Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

TriMet says passengers not required to move for bikes

Posted by on August 17th, 2007 at 11:25 am

There has been some confusion about whether or not passengers on TriMet MAX trains are required to move for bicycles in the designated bike hook area.

Now, in a comment exchange from a post back in April TriMet has clarified that passengers are not required to move in order to make room for bicycles.

Here’s the exchange…

A commenter named “nothstine” wrote:

trimet and bikes

Bikes and people share space
in bike hook area.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

“I got on the MAX downtown several weeks ago, specifically entering the one door where there was an open bike hook.

Standing in that space was a guy working a crossword puzzle who refused to move, claiming that the law said he had to get out of the handicapped area for someone in a wheelchair, but he didn’t have to get out of the bike hook area for a bike.

I disagreed, as did several bystanders…but I let it go…

Does anyone know what the rules are regarding whether passengers or bikes have priority in the bike hook area on MAX?”

TriMet’s bike policy liaison Eric Hesse answered nothstine’s comment:

Hanging on the MAX

Designated bike hook area.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

“This has recently been reviewed by our legal department, and passengers are not required to move from the bike hook area to make way for bikes, though we encourage them to do so. This is why we instruct passengers wishing to bring bikes onboard to courteously ask the other rider(s) to move and make that room available, and in most instances the other rider(s) will do so without any issue (providing space is available for them to move). I am very sorry to hear that this was not your experience recently, and trust that this was unusual in your general experience. Please let me know if not.”

Keep this in mind next time you board a crowded train.

[By the way, I just organized all (51) of my TriMet stories. You can view them in the archives.]

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • RN August 17, 2007 at 11:48 am


    I now feel like a second-class citizen. Good job TriMet.

    Platinum Status? For Portland?

    You have got to be kidding!


    (A Bike-Max-Bike commuter. Time to car shop!)

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  • Dk August 17, 2007 at 11:48 am

    I would think that they\’d rather have a person without a bike out near the isles given the choice. So now there\’s a chance that, given a passengers right not to have to move out of the bike area for a bike, that the rider will piss more people off by standing in the isle with said bike. Kind of nonsense.

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  • Evan August 17, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    I\’ve always just walked on holding my bike up ready to hang and politely (although somewhatforcefully) saif \”excuse me\” to anyone standing in the hook area. Nobody has ever refused me the space. I suppose if anyone did refuse me the space I would just stand there holding my front wheel in their face if the train was crowded, or otherwise go stand somewhere that let me hold the bike on both wheels if space was available. I\’d probably find somewhere rather obtrusive to make the point that other passengers might put pressure on the person standing in front of the hook if they want me to move.

    For the record, I\’ve also been told to use the hook by both passengers and TriMet people. Unfortunately, my old Spinergy wheels won\’t fit in the hooks, and they would get crushed even if they did.

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  • Todd B August 17, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Perhaps Trimet\’s bicycling customers (and BTA) can ask that they relook into this issue based on their stenciling of this zone with the MUTCD symbol for bikes on all of the low floor MAX cars.

    In practice the use of this symbol as a stencil typically signifies \’bikes only\’, such as a bike lane.

    This project [likley] utilized both federal and state funding for these cars and may have described the use of this space as \’bikes only\’ (in the grant documents) so as to improve passenger safety or to seek permission to have fewer passenger seats per car, so there should be some policy protection for this segregation of spatial use…unless they risk not meeting the intent of the funding (multimodalism) and risk future funding.

    Just a thought…

    Is there a planning or law student who can look into this…?

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  • Dabby August 17, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Another fine example of the crap we deal with from Tri Met.

    I have had people refuse ot move for me also. Even after i have asked nicely for them to move.
    What do I do?

    Put my body and bike in the space and \”Wedge\” them in…..

    Next time they will be standing somewhere else.
    Lesson learned.

    By the way, why are we letting Tri Met run this town anyway?

    I guess they Mayor isn\’t doing it, so someone has to.

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  • N.I.K. August 17, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Interesting. Their emphasis seems to be on the fact that the *legal requirement* doesn\’t exist and so they don\’t have any official policy on it. I guess they would also \”encourage\” me to move for stroller-laden mothers, but officially, I\’ve got the right to be an asshole and not bother.

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  • SKiDmark August 17, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Nice world we live in where common sense and courtesy need to be legislated into existance, and rudeness is endorsed by legal departments.

    If Tri-Met goes thru with prohibiting bikes from MAX trains, who is up for a bike blockade?

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  • Dk August 17, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    The coming wet weather is going to change some a/h passengers minds too. Nothing like standing next to a wet-dog-smelling biker while smooshed up against the wall. Gotta love it!

