“GET OUT OF THE WAY!” A woman yelled at a cyclist while both were going up the escalator. The impatient woman was enforcing the unwritten rule that one side of an escalator should be cleared for those who wished to walk up it. The cyclist with his bike on his left side, now under the pressure from the woman, looked around on the crowded escalator for a way to clear a path for her to move ahead. No luck. The escalator was packed, and the woman would have to wait.
“YOU’RE NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO BRING BIKES ON THE ESCALATOR!,” the woman yelled once more before exiting.
As uncivil the woman’s reaction was to the cyclist blocking the escalator, she was in some ways correct. Objects such as strollers and bicycles aren’t allowed on Metro escalators, and cyclists are asked to take the stairs and elevators instead. I have yet to see it done, but I’ve been told that failure to obey such rules can result in a citation.
And, more than a disruption to the flow of movement, bicycles aren’t allowed on escalators for safety reasons as well. There have been cases where bicycles were accidentally dropped on escalators, injuring the people below. And, I’ve witnessed a few times when cyclists walking their bikes up would accidentally hit the face of the person behind them with their bike’s rear wheel by accidentally swinging it sideways.
As more and more cyclists bring their bikes into rail stations to mix up their commute modes, the required usage of elevators and stairs for those with bikes can often lead to greater difficulty for everyone.
Some rail stations offer only one elevator, making it time-consuming for cyclists and other commuters to go up using them as bikes and wheelchairs take up a great amount of the elevator’s space. Then there are stations like Wilshire/Vermont and Civic Center which have incredibly long stairways, making it quite the workout for those with heavier bicycles to go up on them. What a pain.
A fellow cyclist and friend of mine who recently came back from a trip to South Korea messaged me while he was there about how many of the subway stations had been modified to accommodate for the growing number of bike riders using trains. One modification into many of the station’s infrastructure to make it more bicycle-friendly was the addition of bicycle-escalators. Countries like Japan and South Korea have long had bicycle-escalators, thin conveyor belts placed alongside stairs that assisted cyclists to push their bikes up.
Here’s a video taken in Japan that shows it in use.
The closest thing we have here in the states to accommodate cyclists using stairs are bicycle-stairways, also known as bike-ramps. Bike-ramps, as seen in the picture below at BART’s 16th Street station, are non-motorized channels which are placed along stairs to allow cyclists to roll their bikes up and down instead of having to carry them. (The new El Monte Station will have them and according to this staff report, they’re being studied as part of the second phase of the Expo Line). Check out the photos below.
With cycling and transit usage in Los Angeles on the rise, and as both commute modes intermingle with one another; do you think it’s a good idea to bring the same bicycle-escalator technology to stations here? Should we invest in a bicycle-elevator (motorized) or bicycle-stairway (non-motorized)? What do you think?