Denver Bike on Bus Survey

 RTD bike-n-ride Survey Overview


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The 1999 bike survey was prepared in October 1999 by Kent Epperson of the RTD. This note is a brief summary of that report. For a more detailed report and/or methodology contact the RTD.
On July 21, 1999 a district wide Bike-n-ride on-board survey was conducted.
The purpose of the new survey was three fold;
1)To estimate the number of bikes brought on board RTD bus on an average weekday.
2)To gauge how the bike racks on buses may have changed travel behavior, and
3)To inform the bike passengers of the proper bus bike rack loading procedures.
The survey results were favorable. Based on the survey it is estimated that RTD experiences approximately 2,300 bike on bus trips on an average summer weekday. This number is equivalent to almost 1.4% of all RTD weekday bus boardings. The survey results also answer several important questions about bike on bus travel behavior, such as, why passengers use the bike on bus service, how often they use the service and what they would do if the buses were not equipped with bike racks.
Survey Results
•    It is estimated that there are approximately 2300 bike on bus boardings on an average weekday
•    About 1.4% of all summer RTD bus boardings are bike passengers
•    Approximately 50% of the bike on bus trips are new transit passengers (i.e they would not take transit for the trip they were making if buses were not equipped to carry bikes).
•    69% of the summer bike on bus trips occur on Local bus routes
•    An average Boulder based Regional trip carries approximately 3X as many bikes an an average RTD Local bus trip.
•    Boulder bike on bus ridership has doubled since 1996
Most popular bus routes for bicyclists (bikes per weekday)
•    B - Boulder to Denver (172)
•    Skip - Broadway in Boulder (143)
•    0 – South Broadway in Denver (96)
•    76 – Wadsworth Crosstown (94)
•    16 – West Colfax (64)
•     0L South Broadway Limited (56)
Bus routes with the greatest proportion of bike passengers (percent of weekday riders)
•    Y Lyons to Boulder (21%)
•    N Nederland to Boulder (14%)
•    160 Brighton Circulator (11%)
•    128 Broomfield Wagon Road (8%)
•    125 Denver West Crosstown (8%)
•    228 (Broomfield to Louisville (6%)
Survey Questions
1- Why do passengers bring their bike on the bus
Cover a greater distance – 65%
Bicycle at destination – 64%
Quicker than walking – 61%
Avoid transfers – 28%
Foul Weather/Breakdowns – 28%
Avoid parking hassles – 11%
2-If  buses weren’t equipped to carry bike passenger would
Bike and not take bus – 37%
Walk to bus – 34%
Drive and not take bus – 27%
Lock bike at stop – 22%
Drive to park and ride – 6%
3 – How often passengers bring their bike on the bus
3-5 days a week – 57%
Very infrequently – 22%
1-2 days a week – 15%
2 days a month – 6%
Estimated Air Quality Impacts – These  numbers are based on 33% of the respondents who would otherwise drive to their destination  (27%) or to a park and ride (6%) see the full report for methodology.
1-Reduction of Vehicle Miles Traveled
2-Annual Reductions in Air Pollutants (Tons)
CO Carbon Monoxide- (6-9)
Nox Nitrogen Oxides (19-26)
VOC Volatile Organic Compounds (169-230)
PM-10 Particulate Matter <10 micrometers (4-6)
Cost Effectiveness –
Initial Cost – $418,000
Annual Marketing/Maintenance Costs – $45,000
New summer weekday passengers – 1,100
Cost per new bike on bus user – $1.58
Cost per bike on bus user  - $0.28
Cost per each Vehicle Mile Traveled reduced  - $0.31

The number of summer weekday bike on bus trips is far greater than originally anticipated. Based on the survey, it is estimated that RTD serves approximately 2,300 bike passengers on an average summer weekday. The responses to the questionnaire were also revealing Most summer bike passengers are regular RTD customers, using the service at least once a week. They tend to favor local and Regional bus service over Express and Limited service, and choose to use the bike on bus service because it improves the efficiency of their trip and enables them to have a bike at their destination. To be expected Boulder based routes have a greater proportion of bicyclists than do Denver based routes.
The most meaningful findings were derived from the responses to question #2 regarding mode choice. The survey results indicate that many of the bike passengers would choose to drive a car rather than take transit if the buses were not equipped to carry bikes. This can be translated into measurable VMT reductions and an improvement in Air Quality in the region. Furthermore the survey has shown that the RTD bike on bus program is a cost effective way to attract new passengers. When calculation g the annualized costs for the bike on bus program, the cost per user, cost per new user and cost per VMT saved are quite low.
While the bike on bus survey is accurate in describing summer weekday bike on bus travel behavior, weekend and winter ridership was extrapolated using Boulder Bike on Bus counts conducted in 1996-1997. Follow-up surveys will be needed to further validate the results of this survey and winter bike on bus ridership.
In addition, bi-annual bike counts should be counts should be conducted over the next one or two years to monitor bike ridership during the startup phase of the program. Current bike carrying capacity is limited to two bikes at a time. While there appears to be surplus bike carrying capacity at present bike passenger pass-ups do occur on occasion. Future surveys should identify the extent and location of bike passenger pass-ups resulting from limited bike carrying capacity.
Having more complete bike on bus data will help RTD set future bike on bus policies and make additional bike on bus service improvements to respond to the changing needs of RTD bike on bus passengers.