Bigger bus racks for bikes? Maybe

 

A question that keeps popping up: cyclists asking why Metro can’t switch from bus racks that hold two bikes to those that hold three. The answer, my friends, is that it’s illegal under state law. At least for the moment.

The California Vehicle Code doesn’t allow for more than two bikes on the front if the bikes and rack make the bus longer than 48.5 feet. This may sound odd to anyone who has visited another city and seen buses toting three bikes, but different states and cities have different ideas about what’s safe on city streets. And different agencies have buses of differing lengths — many of Metro’s are between 40 and 60 feet.

Yet there’s hope for L.A.County. Metro wants the California Legislature to allow it an exemption — as is the case for Alameda County Transit in the Bay area. In fact, the Metro Board in September 2010 approved a motion (see item 9) by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that orders development of a plan to prompt such an exemption. What this requires, however, is a sponsor for the legislation. And at the moment, no legislator seems to be stepping up to the plate.

One other problem, as usual, is money. At present, all of Metro’s 2,200 buses are equipped with bike racks and replacing those with new triple bicycle racks would cost an estimated $1.6 million. Given current fiscal challenges, both state-wide and nationally, what do you think the chances are of all those perfectly nice — but over popular — bike racks being jettisoned in favor of new ones any time soon?

Here’s an interesting post on Austintwowheels.org about about a triple rack being tested there. The photo at right shows that rack.

And yet … the Metro Board and new Board Chair Mayor Villaraigosa want this to happen and when that’s the case, things sometimes have a way of moving forward. So stay tuned. But don’t expect new bike racks tomorrow.

Related post: loading your bike on a bus.

16 replies

  1. This explains why the bike racks on the 45′ and 60′ buses can only hold 2 bikes, but it doesn’t explain why the vast majority of the buses, which are 40′ long can’t have 3 bike bike racks. Long Beach Transit has been successfully using 3 bike racks for a while now with absolutely no problems.

  2. I work for the transit authority in Las Vegas, NV and I have to say that the triple bike racks are very helpful on many lines where our bike riders seem to converge. A lot of drivers were worried when the authority installed them because they felt that the added length would cause more accidents when cars cut off the bus, but it doesn’t seem that way now. Great investment to have. I hope that MTA can get the exemption and continue to promote alternative transit options besides driving your car.

  3. This requirement doesn’t explain why 40 ft and 45 ft buses can’t be equipped with the triple racks. All of the buses that Santa Clarita Transit runs are equipped with bike racks that accommodate 3 bikes.

  4. But that doesn’t answer why the Orange Line (with its 60-ft buses) have been able to run with triple-bike racks for years…

  5. It would be nice to remove some seats from the back door on the bendy buses and board and exit from there and just tap in with a tap sensor in the back.

  6. JRider – the Orange Line runs almost exclusively on busways, not on streets – has an exemption for the one-mile street portion in Woodland Hills (some of the Orange Line buses are too long for streets, even without the bike racks, and need an exemption from federal regulations).

  7. “But that doesn’t answer why the Orange Line (with its 60-ft buses) have been able to run with triple-bike racks for years…”

    My guess is that because it runs on a dedicated right of way they can skate the CVC on these superbuses.

  8. One point that has not been brought up is that the triple rack design being used on most buses on the Orange Line–that are made by the industry leader Sportworks– tends to have the bikes wobble around after some use and some bikes will interfere with the windshield wipers or the protruding metal handlebar end will hit the windshield and crack it.

    There are two racks installed that are from another manufacturer that moves the bikes closer together and further away from the bus, but that introduced another problem of bikes being harder to load and unload due to squeezing them close together. It did improve upon the bike tending to wobble about by using a hinged hydrolic lever instead of a spring loaded hook, but that swings out away from the bus and may be blocked by parking too close to the curb. A newer and I’m sure more expensive Sportworks triple model is being tried and it may have improved on some of these flaws, too soon to make a final judgement though as it is still rather new.

  9. Bikes should be allowed inside the bus when it’s slow. I’ve sometimes had to what for 2 hours just to get an open rack. Further more, I’ve seen homeless dragging there “homes” onto buses that are larger than a bike. So to say room is a problem is a lie. Allow bikes in the handicapped spots if not in use. charge an extra fee and create space on busses like subway.

  10. I HATE BIKE RACKS and bicyclists on buses! They SLOW THE BUS DOWN! It is beyond stupid a bus should have to accomadate a bike! If you want to ride a bike, ride IT, NOT THE BUS! If you take the bus, LEAVE THE BIKE AT HOME!

  11. If the $1.6mil to replace racks is a problem, Metro could certainly get things rolling by installing triple racks on all new buses.

    I’ve seen some bikes get beat around on (e.g.) Wilshire; I’d like to see racks that hold the bike more securely.

  12. So it would cost $727 per bus to replace each bike rack?No discount for buying 220k new bike racks?

    Also you guys need to get disqus on here

  13. To me this is a waste of money, triple bike rack will take out more space in front of the bus but yet the Mayor and Metro Board wants to do this but they can’t since it’s illegal.

    There is really mis-management at Metro Board.

    @John I agree with you. I think bikes should be outlawed and banned on public transportation, we need create this kind of bill, and this bill is where bike racks and bike compartment should be banned from buses and trains. If the law were to be violated then people would be fined.

    This is what I think should happened and you can all criticize me but this is my opinion and it’s not changing. So to people that disagree with me, don’t waste your time.

    But yes, I hate bike racks.