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TriMet's new bike intern: bike ban is "not under discussion"

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 23rd, 2007 at 9:13 am

Cross Crusade #2 Hillsboro
I hope Colin has more luck with
his new job than he did with
these barricades at a Cross
Crusade event last year.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

TriMet is in the process of taking a long, hard look at how bikes mix with their transit services. They've recently launched a major survey effort and they're feeling the pressure of an increased presence of bikes on their MAX trains and buses.

To help with find solutions and analyze the situation, they've recently hired a Bike Programs Intern. His name is Colin Maher.

To find out more about him, and TriMet's thinking on bikes, check out the brief interview below...


[BikePortland] - What was your background before getting hired by TriMet?

[Colin] - I came to this internship through graduate studies in Urban and Regional Planning at PSU. Before returning to grad school, I served as the Non-motorized Trail Coordinator for the Moab, Utah area. I was also a bike messenger in DC for a few years and have worked at a couple of great bike shops (including River City Bicycles locally).

[BikePortland] - What are some of your responsibilities as Bike Programs Intern?

[Colin] - One of my primary responsibilities is administering and analyzing the results of the Bike-MAX survey. I am also working on improve bike facilities for TriMet employees, as well as reviewing policy covering Lost & Found bikes.

[BikePortland] - Does TriMet have some new bike programs in the works that you can share a little bit about?

[Colin] - At the moment, studying characteristics of bike-MAX travel is the main focus. TriMet needs a clear picture of current bike-MAX ridership before developing options for future facilities. TriMet policy that allows bicycles on MAX at all hours of operation in every direction is exceptional for a light-rail system of its size, extent and ridership.

I realize that the survey has caused some concern about a rush hour ban on bikes. I would like to emphasize that this option is NOT under discussion. We recognize that many riders need their bike at both ends of their trip. We are conducting this survey to find out where and when different types of bike-MAX trips occur.

[BikePortland] - Any other thoughts you'd like to share?

[Colin] - Another point that I would like to address is that there is no magic wand for connecting bikes to light rail transit. Bike-MAX customers have different needs and there is no one option that makes this connection possible for everyone. Bike parking is one of those options, and countries where cycling is an integral part of the lifestyle have extensive facilities at transit stations. There is also demand in the Portland area, indicated by the fact that there are waiting lists for BTA-administered bike lockers.

I realize that I am editorializing a bit, but finding ways to integrate bikes on a light rail system with growing demand is a great "problem" to have when reducing roadway congestion, pollution, and related health problems are among your goals. I'm glad to have the opportunity to conduct a study that assists this effort.


Good luck with your task Colin, and keep us posted on the survey results. For more on TriMet, view my TriMet coverage archives.

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Comments
  • Todd Boulanger August 23, 2007 at 9:53 am

    Colin, congrats on the new job!

    Feel free to come up here (Vancouver WA)and see our Bikelink.org lockers (your supervisor and Eric have already done this).

    Also how about seeking funding to swap out 1/2 of the exisitng lockers for smart lockers along the Yellow line MAX. (They are currently underutilized.)

    The old lockers could then be used at other Trimet MAX / P+R sites and perhaps for your staff to park at too (assuming this is allowed).

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  • Dabby August 23, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Colin,

    I am glad to see a ex-working cyclist on board with Tri Met. It is a perspective they need, maybe open up the tunnel vision.

    I know the least concern here involving bikes and Tri Met is more bike parking near transit stations.

    Except for the fact that Tri Met has removed hundreds of bike racks from down town, right now, this is not the problem.

    We need increased access for bikes ON trains, not near them.

    The paltry amount of hooks (ineffective and bike damaging hooks as they may be) on trains, combined with a percentage of trains having no hooks (high floor trains), leaves cyclists high and dry much of the time.

    Also, the horrific actions of bus and train drivers near cyclists on the road must be stopped. As in:

    Running a red light from a stopped position, or from a bus stop, regardless of safety.
    (I came milliseconds from being killed by this scenario yesterday)

    Trains pulling out blind from stations.

    Bus drivers intentionally cutting off bikes (mainly downtown in the third avenue hell hole), and blocking access to bike lanes by not pulling into bus stop areas FULLY!

    There is so much more, I can not even list it.

    I know that you are here to do a job, and cannot deal with everything Tri Met.

    But there are so many more important bike issues that Tri Met will neither admit to, nor try to fix.

    Fixing parking at Transit areas is like putting a band aid on a heart attack victim.

    Hopefully you can help with some of the VERY PRESSING issues, which all regard the safety of our public, something which should be forefront on the minds of those in charge of Tri Met.

    Instead of money and new trains.

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  • Susan Otcenas August 23, 2007 at 11:46 am

    I got on the MAX at Quatama at just before 5pm yesterday. No hook available, so I worked my way into the middle of the train where there were empty seats (despite plenty of folks standing near the exits) and I was out of the traffic area near the door.

    By the time we got to Sunset Transit Center, there were TEN, count \'em, TEN bikes in the same car.

    I noticed several things:
    1) Without fail, every cyclist without a hook went out of their way to be as as little \"in the way\" as possible. Each one of us moved our bike as necessary to accommodate other passengers, and moved out of the way of passengers exiting and entering. Sure, we took us a little more space, but we didn\'t abuse it.

    2) Not a single non-cycling passenger looked grumpy, complained, or otherwise seemed to have any issues co-mingling with the cyclists on the train. In other words, no one looked particularly inconvenienced by our presence.

