Breaking News: Metro Reverses Rush Hour Ban on Bikes on Trains

5_17_10_gunpowder.jpgGunpowder doesn’t have to fear getting ticketed on his way to Metro Board meetings. Photo: LAStreetsblog/Flickr

Announced this morning at LA Bike Week’s kickoff event in front of
LAPD headquarters, Metro will be lifting restrictions on when and where
you can bring your bike onto Metro Rail (the Purple, Red, Blue, Green,
and Gold Lines).  Current policies give Metro staff the discretion to
block riders from transporting bikes on the rail network during peak
hours (6:30-8:30 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m.), if a given train is too
crowded to accommodate them.

However, this morning’s MTA press release notes that, as of this
summer, Metro Rail riders will be free to bring their bikes aboard at
any time in specially designated parts of light rail and heavy rail
trains, pending the installation of new signage designed to guide
bicyclists to the preferred train sections.

According to Metro Senior Communications Officer Jose Ubaldo, the
middle "articulated sections" of light rail trains (Green, Blue, Gold)
will be set aside for bicycles, because there is more available
standing room.  (Editorial aside: Though, I wonder how difficult it
would be to move a bike to a middle section of a crowded train at rush
hour, but this seems like a good place to start.)

For travel on the Red and Purple Lines, bicyclists will be
directed to the rearmost car of each train.  Ubaldo elaborated that
the Metro has already begun removing seats in the rear cars of subway
trains to make more room for bicycles.  The process should be
finished within the next six weeks.

In light of the much-discussed frustration with the lack of adequate bike parking at MTA facilities (stations, "TODs"),
this policy change appears to be a step in the right direction. 
Assuming this decision spurs more people to come to Metro stations on
bikes, the MTA may very well have to contend with the added volume by
improving its existing bike parking facilities in number and quality
(though of course nothing is guaranteed).

  • this is great news. hopefully we’ll all be on our best behavior so metro doesn’t reverse this.

    cause you know… some people are going to complain no matter what.

  • Awesome news. Even though I may have been one of the few to (stupidly) believe and adhere to Metro’s no-bikes-on-certain-trains-during-rush-hour policy, I’m glad for all that Metro finally woke up and realized that bikes ARE transportation and gap fillers. Thanks to the hard work of the advocates that pushed this issue.

    I know I’ll be able to use Metro more often to get to business meetings throughout this city (and even connect to Metrolink/Amtrack for engagements in further away cities) because of this.

    Nice work.

  • Great! Now I’ll just ride down to Culver City and take my bike on the Expo Line. The train should be here any min…uh…year now.

  • I doubt many people actually paid attention to the ban, so doubt its passing will really make a difference. The issue, at least on the Blue Line, which I ride its entire length every day, is that there’s just not enough room on the trains during rush hour. So asCarter surmised, having bicycles go to the articulated section of the Blue Line means trying to push past people. Once you get to where they want you to go, there’s not a good place for you to hold on while you are also holding on to your bike. When I’ve ridden with my bike, I’ve ended up having to brace myself by holding my palm flat against the ceiling. I am 6′, so shorter people won’t have this option. I think most people will ignore the suggestion/rule and do what they do now, anyway– just park the bike against the doors on the right side of the train, the ones that usually only open at 1st St in LB.

  • Carter Rubin

    @ bikinginla, Tell me about it!

    On a semi-related note, on regional trains in France there are a couple big hooks on a wall in each train car to hang up your bike by the front wheel vertically. The back wheel then slots in between two metal bars. The whole thing is quite stable, and it means that your bike takes up maybe half the space it otherwise would. Metro should really look into this going forward.

  • “Current policies give Metro staff the discretion to block riders…” I don’t think that there was actually any “discretion” in the policy… the policy was clear – no bikes (at specific locations/directions – see http://www.metro.net/around/bikes/bikes-metro/ ) – it just wasn’t enforced 99.9% of the time.

    Kudos to Metro for taking the worthwhile step of upgrading their policy to match their more enlightened practice.

    I agree with the commenters that it would be really helpful for the trains to have hooks, etc. – like the new Seattle light rail (and a gazillion other half-way bike-friendly places.) I actually carry around a bungee cord in large part because it’s useful for securing my bike on Metro rail.

  • Greg Thomas

    @Carter, yes, please. We definitely need better bike management on the trains. Only solutions right now are to start a bike pile in the bike/handicapped area, or spread around the car which kind of defeats the purpose of having a bike area.

  • I’ve taken my bike on trains at all hours, including rush hour, as has my wife. If the train isn’t packed, they don’t bother you. The worst I’ve dealt with is having Blue Line train drivers direct me a little more gruffly than necessary to a certain part of the train.

