Bike Trains: All aboard!

Some of you may be wondering after reading the title, what is a bike train, others might be assuming these are real passenger trains that allow bikes on. So let me break down for you what a bike train is. Bike trains are a group of bike commuters that meet up along different points of a defined route to achieve greater safety by riding in packs. Bike train usually have a leader which most bike train organizations call the conductor (sticking with the train theme), and this conductor leads the group along a route looking out for the other cyclist and making sure the group arrives at their stated time points to pick up other riders on schedule. There are many examples of bike trains throughout the Commonwealth and Nation, one example would be the bicycle convoys Boston Bikes talks about on their website and another example would be the bike trains written about a few issues back in Bicycling magazine that take place in Los Angeles California.  

Bike trains are usually formed in the communities they are in due to a need for greater cyclist safety. This desire for greater cyclist safety is what prompted the creator of Los Angeles' bike train network to develop her website and launch her cycling initiatives. The reasons she mentioned for starting the network are pretty much the reason people here in Brockton and her suburbs state to be the reasons they do not bike to work. The issues being the concern about riding in traffic, safety,  which streets are more conducive to cycling, how do I get from point A to B by bicycle, and what equipment do I need and what should I bring with me to make my bike commute a success. 

These issues here in Brockton and her suburbs are no different than those in Los Angeles, which means Brockton and her suburbs should have a bike train network and there is no reason it cannot be as successful as they are in Boston and Los Angeles. Now that I have made this statement, you are probably wondering along which roads and through which towns would these bike trains operate. If you follow the link below, you will view Velo Urbano's proposed bike train network : https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z74_sxby72As.kVwh_UWPu0kM

My reasons for choosing the routes that you see in the map are due to those routes having lower traffic volumes in some cases, others having nice wide shoulders one could ride their bikes in, and another being that the selected path made the most sense in that particular town the route would travel through. The way these bike trains would work is that a group of people would form a bike train, time points would be set for the stops posted on the map, and people would jump on to the train as it rode by their location along the route. There could be one large single bike train group that would travel a particular bike train route, or their could be multiple groups traveling a particular route at different times of the day. This bike train network could also augment an individuals commuting mode. Lets say a person needed to take the train into Boston, however, this person does not live near a commuter rail station, this individual could link up with one of the bike train routes that goes by a commuter rail station. By utilizing the bike train network, this individual would be able to ride in comfort knowing he/she is safer due to riding in a group and would be saving money by not having to park his/her vehicle at the train station.

Bike trains are not just for the adult commuter. A special form of bike train geared towards school children, both High School and younger could be established to give students a fun alternative to walking or being driven to school. The benefits of having a school bike train is that it gets kids out riding their bikes giving them some exercise all a while helping alleviate the traffic congestion a lot of schools experience during the morning and afternoon child pick up periods. Now I understand parents reading this might be shocked at the idea of letting their children ride their bikes to school out of the concern for safety. However, safety is what bike trains are all about and bikes trains that have children in them tend to have a higher degree of safety built into them as they should be. The common practice with bike trains that have children in them, is that they not only have one train conductor, but they usually have two to three conductors. Bike trains with children in have one conductor leading the group and another conductor riding at the end of the group making sure the kids remain safe while riding and helping fix any mechanical problems they might have.  When a bike train involving kids has a third conductor, this is just one more additional person out there making sure the kids remain safe and that above all, the kids are having a great time riding their bikes to school.

Brockton and her suburbs need to have a good and effective bike train network people can utilize to get to work or school and back. Having a comprehensive bike train network will not only keep people that bike to work and school safe, but encourage people to commute to work by bike. Having more cyclist out on the roads will also be a boon for those that travel by other modes of transport, as it will help reduce car traffic since there will be less cars on the road, and help speed up travel times for those drivers and transit users since there will be less car traffic reducing travel speeds and causing delays. Lets also not forget the benefits to the local economy having more cyclist out on the road will bring due to an effective bike train network. Having more bike commuters out on the road will also bring local business more money since cyclist tend to spend more money at local establishments than automobile drivers. Have a bike train network will not only benefit those that choose to bike to work, but those that choose to travel to work by other means and to those business owners that these bike commuters will frequent.