Save our Suburbs: Bike-Train Integration

Why bike-train integration, you ask? Because I believe the bike-train combination is the single most direct competition to suburban automobile travel. 

Imagine a world where it is fun and effortless to bike to the train station. 

The bicycle is a powerful tool, but used alone, it is no match for our barren suburban landscape. The distances are simply too great. As with the bike, Jarrett Walker said that transit is an instrument of freedom, but it alone is also no match for suburbia. One may think this is a hopeless situation. 

Inspired by examples in both North America, Europe, and examples from around the world, I see the power of the bike-train as an innovative transportation modality. The train empower cyclists to travel further and faster than ever before. Meanwhile, the bicycle expands the catchment area of train stations by 16x compared to walking alone; all in less than one-twentieth the space needed for car parking. 

Car-Train vs Bike-Train

Let's take a Toronto region example Clarkson GO station and compare it to Utrecht Centraal in the Netherlands:

Clarkson GO station: Around 2,500 spaces for cars. 

Utrecht Centraal: Around 20,000 spaces for bikes. 

In Clarkson, black asphalt and parking grids as far as the eye can see. In Utrecht Centraal, you are within walking distance to the historic city centre. Want a cup of coffee? Take a seat by one of Utrecht's beautiful canal cafes. 

Maybe we will not get to 20,000 bikes, BUT let's just aim for 1 percent. If I see 200 bikes parked at Clarkson GO station, that would be a worthwhile and proud accomplishment for me. And 20,000 bikes? Imagine the parking garage at Clarkson GO station filled with bikes. Is that such a wild future?