Bike Racks On Buses

Bike Racks On Buses

Helping getting Bike Racks on Buses in all Regions - A Resource

"Bikes on buses are a big leap forward for sustainable transport on many fronts."
(Kirsty, CAN Member)

A number of Regions are interested in bike racks on buses - below is info to help that process.

Thanks to the CAN members and groups, and others who helped over the years with enabling buses to carry bike on racks.  See the end for some specific "credits".

Changes to the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule that came into effect on 1 May 2010 mean bike racks are able to be installed on buses without requiring an over-dimension exemption.

The bike racks on buses relevant part of the Rule: "4.1(4A) A bicycle rack fitted to the front of a bus of Class MD3, MD4 or ME is not included in determining the overall length or forward distance of the bus, provided that the vehicle complies with the applicable swept path performance measures in Schedule 8."

This rule changes enables the longer buses (51 seats) and shorter buses (39 seats) to carry bike racks provided they meet the specifications in the legislation as stated above.

What a CAN group can do to get bike racks on buses
Local CAN groups can ask their Regional Council to require bike racks as part of bus service contracts. Regional Councils are responsible for bus operator contracts/services whereas district/city councils are responsible for bus infrastructure (bus stops/shelters, seating at bus stops, bus lanes etc). Places such as Nelson that have a Unitary Authority (Regional and City Council functions are combined into one Council) will have a section in charge of bus services/contracts. The new Auckland Super City Council is a unique entity but will have a public transport division within Auckland Transport Agency looking after bus services/contracts (Cycle Action Auckland will know how that works).

Timing is important as the Regional Council/Unitary Authority needs to include bike racks in the contract for service as local bus contracts come up for tender.  Perhaps if the contract has been recently renegotiated and hence not due for renewal for some years (it could be a 3-5 year contract) and that bus service is on a critical route the Regional Council needs to be encouraged to re-negotiate that contract earlier.

Christchurch has bike racks on several routes in Christchurch with plans to roll these out on other routes as these routes come up for contract renewal. In November 2010, 75 buses, one-third of buses will have bike racks in Christchurch (there may be some delay due to new bus contracts involving new buses due to the Earthquake). See Metro website.

Rolling bike racks out in your Region
Ultimately it would be ideal if all Regional Councils required bike racks on all buses as part of bus service contracts.

However resourcing (i.e. money) may require determining what routes need bike racks the most urgently and "rolling out" bike racks overtime to cover all routes.

Consider what bus routes need bike racks most urgently

  • For example, bus routes involving barriers e.g. in Christchurch there is no cycling through the Lyttelton Road tunnel (the main and most direct route from the Port to the City) so the tunnel becomes a "pinch point", as without bike racks bikes have must go up and over the Port Hills -a bit of a ride.
  • Other key routes may include those with steep hills, longer-distance routes beyond the range of many cyclists, or those that connect to popular recreational biking facilities (e.g. MTB parks).
  • Where possible it is desirable that ALL buses on a particular route are provided with bike racks, so that users can be sure that the service will always be available (this would have a big effect on take-up).

Sourcing bike racks


The Veloporter Bike racks come in two or three bike carrying capabilities.

Christchurch has the two-bike capable racks only.

Christchurch sourced Veloporter 2 bike racks from: Sportsworks

These were freighted from the United States.

Sportworks is the manufacturer of the racks and has a fantastic sales and support team, so it was found easier and more cost effective to purchase directly from Sportsworks rather than a local importer.

For any purchasing information it's probably better to discuss with Derek Sanden of Sportworks as he will have current pricing etc.

If you have any further questions please feel free to direct them to Shane Glassey and he will answer them if he can.
Email -; Cell Phone - 022 623 6764; Work Phone - 03 374 7885


  • Funding spent on public transport receives a 50% central government subsidy.
  • In the past each bike rack cost around $2000 NZ dollars per rack but these would be a lot cheaper at the moment with the dollar so high (22 November 2010).
  • An additional $500 NZ Dollars needs to be allowed for local manufacture of a mount on the bus for the rack.  These are not supplied by Sportworks as they are different for each bus depending on who built it etc. Although Design Line has a lot of the NZ bus market hence often mounts will be similar. Shane Glassey (see contact details below) has some basic designs and pictures etc that can be supplied to allow quotes on these from local engineering firms.
  • If bike racks are bought directly from the factory rather than buying through an agent (the later puts the price up a lot) there could be a considerable discount e.g. it might be possible to get at least 20-30% discount. At one stage if buying 50 bike racks there was ~10% discount and for 100 bike racks a 20% discount.

