Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

TriMet wants to know more about bikes on MAX

Posted by on August 7th, 2007 at 10:32 am

bikes on max-1

Bikes don’t always mix well
on crowded trains.
(File photo)

A large increase in the amount of bicycles being taken on MAX trains has been a simmering problem for TriMet since the beginning of spring. That increase, combined with confusion over their policies has led to a situation in dire need of attention.

I heard from one rider who said a fare inspector told them they could not board a train unless there was a hook available (TriMet says you can, as long as you don’t block the aisles). Another person told me they received a firm lecture from an operator over the PA system that bikes were only allowed on hooks.

In order to address these issues and learn more about how bicycles are integrating with light-rail, TriMet is conducting a comprehensive survey of cyclists that they hope will lead to improved bike capacity and clearer policies.

The survey will be delivered on-board (download PDF) and online and will be directed at cyclists who bring bikes on MAX and those that bike to transit stations.

bikes on max

(File photo)

TriMet planning analyst Eric Hesse says they’ve started handing out the first of 3,000 on-board surveys (someone in the Forums already got one) and an online version should be up by August 17th. According to Hesse, they’re open to all ideas and nothing is off the table at this point.

“We’re pretty constrained on what we can do on the trains, but this survey might generate some ideas and we’re open to considering them. We know bikes are a big part of transportation in this city and we hope this survey gives us a better idea of usage rates. We want to know where people are riding from, what lines they’re on, and how many cyclists are using our system.”

Among the ideas TriMet has considered are:

  • encouraging use of folding bikes,
  • the Bike Tree,
  • real-time, web/PDA based bike locker availability tracking.

Hesse sits on the Technical Advisory Committee for PDOT’s Bicycle Master Plan Update and he says TriMet will share survey results with city bike planners.

While the focus of this survey is on MAX trains, TriMet has plans to test a three-bike bus rack in the future.

With more Portlanders riding bikes every day, it’s clear that the bike/transit connection is key to the success of our transportation system and it’s great to see TriMet taking action. Stay tuned for your chance to participate in the online survey.

Here is a PDF of the survey being handed out on MAX trains.

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  • Tbird August 7, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Maybe a solution would be to push forward those plexi-glass walls on one car per train in order to expand bike hanging capacity. I know it would reduce the \”sittable\” space. That could be overcome with hand straps or fold down seats on the wall that could be used if no bikes were there. As long as it doesn\’t infringe on the ADA accessible area I think this is the best solution.

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  • tonyt August 7, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Two bikes could be hung in the hook space if they were hung one up, one down. They\’d be tight, but it\’d work I think.

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  • Ayala August 7, 2007 at 11:40 am

    I got one yesterday morning on an eastbound Blue Line MAX at Beaverton Transit Center. It was kind of odd – a TriMet employee ran up to the doors of a low floor car and yelled out \”Who has these bikes hanging here?\”. The girl with the bike hanging across from mine said one was hers, and he handed her a folded piece of paper, then he yelled out the same thing again, pointing to my bike. I said it was mine, and he handed me the same folded up piece of paper. I opened it up and it was the survey, along with a free all-zone day pass.

    I\’m glad that TriMet is handing out these surveys – even without the free all-zone day pass, I\’m happy to fill it out survey in hopes that TriMet will add more bike spots on MAX. Let\’s just hope they\’ll actually do something with the survey results instead of just sitting on it.

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  • Donald August 7, 2007 at 11:42 am

    I was looking at the metro train cars in Brusells recently and noted that for every two-car train, half of one car was just floor space.

    Didn\’t see any bikes using them, but I don\’t think their tube is bike accessible.

    Anyway, why not just give us some space and let us figure it out on our own?

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  • BURR August 7, 2007 at 11:44 am

    I thought that bikes were also allowed in the handicapped seating areas as long as the area wasn\’t claimed by a disabled person.

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  • Brad August 7, 2007 at 11:56 am

    The simplest and least costly solution is to remove seats. In all honesty, westside trains have no seating left after the stops at Beaverton and Sunset Transit Centers and 50% of the riders stand already. Take out 30% of the seats and there are still enough chairs for elderly and infirm riders. Keep the ADA areas for wheelchairs and everyone can be resonably served.

    Better yet, put a low-floor car on the rear of each train, remove all seats, and designate that as the bike/wheelchair/standing only car.

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  • Ali August 7, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    I\’ve got a basic problem with only allowing bikes on hooks. Between a lack of upper-body strength and not having a top tube to grab onto, I can\’t actually get a bike up there.

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  • Todd August 7, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    The MAX enforcement officers and drivers are very inconsistent with their enforcement on the trains. I\’ve been riding MAX for about a year now.

    It seems to me the only people who are annoyed with the excess bikes are the yuppies who use MAX to head into downtown in the evening.

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  • Jessica Roberts August 7, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Quoting Donald: \”Anyway, why not just give us some space and let us figure it out on our own?\”

    I used to bike-MAX-bike commute from Irvington to Beaverton before they installed the hooks. It sucked. No matter where you were, you were in someone\’s way, and they resented you for it. It was this elaborate dance to maneuver around every time someone wanted to get on or off.

    The hooks have clarified and legitimized bike use on MAX, and I\’ve been much more comfortable since then. Of course, when they\’re all full, we\’re back to square one…

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  • Per August 7, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    The survey also asks how you as a bike rider would react to bikes being outlawed on the MAX during commuting hours. So this is clearly one of the solutions being considered. Everyone PLEASE fill in these surveys and express your displeasure at this particular solution—bikes outlawed during commuting hours would make life really hard for a lot of people.

