Survey: bikes on trains — what do you think?

As we posted yesterday, the Metro Board of Directors officially lifted — effective immediately — the peak hour prohibition against bringing bikes on Metro Rail. The Board had previously asked for more information about crowds on trains before some seats are removed to accommodate more bikes — and Metro CEO Art Leahy said trains could grow longer and run more frequently as seats are taken out.

The idea is to help the increasing number of cyclists in L.A. County use their bikes to commute. What do you think? Can Metro Rail trains handle more bikes at rush hour? Will this help encourage more people to bike? Will it be a major turn off to non-cycling rail passengers?

Please vote and feel free to leave a short comment here with your views.

Categories: Bicycle, Policy & Funding

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36 replies

  1. It’s definitely a good idea. With bikes not being allowed on board trains during rush hour, a lot of people can’t feasibly multi-mode commute to work by bike, so it forces them to drive. Also, a lot of people probably just did it anyways, and that can open them up to legal issues because they could technically get a ticket. A TICKET for not polluting the air. That’s just silly.

    Then again, I’m wholly biased, I am a cyclist.

    Next I’d love to see late night trains on weekends, let’s give bargoers a non-drunk-driving option after 2am, eh?

  2. While I think it is a good idea to remove a couple seats to accommodate bikes, I am not sure about lifting the ban. No doubt it will be useful for those who don’t feel safe leaving their bikes at the station or need to use a bike once off the train but the ban is shortsighted. If Los Angeles has hopes of achieving 10%, 20% or 30%+ of trips by bike, it may have to put the ban back in place. It is fine to lift the ban but perhaps it reflects a complacency with the percent of trips made by bike (about 1%) as this won’t mean the trains will likely never suffer from ‘too many’ bikes on board.

  3. Los angeles is simply too spread out to have a rail network that makes the combination of walking and trains viable for most trips, but with a bike and the train working together, there is a viable alternative to the car…

  4. This was long overdue. People need to go to work and school, regardless of what mode of transport they use. It was stupid to discriminate against cyclists in the first place. Metro needs to accommodate the users and this is a great step forward! Thanks!

    • Hi David;

      Good point. The ban was actually on the books although in recent months it has been loosely enforced. Nonetheless, by the books, bikes weren’t supposed to be on the trains.

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. No. I already am fed up with those bike smudges smearing my suit and the platforms are dirty as it already is on a crowded train.

    Leave the bikes outside.

  6. I’m skeptical about this. It may sound like a good idea at first, but as more people switch to transit, it may just increase the annoyance of others as time progresses.

    I still stand by of my idea to convert some of the car parking spaces to monthly rental bike lockers and stash one bike at the two stations that you use the most.

    Other approach is to add another set of railcar specifically for cyclists so that they don’t annoy other passengers. I doubt this would happen considering budget cuts though.

  7. This was a formality. I have used the subways for years and never been stopped at peak times with my bicycle. I did hear once while getting on the green line in El Segundo an announcement stating the peak policy

  8. NYC allows bikes on their trains 24/7. It’s suggested you avoid rush hours with bikes, but not prohibited.

  9. Ban or no ban, some trains simply don’t have enough room during rush hour. Additional cars or more efficient spaces for bikes would help encourage multi-modal travel and help reduce crowding (and among passengers).

  10. Add bike hooks to the train ceiling to more efficiently store bikes vertically and keep them out of the way of people.

  11. I agree with Enci. If they want to ban bikes they might as well ban wheelchairs, strollers, luggage, homeless with their garbage bags etc. Discrimination of cyclists has gone on far too long.

    @Suggestion

    Bike hooks may be a better solution, like in Portland, but in practice they are not that great. What the red line did by removing a section of seats is the best solution. Now just apply that to the light rail.

  12. Why don’t you just add a car for bikes only. How hard could it be. Put it on the tail end of the train and your problem is solved. You won’t mix bikers with non bikers who might not like the idea then everyone will be happy.

