A number of bright and colourful metal bicycle racks have been popping up around Airdrie recently. The bike-shaped racks are the work of Airdrie Transit and are intended to answer a need for customers, according to Transit Co-ordinator Chris MacIsaac.
“We have a number of locations where our customers were basically looking for somewhere to put their bikes,” he said. “They were locking (them) up to trees, to sign posts, to construction fences and then boarding the bus. We didn’t have the infrastructure in place to support what their needs were.”
With that, the idea for installing bike racks at a number of popular bus stops was born.
“I think we’ve grown to the point now where we need to provide some options for our customers, whether they’re walking to a bus stop or, in this case, biking to a bus stop,” MacIsaac said.
Nine of the vibrantly coloured bike-shaped racks have been installed so far. The eye-catching racks were chosen for a couple of reasons, according to MacIsaac.
“The city started talking internally about the need to create identity and placemaking and thought this is an opportunity for us to step out of the box, per se, when it comes to bike racks and go from your very standard, utilitarian type of bike rack and look at something that would have a little more identity and would stand out from the landscape,” he said.
According to MacIsaac, the bikes have been placed at bus stops that are frequently used by transit customers, including the stop on Sierra Springs Drive near the Airdrie Co-op.
“That’s a major hub for our customers using the Route 900 service from east Airdrie,” he said. “We have a number of customers that are biking over, (at) all times of the year, to reach that Route 900.”
MacIsaac said the bike racks are being placed along the core bus routes. Each rack costs $770 and has been funded through provincial GREENTrip grant funding and the federal Public Transit Investment Fund.
More racks may be added in the future, based on usage.
“We’re going to gauge how things go,” MacIsaac said. “As we grow, as we continue to put more infrastructure in the ground, we’re going to look at the opportunities to put more bike racks (up).”
Although Bike Airdrie – a local organization which promotes safe bicycling in the community – was not consulted during the initial discussions to install the bike racks, MacIsaac said he felt there would be opportunities to collaborate with the group in the future.
The installation of the first of eight bus shelters will begin Dec. 2, according to MacIsaac.
“This year you’re going to see eight shelters go up,” he said. “The locations are southbound along Eighth Street, which I would consider one of our main transit corridors for local and ICE service – at Canoe Drive, at Bayside Drive, at Bayside Boulevard – they’re all highly utilized stops.”
The shelters will help keep customers out of the elements while waiting for their bus, something that has been lacking to date. One of the locations MacIsaac said will get a shelter that will really benefit customers is at Gateway Drive.
“It’s westbound Gateway Drive, very close to the Superstore,” he said. “It’s a transfer point for our local transit. It’s an ICE stop. It’s one that’s been identified numerous times by our customers that we need to have some type of protection from the elements.”
The bus shelters will be solar powered. A total of 24 shelters will eventually be installed by the end of 2018. Each shelter costs $14,000, including installation. The project is funded by GREENTrip as well as a number of federal programs, including the federal gas tax.
According to MacIsaac, the City is currently working with an advertising provider on a contract to allow advertising on the shelters to provide the City with some funds to offset on-going maintenance costs. Local artists will also have a chance to showcase their work on the shelters.
“We’re looking at placing some creative elements, some artistic artwork or wrap on panels of the shelters” he said. “There’s opportunities for the business community to promote their business or service on the shelter or for our artistic community to showcase some of their talents.”