Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

TriMet clarifies why they required riders with bikes to disembark

Posted by on June 27th, 2008 at 5:34 pm

“At rush hour, expecting to board a train with a bike is a less dependable option than locking a bike at both ends of the trip, bringing on a folding bike, or traveling at a different time.”
–Colin Maher, TriMet

TriMet’s bike programs manager Colin Maher has taken the time to look into the incident that I reported on earlier today. After his investigation of reports from Fare Inspectors at the scene, he has clarified what happened.

Unlike I reported (which was based on a post on Trimetiquette), he says what I referred to as TriMet’s contracted security personnel were actually uniformed TriMet Fare Inspectors.

Maher says the inspectors encountered a standing-room only MAX train at Willow Creek Transit Center “on which passengers with bikes were blocking aisles and/or doors.” He goes on to say that the hooks were full and that “three and four” bikes were in one priority seating area (which is against TriMet policy).

According to Maher, the Inspectors issued verbal warnings and “instructed them as to what the rules were”. The Inspectors then tried to find another place for the bikes, but upon realizing there was no room, he asked “those not in compliance with TriMet rules to disembark from the train because they were blocking aisles and/or doors.”

One of the people with a bike refused, and then threatened the Fare Inspector and was then cited for the bike infraction and was, “issued an exclusion for the threat as well as profanity.”

This version of the story shows that TriMet did everything it could to accommodate the bikes and that the person with the bike was rightfully told to leave the train because there was no room.

Maher added that, “At rush hour, expecting to board a train with a bike is a less dependable option than locking a bike at both ends of the trip, bringing on a folding bike, or traveling at a different time.”

He also shed some light on the maximum capacity of a train during off-peak hours, “When the trains are less full, we can accommodate up to 24 bikes (this includes using the designated bike areas and the accessible areas if a person with a mobility device is not using the space).”

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  • mac June 27, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    I suppose this is part of the Trimet \”duck-and-cover\” SOP? Would they require people with children to lock a stroller at each end? A wheelchair? Why not address the real problem, and ensure there is a reasonable prospect of having enough room for bikes? Increase fuels costs and ridership will only make the situation worse and ignoring it is not a solution…etc, etc.

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  • Anonymous June 27, 2008 at 6:16 pm


    It\’s all or nothing.

    Critical Mass Max trip anyone?


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  • brewcaster June 27, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    My wife was the one who witnessed this. I am the one who wrote the article.

    The article I wrote states: \”She was about to board, when she saw that Trimet ticket checkers were not letting cyclists board unless there was an empty hanger for their bike.\”
    This is just for clarity, that I made no claims that they were the hired security.

    According to her(and I will ask her to write here and comment), this was not a single train issue. Before I start taking what I remember her saying out of context and bad memory, I will have her comment here soon. Thanks again for writing on this.

    I think TriMet REALLY needs to start looking at options for accommodating bicycles in a Platinum Rated city.

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  • […] BikePortland has another follow up based on another response from TriMet. […]

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  • N.I.K. June 27, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Maher added that, β€œAt rush hour, expecting to board a train with a bike is a less dependable option than locking a bike at both ends of the trip, bringing on a folding bike, or traveling at a different time.”

    To the bike shop! Marher is, apparently, buyin\’! Or doling out new jobs. Or has invented a time machine. Or…something…

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  • brewcaster June 27, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Also on a side note:
    Riding the yellow line today, I took the last bike hanger. A woman with a HUGE cruiser came on blocking access to the stairs followed by a TriMet hired Security officer. He didn\’t say a thing. She apologized to him as he bumped against another hanging bike as he moved out of the way for the lady with the stroller who was also blocking the flow of people. He was a really nice guy. I think that as long as the person blocking flow with either a stroller, a huge suitcase, or a bike is willing to be considerate of others and move when they need to, CAN\’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG/TO AND FROM OUR JOBS?!?!?!

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  • Steve June 27, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Why the uproar? TriMet seems to be doing what any smart business would do…cater to the greatest number of customers. Isn\’t it shortsided to expect them to redesign trains to accomodate more bikes and eliminating space for others without bikes? As far as strollers and wheelchairs, really how many strollers are on the train during rush hours anyway and isn\’t it obvious that wheelchairs deserve special consideration? This concept of entitlement to a MAX ride if you\’re on a bike is ridiculous and is just another way that a few complaining cyclists marginalize the rest of us. And why would TriMet care about our \”Platinum\” status anyway.