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  • DK August 7, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    I vote for removing seats. Alot of people with or without bikes like to stand during the rush anyway. It makes for a subway-like thrill.

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  • BURR August 7, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Ali#7, I rarely \’hook\’ my bike either, I usually just leave it on it\’s wheels and hold it in the marked bike area under the hook.

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  • BURR August 7, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Per#10. Outlawing bikes during peak hours could be a real possibility. This would be similar to how systems like BART and others operate, so there is already a national precendent. In London, I believe most multi-modal cyclists use folding bikes, that may a requirement there.

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  • SKiDmark August 7, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    We buy a ticket just like everyone else. We should able to ride the train like everyone else. Bikes take up floor space when not on a hook but so does a stroller. Nobody would ever talk about banning strollers from the MAX during rush hour. That does not make sense anyways, because if you are on the MAX with a bike during rush hour then you are very likely a commuter. If the MAX is trying to encourage alternative transportation, banning bikes from trains is antithetical. People have their bike in the train because there is a bike commute on both ends of their train commute. Most people who take the MAX heading to or from Beaverton are doing so to avoid a 500\’ change in elevation (a BIG hill) with street routes that do not have bike lanes.There is a bike path but depending on where you are coming from it will add about 2 miles to your trip just to get to it\’s entrance. Unless you are in shape and willing to dice it up in rush hour traffic,taking the MAX is the best bet over the West Hills.

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  • P Finn August 7, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Separate infrastructure keeps gnawing at my brain…Wind-shielded, elevation-traffic-controlled, HPV-specific infrastructure…Even if we only started with I84>Gresham, it would advertise itself to all of the motorists and transit users automatically (We would be the only ones smiling! :F)

    Most folks think this kind of talk is nonsense. Nevertheless, it is cheaper to build and more efficient than light rail. End of Story.

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  • beth h August 7, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    In Philadelphia several years ago, they tried having a separate car for bikes to hang in. Problem was that other folks tried to jump on and steal the unattended bikes. As far as I know they\’re no longer using the bike-hook cars. SEPTA (Philly\’s transit system) has always banned bikes on inbound trains during the morning rush hour and on outbound trains in the evening. Which means that between 6 and 9 am, you cannot take your bike into the city via the train.

    Lately there\’s been a guy who comes on the MAX train and if both hooks are full he asks you to move so he can use a home-made S-hook to hang his bike next to yours. I always refuse him because I insist on standing next to my hanging bike to prevent theft. The last time I refused he got quite angry, and I told him to get on at an earlier MAX stop to increase his chances of getting a regular hook. I\’ve already had three different instances of folks trying to steal my bike and will no longer sit away from it.
    I think that banning the bikes from MAX would be like trying to put the genie back into the bottle. Too many people would be too angry, and there\’s no telling how some of them would act out their displeasure.

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  • SKiDmark August 7, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    I am pretty sure the guy with his own s-hook would keep an eye on your bike if you asked him to. Maybe you should be friendlier to your fellow cyclists. He might have a pump or a spare tube if you get a flat and aren\’t prepared yourself.

    All us cyclists are in this together.

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  • Geezer Guy August 7, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    I like #4\’s idea. Make one of the 2 cars half floor. I use to commute via MAX but I got tired of the hasle. I get on in Gresham and lots of times there would be a newer car with hooks and one of the old cars with no hooks. I hate the old cars and wont even try to get on with my bike. I wont ride MAX in the afternoons due to all the kids and dope heads riding, so if I do commute via MAX I have to plan on riding back out to Gresham. Its a good ride but takes to long.

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  • Ayala August 7, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    SKiDmark: THANK YOU. While I\’ve become a lot fitter since I\’ve started cycling, there\’s no way I could haul my fat self over the west hills and be in any condition to go to work afterwards. Even if I could, I wouldn\’t feel safe enough to go over on Cornell (even though it would deposit me right at work at Good Samaritan Hospital) or Burnside. Multi-moding on the MAX is really the most efficient way for me to get to work.

    Banning bikes during rush hour would be asinine – I wouldn\’t be able to take my bike on anymore. One of the questions involved whether adding more bike parking/storage at MAX stations would not make me bring my bike on the MAX. I answered NO because I use my bike in the evenings and weekends, and I\’m not going to lock it up in a locker so I can only use it once I get off the MAX to go to work and then to get back to the MAX station. Urgh. TriMet needs increased bike capacity on the MAX, not increased bike storage at MAX stations. And the idea of only allowing folding bikes is ludicrous. I\’ve been riding MAX for over four years now and have only rarely seen a folding bike. I have no plans on shelling out a bunch of cash to buy a folding bike just to use on MAX when I have a perfectly good road bike.

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  • Todd August 7, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    They should take away the folding seats directly in front of the hook (not the perpidicular ones) and make the bike rack deeper (rotate the hooks so they sit against the windows). You could probably fit at least one more hook, maybe two in that space (each side would double occupancy).

    The handicap space is usually occupied by some jerk who doesn\’t move for the handicap spot anyways.

    Banning bikes during rush hour would be an unpopular move since I primary take the max in the morning out to hillsboro. If the NW Portland had a decent bike path to climb over the hill I would probably work towards doing that. In any case, my commute by car (when I drove about a year ago) was 35 miles to forest grove.

    I\’d really like to know who complained, sure its crowded sometimes but for the most part it\’s not that bad, its bad enough we devote the majority of our resources to car infrastructure.