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  • G.A.R. August 17, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Clue to crossword guy: Body part to move so cyclist can hang bike. Three letters. Starts with A. Ends with S.

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  • John Ochwat August 17, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    TriMet\’s liaison said, \”passengers are not required to move from the bike hook area to make way for bikes, though we encourage them to do so.\”

    That\’s news to me. On two separate occasions when I\’ve been about to board a train, I\’ve had TriMet employees shout into cars, \”You know you don\’t have to move for cyclists.\”

    That\’s exactly the opposite of encouraging them to do so.

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  • Kevin August 17, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    In this world, people will be jerks for the simple reason that they can. When people won\’t give up the bike hook area, a simple comment, such as \”If you won\’t be civil enough to let me hang up my bike, I guess I don\’t need to be civil enough to keep you from getting chain grease all over your pants … oops. Thanks for being neighborly.\”

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  • tonyt August 17, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    \”You know you don\’t have to move for cyclists.\”

    Wow, that\’s so nice! Obviously something that somebody would choose to say if they liked their job and were generally happy with their own life.

    What was that thing about everything you needed to know you learned in Kindergarten?

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  • Dabby August 17, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    This is another fine reason to have a \”Serious\” look into the workings of Tri Met.

    We need a Tri Met policing force.

    As in, community policing of our supposedly \”public\” transportation.

    Tri Met has spent years abusing privileges.

    It is time for them to be held accountable.

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  • D Rock August 17, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    There is no reason to blame the TriMet for this. I imagine it would be hard to put in place a law to require people to move for bicycles on a train. You are going to encounter A-holes everywhere you go in life. 99% of the people on the train will move for a bike and will be courteous, 1% won\’t. Just deal with it and move on.

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  • Bjorn August 17, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    The answer might be to add a new regulation requiring people to move, but Trimet has to be very careful about not enforcing laws that don\’t exist. Just like the rent a cops shouldn\’t be kicking people off the greenway just because someone puts out a site they can\’t tell people to move without a regulation.

    Eric answered the question in a very straightforward manner, it hasn\’t been enough of a problem to have a rule about so they don\’t have one. If it is enough of a problem go to the trimet board of directors meeting and ask them to create a regulation, but I have never had anyone not move.


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  • rixtir August 17, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Trimet is governed by an elected, publicly -accountable board. If Trimet is bike unfriendly, it\’s up to us to use whatever political pressure is necessary on the Metro board to get them to change their policies and make Trimet more bike friendly.

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  • The United States Handicapper General August 17, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Lets add a new law for everything!

    Oregon Congress passes sweeping legislation!

    Children on school yards must all share the swings equally! Playing kickball you are only allowed to kick the ball before passing it to someone who hasn\’t had it.

    Kurt Vonnegut got it right in Harrison Bergeron, but then again, you can\’t ride your bike.

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  • Brad August 17, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Write Congresspeople Blumenauer, Wu, and Hooley and ask them to jerk with Tri-Met\’s federal subsidies until they come correct on bike issues. No fed money leaves Tri-Met virtually bankrupt and unable to build more choo-choos.

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  • horsewhistle August 17, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Why isn\’t there 2 bike hooks at each location? I have hoisted my over sized bike next to another in order to share a panel during crowded times. Why is Trimet only providing the minimum amount of space?

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  • GLV August 17, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    \”Body part to move so cyclist can hang bike. Three letters. Starts with A. Ends with S.\”

    You want him to move his abs? That seems kind of odd, but I guess it will work…

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  • D Rock August 17, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    #18 Why would we want to discourage funding for a very heavily used source of public transport? The TriMet isn\’t saying \”don\’t take bikes on the train\”. They said there is no legal action for them to take to force someone to move from a bike area. To hear someone from the cycling community advocate for reduced fuding for mass transport absolutly disgusts me.

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  • rixtir August 17, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    D Rock, #21:

    Why would we want to discourage funding for a very heavily used source of public transport? The TriMet isn\’t saying \”don\’t take bikes on the train\”. They said there is no legal action for them to take to force someone to move from a bike area. To hear someone from the cycling community advocate for reduced fuding for mass transport absolutly disgusts me.

    I think that\’s bringing out the nuclear weapons before we\’ve had a chance to work with Metro. There\’s no question that Trimet is moving in the direction of becoming a less bike-friendly agency, what with the signals they\’re sending about cutting back on bike access during rush hours. On the other hand, they are probably technically correct– there are federal laws in place requiring seating for elderly and handicapped riders; there are no such federal laws in place requiring space for bicycles.

    Nevertheless, that\’s not to say that Metro can\’t pass laws requiring passengers to make room for a bicyclist.

