The trouble with light rail and subway, some say, is that it only serves a small area around each station, and that vast areas can be left to dependence on cars. Planners consider mass transit service areas around light rail stations and subway stops to be about 1/4 mile — any farther and you’ll see significantly diminishing interest in making the trek.
But that’s for walking — and not biking.
A Rails to Trails Conservancy report from earlier this year addresses this very issue, noting that “bicycling in particular has great potential to allow more people to access public transportation conveniently. Accessing public
transportation by bicycle can shorten travel times significantly. Because bicyclists travel about four times as fast as pedestrians, convenient access by bicycle can increase the geographic area served by one transit station 16-fold (see map).”
Infrastructure can include on-street bike paths, bike storage facilities and off-street trails.
The New York Times just featured a story about bus rapid transit in Bogota, Colombia — noting that, terminal stations are equipped with huge bicycle parking facilities and a network of bicycle paths and sidewalks were built leading to the stations. (Transportation Alternatives provides more information on providing bike parking at transit stations.)
In Minneapolis, a bike trail runs alongside much of the Hiawatha Light Rail corridor and the city’s Midtown Greenway hooks up to the line. (The rail cars themselves feature interior bike racks.)
In Dallas, The Trust for Public Land has worked with the city to create the Chalk Hill off-street trail, which will directly connect to one of the city’s light rail stations. In fact, Dallas has a greater trail network plan in which there will be six different light rail stations directly connecting to trails currently funded and in the design process. The trails also connect parks and neighborhoods. (A map showing the city’s trail plans with its existing and planned light rail routes can be viewed here.)