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  • Spencer August 7, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    1. The amount of area for hanging bikes is inefficently used. Two to three bikes can be hung in the space of one. There has to be a better design that could acomplish this. ps The extra \”S\” hook idea is brilliant.

    2. In London, the tube is so crowded that at most times you could not get a full sized bike on to it. A bike on the ground takes the effective space of 2 additional people. Folding bikes are a inovation of necessity. Not only do they permit you to take your bike with you, but you can also easily put it in your cube, office, Locker etc. No Parking required.

    3. Analyize your commute. I can ride to a Max stop in 4 miles and then get off down town (30 min.). I recognized the obstacle of getting a large bike onto the train and bought a road bike-based commuter and just ride the the extra 5 miles. Considering waiting time for the train, my direct commute is only 5 to 10 minuets longer (35 to 40 min). I did consider a folding bike but this is more fun. I use the bus as a back up when I need to be home faster or in really bad weather.

    Final: All in all, some of the resources dedicated to bikes on Max could be more effectively used, but in the long run the cost benefit ratio of more trains to accomodate fewer people just does not support adding even more squre footage when there are practicle work arounds such as folding bikes.

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  • Todd B August 7, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    The design options in totality:
    – flip up seats parallel to the train sides (Berlin)
    – remove the row behind the hooks
    – add another hook (or use a small u lock)
    – add an adjustable hook rack system like Amtrak uses (Capitol Line to Sacramento CA)
    – remove all seats (replace with bars and straps) on one train car and add side hooks (Caltrain bike car)
    – add small shelf bins for Brompton folding bikes to use (Amtrak Cascades)
    – remove the flip up seat in the ADA space and replace with bike hooks (bike would then have to leave if a wheelchair user came aboard)
    – improve bikeway network and bike parking, so that peak hour bike use of transit can be minimized (perhaps even add a \’bike escalator\’ up to Overlook)

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  • Richard Wilson August 7, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    A Brompton folding bike completely changed my MAX commute from a frustratingly stressful and awkward shuffle to a peaceful journey. I\’d recommend looking into folding bikes if you plan to ride during peak hours for the long term – it\’s only going to get more crowded as Portland grows, gas prices go up and bicycle ridership increases…

    I agree with above comments that bike hanging area is terribly designed. Better hooks allowing additional bikes would help a lot, but it seems like a short term solution as soon those will be filled up, too.

    Even better would be a single dedicated bike area or car, instead of a spreading bike areas out over the train (nothing like the fun of commiting to a particular entrance when the train pulls up to find there\’s no room and the doors are about to close). I used to ride CalTrain in the Bay Area with and they had a dedicated bike car at a predictable end of the train so you knew where to wait for it. You put a tag on your bike showing your destination and cooperated with other bikers to bungie your bike to wall racks according to your final destination, with more distant destination bikes buried behind those getting off first. There was a lot less shucking and jiving and irritation for non-bikers as bikers and walk-ons didn\’t have to mix except at the exit. So I guess I\’d like to see a move towards better designed, dedicated, purpose built bike cars or at least half a car dedicated in this fashion.

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  • nam August 7, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    I love my Dahon Speed folder!!!!! I rarely get a hook on my commute home these days. It\’s so nice to be able to fold up my bike and sit!

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  • Todd August 7, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    If you are riding trimet and its getting full, balance your bike on one wheel. It saves alot of room and makes it easier for everyone to get on and off the train.

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  • Jeff P August 7, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Aren\’t there areas any longer that allow you to stand with your bike by the operator/kiosk end? That\’s what I have done when riding MAX.

    On another note: I have a co-worker that rides a folding Dahon on occasion – he has been refused service by bus operators who told him he could not carry his folded bike on.

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  • Matthew August 7, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    What do I think they should do? Run more trains. It isn\’t (just) bikes that are causing this problem, the problem is that the trains are full. Imagine that, people actually use our mass transit system. A few extra trains at rush hour is actually quite cheap in the big scheme of things.

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  • rixtir August 7, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Quoting Jessica Roberts:The hooks have clarified and legitimized bike use on MAX

    Not only that, but I feel totally within my rights making somebody move out of the bike area when I come on board and they\’re in my way. An assertive \”excuse me\” is all I\’ve ever needed to get some space.

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  • jeremy August 7, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    +1 for Matthew…

    I was thinking that while reading all of these responses. TriMet is a business…and business must (if they choose to survive) meet demand with supply. Blaming overcrowding on cyclists is a ridiculous and short sighted approach. Why are these survey only going out to cyclists? Shouldn\’t everyone be asked how they would best receive a solution to the problem? As much as PDX tries sometimes, this city often falls short in its approach towards alternative transportation solutions…

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  • rixtir August 7, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    I like #4\’s idea. Make one of the 2 cars half floor.

    Absolutely. But the bike space still needs to be marked out as bike space, because as Jessica observed, the current hooks have clarified and legitimized bike use on MAX.

    Also seconded: More trains at rush hour.

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  • Donna August 7, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    I look forward to being able to complete the survey. To ban bikes from the MAX during peak hours would put my job in jeopardy, and I\’m not going to be able to afford a second bike anytime soon.

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  • Todd B August 7, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    In addition to the more trains for rush hour (within their ability to run trains into the downtown bottleneck) how about:
    – a new train car design (Hong Kong Style double deckers: bikes and ADA on bottom and peds and tourists on top)
    – a new style of station platform (consolidate stations and close off street intersection to cars to double platform length.
    – a combination of low cars and cars with steps (4 total): leave intersection open at stops and board last 2 cars in street with steps, like the old PCC cars – with ADA + bike access would be on the front cars at platform.)

