Will Rush Hour Trains Be the Next Bike Battleground?

Crowded Bike Racks Below Metro HQ. Picture Taken at 9:00 A.M.

It is long standing of Los Angeles MTA to not allow bikes on trains from 6:30-8:30 every morning and 4:30 to 6:30 every evening. However, the law is never enforced and when I’ve asked LA County Sheriffs checking tickets on trains about it, they say they don’t know what I’m talking about.

If rumors are to be believed, all that might soon change. Last week during the Metro Board meeting I was pulled aside not once, but twice, to be warned that Metro would soon begin enforcing the peak hour restriction. That this ban is on the books at all sends a confusing message, after all wasn’t it just last month Metro was encouraging people to bike to work and offering free rides for a day?

Conversely, enforcing this ban, especially since many Metro facilities still don’t have adequate bike parking, is a great way to discourage cyclists from taking Metro in a time when people are flocking to bikes and transit because the financial cost of driving is too high.

While I’ve been unable to get a confirmation through an official channel about enforcing the ban, the rumor has spread among cyclists throughout the county.

With renewed focus on their bike policies Metro has done nothing to squelch the rumor. Instead, spokesman David Sotero tells the Bottleneck Blog that cyclists should just get a folding bike. Folding bikes are exempted from the as yet unenforced ban.

LA City Council President Eric Garcetti introduced a motion asking Metro to get rid of the ban altogether last week. Garcetti’s staff denies the motion is a response to the rumor. Because several of his office staff bike to work on a regular basis, it’s not a surprise when bike friendly legislation comes out of his office.

Unfortunately, Garcetti doesn’t have any authority over the actions at Metro. Of course, there is one city official who’s about to have a lot of say in how Metro does business. Maybe at the next Metro Board meeting cyclists will get the chance to tell them how they feel.

  • yup, i head the same thing last week…..really sending the wrong message to cyclists. The ban should be lifted!!!

    did you hear about Councilman Garcetti’s motions just days ago:

    a. lifting the ban on bicycles at those times
    b. painting more sharrows on the road



  • this is a really bad policy and it’s a waste of resources to enforce it. there are WAY bigger fish to fry.

  • I can understand how a big ridership bump would push this issue to the fore.

    The truth is, we’re really unprepared for an energy scarce Los Angeles. The public is going to have to learn as it goes, and it is going to be an ugly couple of months when gas hits $5.00/gallon some day soon.

    If the MTA had this sort of crisis in its sights 10 years ago (Hah! What public agency would have prepared for this!) space on trains and buses could have been designed into rail cars and buses they acquired.

    It is a shame that this is the situation we’re left with.

  • Wad

    It’s not just Metro that’s unprepared for the energy scarce future.

    Scarcity means a rarity regardless of the price. High prices are going to be the least of our worries.

    The biggest problem: Nature lacks a replacement substance to petroleum that is both abundant and affordable. Until we discover it, our standards of living will regress. No one knows for sure how we will respond to the decline.

    Keep in mind, there are alternatives to petroleum. They are all inferior replacements, since they all offer worse ERoEI.

  • Fallopia Simms

    This is almost a non-issue and the MTA has done an incredible job at promoting bike+train commuting. NYC MTA doesn’t even have bike posts at stations and forbids a bunch of cyclists bringing their bikes on the trains, especially during rush hour! I’ve never been asked to not board a train w/ my bike in Los Angeles even during rush.

  • it’ll be an issue when you are fined fallopia

  • Having a bike on a train will become (or has now become) a big deal when every available car is jammed with people who cannot afford to get around via car.

    There are short term fixes to get more people riding bikes (in lieu of transit) that are relatively cheap.

    The 1996 (and re-authorized in 2002) L.A. Bike Plan estimated that, if the citywide bike network proposed in that plan were installed, 5% of commuter traffic could be shifted to bicycles. The total cost of that plan was $60 million – and the entire network (if fully funded) would take less than two years to build.

    This inexpensive solution could help relieve the burden on our soon-to-be-strained transit services by shifting users onto another mode. Additionally, since a citywide bike network would reduce auto use in favor of bicycles, bus travel times might likely improve – as there would be fewer cars on the road blocking a fully loaded bus.

  • The trains don’t have enough room for bikes. Why would anyone think this is a good idea without at first demanding METRO add more trains, more busses and more parking. Those have to come first. Don’t make it easy for METRO.

    How can cyclists think this is totally ok? Do they live in a bubble? Yeah it’s not like they do enfore the ban on rushhour bikes, but they should and they should have the power to do so and the idea that certain people would talk about removing seats, what’s up with that? That’s simply insane and selfish.


  • Shawn

    Just to clarify, the rule doesn’t ban all bikes at rush hour. Just during peak directions for the light rail lines and between Wilshire and Vermont for the subway.

    I don’t see a problem with allowing bikes. I’ve never seen someone not be able to get on a train because too many bikes were in the way. (Well, once during some bike race last year when there were up to 50 bikes per car…) But as long as they don’t enforce the “Allow other passengers to exit and enter the train before boarding” rule, bikes and other riders seem to be able to coexist.

    Besides on the line that I’m most familiar with, the blue line, most of Saturday is just as crowded as rush hour. Standing room only between 7th/metro and Imperial. In that respect the rush hour rule is somewhat arbitrary based on the passenger loads.


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