    And yes, Blue LIne is a problem as it’s so heavily used. The only real cure is more or longer trains. I’ve done it many times, but it can be rough. (Can’t complain about it being used so much–that’s the ideal!)

    I’ve seen up to seven bikes on a single Gold Line train car (ie, articulated unit, of which there are usually two per train).

  • MarkB

    My concern is knowing where the final car will stop. Train lengths differ. Some stop at the front of the platform and others stop in the middle.

  • Will Campbell

    I’ve been waiting for this day since the first time I brought a bike on the Red Line back in 1996 — and back in those dark days you actually needed to register and carry around an MTA-provided “Cyclist Express” picture ID.

  • @Will – I remember those cumbersome Cyclist Express passes. It cost something like $7 and you had to submit a photo. Then you had to renew your pass each year or every other year…

    It was a successful early LACBC campaign (that I worked on) to get rid of those passes. We were trying to lift all the bike black-out times, get rid of the pass, and to institute a more generous bike-on-bus policy (allowing driver discretion to allow bikes inside when racks were full and the bus wasn’t.) The only campaign goal we got fully was the elimination of the special pass. We got the blackout hours shortened and got some reverse-commute-direction trains to allow bikes during formerly blacked-out hours.

    Reminiscing about this stuff, I sound like an old codger, no?

  • M

    Is there any reason why seats are not being removed from at least half a Blue/Gold/Green line car as well? Although I’ve tried to be very careful in the past, it can be insanely difficult to maneuver your bike into that middle section if there are people sitting in the seats between there and the door, especially if strollers, wheelchairs and who knows what else are present. I know I’ve accidentally hit ppl with my bike as well as being hit myself despite being very careful.

    I’m curious though, was anything mentioned about the policies when the cars are packed (such as when a few trains have been delayed)?

  • skd

    Will bicycles have priority boarding on these trains that have the seats removed? Or will we have to jockey for position with strollers, bags of recyclable cans, big giant duffel bags and people who stand in the areas designated for bicycles?

  • WOW

    Will MTA pay for my dry cleaning every time one of these bike idiots decides to wipe his/her greasy chain off on my suit pants? How about MTA paying for my pair of slacks slacks, that these inconsiderate bike jerks ruined?

    These wonderful politically correct bike people block the train doors, cause accidents by bumping and tripping people, and there simply isn’t any room on most rush hour trains, that are already standing room only.

    Ban these bikes on trains at rush hour-there is no room for them-or put on a lot more trains and train cars, so the rest of us don’t have to deal with these jerks, taking up too much space an ruining peoples clothes……….

  • J

    Metro WILL pay for cleaning damaged garments (or at least they have in the past), however they’ve been soiled (Bus chains, urine on the vehicle, blood etc.). Talk to Metro Customer Service.

  • That’s rich–“pay for my dry cleaning,” “bike idiots,” and “ruining peoples clothes”! Sounds more like a troll that need not be further encouraged, but I’ll chime in to say that I support his/her call to have Metro add more capacity because of increased ridership. It would be awesome to have that much more robust a subway system that can accommodate all areas of the city, during all hours of the day/night, and all types of users. And thanks to WOW for the suggestion–you should address it to Metro so perhaps they’ll take some action so we can all ride happily and comfortably together. I’d really hate it if your slacks were to get soiled.

  • Spokker

    “Will bicycles have priority boarding on these trains that have the seats removed?”

    It’s great people are riding bikes and all, but why does your luggage have priority over someone else’s luggage? Why would your bike be more important than another rider’s stroller?

  • David Murphy

    Fantastic move! Well done, Metro!

  • Marcel

    Does Metro have any plans to include signage indicating where to load your bike, or is it not even possible? This would be helpful for the occasional metro rider that isn’t familiar with the system, and also let non-bicycle passengers know where bicyclists will be loading.

  • I’d like to give a shout-out to Stephen Box for speaking up on this issue including the 2 bikes/car issue at the Metro Board meetings and at Council meetings. He has been fighting for cyclists rights and their place within our transit system for very long and it’s nice to see his work pay off. Thanks for posting Damien!

  • Erik G.

    This space was often used by the contractor who was installing Yvonne Burke’s turnstiles last fall to transport heavy capacity carts laden with tools and wire between stations.

  • Riding the Red Line with my bike the other day I caught the train just as it was pulling away from the station, so I hopped in the first open door I saw. There was another bicyclist standing there, and on the other end of the train two more bikes.