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  • Susan Otcenas August 7, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    I have a copy of the survey as well.

    It is VERY OBVIOUS that TriMet is looking for an excuse to BAN bikes from Trimet during \”rush hour\”. (It\’s also clear they think more bike parking at the stations is the solution). They specifically ask \”How would you make this trip if you could not take your bike on MAX during weekday rush hours (6-9am & 2-7pm)?\” \”I would have to quit my job because I couldn\’t get there any other way\” is not a listed optional answer.

    If bikes were banned during these hours (hello, since when do we have EIGHT hours of \”rush hour\” in a day??), I\’m feeling pretty confident that I would immediately lose several members of my staff who commute from the east side of Portland out to Hillsboro every day. There would be no way to modify a person\’s work schedule to make a bike-max-bike commute workable with 8 hours a day of no-bikes-on-MAX and still have it make business sense for me as an employer. We, like most businesses, need staff during traditional business hours.

    The simplest solution to MAX overcrowding is to run additional trains. Kicking bikes off MAX is not going to solve the overcrowding issues (though I would happily support banning all those gargantuan strollers during \”rush hour\”. After all, the stroller set is not typically trying to get to work in the morning). We need to be encouraging MORE people to get out of their cars and ride MAX, not throwing up barriers to mass transit users.

    Yeah, yeah, I know…preaching to the choir.


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  • rixtir August 7, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    It is VERY OBVIOUS that TriMet is looking for an excuse to BAN bikes from Trimet during \”rush hour\”.

    If that\’s the case, an issue we should be taking up with the Metro Councillors who represent us AND oversee Trimet.

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  • Todd August 7, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    Hurray! I got a survey today!

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  • BURR August 7, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    more bike parking at stations is also needed, but is not a solution. what TriMet needs is BOTH more bike parking at stations (which, BTW, they strongly resisted in the past), AND more bike capacity on the trains.

    To everyone that want\’s them to run more trains, I don\’t think they can. The steel bridge and the area around Interstate and the Rose Garden are the limiting factors, as anyone who\’s every waited for the traffic signals there knows.

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  • rixtir August 7, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    To everyone that want\’s them to run more trains, I don\’t think they can. The steel bridge and the area around Interstate and the Rose Garden are the limiting factors, as anyone who\’s every waited for the traffic signals there knows.

    Is that something that can be addressed through changes to the intersections and/or lights there?

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  • Slim August 7, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Lets not discount the concept of trying to get SOME bikes off the train as part of the solution. The ONLY reason I bring my bike on the train is that there are no lockers available at one end of my commute. For the 3 closest stops to my workplace, there are over 50 people waiting for as many lockers. I\’m told it may be years before a locker is available. So where do the 50 bikes go that aren\’t in those desired lockers? Taking up space on the train, even though the owners would prefer to park them. Trimet can purchase literally a couple hundred lockers for the price of a single MAX car, so I really think its worth exploring as one of the possible solutions to crowding. For many of us, leaving a bike in a locker at one end of our commute and using a combination buses or trains for the rest is quite manageable. It also leaves room for others who really need to bring bikes on the train. Its a very capital-friendly approach for Trimet when considering the alternatives of additional cars or trains. I would urge any survey respondents to consider the value of additional lockers as one part of a broader solution strategy.

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  • Joe August 7, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Someone mentioned TriMet should operate more like a private business, and meet demand with greater supply. The problem with applying business principles to the MAX or just about any transit line in Portland (or the US for that matter) is that every additional train or bus running during peak hour requires a huge subsidy. There\’s no such thing as profit in the US public transit industry.

    If TriMet increases service during peak hours, they should charge higher fare for peak hour service. While they\’re at it, they should charge more for longer trips. This sort of pricing system allows riders to be more responsive to the costs of providing higher quality transit (more frequent service) during peak hours. Some discretionary trips (non-time dependent) might shift to other times of the day to make room for others and the higher ticket prices could support the operations and purchase of more trains running at that time. Washington DC has a system like this in place as do a few other systems. Trimet would need to update it\’s ticketing/payment system (which is already in the works) to make this work.

    So before people start saying \”more trains, more trains!\” or \”make way for bikes!\” you need to ask, \”how can Trimet afford better service when every train runs at a deficit\” This is a huge challenge, especially in an expanding system with visions of Milwaukie and Vancouver light rail extensions in the horizon. Economic studies have repeatedly shown that increasing transit prices (especially at peak hour) results in more overall revenue for the system (meaning that the revenue from the few riders turned off by the increased price are offset by the increased revenue for the whole system).

    I\’m all for paying more if it means better service. When compared to the price of a taxi, a $3 or $4 trip to Hillsboro or Gresham doesn\’t seem so bad.

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  • Tomer August 7, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    I got one too, and Susan is absolutely right: The survey is heavily slanted towards justifying the outlawing of bicycles during crucial hours of the day, with the \”solution\” being more bike parking at stations. That this is infeasible for people riding significant distances from their end point station goes without saying. Folding bicycles may work for some, but there is a large section of commuters that can not afford them.

    So what can we do? The first thing would be to try to get publicity for this, so that more people will respond to the surveys. The cracked out way that they are distributed now means that a lot of people ignore them; wild eyed people yelling \”whose bikes are these?\” and throwing papers inside trains (which I witnessed today) make people think it is some sort of sales pitch or weird advertising.