    3) Most of the cyclists in my car, myself included, exited at Goose Hollow. My destination, however, was SE 55th Street. I used MAX to shorten my trip from Hillsboro, and to get me over the West Hills more quickly. I like riding over the West Hills, but I don\'t always have time. My point? I suspect many of the other cyclists exiting there were doing the same thing; using MAX to shorten an otherwise much longer trip, while still using our bikes for a significant portion of the distance travelled.

    I continue to believe that TriMet should look at the acceptance and adoption of multi-modal travel as a success to be supported, not as a problem needing to be \"fixed\".

    I wish Colin much success in his new position, and appreciate his cyclist\'s perspective on this issue.

    Susan

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  • DK August 23, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    In Susan\'s perspective, and what I also agree to, is that there are always that small number of grumps who like to complain and spoil it for everyone. Seems to be a good understanding and fit for all, including Tri-met. Just give it time.

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  • The United States Handicapper General August 23, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Dabby @ 2

    I\'m sure if you stayed on the left most lane on \"3rd hell hole\" you\'d be in much better shape not interacting with buses. 3rd isn\'t a great street setup for buses considering it\'s only a temporary area until the new area is done. I\'ve never had a problem with Trimet buses. Most Trimet drivers are courteous to bikes.

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  • Dabby August 23, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    I for one certainly know where to travel on Third avenue, thank you very much.

    And it is not in the far left lane, where the risk of being turned left into by a car is even greater that the bus risk.

    I travel third avenue in the middle lane, taking it fully.
    This is where buses turn into you without looking, or they see you, and you see them see you, then they pull into the lane anyway. THIS IS A FACT!

    There is only one block where the buses should even be in the middle lane, and it is only because of a Tri Met road block, at 3rd and SW Alder.

    \"Some\" Tri Met drivers are courteous to bikes, but not even close to most.

    I love it when people defend the obvious, biggest abusers in scenarios.

    Let me clue you in.

    \"Just because you have not had the problem, doesn\'t mean it isn\'t there.\"

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  • Tasha August 23, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    I was on the MAX (Yellow line)yesterday at 2pm,a very non rush hour time and there were still 7 bikes on the train. Granted, we didn\'t \"get in the way\" as there weren\'t that many people on a whole, but it just goes to show that A LOT of people use the MAX with their bikes and they\'d lose a huge ridership if they banned bikes at ANY time of day.

    I\'m glad they\'ve got a biker on their team and are willing to work with all of us to come to a solution. Let\'s hope it works!

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  • GLV August 23, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    \"\'Some\' Tri Met drivers are courteous to bikes, but not even close to most.\"

    And you know this because you get cut off multiple times every day, and each time you look up and recognize the driver as one you have never seen before. This scenario happens to you so often, that you are able to say without a hint of sarcasm that in the pool of 1000+ bus drivers, the majority are out to run us cyclists over.

    Sometimes I wonder whose side you\'re on, dabby.

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  • The United States Handicapper General August 23, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    Maybe if dabby being cut off \"multiple times every day\" he should stay off his bike, sounds like he doesn\'t know how to ride in traffic.

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  • tonyt August 23, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    Hey, United States Handicapper General?

    I suggest you not go there.

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  • SKiDmark August 23, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    I have had buses yield to me. I wave thank you at them. I have also been run into the curb by a bus - twice. Buses are just as much of a crap shoot as every other motorized vehicle on the road.

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  • Dabby August 23, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    Some is a very open ended way to put it, leaving it obviously too open for interpretation.
    There are courteous drivers, and there are not so courteous drivers.

    I have not counted, summed up an average, or know what the percentage may be.

    In all fairness I am probably on my bike around buses way more than most.

    Other than that explanation, I stand by my statement.

    Tri Met, as a corporation, and obviously from the top down, is not very \"on board\" with sharing the road.

    They act like they own the road, and this town, instead of realizing they have a privilege, which is charging for bus service on OUR city streets.

    A privilege which should mean they would be held accountable for their actions, or lack of actions.

    Wouldn\'t you think?

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  • GLV August 23, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    I have been cut off a few times...almost killed by a bus once. More often than not bus drivers are courteous. My gripe is with stereotyping. Skidmark I agree with you, show courtesy, spread the love. You catch more flies with honey.

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  • DanB August 24, 2007 at 8:43 am

    I think it is quite common to have had a close call with Tri-Met, often a result of driver \"intentional\" inattention.
    Isn\'t Tri-Met supported to some extent by our tax dollars?
    Seems like we, as tax payers, should have some forum to hold them accountable.

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  • Driveabus August 25, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Dabby

    You seem to be having a lot of problems with buses. Perhaps you should review your own riding habits before condeming all (or most) bus operators. Have you ever operated a 40\' bus through downtown at rush hour trying to avoid inconsiderate motorists, jaywalking pedestrians, and cyclists who don\'t know how to behave in traffic? Don\'t throw stones Dabby!!

    I do not mean to imply that most cyclists don\'t know how to ride in traffic. Most do and are good at it. But some make it difficult for everyone. I also do not mean to imply that all bus operators like (or perhaps just have no opinion either way) cyclists on the road. Some do not.

    Personally I enjoy the interaction with bicycles. When everything is flowing smoothly it is like a well choreographed dance.

    Bus operators are humans. They sometimes make mistakes. I don\'t believe that any of them leave the garage in the morning with the intention of making life difficult for bicyclists.

    Bicyclists are humans. They sometimes make mistakes. I don\'t believe that any of them leave home in the morning with the intention of making life difficult for bus operators.

    I\'ve rambled enough. And so have you.

    By the way, Trimet is a governmental organization. Not a corporation. Facts are more powerful when they are correct.

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