  13. I use the blue line with bike. It is a tough ride if I go on the train at peak rush headed out of LA. There needs to be policy in place that is enforcable via cams and security officers. What often happens is a bike is placed handle bar side down in everyone’s way and the arrogant owner is too cool to move it or stand with it so it is not in everyone’s way. As other bikes try to get on, this same owner will threaten or glare to not touch his precious ride while commuters try to get around it or this inconsiderate person’s bike takes up room for 3 bikes or 6 passengers. The bike idea will never take hold because the bad apples will discourage the culture change.

  14. The restrictions were rarely followed before. I take the Red Line and at 5pm it is packed. People with bikes would still force their way onto the packed train and sometimes it got ugly. Although Metro already removed some seats near the doors, METRO NEEDS TO REMOVE EVEN MORE SEATS NEAR THE DOORS.

    Better yet, replace the current seat configuration with bench seats along each wall like they have in New York and Tokyo.

  15. Now that I knw I can bring my bike on the red line during peak hours, I am more inclind to bring my bike downtown on the train and ride my bike home from work.

  16. I am completely in favor of lifting the ban – which was really a thoughtless idea. I am also in favor of ticketing people who block the doors with bikes.

  17. One missing factor in this equation of letting bikes into rail is what’s going to happen when they start locking the turnstiles/fare gates? It’d just be a pain in the rear-end to shoulder the bike above the gate, carry the bikes through stairways and escalators, using up space in the elevators otherwise for the disabled and the elderly, annoying more people as you begin to have wheels and the chassis jutted into other transit riders’ faces.

    Not to stereotype cyclists in general, but I’ve seen a lot of bad apples from cyclists in the trains as it stands now, and I’d rather not see more of them coming in acting all arrogant, not even saying “I’m sorry” or “excuse me” as they shove their bikes over my foot or ripping part of my over wear when it gets caught on the handlebars. It’s too risky and IMO, it’s a big safety hazard for other transit riders.

    Unlike the open road, trains have very limited space, and every space should be used to maximize revenue. Bikes don’t add to more riders and revenue; the space that’s taken up by bikes could otherwise be used to add two, three more standing passengers.

    IMO, this is going to cause more problems in the long term than it seems to be a great idea in the short term. In the end, LA’s goal is to become a transit oriented city like London and Tokyo. But imagine what those cities would be like if they start letting bicycles on board in those metropolises! Total nightmare!

    I say scrap this plan before all hell breaks loose. Install bike lockers, buy two bikes (it costs what, less than $80 at Target?) pay a cheap monthly storage fee and store at each of the location. This is much more polite than creating a chaos bound to happen, and it also give Metro additional revenue earning opportunity by collecting monthly fees for bike lockers.

  18. @Velma
    Because it costs money and bikes don’t add to any additional revenue. Only people (transit riders) do. However, if Metro decides to charge $1 more for every bike that gets on board then that would be fair.

    Unless its real passengers involved, it doesn’t make sense to add an additional set of rail cars. For example, women only rail car sets so that we can feel at ease from perverts are cost effective because women are passengers too. But bikes are just inanimate objects that uses up passenger space which don’t bring in extra money.

    @Tornadoes28
    That obviously makes sense so as to increase aisle space. Better yet, make it like the Yamanote Line where those seats are foldable so that during busy rush hours it can fold up for extra standing room, and fold down during other non-rush hour periods.

  19. I ride my bike to work everyday, and sometimes bring it on the train if i need to run errands during the day. I don’t like doing it, because a) it’s a hassle to hold the bike– i’d rather be sitting/reading and b) I feel bad because frankly it can be really rude when the trains are packed at rush hour.

    Solutions:

    1) Clearly label the *ground* as bike storage area, as well as outside of cars (similar to ADA)
    2) Enforce ban on bicycles outside of the designated bike storage area
    3) Add hooks so that bikes can be stored more efficiently
    4) Fix/increase the freaking bike racks at stations so that there is sufficient parking at the stations, which will decrease (if only modestly) the number of bikes on the train.