Could Regional Councils/Unitary Authorities band together to buy bike racks?

It may be worth discussing with other operators and putting in one large order as this will attract a larger discount rather than several small orders.

E.g. The Greater Wellington Regional Council, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, and Auckland City have all expressed interest in bike racks.

We recommend following Christchurch's lead of no charge for the bike - just the cost of the fare for a bus patron.

Another good precedent is the Fullers Ferry Waiheke service which does not charge extra for bikes taken on board that Ferry.

Case Study: In Christchurch the cost per year would be $15,000 (or $75,000 in total over five years) to the public transport targeted rate, which would be included in the proposed Long Term Council Community Plan.

Common misunderstandings/problems/issues

The Bike racks not used enough
Consider what publicity surrounding the use of bike racks is best for your target audience e.g. print, radio, television, internet (You-Tube etc), and/or back/side of bus advertising. Probably a combination of all these is most effective.

It should be noted that modern urban buses are required to provide low-floor access and spaces for wheelchairs and prams, irrespective of whether 1 or 100 people use them.

Promoting their usage (see below)

  • Perhaps do a video clip. Check this You-tube rap out:
"So you're sick of pollution and you're stuck in that congestion?
I got one suggestion: use a bike rack!
Bring it down, pull the bar
Put it on, put it on
Take it off, put it up
Then you're done, then you're done!"

Rationale for Bike Racks (thanks to Bevan for the main points of this)
While most people who cycle enjoy the independence from riding a bike, there are many benefits of being able to put your bike on a bus when you choose/need to.

Why bike racks on buses are important - some key benefits:

  • You can avoid a steep hill, a long stretch of road, or a dangerous section of traffic
  • Live too far to walk to the nearest bus stop or the bus does not stop near enough to where you want to go? Cycle to it in a quarter of the time needed to walk.
    [Note: Christchurch has an aim to have a bus stop (but it is as the crow flies) within 500m of every household.]
  • You have the option of avoiding the rain during one of those changeable weather days or days you forgot to check the weather and get caught out
  • You can avoid having to ride home in the dark (e.g. that meeting that went overtime or that movie you decided to go and see on the spur of the moment after work)
  • You can take your bike on the bus to work with you in the morning (and arrive fresh when the distance on a bike might otherwise cause you to want to shower at the other end) so that you can ride home in the evening to unwind (to a hot shower if needed)
  • If you are just starting out and fitness levels are low, you can bus part of the way and ride the rest
  • Got a break-down or flat tyre? Put your bike on the bus to get it to a bike shop or home

It is likely that the biggest benefits of bike racks are for current NON BICYCLE USERS - By combining the range and comfort of buses with the door-to-door convenience of bikes you are providing a serious alternative for commuters currently driving.

Q) How well do bike racks work?
Many States in the United States have buses with bike racks fitted.

Brisbane and Canberra have trialled the bus bike racks.

Christchurch City has these and bus drivers report only minor problems.

If you haven't seen the bike racks in operation, you might like to view the following video which although aimed at bus operators is most informative nonetheless (fast internet recommended)

Q) How do bike racks work in Christchurch?

  • A pamphlet with instructions on using the bike racks is available at the main bus exchange, on all buses with bike racks, and available on line.
  • The bike racks themselves have a clear numbering system (1, 2, 3) to guide putting a bike on the rack.
  • Buses fitted with racks are identified on bus timetables (hard copies of route timetables and on-line). Over time this won't be necessary as buses will have them as standard!

