TTC asks cyclists to ‘Rack it and Rocket’

Alaskan cyclists do it year-round, so do the bikers in Fargo, North Dakota, and now, York cyclists have a new option for getting to the Keele campus, one that could become city-wide in the near future.

Pauline Craig racks 'em up“Rack it and Rocket”, a pilot project by the TTC to put bicycle racks on buses, was displayed at Thursday’s “Bikes, Buses & Bagels” event, sponsored by Smart Commute – North Toronto, Vaughan. The project that began in June gives committed cyclists the option to take their bicycles with them on one of six TTC routes in the city’s west end.

Right: Pauline Craig of Toronto’s Cycling & Transit Project Committee racks up her bike at Thursdays “Bikes, Buses & Bagels” event

The most popular route, and the one recommended for cycling to York, begins with the Bathurst St. bus, which begins its run at Bathurst Station and runs north to Steeles Ave. Buses on both the regular No. 7 and All-Night No. 310 routes are equipped with the new racks which can accommodate two bicycles at a time.

Pauline Craig, a member of the City of Toronto’s Cycling & Transit Project Committee, who said she regularly uses the “Rack it and Rocket” service, travelled to the Keele campus Thursday by taking the Bathurst  St. bus to Steeles Ave. and riding her bike west. For riders who want to avoid heavy traffic, Craig recommends the route indicated on the city’s cycling map, which begins at Drewery Ave. and travels west along bike paths and streets through G. Ross Lord Park and the industrial areas east of Keele St.

 bike routes to York

Above: A detail from the City of Toronto’s cycling map showing routes to the Keele campus from the Bathurst St. bus route

Craig said the service will be evaluated by the TTC after the pilot project ends in June 2006 and recommendations will be sent to the city’s cycling committee.

If the service is implemented, Toronto will join a growing number cities in North America with bike rack programs. Craig said Ottawa’s program is the most discussed, although there are many similar programs in both Canada and the US.

Toronto’s hardiest cycling enthusiasts will be pushing for year-round services, such as the ones in Alaska and Fargo, although some municipalities only run their services seasonally.

Craig says the service is being used by people coming from the northern and far east and west ends of the city. “I have a sense that it would be popular in a lot of places,” she said. “The Bathurst route seems very popular, because it’s central and runs all the way to Steeles.”

Bikes can be loaded at any time of day. During off-peak periods, if the rack is full, the TTC says bus operators may allow cyclists to bring their bike on board, if space permits. During peak periods, if the rack is full, cyclists must wait for the next bike-rack equipped bus.

For more information, visit the “Rack it and Rocket” pages on the TTC Web site.