    If you ride the MAX with your bike, please take the time to fill in a survey and let the powers that be know that banning bikes during peak hours would be bad!

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  • janel August 7, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    I got a survey the other day. I suggested an incentive program like Santa Cruz where they give out $200 coupons for folding bikes and $70 off 2 bus passes.

    They also provide interest free bike loans for seniors, disabled or fixed income residents; or employees of companies that are members of the city transit organization. Does Portland have any similar programs?

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  • BURR August 7, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    You know, this sounds like just another \”Our town really isn\’t ready for Platinum status\” SNAFU.

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  • Aaron August 7, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    I made copies of the survey, and I have several copies which I handed out at Roger\’s ride today. If you want one, just let me know. I\’ll see about putting a pdf online.

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  • BURR August 7, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    yes, please post a copy

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  • Mr. Viddy August 7, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Call me a pessimist on this topic. In the end, I think bikes will lose out. They will keep the number of hooks the same and ultimately ban bikes during peak hours. Forget about all the news about more and more people riding bikes in Portland, we are still a minority and when push comes to shove we will lose out on this one.

    As for the survey, I will fill it out so my voice will be heard but I won\’t hold my breath.

    I\’ve never had an issue with a fare inspector or driver but I continue to get plenty of hard looks from riders any time I take my bike from Beaverton into Portland and the train is even a little full.

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  • todd August 7, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    just for reference, in the netherlands, a dense country where they take both bikes and trains VERY seriously (~40% of trips are bike, much of the rest train all over the country, every town, several times an hour), only folding bikes go on trains on a regular (free) basis. if you don\’t want/can\’t afford a decent folder, you buy as many cheap bikes as you have regular destinations and park them in the enormous bike parking facilities at all the train stations, so you have bikes at both ends of your journey.

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  • Tom August 7, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    I was completely honest on the survey saying I would rather drive than change my commute. I also begged them to not take away my ability to take my bike on the MAX. I work nights and in no way do I feel safe leaving my bike locked up overnight, even in the secured lockers. Can I take other ways? Sure, I can take a bus and walk. Sorry, after a 12+ hour shift, it is all I can do to stay straight on my ride home.

    Can Trimet do anything to fix it? Sure. Will they? I\’m beginning to have my doubts. I\’m getting to feel that my days on the MAX are numbered. But we\’ll see.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 7, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Here is a PDF of the survey being handed out.

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  • josh m August 7, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    The other day I had two interesting experiences with my bike on teh max…
    One when I got on the max, there was two available bike hooks. One shady looking character that made eye contact and looked away, but didn\’t move.. the other was blocked by two Trimet bus drivers, who I had to ask if I could hang my bike up.

    Later while coming back to Portland, I went to get off the max in beaverton to get on the red line(since the blue one was extremely retardedly packed, which could have been do to the 30 minute wait on a thursday night that there was a baseball game), as I told people I was getting off, one guy said to my face, \”but I don\’t want to lose my spot\”.

    I think in the old cars, they should take out some seats to accomidate bike parking, lately everytime I go to get on the max, they have a new and old car, and the new car is filled.
    I once was yelled at by a driver for putting my bike up against the driver door on one of the old cars. He told me i had to move(it was during rush hour), i asked him where he expected me to move to, then I was told to get off.

    I just try to avoid the max all together. The only times I use it are to go to the west side to meet up with my dad.

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  • rixtir August 7, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    I rather doubt my definition of \”secure parking\” is what Trimet has in mind when it asks if I would use \”secure parking.\”

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  • Bjorn August 7, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Part of the problem is the business model that trimet is using for bike parking. One person rents/controls 1 locker completely. They might only park their bike there 1-2 times a week but they still hold the locker 100% of the time. A better solution would be some sort of automated valet system where you pay per hour with a card. This would let you park your bike in any empty locker anywhere in the city and just swipe your card to lock and unlock it. This would allow a much more efficient system without using extra space.


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  • Matthew August 8, 2007 at 12:06 am

    While the Steel Bridge is indeed a huge bottleneck in the system, TriMet\’s estimates say that they can continue to add trains to it to match \”projected\” ridership growth until 2017… Now, that isn\’t that far away, but my point is, it isn\’t full now, and it won\’t be full when the green line opens either, so they can run more trains in the short term, which means there will still be room for bicycles. In the long term, they are going to have to figure out a solution to the steel bridge, regardless of if they kick bicycles off at rush hour or not, (although it may give them an extra year or two to deal with it…)

    The true problem is money. About half the money for operating a train comes from fares, the other half comes from a payroll tax, (compared to cars, this is actually quite a small subsidy, both in percentage terms and in dollars per trip terms.) But as the price of gas has risen, more people have started riding MAX than their projections said should. (TriMet\’s projected ridership growth doesn\’t apparently include variables like peak oil.) As such, ridership on MAX is up 5.8% in the last year, and it will continue to rise faster than the payroll tax income in both the short and long term, and TriMet needs to figure out what to do about it. (The payroll tax used to work fairly well: When payrolls fell because people didn\’t have jobs in a recession, they didn\’t need to take TriMet to those jobs either.)

    MAX isn\’t special, they have this problem with streetcar and buses too, but bikes aren\’t being forced off the buses because of it, (nobody wants to ride on the front bumper of a bus anyways.) TriMet also isn\’t special, almost all big transit agencies are having similar problems with ridership exceeding projections.

