Tagbike to transit

Bikes on Seoul subway

Brandon found this photo on an irritating website called ffffound. Why irritating? Because there’s no respect for attribution and authorship. I have no idea who took this awesome photo.After a little investigation on Twitter, I determined that the language is Korean. Then I searched for “bikes seoul subway” and found that the Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit company was testing bikes on trains in 2009. I couldn’t find any more recent information, nor information in English about bringing a bike on the train on the MTR website.

Anyway, if you ignore all that you’ll agree that what you see in the photo is pretty cool. I’ve been writing about how Americans put their bikes on trains for quite some time now, and I love seeing how other transit systems accommodate passengers and their bicycles.

More good transit news:

Michigan Department of Transportation and Amtrak will begin roll-on bike service on three of their Amtrak lines, the Wolverine, Blue Water, and Pere Marquette in spring 2012. That means I can take my bike with me next year to the 2012 Movement Festival (or Detroit Electronic Music Festival).

Same bad news as last year:

The South Shore Line to Indiana still doesn’t allow non-folding or non-boxed bikes aboard. So you can’t bring a regular bike on the train to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Can we standardize rules about bikes on trains?

Every transit agency across the United States has different rules about bikes on trains.

I think every bus operator with front bike racks has the same rule: “all day, every day”. But taking your bike on the train is a different story.

In San Francisco, there’re three operators with three sets of rules:

MUNI, a city agency, doesn’t allow bikes on trains, ever. I almost learned about it the hard way. I was returning from downtown on Market Street to my temporary apartment in the Castro District and I took my bike into the MUNI subway. I entered the station without seeing a sign or a staff member that would indicate I couldn’t do this. While walking along the platform, I saw a rules board and noticed no bikes. The trains were not busy, but they’re also not very big. I can see where some people would say, “Oh, I’m new here and I didn’t know”.

But that’s not me. I went upstairs and rode the bike all the way home.

Update May 26, 2011: Streetsblog SF tells us that MUNI will now allow folding bikes on the light rail trains.

BART, a state-controlled transit agency, allows bikes on their trains most of the time. Just not at certain stations, at certain times, and in certain directions. You either memorize these restrictions or carry a brochure.

And BART trains run on broad gauge track making them wider than all other rail transit vehicles in the country. This makes for a lot of space – dedicated space!

Finally, there’s Caltrain, a commuter/regional rail system operated by a joint committee of three transit operators. They seem the least restrictive: every train has a bike car or two, capable of holding about 40, 48, or 96 bikes. “But by the end of 2011, every gallery train set will have two bike cars, allowing for 80 bicycles minimum.” (See last photo.)

In Chicago, the Metra (like Caltrain) and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA, like BART and MUNI) have their own rules that differ from each other and from above.

It’s quite simple to remember the rules of one transit agency, but to be subject to the rules of two or three makes bicycling with rail transit a bit more complicated. The size and design of train cars has a big influence on rule making, but so does politics – the Active Transportation Alliance, né Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, had to lobby the state and the transit agencies here in Chicago to open up their trains to bicycles, and to further liberalize the rules as the agencies became more comfortable.

National or regional planning efforts could ensure that the designs of future or upgraded transit systems follow guidelines that “standardize” the rules of bringing bikes on board. The first step in this direction could be a dialogue between BART and CTA about carrying bicycles onto escalators:

BART did its own study on the “safety issue” years ago and concluded that escalators and stairs were equally safe for cyclists to use in BART stations. (Via Cyclelicious)

The rule banning bicycles from escalators is expected to be lifted this year. The CTA, and other rail operators, could review BART’s study and come to the same conclusion.

Photo of a loaded Caltrain bike car by Richard Masoner.

Bikes and transit – share your knowledge

UPDATE: Why bikes and transit go together (PDF) – read this brochure from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

While you’re reading up on the 80+ comments on the story about some Seattle bike riders suing the city, I want to take this opportunity to again promote the Bikes and Transit group on Flickr. The group’s purpose is to document interactions between bicycle riders, bikes, and transit vehicles, both buses and trains. The definition of “interaction” is quite loose.

Photo from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition taken one 3rd Street during the May 24, 2010, Sunday Parkways.

Many times, bicycle riders are also transit users. If not, they’re riding in streets shared by streetcars, light rail, and buses. The pool of photos from around the world can help us learn about practices in other countries. Or we can find out that fat bike tires won’t fit in many bus-bike racks (see photo below).

Richard Masoner points out that 2.6 inch wide tires don’t fit into the bike rack on Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority buses, using the Sportworks Veloporter racks (common to bus operators across the United States).

Add your own photos! Or link me and I’ll invite your photos one by one.

CTA ‘L’ station bike enhancements

Tune Koshy and Adair Heinz, Columbia College graduates of industrial design, created this 3D video of their ideas for public transit enhancements for bicyclists. The changes are specific to Chicago Transit Authority ‘L’ train stations, as many transit systems around the world already have these features or, in the case of fare gates, an alternative to what the CTA employs.

It was presented to myself and others after a 2008 Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting.

The ideas are:
1. Bigger, easier fare gates for people rolling bicycles into the station. (Many transit stations around the world use automatic gates instead of turnstiles like the CTA.)
2. Wheel channels for rolling bike up stairs. (This is a fairly common feature.)
3. Train interior space for holding bicycles vertically. (This is common on light rail in the United States.)

Read the discussion on Flickr.

© 2019 Steven Can Plan

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