    Again, I’m a car-free dude who rides bike to work everyday– but even I can be honest about the fact that cramming bikes onto packed trains is bad manners.

    DANDO

  20. If Metro is going to lift the bike ban, then Metro needs to start communicating & enforcing the policy. Too many times have I seen bicyclists board the train and stand/sit with their bike anywhere except in the designated areas of the train; some don’t even bother to notice/read the signs pointing/directing to the area where bikes/strollers/suitcases are to be stowed. I have even seen some bicyclists ride their bikes on the station platforms. So please enforce the policy. Thank You!

  21. I have similar concerns to Y Fukuzawa above. While I recognize that allowing bikes on trains dramatically increases multimodal commuting options, I have also observed that *most* bike riders don’t seem too concerned with knowing or following the rules of the road, the stations, or the trains.

    I routinely see bikes on escalators, even though we’ve all grown up knowing that you don’t take strollers or wheelchairs on escalators (for the same reason… if you lose your grip, you can really, REALLY hurt people in a way that is much less likely on a stationary staircase). I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen bikes on the road signal for turns, and it *terrifies* me when they weave around cars and pedestrians at a stoplight to avoid having to actually stop as required by law.

    I think that the growing use of bicycles as a transit alternative absolutely must be accompanied by some serious education, enforcement, and perhaps new regulation for how bicyclists work with cars, pedestrians, and transit riders. Current usage patterns are introducing many new risks to everyone, including (but not at all limited to) the cyclists themselves.

  22. I think having bikes on trains during rush hour can be streamlined by having more side facing seats therefore giving more room inside the train, especially in the LRT trains which are a little narrower than the HRT trains. Also, with the exception of the blue line which already does this, there need to be three car trains on the other LRT lines to free up more space per car. Eventually the LRTs trains will need to all have three car trains because of growing ridership anyway.

  23. completely agreed on education being needed! maybe even just some cool psa posters, honestly i love the other posters that are around the trains like the graffiti poster, no littering, stuff like that

    i am perpetually blown away at the disregard i see displayed by some bicycle commuters on metro, totally blocking aisles and exits, taking up massive amounts of seating while the designated bicycle area is empty, i just don’t get it.

    i will fully admit to viewing stop signs and traffic lights as mere suggestions though, if there is opposing traffic yes absolutely i will stop, the majority of the time this is not the case and yes i will run the stop sign and/or light. if one day i get a ticket for this, so be it, i am aware of the consequences and choose to take that risk, i cannot fathom stopping at every single light and stop sign when there is clearly no danger, that would probably double my commute time haha.

  24. The only real solution is more open space by the doors and more trains. Everything else is a compromise because of budget concerns. Some bench seats adjacent to doors might help when there is overcrowding so that people can move around the bikes with greater ease. More trains and more open space would be great. I know that I have colleagues who talk to me about biking, but the inconvenience seems to postpone their abandonment of cars.

  25. Some cities limit the bikers to one particular car, primarily, the front car of the train. If lifting the ban becomes an issue, I think limiting the bikers to one car of the train can be a great solution. It keeps like minded commuters together, as well.

  26. I do not support lifting the ban on the smaller light rail trains. Trains are too crowded now and that will be the case in the future too. Safety of others is another concern.

    That said, it is time to move on.

    Bicyclists should be educated about proper decorum and expectations of them. Being silent about those will lead to problems.

  27. If some very bright designer could come up with a concept for hanging bike racks on just one of the three cars, preferably the last one that allows easy access from the rear doors, a couple of rows of seats being removed to accommodate the rack might be feasible. If the design could include fold-away seating when the racks aren’t being used that would be innovative. I might take pictures and try to CG an idea I have for doing such and send it to MTA. LA is too cool to not do something like this. Drainage for rainy days would be a consideration in the design as well.