    Metro needs to hear from Metro cyclists about making enough cars available at rush hour, about making more bike space on every train, and about requiring passengers to make room for cyclists (anybody remember the cyclist who was assaulted a couple years ago for merely being on the train?). BTA should be leading the charge on this one, but Metro definitely needs to feel the pressure.

    And then, if they don\’t respond, our congressional representatives need to hear from us.


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  • D Rock August 17, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    rixtir: I agree completely with your comments. It is places like this that bring together a wonderful community and gives it a chance to make their voices heard. I\’m not saying we should roll over and let the TriMet do what they wish to cyclists privileges on the train without our input. At the same time we are part of an alternative transportation community as is the TriMet and every person on the train or bus is one less person in their car on the road.

    While I may not agree with all of TriMet\’s policies I in no way want to see their funding cut. Maybe they have become a victim of their own sucess which I don\’t think is a bad thing in any way. I\’d much rather have a full train with no room for bikes than a full road of cars any day (I know the roads are already full but you have to start somewhere).

    If they are able to pass some kind of a law that says the bike area must be cleared for cyclists then that would be wonderful. Either way you are still going to have the jerks who don\’t want to move for bikes, elderly or the handicapped.

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  • Pedestrian August 17, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    What good is a law going to do you? How often during rush hour are fare inspectors around to enforce the already existing rules anyway? I think we all know how rare it is for someone to refuse to move for you, even when it\’s crowded. It sucks when it happens, but so do a lot of the other obnoxious things that happen on the MAX.

    Please try and remember that non-cyclists on public transit tend to be on your side already on important issues. The jerk that won\’t get out of the bike spot is just some random jerk, not a representative of any transit riding sub-set trying alienate cyclists.

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  • Matthew August 17, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    There is no law that says that people have to move out of the bike area. If we wanted there to be a law that said that, we should take it up with our state legislators, and then they could pass a law, and then TriMet could enforce it. But until that law exists, TriMet can\’t enforce it, and the \”police\” (in this case, TriMet security) aren\’t supposed to be going around inventing laws, that is up to the congress/city council/etc… (Not that that stops PPB, but that is a different story.)

    And yes, if the person standing under the bike hook refuses to move, I just stand there with my bike next to them. It has never struck me as that big of a problem…

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  • Matthew August 17, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    #18. Why don\’t we write them and ask them to give more money to TriMet so that they can run more trains instead? You\’ll get a lot more support from the rest of the community, (the 13.5% that ride TriMet,) with that approach, than with yours…

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  • Donna August 17, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    If moving for a bike is optional, I think they ought to remove those \”universal bike symbols\” from the trains. It confuses me, as it makes me think I have a greater priority over the space than those strollers that are the size of a Toyota Prius, or one of those passengers who likes to stand right next to the door for a 45 minute trip. It makes me wonder if Trimet actually *enjoys* playing head games with us.

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  • Steve August 17, 2007 at 7:06 pm


    Bear in mind that Metro (the regional government) doesn\’t oversee Trimet operations, it only helps fund the building of its infrastructure. Our biggest recourse with Metro is to let our councilors know how we feel so next time TriMet comes a beggin\’ for expansion monies they can be pressured to include cycling accomodations.

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  • rixtir August 17, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Thanks for the clarification Steve. I\’ve seen trimet go to Metro asking for fare increases, so was unaware of how little control Metro actually has over trimet.

    Perhaps we could let our Metro counselors know that we want more, not less, trimet access the next time trimet goes begging for a fare increase…

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  • rixtir August 17, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    Or perhaps we should ask Metro to go on record now asking Trimet to provide more, not less access for bikes. A signal from Metro now will let Trimet know what they have to do before they come to Metro again with hat in hand.

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  • Seth August 17, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    TriMet is governed by a Board of Directors that are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. It is a wholly independent agency from Metro and is not under the authority of the Metro Council.

    However, the Metro Charter adopted by the voters in 1992 gives the Metro Council the authority to essentially \”take over\” TriMet. See section 7(4) of the charter.


    I suspect, but don\’t know for sure, that it was a little advertised section of the charter that was added to give the region some recourse in the event that a Governor hostile to transit was ever elected.

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  • matchu August 17, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Designated? Sounds more like \’recommended bike hook area\’.

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  • Jerrod August 18, 2007 at 9:28 am

    I had the same experience with the same guy TWICE. This guy is out for a lawsuit. Both times, there were hardly any other people on the train. Plenty of room to stand elsewhere. There were a couple guys that were in his face whispering profanities in his ear. They had the train driver stop the train, get off and come talk to the guy. The train driver told me I had to move to a different spot at the other end of the train. I couldn\’t believe it.