    The long term solution is for TriMet to get more money, but they\’ve probably figured out that they can delay that for a little while by doing things like kicking bicycles off the trains. As such, what it will take to keep bicycles on the trains is to make sure they get more money for more trains sooner rather than later… My preferred way of paying for that would be that we take all that money that we can\’t even keep track of in Iraq and use that, but I\’m also willing to consider something like paying more taxes or higher fares. The problem is that higher fares tend to be a regressive, where as higher taxes aren\’t politically popular, but more money is the only long term solution to their problem, (regardless of if they kick bikes off at rush hour or not.)

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  • Molly August 8, 2007 at 7:26 am

    I too filled out the Tri-Met survey and stressed the importance of letting bikes on during rush hour. I ride from the \’Couve to Expo Center and it\’s the fastest way for me to get to work in downtown Portland. Keeping bikes off MAX is totally unfair and goes against what I thought Portland was striving toward – using alternative forms of transportation.

    Bike lockers don\’t help those who use their bikes to run errands during the lunch hour or after work.

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  • Molly S. August 8, 2007 at 7:49 am

    Yes, do fill out the survey, but please also add your personal comments to the back! If you only fill out the questions on the survey, TriMet will only gain information regarding the need for bike lockers at transit stations. You\’ll notice there are NO questions regarding the number of hooks on the max or whether or not you are able to get an appropriate spot for your bike. Because the survey is so one-sided, they already know what they want to do as a resolution BEFORE they\’ve even received the answers!

    Yes, they handed out surveys with a free ticket (which is very nice and all), but wouldn\’t it have been money better spent if they handed out a postage-paid envelope instead? These surveys are supposed to completed and then MAILED to TriMet. I\’m sure many of us bikeportland readers will actually take the time to fill it out and find a stamp to mail it in, but I bet that is going to cause a lot of other riders to toss the survey aside (well-intentioned or not) without ever mailing it in. Also, please note the absence of an ADDRESS on the survey… and when you search on TriMet\’s website for an address, it is not easily found. To save you the time of looking for it, here it is: 4012 SE 17th Ave. Portland, OR 97202. I hate to be a pessimist, but after riding the Max 5 days a week, year-round, for 3+ years, this is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Again, PLEASE add your constructive comments to the survey and send it in!

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  • Molly S. August 8, 2007 at 8:12 am


    After discovering the news that the new Max trains are designed with SAME number of bike hooks (but somehow more seats), I wrote to TriMet inquiring as to what their reasoning was this design (http://www.portlandmall.org/about/newtrains.htm).

    I had hoped that if the design on the current trains could not be altered, at the very least, they would incorporate better bike facilities on the new trains. I have posted my initial email and the response I got from TriMet below. I was not very satisfied by the answer they gave. Read on:


    After perusing the portlandmall.org website and checking out the specs for the new Max trains (http://www.portlandmall.org/about/newtrains.htm), I am dismayed to see that the number of bike spots per car is remaining the same (4 per car).

    As a regular user of TriMet (including 5 days a week riding Max from downtown to Hillsboro with my bike), I feel like this issue is quite obvious, but perhaps the officials who chose these new trains are not aware of the grossly inadequate bike facilities on the current Max trains.

    Is TriMet planning on adding more bike spots to the new trains? Is it possible to alter the design? I would love to hear back from someone on this issue and would be happy to call or write to the appropriate person.

    Please let me know the best person to contact regarding this issue.

    Thank you,
    Molly Schultz


    Ms. Schultz,

    Thank you for writing TriMet regarding bicycle capacity on the newest MAX trains, to come online with the Portland Mall/I-205 project.

    As the bicycle policy liaison for the agency, I assure you TriMet is well aware that, as biking grows in popularity in Portland, demand for space on MAX is growing as a result. It is TriMet\’s view that the only successful long-term strategy for addressing this growing demand is to expand bike parking facilties at or near MAX platforms, as a number of design constraints make providing sufficient capacity for bikes on board MAX vehicles extremely difficult, especially during peak periods.

    Please feel free to contact me should you wish to discuss this further. Thank you again for sharing your concerns and ideas with me on this important matter.


    Eric Hesse
    Strategic Planning Analyst
    Office of the General Manager
    4012 SE 17th Ave
    Portland, OR 97202
    VM: 503.962.4977

    Note: \”…a number of design constraints make providing sufficient capacity for bikes on board MAX vehicles extremely difficult, especially during peak periods.\” This reasoning seems very poor to me. My response would be, TRY HARDER!

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  • DK August 8, 2007 at 8:25 am

    After reading the posted survey from T-met, I agree with many that feel they are trying to remove bikes from Max during certain hours. Unfortunately they\’re choosing the hours most crucial to most working bikers…especially in the winter months. They should be happy that bikers are using their stupid trains and smelly buses.

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  • SteveG August 8, 2007 at 8:32 am

    The tone of most of these postings makes it sound like there\’s a nasty war brewing. It might be time to take a step back. TriMet\’s not the problem here; we should be partnering with them.

    The problem is that a cyclist with a bike takes up about 3 times as much space as a person standing, and as Max gets more crowded, there will be increasing pressure to limit or exclude bikes from Max trains.

    As much as I hate to say so out loud (I\’m a lifelong bike commuter), limiting access to bikes during rush hour makes sense. After all, you can\’t take bikes on most crowded mass transit systems in the rest of the world, and there\’s a good reason for that. It\’s space-inefficient, and it would result in far fewer people riding transit. [Remember the BTA poster of all the cars on the road being replaced by bikes? Now substitute bicyclists on the Max, vs. pedestrians…]

    It won\’t be optimal for everyone, but the solutions that are likely to win out are the same ones that have won out in Europe and Asia, where there are lots of transit commuters AND lots of bicyclists:

    1) Some commuters will buy folders, which will still be allowed.

