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.