  28. Living in Phoenix with a light rail system similar to the Gold Line.. I can tell you here, they have bike racks inside the train. The expectation is that bicyclists use the doors with the bicycle symbol.. They never do.. they always enter through the other door and go through the aisle to the center of the car where the racks are. The racks have you mount your bikes 90 degrees and it hangs off the wheel with a hook. Not everyone has the strength to lift their bikes or they have junk on their bikes.. so instead, they block the doorway.

    If the racks are full, they still get on.

    They ride their bikes on the platforms. Some are even daring and ride their bikes right into the train before dismounting.

    I wish Phoenix had bike permits for rail riders, but since the governor has cut virtually all of the budget, there are less than a dozen officers who enforce laws (and check fares) throughout the city of Phoenix, which includes about 2/3rds of the rail line.

    Bikes on trains, especially during rush hours, are trouble. Our transit system here is underutilized.. just imagine how it will be in a much more utilized system.

  29. Good idea. However, I have a concern. For the blue line, the designated area for bikes are not big enough to accommodate more than two bicycles. For example, in the blue line, one time I seen around five bicycle on a wagon. It was challenge to get out of the train. I would suggest for new trains(trains are old) or removing some seats. But overall, I think it is a good idea. Especially if you live or work near a train station that does not have access to a bus route.

  30. I hear a lot of concern of cyclists, but the real concern is peoples behavior, not cyclists behavior.

    As many cyclists I see hold their bikes in the non-designated area, I see the same amount of people without bikes, crowd the area that is designated for cyclists, strollers and luggage.

    I think it is a shame that so many of us don’t see beyond the object and realize that human behavior is just that. Human behavior, regardless of mode of transport.

    Just as there are cyclists not following the law on the road and at the train stations, there are the same amount of motorists if not more (in percentage), who don’t signal, who park their cars where they shouldn’t, make u-turns illegally, block driveways, use the handicap parking space, even though they are not handicapped, etc.

    People are people. We come in all shapes and sizes, with our own ideas of the law, (even law enforcement is known to “personalize” the law to their interpretations), and we need to learn to except each other with our faults, without condemning groups or people based on the actions of individuals.

    We should be encouraging each other to make the right choices and support everyones freedom to move, whatever their mode.

  31. Hmm, has Metro considered BART’s solution? Regular bikes are banned in some directions during rush hour, but folding bikes are always allowed. This makes sense because rush hour trains get very packed (and they are longer and I believe wider than Metro trains). The ban is also mitigated by many self-park and attended secure bike parking facilities throughout the system, which is more spread out than Metro Rail.

  32. @enci

    Well Said. We all tend to judge our fellow passengers, but in a sense we are in the same boat. I was in a very crowded bus yesterday and someone’s backpack bumped my shoulder and a nice lady was hitting my leg with her huge stroller every time the bus stopped. I took it in stride knowing that bus was full. No one likes their personal space to be violated, but when we take public transportation, sometimes we must find humility in judging other people’s behavior.

  33. What ban? Never noticed it on the gold line. It’s getting bad on the gold line during rush hour. There are so many cyclist squeezing themselves into packed trains during rush hour, I’m waiting for something to happen. Time will tell.

  34. I rode the Goldline in the early mid-morning recently (on the way to the Flyaway). It was only 2 cars long and was really packed going into Union Station. There were multiple bike riders on the car (I think around 6). The riders were well behaved and quite polite about things. With my roller duffle-bag standing on end and my back pack, I took up more space than a bike did. Everyone on board was acting like a real trooper.

    A few days later in New York, I rode the 1 during rush hour and it too was packed.

    Since having a bike can solve the first/last mile problem and make public transit a valid option, I think that the desicion was the right one. Making adjustments in the future (3 cars every rush hour train, bikes in a specific car [Metrolink riders have been doing that for years], hooks, wider spaces) will enhance this great option. And more bike parking at the stations too!

    If using a bike would make it so that I could take public transit to work, I would. Currently there is no valid option for some of us to take PT to work. Until Metro sets up a freeway bus route system, some of us won’t have the option.