This caught my eye: a commuter at Aircraft station:
…uses the station five days a week and said she had given up trying to get a park at the station.
“Because of the traffic congestion on Point Cook Road and because of the lack of car parking facilities at the station, I choose to walk or to cycle to the stationStar Weekly, 2/4/2019 “No love for Aircraft train station“
If someone walks or cycles to the station instead of driving, is that actually a bad outcome?
“The footpath’s broken, it’s very narrow, the railings either side of the footpath are inadequate and inappropriate.
“I lock my bike to the fence … there’s just no bike security.
All of these could be fixed without just giving up and expanding the car park at huge cost, so it fills up a few minutes later each morning, and generates more car traffic into the precinct.
Unfortunately, it looks like the nearby level crossing removal won’t provide upgrades to the station either way.
Bike cages? Or something else?
In Europe and Asia, you see huge numbers of bicycles parked at railway stations. Could we get the same outcome here?
(The image above is from Singapore; the image at the top of the post is from Bruges, Belgium.)
I’m not sure a cage is necessarily much more secure than locking a bike to a fence. Almost anybody can get a bike cage card key. And bike cages are pretty expensive to install en masse – around $100,000 for a standard cage (fitting 26 bikes). That’s a lot cheaper than car parking, but still quite pricey.
I’ve been reliably informed that bike theft can be a problem, but it almost never happens if a D-lock is used – because D-locks can’t be cut through with bolt cutters.
(Angle grinders are a different story. This is why many people use a cheap bike to park at the station, not an expensive one that may attract thieves.)
The Aircraft commuter’s situation is not unique. Many people would like to drive to the station. They’ll never be able to do so, because providing a car spot for all of them is completely impractical.
Station car parks are often very prominent, usually taking up more space than the station itself, but that’s because cars take up so much space. The statistics show that most people don’t drive to the station. Not even in Zone 2.
Most people walk, cycle, or catch a bus or tram to the station because it’s the best (or least worst) option for them. Given costs of providing station parking make it impractical on a large scale, it’s good that most people can find another way.
But the article is right – bicycle parking could be a lot better than it is.
The next station out from Aircraft is Williams Landing, which has 666 car park spaces  – also full early each morning.
It turns out that a lot of people are cycling to Williams Landing.
When I took a look one weekday afternoon, I found the bike cage was packed full of bikes.
…and nearby, this fence had a long row of bikes along it.
This is good. The more people cycling, the better.
So what’s the best way to encourage even more people to cycle?
Better bike lanes and paths will help, but if every fence already has a bike chained to it, what about more station bike parking, on a large scale?
If more Parkiteer bike cages are expensive, are there cheaper options?
Turns out the Department of Transport and Monash University have been working on something: The Wheelie.
It’s a simple metal structure that is compact – designed to fit into an area the size of a parking space – and can cater for up to nine bikes.
It looks quite ingenious, and could help cater for a lot more bike parking around stations as well as places like university campuses.
I’m told the cost is under $1000 to manufacture it, plus some installation costs – kept low by not needing excavation (which in turn can impact underground services) – it’s just anchored to a block of concrete. Unsophisticated, but effective. And the design is Creative Commons, so anybody can make and deploy them.
The key is to target installation sites carefully: probably better at staffed stations, in view of CCTV, in a well-lit spot, and preferably undercover.
Cycling’s not for everyone. (I don’t currently have a bike.) And connecting buses should be better.
But if this new design provides a cheap affordable way to get more people to railway stations without them having to drive and add to local congestion, then that’s a win for everybody – even those who do have to drive.