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  • peejay June 27, 2008 at 6:55 pm


    Properly designed, a train car can fit a standing cyclist with bike in very little more room than a seated passenger without a bike. TriMet should make the allowance for bicycles because it operates under public charter, and therefore has some obligation to serve the interests of the community, which includes the desire to encourage bicycle use. Let me restate the equation: a standing cyclist with bike on a train takes up less room (and resources) than a seated driver with car on the road. In many cases, those who can not take their bikes on the train might opt to drive.

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  • N.I.K. June 27, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    This concept of entitlement to a MAX ride if you\’re on a bike is ridiculous

    What? No, it\’s ridiculous that any passenger with a validated fare be refused services. It\’s even more ridiculous when that refusal is not based on the area taken up by the accompanying device, but its nature alone. If Tri-Met had a fair policy, there\’d be refusal for boarding for *any* passenger with an oversized object when MAX trains are at high capacity. But then they\’d have a very serious PR crisis because mothers with kids in strollers and people with utility carts and the like would be up-in-arms, not just those rascally louts with the bikes.

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  • Melissa June 27, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    On Wednesday, I experienced/witnessed the incident at the Willowcreek/185th Station. To clarify, I entered a train which all hangers were being used and parked my bike next to one of the bikes hanging. I was not blocking the aisle in any way. The inspector told me to exit the train because I was blocking the aisle. As I exited, I realized that at least three bikes were also asked to exit. This particular train was not standing room only and there was actually more room then usual at this time. I patiently waited for the next train in which at least five more bikes were asked to exit. This continued for at least two more trains. Several of the bikers decided to ride back to Portland. I also noticed at least two inspectors writing something on their pads to bikers. Whether this was a ticket, a warning, or whatever I\’m not sure. Many of the inspectors I witnessed were rude to many of the bikers and could have conducted this situation in a far more pleasant manner. I will also point out that for the past month I have stopped bringing my bike on the max and instead riding two bikes specifically to take up less space. One bike I ride into downtown which I park and then the other bike I leave at the max station at Willowcreek and then ride to work. There is simply not enough room for the bikes and I no longer wanted to inconvenience anyone. This particular day, I did not have my bike lock for the bike I park downtown and had to carry my bike onto the max.

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  • GB June 27, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    What frustrates me, are TriMet\’s assumptions…

    1) Medical issues prevent me from riding an upright bike; associated strain aggravates my mondini dysplasia, which can cause permanent total-deafness if I strain hard enough. As it is, I\’m already near-deaf from that birth-defect.

    So, a decent and affordable folding bike is not an option for me, and my other usage patterns. I only have, and can afford to maintain, one bike, and aside from TriMet, it\’s my primary mode of transport. For how many others is that also true?

    2) My narcolepsy means that I:
    a) Medicate enough to stay awake while behind the wheel…oh boy, more expensive narcotics…ugh…I\’m already paying $500/month for enough prescription drugs to stay awake at work…spare me more expenses, please.


    b) That I stay physically active (ie: movement via biking…as driving yields insufficient movement) so that I don\’t fall asleep while moving from place to place.

    For that matter, I actually had a fare inspector screaming at me a few months back, because I\’d fallen asleep on MAX. He thought I was faking, while I\’d just fallen into my typical near-instant deep sleep (ie: dead to the world…not even hearing, or waking to, his yells). I guess I\’ll just have to wait until fare inspectors start carrying tasers (or encourage a cop to do so); like the guy in the UK who was in a diabetic coma when he was tasered for not responding to police instructions. Maybe after being tasered, and then sued, will TriMet start taking people with my condition seriously.

    3) My regular commute requires that:
    a) I wait in unsafe areas of town, at late hours, for a bus, so that I can finish my final leg (and then finish it by walking another 1.5 miles in an \”OK\” neighborhood)…I\’ve been followed home before, and hate that feeling…


    b) Bike the distance between the closest MAX stops…cutting nearly a half-hour from my average transit time, and minimizing exposure in the bad neighborhoods. I\’ve already had a few run-ins directly because I was not biking that day…only my mace saved me…I\’m just waiting to be shot at while defending myself…

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  • Joy Us June 27, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Peejay #8, the space designated for bikes on a MAX train takes up enough space for at least one human being.

    When I ride my bike to work, I ride my bike. When I take the MAX, I try not take my bike on it at rush hour because it is an inconvenience to others.

    I hope that Trimet can find a good solution to our situation. Namely, we have lots of people who want to ride bikes in Portland!

    Remember, at least some bikes are allowed on MAX. In New York, the subway allows no bikes on the train at rush hour.

