Governor Brown Signs Bill Allowing 3-Bike Racks on Longer Buses in CA

Under a new law California law, transit agencies are now allowed greater use of racks that carry three bikes, like this one on L.A. Metro’s Orange Line BRT. Photo by Ensie via Flickr

California transit agencies are now allowed greater use of bus-mounted bike racks that hold three bicycles. Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 2707 Tuesday, a bill authored Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) to allow 40-foot-long buses to be equipped with folding bike racks that can carry up to three bikes.

It was the first bill signed by the governor this year that’s on Streetsblog’s unofficial watch list of bills related to sustainable transportation.

Current law restricts the length of vehicles equipped with bike racks on California roads to a maximum length of 40 feet. An exception was created for AC Transit in the Bay Area, after legislation was passed several years ago to allow the agency to exceed the length limit when it added three-bike racks to the front of its buses.

Another bill in the most recent legislative session was aimed at creating a similar exception for Santa Cruz, but it was dropped when L.A. Metro came forward with A.B. 2707 to change the law throughout the state. Metro will soon receive a large order of 40-foot buses, and thanks to the new law, will be able to expand its bike-carrying capacity on the majority of its fleet.

“It’s a major, major gain. I’m terrifically happy this made it through the system,” said Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition, which had been pushing local legislators to address the issue since 2012“If a bus only comes by every half hour, then there’s only space for four bikes every hour. People were being left stranded. This bill will enhance capacity by another half.”

A sticking point in 2012 was pushback from operator unions, who wanted a say in when and how the longer bike racks are used. Until now, exceptions to the 40-foot rule have allowed three-bike racks on buses up to 60 feet long, but only after approval from a Route Review Committee that must include representatives of the transit agency, the driver’s union, and an engineer.

“The Route Review Committee is required to convene and unanimously approve every route for triple bike racks,” said Michael Turner of Metro. “Our concern is that we have over 100 bus routes, with over 2,000 buses in service. We want to work with our operators, but it’s not good policy to give them veto authority; it’s also not practical, given the size of our operations.”

Since Metro the Route Review Committee requirement has only been applied to 45- and 60-foot buses, the agency has thus far focused on placing three-bike racks on the 40-foot buses that make up a large part of their fleet.

“Bike use has been growing, and we’ve seen more demand, especially on our rail system,” said Turner.

  • jennix

    There should be fewer seats and more standing room on many of the local buses. That would allow space for occasional bikes inside the bus when the racks are full.

  • james

    I haven’t put a bicycle on a bus rack in some time and it was last on a trimet bus but it looks like the design in the photo is compatible with full length front fenders, unlike the racks I remember using.
    In the past I used shorter Berthoud fenders instead of my preferred long Honjo fenders on my everyday bike in case I had to transport it home after breakdown or injury. Is a two bike version of this design used on regular metro buses? Who makes the rack?

  • james

    The articulated BRT buses in Eugene have, or had on board bike racks. I’m not sure if they are still used and wouldn’t be surprised if they become unpopular and were later removed. The need for significant bicycle carrying capacity might be another argument in favor or longer light rail like BRT buses such as the Phileas. No one really likes putting their bikes on the front of a bus.

  • John L.

    This is good news for those of us who multimodal commute by bike and bus. As for fender compatibility, I trim the front end of the front fender so it doesn’t interfere with the arm of the bike rack.

  • S_grant

    Those bike racks on the Orange Line are sometimes full, and you have to wait for three of four buses before there is a space on the racks. More people are using the mufti-modal bike/bus/train/bike lanes commuting options. The downside is we bicyclists are crammed on the Redline (when will they put bike racks on the Metro trains?) and sometimes forced to wait for a bus with open bike racks. We must do better and try to meet the needs of the new commuters if we are to forge a new future.

  • Gezellig

    Just the other day I was pleasantly surprised upon boarding a bus in Marin to go back to SF that it had three bike racks! This was quite fortunate as I was the third person with a bike and when I initially saw the two bikes already on there I thought I’d have to wait for the next one (and GGT buses don’t always come that frequently). That third spot can be really crucial sometimes.

  • Justin

    It would be cool if SFMTA required that all of their new Muni buses especially when they have to purchase new articulated buses for routes like the 38 Geary and the 14L Mission and others, that all new buses have three front bike racks, this would as many would say make it so much more convenient for bike riders that ride Muni and take their bike with them

  • So do the buses that Omnitrans uses for the sbX Green Line. Official capacity is 4 bikes, but I’ve seen 6 and I’ve even coaxed a loaded bakfiets into the space. It really comes in handy.

  • Quite honestly, we’re really fortunate that they even allow bikes on the subways and buses here. Agencies really need to be doing more to include quality bike parking and a bike share system at all major transit hubs because having people tote them on board really isn’t ideal.

  • I don’t make a scene of it, but I voluntarily get off the bus and ride if the racks is full and someone else with a bike is waiting for the bus. I have no issue with riding in traffic and the bus is hardly faster than my bike to many destinations anyway. This bill means that I get to be lazy for just a little bit longer.

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