    2) There will be more and more bike parking AT THE STATIONS

    3) Many commuters will have to get two (probably cheap) bikes: one that stays locked up where they get ON the Max, and another that stays where we get OFF. Again, that\’s how lots of commuters in Europe and Asia do it, and it\’s clearly not because of some conspiracy. They simply need to move as many people as possible, as efficiently as possible.

    It begs the question, though, or where we\’ll store all of those bikes. TriMet is looking at different locker options, all of which are space-inefficient, ugly, etc.

    The most elegant solution is one that the bike community should rally behind: Bike Trees. They\’re already mentioned by Eric Hesse of TriMet in the original BikePortland article, and I think that\’s a good sign.

    And before everyone freaks out about the high cost, note that using them could be practically free (paid for by advertising).

    Check it out. http://www.biketree.com. They\’re cool, space-efficient, and would even provide shelter from the rain. I envision rows of them lining every Max stop.

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  • peejay August 8, 2007 at 8:38 am

    I plan to write to TriMet telling them that if they remove bikes from the trains during any time of the day, I not only will not use the trains anymore, but will request that my company stop participating in the TriMet annual pass program until the bike access is restored.

    It is preposterous that two great forms of alternative transport cannot find a way to work together on this issue. The BTA needs to step it up and pressure the TriMet board of governors to take a more balanced, responsible approach to bicycles, since they interact with TriMet modes and infrastructure in so many ways, and since the goal of TriMet is to get people out of their cars.

    For many reasons, bike lockers are not an option, and are a waste of resources. Many of us would be forced to use two bikes to do our commutes, IF we could get two lockers at the right stations! I, for one, will bite the bullet and start climbing the hill over to Beaverton, as this was the only portion of my ride that I relied on TriMet for anyway. Others will have more difficult choices.

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  • Ayala August 8, 2007 at 9:12 am

    Molly S(#54) – the survey actually has an address and a business reply mail permit number/\’no postage necessary if mailed in the US\’ thing on the back. All I did with my survey was tape it up at the edge and drop it in the mailbox. Here\’s hoping that it gets there..

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  • Todd August 8, 2007 at 9:15 am

    @54: its free to mail, you don\’t need a stamp.

    I commented on my survey if they banned bikes during rush hour I would simply leave ealier to head to work. I know not everyone has this flexability but thats how I plan on attacking the issue.

    If they would add an additional hook to each spot (8 per train) that would take care of most demand. Remove the old style cars off the blue line and the bike issue is solved.

    Thats the real issue, one car with hooks for the blue line.

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  • Ayala August 8, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Todd: I actually called and asked TriMet about removing the old tall cars one cold winter night when I had to wait an hour and a half (seriously) for a train with space for a bike. They said that there\’s nothing wrong with the tall cars, and that they\’re not going to take them out of service until they break down and are unrepairable. Lately I\’ve been finding that I\’m able to get on them…the bar at the end operator\’s cab has a screw that sticks out enough so that I can \”hang\” my bike seat on it and it stays on pretty securely.

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  • Geezer Guy August 8, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Thanks Jonathan for putting the survey on here for me to see. I don\’t see how this survey will help trimet figure anything out. Looks like a waste of time survey to me. I guess I\’ll just keep planning my commute as I do now which does not involve MAX anymore.

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  • Molly S. August 8, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Ayala & Todd– thanks for the mailing info. The one I received is just a single sheet of paper with the survey on the front and is blank on the back. Perhaps they made a bad batch of copies like this. I\’m very glad to hear that they are making it easy to mail back.

    Also, Todd #60, in regards to your comment & leaving earlier, I have done this for the past 2 years and it has worked fairly well in the morning, but not so much in the evenings. My schedule is 7-3:30, so I get on the Blue Line downtown at 5:50AM and 9 times out of 10 get a hook. But a couple stops down the line, there are already more cyclists who get on and end up standing for the majority of the trip. I have found that your chances of getting a spot are better if you can get on the line earlier.

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  • Joseph August 8, 2007 at 11:27 am

    It is essential that bikes continue to be taken on to the MAX. Perhaps bike commuters should buy a double-ticket, because they take up twice the space. $4 bike tickets during rush hour would dissuade enough people to keep the number of bikes down to just those who can\’t make the ride without assistance.
    In the long run they need to double the number of bike hooks. or go to a car design with more empty space.
    I like the enclosed boulevards suggested by P. Finn, above.
    Tri-Met needs to move toward the new flexcar-like bike rental systems that are being established in Europe.

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  • VR August 8, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Tri-Met did just staff a position for their bicycle program. They are clearly not anti-bike.

    It is just that, as readers of BikePortland may forget some times, there are other people in the city, people who don\’t bike.

    And Tri-Met has to attempt to match everyones needs and desires. I bet there are plenty of people who complain about the bikes on MAX.

    Remember that the best possible thing is to encourage and work with them, not complain. Help Tri-Met find solutions…

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  • Todd August 8, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Doubling the hooks and moving the tall trains to the red line would do alot. All in all, I don\’t understand what all the fuss is about. Most people are accomidating, they ride public transit, it comes with the territory.

    I\’m curious why this is being brought up one month before summer ends and most fairweather riders leave. Seems pointless IMO.

