Update: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) blogged a new report about this connection. I haven’t read it yet, though.
I am passionate about the nexus of bicycling and transit, and I’ve written often on Steven Can Plan about how bikes are stored on trains in the United States and around the world. When I travel, I look at this relationship closely.
Bikes on the subway in Seoul, South Korea. Photographer unknown.
Recently I’ve had several discussions with people (the latest while volunteering at Pitchfork Festival in early July 2011) about getting bikes on the South Shore Line that goes to Indiana. What I’ve learned is that it will probably take an act of legislation to make this happen, as well as a reconfiguration of the trains. This is what forced Metra to change its policies, but they caved before the legislation passed.
My latest post on the topic of bikes on trains was a “letter” to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) on modifications they can make to the incoming 5000-series train cars to be more bike-friendly. I never actually composed a letter like the formal one I mailed to the United States Postal Service.
Bikes need better accommodation on trains that what’s available on the older TRAX cars in the Salt Lake City region, operated by Utah Transit Authority (UTA).
In the meantime, I’d like to gather a “database” of the best features of bikes on trains policies and facilities you’ve experienced in your travels. For now, I’ll store the database on my wiki. Add your photos to the “Bikes and Transit” Flickr group. Send in links to blogs and articles like this story about riding on Amtrak.
Please leave your comments about what Chicago and area transit agencies can do to improve the “bikes on trains” experience. While most of the information in my post is about how bikes “fit” into the train’s diverse spaces, share with Grid Chicago and our readers changes in policy and procedures you think Metra, CTA, and their parent organization, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), should consider. Also, keep your eyes glued on this blog for information about a new transit riders advocacy campaign.
Different ways to carry bikes on trains
Common to light rail trains is the bike hook or hanger. At the bottom is a guide or tray that holds the other wheel. Each of these methods and transit agencies require that you follow different rules and give you unique responsibilities.
Bike storage on the Hiawatha light rail in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You’ll find this on the VTA in San Jose, MAX in Portland, and in countless other cities. Photo by Payton Chung.
Found on rapid transit in Vancouver, British Columbia, and BART in San Francisco Bay Area, is the “horizontal set aside” space.
Canada Line on the SkyTrain in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo by VeloBusDriver.
Bike Space, near the door, without a modesty panel inhibiting access, in the BART train. Photo by Frank Chan.
And then there’s the diesel commuter trains, like Caltrain on the San Francisco Peninsula, and Metra here. There’s a huge difference between what you see in California and Illinois. Check it out:
Space for about three bicycles on Metra bilevel cars on the diesel trains. The space is different on Metra Electric trains. Photo by Joshua Koonce.
A Caltrain bike car has enough space for 48 bicycles. Photo by Richard Masoner.