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  • wsbob August 18, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    Jerrod, I assume you\’re referring to the same crossword guy mentioned in the article above. If he wants to play, I wonder if there isn\’t some way he could be set up so as to show the rest of the caring public just how stupid and self absorbed he\’s being. Maybe this is a situation that calls for video.

    You mention a couple guys in his face whispering profanities. Were they other cyclists also wanting to hang their bikes?

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  • muchado August 18, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    I agree with matchu. Someone earlier claimed it was a bike only area because of the bike symbol. That\’s ridiculous. The symbol only means that bikes are allowed there. It doesn\’t exclude passengers. Similar to a smoking permitted sign, non-smokers are not excluded.

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  • Jerrod August 18, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Yes, it was the same cross-word guy. I always see him getting on the West-bound MAX at the Hollywood station about 5pm. The guys whispering in his ear were not bikers, just guys who realized how retarded the situation was and were pissed. I liked it how they were standing up for my wife and I.

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  • Seth Alford August 19, 2007 at 6:16 am

    I agree with #18, which said cut funding until Tri-met stops being anti-bike-on-MAX. Tri-met is a government bureaucracy. The way to get it to change its mind, quickly, is to threaten its funding.

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  • beth h August 19, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    It\’s important to remember that NO transit company in this country is required by law to accommodate bicycle riders who wish to bring their bikes on transit.

    Of course, accommodating bike riders is good business, and good for the community; but it\’s not required. And until it is, every single thing that a transit company does to accommodate us is At Their Discretion.

    So what to do? Lobby? Agitate? Boycott? Depends on your style, and on how much you rely on transit to accommodate your bike on board. All of these could apply. But in order for improved bike accommodation to become required instead of optional, bike riders will have to demand it, because it won\’t come to us on a platter.

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  • rixtir August 19, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Absolutely right beth h, it won\’tr come to us on a platter. I really think we BTA needs to take the lead on lobbying Trimet to make the trains more, and not less, bike friendly. And if Trimet won\’t listen, then we need an effective strategy for applying political pressure where it will be most likely to produce the desired policy changes.

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  • edam August 19, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Re: 37. Sure…Lets have operating funds taken away from from the only organization that is able to actually do something about removing cars from the congested streets. Wonderful thinking. Let\’s punish everyone because you can\’t bring your bike on a train. Can you see why you self-absorbed bikers don\’t get any sympathy?

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  • Brad August 20, 2007 at 10:31 am

    Money talks! Do I wish to see Tri-Met run out of business? No. But threatening their livelihood gets them to act must faster than months or years of soft-sell advocacy.

    The trains are going to get more crowded as gas prices rise and Portland becomes more crowded. While more trains and more frequent trains is a good solution, they take many millions of dollars and several years to procure. (The manufacturer doesn\’t have MAX trains sitting around like a used car lot – they are built to order) Thus, Tri-Met is going to have to accomodate bikes or throw us off the trains. I am afraid it is cheaper and easier to bar us rather than remove a few seats and educate the masses that bikes belong.

    Relistically, Tri-Met would not lose operational funds but a critical review of their funding might impede building or expanding the MAX system. It would also be politically embarrassing to entrenched bureaucrats who need such expansions to justify their cushy jobs, junkets to Europe, and six-figure incomes to the taxpayers. In general, I am a big fan of our public transit agency but they, like ODOT, PDOT, the Feds, etc. need to understand that bikes are viable, needed transportation and here to stay. This isn\’t self-absorbtion. It is insuring that bikes get fair treatment.

    If people can\’t use bikes at each end of their commutes, would you rather they drive the entire way or clog up the arterials that feed park-and-ride lots at MAX stations? People also need to realize that it is suburban commuters most affected by a bike banning. We should applaud suburbanites who use bikes to ride to a MAX station and then to jobs that are not in close proximity to MAX. Take the Portland-centric blinders off and realize that not every bike commuter lives or works within a few blocks of a busline nor can they ride the entire distance due to time/weather/daylight/safe routes/ showers/ etc.

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  • JM August 20, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Fundraiser + bond pays for fifty or so half-sized railcars that are empty, except for a bunch of hooks and racks for bikes. These are attached to the end of all the trains. Some platforms must be marginally extended in length. End.

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  • rixtir August 20, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Fundraiser + bond pays for fifty or so half-sized railcars that are empty, except for a bunch of hooks and racks for bikes. These are attached to the end of all the trains. Some platforms must be marginally extended in length. End.

    Minor quibble: Between cars, not at the end of all trains. Otherwise, they couldn\’t run the train in the opposite direction.

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