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  • VR August 8, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    \”I\’m curious why this is being brought up one month before summer ends and most fairweather riders leave. Seems pointless IMO.\”

    Maybe because summer will be here AGAIN next year? And bicycle ridership is increasing every year? And public policy takes time to plan and implement?


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  • Ayala August 8, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Todd (#66): TriMet won\’t move tall trains to the Red Line because one of the benefits of the Red Line is that they\’re all low-floor trains, allowing ease in getting luggage on and off, and given that the Red Line is to/from the airport…

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  • Sugata August 8, 2007 at 3:49 pm


    Dear Trimet,

    Thanks a lot for conducting this survey. Maybe one day we will see HW 26 paved over with light rail on one lane, a bus-lane on the other-lane and the shoulder used as bike lanes.

    As compared to the cycle-MAX combination,
    the bus-train combination would increase my commute time from 55 minutes to an intolerable 90 minutes- I would be spend ing 3 hours a day commuting. We are your customers and you should be doing your best to increase ridership!

    Run a bus for bike-commuters on HW26. It would offload cyclists at all the major exits on HW26. The reason it would work with cyclists is that they could then ride the 2-3 miles south/north to work from there. It will be easy to modify this bus to have extra bikes. One of the shorter buses that Trimet has can be modified to include bike racks in the back. Alternately, one could design a bus that would allow bikes inside the bus. If you remove the seats in the front, and have a bike rack/hooks like on the MAX, you can have 15-20 bikes on a bus- in addition to the two on the front. The riders could sit in the back of the bus.

    A similar shuttle can be run on I-84, I-205, etc.

    Another solution would be to have a one of the two cars as a bike-only car in the MAX at RUSH HOURS

    Run more trains during rush-hour. Make all the blue line trains terminate in Hillsboro downtown rather than Elmonica 158th Avenue

    -Wider door openings to allow multiple cyclists to embark/disembark
    simultaneously safely
    -Multi-row staggered hangers to maximize capacity
    -Platform level floor for easy access
    – Surely you folks can come up with a simple modification to the car to include more bikes on the train. The sidesaddle seats in one car can be removed and replaced with bike-racks. We can have 4 bike racks rather than 2 on each end of the MAX.

    Thanking you,


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  • Todd August 8, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    We should seriously side with individuals who are disabled and demand that the blue line be converted to low ADA capabible trains (this will double capacity on the blue).

    and LOL @ 2-7PM, if you\’ve ever ridden around 2-3PM its empty.

    Annual Pass Holder

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  • Joe August 10, 2007 at 12:38 am

    Steve (post #57) is right in my opinion. Bikes on MAX are an inefficient use of space. Trimet doesn\’t mind losing a few bicyclists as long as those bicyclists keep their bikes off the train to make way for the dozens of people that will gladly take their place (in far less space I might add). Let\’s face it, bikes take up less room than cars, but pedestrians equally take up less space than bikes.

    As inconvenient as it may sound, people who take their bikes on MAX during peak hours should seiously consider a new formula for their commute. Trimet is right, bike parking at MAX stations is hugely deficient and for them to take an interest in it is a positive sign. We should be working with Trimet to install better bike parking rather than antagonizing them for trying to improve their system for everyone.

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  • peejay August 10, 2007 at 5:42 am


    There are many other things people bring on trains that are \”inefficient\” for train loading capacity, and none of them help them on their commute. And let\’s not throw out terms like \”dozens\” without qualifying it. If you kicked of bikes, you also kicked off riders, four or more per car. The space gained could fit maybe eight additional people without bikes, for a net gain of four per car, not \”dozens.\” And that is only when the train is full to capacity, not during most of the time, even during rush hour. It\’s been my observation that the bike racks fill up before the seats do, so what you\’re really doing is kicking off four people, and gaining zero to eight people, for maybe an average of four. Net gain zero.

    So stop trying to make this a bikes vs people issue, because it\’s not.

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  • josh m August 13, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    \”Perhaps bike commuters should buy a double-ticket, because they take up twice the space.\”
    If that were the case, it would not be fare for people with strollers and other objects that take up just as much room. Why should I pay $4 when some lady that shot out 10 kids and has a giant stroller taking up just as much space, doesn\’t have to?

    And where do they plan to put all this extra bike parking at on stops?
    The yellow line has no room for full time bike parking.
    Nor do many of the East blue line stops. Let alone, who really feels comfortable leaving hteir bike for 9 hours in these locations?

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  • RN August 13, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    This is very important topic and should be moved to the front page of this site.

    Bike-max-bike combo makes it possible for me to live in SE and work in the suburbs – where the jobs are.

    There is no replacement for the bike-max-bike transportation option.

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  • Richard August 31, 2007 at 10:03 am

    The MAX was a leader in providing secure bike parking in the early 1980\’s and it installed some of the first modern station bicycle lockers in the country. I know this because I designed and manufactured those reinforced composite bike lockers for the MAX project on the Mall and they are still in use today.
    Recently new bicycle racks inside the vehicles have become available that will have higher density AND support bicycle wheels better than the simple J hooks and new racks can accomodate bikes on 16 inch centers in a vertical position staggered hi-Low 12 inches, they are easy to roll into and out from, and racks can have a web strap to clip around the handle bars for added parking stability. The racks can even allow bikes to be quickly locked to the rack and unlocked if desired with cyclists U lock.
    Bicycle locker design has also improved and expanded with a couple of new electronic models where even on-line reservations for short term locking and on-demand locking can be supplied for membership based user groups.
    The future can look brighter for bicycle commuters to and on MAX transit with good benchmark bicycle locker parking and on vehicle storage solutions.

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