Bike Rack Rules (from Metro website)

  • If you're taking the bus, it's free to use the bike rack.
  • Cyclists are responsible for loading and unloading their bike.
  • The bike rack takes two bikes at a time.
  • Racks are designed to carry bikes with wheels larger than 16" diameter.
  • The maximum insured value of any bike on the rack is $1500.
  • Bus drivers take no responsibility loading, unloading or secure storage of bikes.
  • Bikes cannot be carried on buses that travel inside the City Bus Exchange building. This affects route nos. 3, 7 and 35. Cyclists using these routes must board or disembark one stop before or after the City Bus Exchange.

[Note: this last point is because of the design of the existing bus exchange which means the door alignment of a bus with the bus exchange spacing of doors for boarding and embarking passengers does not allow for the extra length of the bike rack (due to other buses in front or behind also stopped and aligning with their doors also) therefore bike racks have to be in the folded up position. The planned new Christchurch bus exchange in a few years should sort this issue out. If other places are building new bus facilities, bike racks needs to be taken into account in the planning (even if your region does not yet have bike racks).]

Q) Why not put bike racks on the back of the bus, especially as it might be better for pedestrians?

Bike Racks in front, in view, straight out through the windscreen? Why not?

One Engineer who has been following the bike rack development notes:

  • The front mounted racks proved to be much better - so that is what is now in widespread use overseas with no problems. This is a proven approach.
  • There are a variety of standard mounting kits for different buses and custom mounts can easily be developed - so it us unlikely that some buses could not have them. However complying with visibility standards etc. may require some minor bus adaptation to add extra indicators etc. to some bus designs.
  • All the issue have been well considered and solved in the many applications to bus fleets elsewhere and front bike racks are clearly the best solution to retrofitting bike carriage on existing buses. 
  • "If it works and it does in the USA, ... and yes, if many parts of the USA and over 40,000 buses are successful, almost all are fitted with one design of rack which has been developed for well over 10-15 years in use, then why not adopt that as "best practice" ... rather than try to better it based on local "concerns" and "improvements" not based on any (or very little) local experience?"
  • The rear racks were tried in the USA - and are ok for long haul tourist use -but on urban routes suffered from a number of key limitations including:
    • security from being stolen
    • unease that the driver will notice you are putting the bike on, or driving off while you are taking it off

Another person added the following comments about other possible issues with rear bike racks:

  • the additional time lag at bus stops if only picking up or setting down a cyclist and bike as the cyclist has to walk the length of the bus which can occur several times on any one trip
  • the driver has no idea at all where the rear of the bus is and (although mentioned as a lack of security of the bikes) no vision of the cyclist loading or unloading. CCTV could be added but could conceivably double the cost per rack and therefore halve the number of buses fitted with them while slowing the bus services ... not a very useful outcome when compared with all the useful info and experience with front racks as developed in the USA. There could be sets of extra mirrors instead of the CCTV ... but would they be tamper-proof and sufficiently effective.

There has been NO notable research indicating that front-mounted buses are any greater a safety problem for pedestrians, either in terms of the rack protusions themselves or th additional front overhang caused by them.

Q) What about storing bikes inside trains and buses - is that a good idea?

  • In the States external front-mounted bike racks are mostly used but bikes are also hung inside some buses by their front wheel with a crash wall, sort of like a closet, for two bikes vertically.
  • Bus companies in New Zealand are often opposed to the carriage of cycles inside buses on health and safety grounds (although folded bikes should not attract any discrimination although anedotal reports in Christchurch are that there is an issue carrying these too).
  • Bike racks/areas inside buses are probably not worth pursuing as only the external bike racks have NZTA support.
  • Although internal bike hook or storage area systems are quite common on trains/trams, access to these is usually via a middle/rear door. Hence they only really work on services that are free or use a pre-paid ticket or outside access gate. This is not practical for buses requiring payment on entry up front, but could work for free or pre-paid services.
  • Glen Koorey can help with some pics of bike storage inside train and buses from a North West American tour he did.

"XYZ Bus Company has also indicated that the addition of cycle racks would pose significant issues for bus storage at depots."

  • The racks fold up so it is uncertain what is meant by this.

"There has been little demand for bikes to be carried on buses."

