Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 8th, 2007 at 9:35 am
[Post updated at 11:33am]
There is mounting evidence that TriMet is considering a shift in their bike policy that may include a rush-hour prohibition of bikes on trains and an increased emphasis on bike parking at stations to encourage cyclists to park-and-ride.
Currently, bicycles are allowed on MAX trains during all hours with some restrictions. For instance, only two-wheeled bicycles are allowed, bikes must be “reasonably clean”, and bikes are not allowed on train cars that are full (read full rules in this PDF).
But commenters on yesterday’s post about TriMet’s Bikes on MAX survey have pointed out reasons to believe TriMet might be on the verge of a new policy: prohibiting bikes on trains during weekday rush-hour (which TriMet defines as 6-9am and 2-7pm).
In tandem with this policy change would be an increased emphasis on improved bike parking at stations (to encourage park-and-ride and discourage taking bikes on trains).
Here’s the evidence:
The last of the 11 questions on TriMet’s Bikes on MAX Survey (download PDF here) that is currently being handed out to cyclists includes this question,
- 11. How would you make this trip if you could not take your bike on MAX during weekday rush hours (6-9am & 2-7pm)?
That question concerned business owner Susan Otcenas. After reading it she commented that,
“It is VERY OBVIOUS that TriMet is looking for an excuse to BAN bikes from Trimet during “rush hour”.”
Otcenas owns a business in Hillsboro and she says a rush-hour bike ban would have a major impact on her business:
“If bikes were banned during these hours … 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.”
Commenter SteveG doesn’t think a rush-hour bike prohibition would be so bad. He recently commented that,
“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.”
Another commenter pointed out that the design of the new MAX train cars increased seating capacity but did not increase bike capacity. She was disappointed in this and sent a letter to TriMet that read:
“After… checking out the specs for the new Max trains… I am dismayed to see that the number of bike spots per car is remaining the same (4 per car).
…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.”
TriMet’s bike policy liaison Eric Hesse replied to her letter,
“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 facilities 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.”
This exchange makes it clear that TriMet is not going to add capacity to trains and instead will shift to encouraging park-and-ride through improved bike parking at stations.
Is TriMet leaning toward a rush-hour bike ban?
Their official rules already state that bicycles are not allowed on full train cars and that they have the right to require bicycles to leave a train car “when overcrowded”. I don’t know how often they enact those rules, but they seem pretty subjective whereas an outright ban during certain hours would leave nothing to interpretation.
I’ve asked TriMet if they have any thoughts on this and I hope to hear back from them soon.
For more reactions to the survey and to potential changes in TriMet’s bike policy, read the comments to my previous post and stay tuned for more coverage.
UPDATE: I asked TriMet to comment about concerns that they are doing the survey in part as a precursor to announcing a rush-hour bike ban. Here is what their bike policy liaison Eric Hesse said in reponse:
“We are conducting these on-board and online surveys to get better information about who is making bike-MAX connections and/or bringing bikes onboard, in what numbers, for what purposes, and in what locations.”