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  • Joel June 27, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    It sucks that Tri-Met designed their system in such a short-sighted fashion that it can\’t accommodate the number of riders and bikes now demanded of the it. I also understand that the fare inspectors and/or security are expected to make sure everyone on the train is behaving according to the rules for ridership, which includes maintaining aisle access and whatnot. That said, they can do it with decency and respect. There is one fare inspector who works this 185th to Beaverton Transit route who is a world-class jerk on most days, and can be counted on to be rude toward cyclists of any kind. Completely unnecessary, and it reflects poorly on both him and his employer. Tri-Met and Portland have a growing problem here: how to encourage and support cycling for those who commute between the \’burbs and downtown via MAX because it is faster, safer and cheaper than the alternatives. Being rude to your paying customers isn\’t a very good start.

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  • wow June 27, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    I still can\’t get over the dipshit who asked on the other thread… If a wheelchair boards and a bike is in the designated area for it, do I have to exit the train?

    Babies in cars, babies on bikes, babies walking. Maybe even one or two babies on uni\’s. All have one thing in common.

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  • jason June 27, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Thank you for remaining objective while obtaining information on the article. As a huge fan of Portland\’s public transit, it\’s nice to see that full details were looked into.

    Though it seems everything was handled correctly, it would be nice to see Trimet looking into some other options to accommodate additional cyclists in the future.

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  • DJ Hurricane June 27, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    This is a ***** joke. Anti-bike bias. As mac says, do you think they would treat people with strollers like this?

    It is simply ridiculous that TriMet personnel are focused on excluding people with bicycles on the trains when people are being assaulted by thugs on the same trains.

    Get some goddamn perspective, Trimet! People are afraid to use the Max. Is it because of evildoers with bicycles or because of the gang bangers you allow to ride the trains with impunity?

    If only you managed the security situation as well as you managed the \”bicycle overuse\” situation, you might be able to run a mass transit system that actually offered an alternative to the single-occupancy vehicle.

    As it stands, you\’re just like the PPB – MISPLACED PRIORITIES.

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  • Ron June 27, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    I\’ve been on a Tri-met train, in all the described scenarios, both with a bike and without, including boarding with my bike when there were no hooks available.

    I have come to the conclusion that it is just plain rude to take your bike on a crowded train when there are no hooks available. I have watched peoples clothes get greasy from people haphazardly boarding a crowded train with their bike. I have seen bikes fall over on people on crowded trains. I have seen people trip over bikes while trying to get off the train.

    It\’s just rude. I am not sure why people are so up in arms as if Tri-met is targeting cyclists in some unfair manner. Tri-met does some really dumb things (I\’ve been a patron for years), and their fair inspectors are often horribly trained to deal with people. But 4 or 5 bikes packed into the space between the hooks and the stairs is ridiculous, and it should not happen. There are plenty of _actual_ cases of cyclists being unfairly treated, we don\’t need to make one up here.

    I just don\’t board if there are no hooks. When that is a problem for me, I ride my bike — crowded trains turned out to be the catalyst for my riding nearly 100% of the time now. If you are inconvenienced by not being able to bring your bike on the train, then plan around the rush hour, don\’t transfer the inconvenience to everyone else.

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  • Russ June 27, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    If I think I might for any reason have to take the bus or Max during the day, I drive rather than ride my bike. The possibility of either having to wait for 2-3-4 buses/Max trains or cycling 10-20 miles longer than I\’d anticipated due to being denied service keeps me from bothering.

    Trimet is designed to transport cattle, not people. As soon as you get used to being treated like cattle, you can use Trimet without it feeling like an insult to your person-hood. By trying to use this system and insisting that Trimet employees treat you well, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.

    The two-bike solution I hadn\’t given much thought. I don\’t think it\’d work for me, but I\’ll let it roll around for a couple weeks.

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  • Aaron June 27, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    The easiest way to solve this problem is to RIDE your bikes.

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  • Donna June 27, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Clearly Trimet is gearing up to ban bikes from the MAX during rush hour. You\’d have to be pretty myopic not to see that coming. Next year, perhaps? I guess I\’d better look into Zipcar for my twice monthly commute into the nightmare that is Washington County, as there\’s no way I\’m going to be using Trimet. Bike-MAX-bike takes 50 minutes to get home while bus-MAX-bus takes two hours. I sure wouldn\’t miss the Sherman tank strollers…

    I\’d gladly pay for an annual bike permit if it meant Trimet used the money to retrofit some cars for bikes and standing room.

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  • BURR June 28, 2008 at 12:19 am

    screw bikes vs, peds. I think the train is really first come first served, and they shouldn\’t be kicking cyclists off who boarded earlier.

    The ZooBomb record is over 80 bikes in a single car train I believe…and the passengers on the train generally coexist.