  • This is likely to be a situation of "suppressed demand", look at the increase for example in usage when the charges were removed from the Wellington trains and the increased number responding to the second Greater Wellington Regional Council survey.
  • Education and promotion are important with any new "infrastructure" so people are aware a facility exists, so creating the demand. Canterbury needs to work more on this issue.
  • A 2010 NZTA Research Report 418 investigated the likely demand for bike racks on board public transport and secure storage at stations and terminals in different contexts and for different public transport modes. A model was developed for forecasting demand and the NZTA's Economic evaluation manual was used to calculate the economic justification in terms of a benefit-to-cost (BCR) ratio for implementing cycle-PT in New Zealand's larger centres. It was found that Cycle-PT is economically justified in NZ with BCRs from 2 to more than 10 depending on the centre and the scenario. The implementation of cycle-PT in NZ's six largest centres could produce more than 1.7 million cycle-PT trips per annum.

"Essentially the problem is that the operators are less than enthusiastic."

  • Ultimately Regional Councils can require it in contracts, either re-negotiating current contracts or as part of renewing contracts.
  • Bike racks provide an enhancement of bus service, which helps create the modal shift towards greater using Public Transport and the active modes of transport such as cycling.


  • Powerpoint presentation about the recent successful trials in Brisbane.
  • Video from Sportsworks (bike-rack maker) showing how these operate: overview
  • Glen Koorey (a Spokes Cant'y member and University of Canterbury Engineering lecturer) provided Environment Canterbury and the Bus & Coach Assn with a CD of background data on research reports, operational, contact information for North American operators using racks, and technical aspects. He is happy to pass on these resources to others interested (many also available online).
  • NZTA Research Report No.418: "Forecasting the benefits from providing an interface between cycling and public transport" (2010)


1) Shane Glassey

Email -

Cell Phone - 022 623 6764

Work Phone - 03 374 7885

"It is exciting seeing a bike on the front of a bus in Christchurch. After grinding my way up over Evans Pass to Lyttelton I sure appreciated taking the option of the bus back with my bike safely on the front. There are still capacity and usage issues with the bike racks. For example, sometimes three bikes want to get through the Lyttelton tunnel at peak morning time, and being only two bike capable (there are three-rack bike racks but not in NZ) one cyclist has to wait for the next bus (only 15 minute intervals at peak times so not too bad). And not all bus routes have bike racks (yet) " (Christchurch cyclist)

"Wellington with its hills and inclement weather is a prime candidate for bike racks, allowing people to decide to ride one way, and choose not to bike up hill or if the weather turns to custard to take the bus back."

"The racks integrate public transport with other modes of travel and make places like Lyttelton, where the road tunnel is the main accessway, more cycling-friendly. The more routes which carry the racks, the more people have the option of combining cycling with bus travel." (Cr Evans, Environment Canterbury)

"Christchurch bus routes which are able to carry bicycles give cyclists the option of cycling one way to work or outdoor activities and busing back, or doing part of a journey on the bus and part cycling."

Thanks to everyone who worked hard to win a legislation change that enabled bike racks on buses including those who provided information in response to the various issues around bike racks (that information has hopefully been collated in this resource).

A special thanks to: Environment Canterbury staff (especially David Stenhouse), Shane Glassey, Glen Koorey (CAN), Bevan Woodward, Living Streets Aotearoa Discussion group, Cycle Aware Wellington members (like many CAN groups currently striving to win bike racks on buses), and Spokes Canterbury (who successfully advocated for bike racks, supported th bike racks trial, and are providing ongoing support for more CHCH bus routes with bike racks).

Good Luck winning bike racks on buses for your region!

P.S. Don't forget to scroll down to check the comments below (already posted is a helpful comment from a Cycle Aware Wellington member).  This article is designed to be a communal resource we all add to and use. 

Let's win bike racks for the six largest centres in NZ and increase the number of cycle-public transport trips by 1.7 million/annum! (as per NZTA report finding mentioned above).



thanks for that overview, Fiona.

In Vancouver (where practically all buses have bike racks, and about one bus in three is carrying a bike) a key argument was point to point journey times: the investment in racks was justifiied by improving the efficiency of the transport system.

More about this on the Wellington Cycling Blog