and walking to work. The car parks are overflowing at all of these stations, and you can’t get a spot if you arrive after 8am in a lot of places.
The Yahoo7 article is here, and is topical because the State Government is rolling out $50 million expansion of train station carparks, adding an extra 3000 bays along the Mandurah and Joondalup lines.Rail commuters cause tensions in our local neighbourhood too, parking in retail car spaces and taking up the bays that legitimate retail customers would use.
The article states that cycling advocates have been requesting secure lockers and showers at stations! I am not sure which cycling advocates they have been speaking to – but I am not sure a shower is necessary after a 400 metre ride to the train station!
Anyhow, one of the issues with train stations is the lack of secure bicycle parking. If you are going to leave your bike at any train station, it better be a cheap one, and you better be prepared to arrive back at your steed and find pieces missing. I parked my BMX on a station platform once, locked to the U-rails. I would not ordinarily ride to the station, but I had sprained my ankle, and I wasn’t up to walking there, so I rolled. When I got back from work and hobbled off the train, I discovered that someone had stolen the (quite nice) handlebar grips off my bike!
The Public Transport Authority is now starting to construct ‘Lock n Ride’ bike cages, which are accessed by a registered Smart Rider, and have U-rails inside to which the passengers secure their bikes. The smartrider registration process adds an extra level of security, and theoretically makes it harder for someone to casually steal components from your bicycles. The whole concept has been discussed here on the Australian Cycling Forums.
The PTA informed us that there were new cages planned for Midland, Maylands, Guildford, Bassendean and Bayswater, and that most would be built by the end of June 2011!
The problem is that the cages are being built, but not quite finished off. The lock-n-ride bike cage at Maylands has been put up and padlocked shut for at least a month. The machine that reads your smartrider to unlock the cage is there, but isn’t turned on.
Bike commuters to Maylands Station are still stuck chaining their bikes to the fence. There is still no sign of the Bayswater cage being built, although I have heard that the Guildford and Midland ones are in the process of being constructed.
The other issue I have with this lock-n-ride system is that you can only sign up to access one cage on the train network, and your ‘sign up’ to the cage expires if it goes unused for a certain period of time. Only a certain number of passengers can sign up to use the bike cage. Time will tell if this is overly restrictive and will lead to less than optimum usage levels of the bike cage. They have to get the system working and remove the padlock first!