    If the car had even the most basic of bike amenities–a couple of hooks for us to throw our bikes onto–I would not have experienced what was all to much of an LA bike-life moment. The train came to a hard stop and the guy standing next to me, for some reason, I think his bike started to slip away, went to grab it and the force was too much and he went sprawling into me, our bikes a tangled mess of shame.

    It was very similar to the time I saw two men riding on the sidewalk near MacArthur Park trying to do the sidewalk dodge-dance that pedestrians do, only to come crashing into each other, and in silent shame get up, brush themselves off and ride away.

    Even the big hole at the last car of the Redline does nothing to prevent bikes from flying around the car. And the articulated centers are Metro’s official bike locations! What a joke. Why trains don’t come with any facilities for, umm, PEOPLE, like places for bikes and strollers and any of the other things human beings need in their lives (while the Danish rock love seats) must have to do with the ridiculously low level of ridership for Metro employees. I’m sure no one involved in designing, ordering, or evaluating rail cars rides one on anywhere near a regular basis.

    Go stand in the back? We’ve heard that one before haven’t we…

  • Greg Thomas

    I’m grateful I’m able to commute at off-hours when there’s a better chance that I can prop my bike against the wall and sit down.

  • _SPACE_

    “Even the big hole at the last car of the Redline does nothing to prevent bikes from flying around the car. And the articulated centers are Metro’s official bike locations! What a joke. ”

    I already choose the back car on Red & Purple line because I’m more likely to get a seat. I love the fact that my bike can turn upside down. It balances there for the entire ride.

    Re: the Blue line, it really is difficult to stash your bike in those central sections, and I don’t see how this announcement is an improvement.

  • The only “peeve” I’ve ever had with bikes on Metro Rail is the cyclist who thinks that even with a marked area, the bike can go anywhere on the train that they want it to.

    Metro has added yellow stickers at the seatless areas where bikes, unfolded strollers (now THERE’S something I detest), and other bulky items belong. And the same sticker appears on the outside at the door adjacent to those areas.

    One misconception: The seatless areas are not just at the rear end of the subway cars. They exist at both ends of each couplet and are signed as above. On a rush-hour Red Line train, that makes a full dozen areas available (on the Purple Line, eight at rush-hour) which, in my mind, means no excuse for cyclists not to be in the right place.

    Of course, there will be those who won’t care, and the responsible cyclists will get tarred with the same brush. Which is why I make it a point to thank those cyclists that I find using the labeled spaces. They deserve to be acknowledged for their consideration of what is, after all, a shared resource.

  • Oops … my bad.

    I should have said six and four areas at rush-hour on Red and Purple, respectively.

  • People keep overlooking the fact that bicycles are a gap connector, they allow mass transit passengers to travel farther and more efficiently. This enhances systemic capacity, even if it requires the allocation of limited space on the train.

    Other “luggage” simply takes up space. This is a big difference in the movement of “stuff” that is usually overlooked, at the expense of cyclists who are multi-modal transportation solutions.

    Granted, most passengers walk at either end of their transit experience but the range is limited while cyclists are able to maximize efficiency.

    I imagine the Metro will be hosting a special ceremony this Friday to cap the Bike to Work festivities, one where they unveil the plans for the Bike Car, complete with secured racks and space for lots of cyclists.

  • You just keep dreaming, Stephen. You’re good at that.

    (Speaking as someone who knows the logistical problems that will prevent Metro from creating such a dedicated “bike car” on the rail system.)

  • Incidentally, while not intending to minimize the fact that cyclists are multimodal, the number of passengers who do bus-rail-bus or bus-rail-walk is still exponentially greater a number than the cyclists. So it would be unrealistic to presume that a disproportionate amount of resources would be given to cyclists, when the primary consideration will be to those who use transit at both ends (or at least one end) of the rail trip.

  • Greg Thomas

    I don’t care about dedicated bike cars, I just want freakin’ hooks in the current spaces. Bike storage is so inefficient right now it’s laughable.

  • Car-lyn

    So…I was on here researching the idea of ditching the car and riding my bike to the closest station, since it’s WAY to far to walk, so I could start taking the Metro to work.

    Maybe I’ll just keep drivng!

    Sounds like there’s too much drama and hassle involved…

    especially if you need to ride your bike to bridge the distance between station & home/work.

  • Nicholas

    It says the restrictions will be lifted pending new signage. When is that supposed to happen, or have the black out hours already been lifted? To the poster above, I actually ditched my car a couple of weeks ago, and bringing my bike on the red line hasn’t been a problem at all. Admittedly I have stayed away during the rush hours listed, and I haven’t given it the test of time, but so far so good.

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