Will Bike Buses Catch on with Commuters?
Innovative companies like 1Rebel and Boston’s Bike Bus are pioneering a new way to bike commute. But is it going to stick in the long term?
Want to ride a bike to work without having to worry about unsafe streets, blocked bike lanes, bad weather—or even having to brake and steer? A new London-based spin class called Ride2Rebel could be the strange solution to your particular dilemma.
Echoing the concept of Boston’s Bike Bus launched last year, Ride2Rebel bills itself as “a ride studio on wheels” for commutes into and out of the city. Right now it’s just a project in the works from fitness company 1Rebel, but if it drums up enough interest, the company would like to see the bus “taking to the roads, burning hard through the streets of London” as soon as this summer. The project already has 1,820 signups—and you too can sign up to be a test subject at ride2rebel.london.
Created by married couple and certified spin instructors Eric and Seema Brodie in 2015, the idea grew out of the frustrations of Eric’s brother-in-law, who detested his Bay area commute and wished for some sort of bus-based gym to help him get in shape while passing the time, according to BostonMagazine.com. From there, the idea of a mobile workout room took form.
“We thought, what about doing something that we could do while the [vehicle] was moving? Maybe a bus would work, since it already has the emergency exits, it has the right weight, and it’s designed to fit a lot of people,” Eric told BostonMagazine.com. “We figured out that the most efficient use of the space would be to put in indoor cycling bikes.”
If you’re an avid cyclist, you may be thinking, “If people want the exercise and transportation of riding a bike, can’t they just get on a bike and, you know, ride?”
But the bike busses speak to a common concern: Many would-be cyclists appear to want to commute by bike, but aren’t comfortable enough with the safety of local roads to do so. That this is the case in Boston is no surprise. While the number of local bike commuters is on the rise, and both Boston and London are working to make things safer for them, Boston has long been known for its busy, narrow, pothole-ridden roads. And more recently, the city’s cyclists have taken heat from a Globe columnist who says bicycles don’t belong on urban roads that weren’t built to safely accommodate them.
The truth is that bike commuting in Boston remains relatively safe—safer even than riding in a car per trip, if not per mile traveled.
Bike Bus also argues that it has a niche among fitness-minded cyclists who want a climate-controlled group ride to work—that might extend beyond a typical commuter’s radius.
“Biking to and from work is right for a lot of people,” the Bike Bus FAQ reads. “But in the Boston area, it’s not always right for everyone, even more so when the weather is adverse and the days are shorter. Even though the bikes in Boston start to disappear as the last of the leaves fall from the trees, that doesn’t mean your body stops needing exercise!”
They’re not wrong—it’s just an unusual concept. As of last fall the bus only traveled from Newton, Mass., to South Station, Boston. Each 45-minute rush hour ride cost $27—which isn’t too bad considering the staggering cost of many spin classes. Currently it appears the Bike Bus can only be rented for private gatherings or custom commutes.
As for Ride2Rebel, the company plans to offer service to and from four parts of London, including Clapham Common, Angel, Kensington High St., and Stratford.
Read more at Bicycling.com