Jawn Lafratta hopes strong public demand will urge Greyhound to add bike racks to make it easier for cyclists to travel between Island destinations.
Lafratta said many cyclists would like to take day trips to Island locations to take advantage of the diverse trails, but current Greyhound policies require cyclists to dismantle their bike and have it shipped on the bus.
He said that can be arduous because the cyclists need to find a bike box, which could mean they have to drive to the bus depot instead of ride, dismantle the bike and find a spot to save the box once they get to their destination. Sometimes shipping is also more than the cost of the ticket, he added.
The Nanaimo man started an online petition, www.petitiononline.com/bikerack/petition.html, which has surpassed 500 signatures to show the company there is support for bike racks.
“That’s a lot of potential customers. It’s a great business opportunity for Greyhound to allow anyone to travel anywhere they want conveniently,” said Lafratta. “Vancouver Island is well known as a cycling destination – it’s great for tourists and great for residents.”
Lafratta received letters of support from cycling coalitions in Nanaimo, Comox Valley, Victoria and Juan de Fuca.
Timothy Stokes, a Greyhound spokesman, said the company doesn’t have any plans to implement bike racks, but there could be a possibility in the future.
“We always look at ways to improve or enhance the customer’s experience,” said Stokes.
Stokes said the company has concerns about adding bike racks on its buses, because of highway speeds and frequent stops.
“Safety is our main concern,” he said.
Lafratta, who lived in Toronto before moving to the Island, cites Go Transit as a company that successfully installed bike racks on vehicles that travel highway speed.
Stokes said Greyhound doesn’t compare its service to that offered by Go Transit.
Go Transit started installing bike racks on its vehicles in 2008. The service is offered on both urban and rural routes on vehicles that can travel up to 100 km/h.
Drew Davidson, a Go Transit spokeswoman, said bike racks were installed to provide customers with innovative, safe, convenient and environmentally conscious transportation options. The bike rack is the same design and technology used on municipal transit systems.
“Throughout this process, the bike rack did not present any major challenges,” said Davidson. “The testing exceeded our expectations and mirrored findings from other transit properties.”