    Donna-I checked LIRR and they require permits and prohibit rush hour use, same with BART, I believe…but I never used TriMet when a permit was required.

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  • Anonymous June 28, 2008 at 12:21 am


    There are many anti-bike, pro-trimet Trolls posting on this thread.

    Clearly, and I reiterate previous posters, trimet\’s priorities are way off: get thee hence to the Eastside, oh trimet agents, and prevent death and injury to your community!

    While you\’re at it, make space for bikes on Max. As your own survey states, most bike-max-bike riders who are not allowed to bike-max-bike will simply get back into their automobiles.

    Trimet, what is your mission?


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  • scoot June 28, 2008 at 12:21 am

    I\’m pretty sure every transit system I\’ve used in this country has had some restrictions on bikes. A couple have prohibited bikes completely during rush hour. I\’m surprised people seem surprised by this. There\’s a bike limit on the front of a bus, too…

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  • Al M June 28, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Let just go back to the


    The hell with security, the hell with regulations, let\’s just let the public fight it out amongst themselves.

    The \”anything goes\” motto of Portland should just continue.

    Whoever is strongest survives, the weak perish! (haven\’t I heard that somewhere before?)

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  • William June 28, 2008 at 2:12 am

    TriMet\’s story and TriMettiquette\’s story aren\’t quite the same. How do you decide who to believe? I tend to think that TriMet\’s story is one step removed from the source, and cleaned up for public consumption. Which suggests to me that it may be a smidge further from the truth than TriMettiquette\’s version of events.

    As far as crowded trains and bicycles go, I\’ve rarely seen the train too crowded to hold more bikes and more people (heading to Washington County in the morning at various times during rush hour)(I know it\’s a different story heading into down town and that different people have different tolerances for crowding). There have been times where it\’s tough to get on and off the train, and I\’ve even seen people get their clothes greased up a little bit. When I\’ve seen these events, they are almost invariably related to people preferring to barge past rather than to say \”excuse me\” or to exhibit any modicum of patience.

    That having been said, there is apparently a lot of ill will towards bikers that doesn\’t need to be. One major contributor to the crowding problem, as I see it, is the lack of creativity/open-mindedness/whatever of the TriMet employees in charge of overseeing the design and placement of bike spaces.

    I can envision several ways to improve the utilization of space, and I\’m sure other people can, too. But does TriMet want input? Are they open to the idea of a fun design contest?

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  • Jeff June 28, 2008 at 5:51 am

    The sense of entitlement by some posters on this board is shocking. Being able to take a large, greasy bike onto a busy, cramped train during rush hour clearly SHOULD be a privilege. I rode MAX to the tron and beyond for almost 2 years. Some small number of times I had trouble getting on with my bike that was remedied 90% of the time by waiting 12 minutes for the next train.

    The first time I ever rode all the way home was during a heat wave. The system was down.. Oh well, start pedaling. That\’s what the bike is for anyway. Once I got used to the ride home, including going over the hill from west to east, I started enjoying the workout and looking forward to it as an option. And I discovered that riding from 205th to downtown only took an extra 10 minutes over the train.

    While that\’s not an option for everyone, there are options. Trimet is simply trying to balance the needs of its users. Bikers aren\’t the only users. Trimet has been one of the most accommodating transit agencies in the country and the other 90% of the day that is off-commute is wide open for bikes.

    Time to balance out your righteous indignation.

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  • Joe June 28, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Bikes on transit isn\’t a reliable way to get around during rush hour. It\’s not hard to imagine quick fixes.. a) biking the whole way; b) riding earlier or later to avoid the rush; c) folding bike.

    I just wish TriMet would concentrate on world-class bike facilities at MAX stations. To think how much money is spent on park-and-ride spaces.. (at least $20,000 per parking space)… There must be at least 6,000 parking spaces on the TriMet system. That\’s over $120,000,000 spent to ensure 12,000 rides per weekday. Seems like we should be able to create truly secure, Bikestation-like facilities at most MAX stations for far less than that, and TriMet would get far more bang for their buck.

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  • GB June 28, 2008 at 8:12 am

    Joe (and others with the same suggestions),

    While these suggestions of yours are…obvious…they are not at all practical for everyone.

    a) Biking the whole way/just ride the bike:
    This is a brilliant idea… Though it works for some people, and not others; showers are not available (or practical) at our destination, so a bike/max/bike combo allows us to effectively exert less effort, sweat less (if at all), yet still arrive at our destination not sticky, sweaty and/or rancid.

    b) Riding at different times:
    Are you saying that, because my disability effectively forces bikes and TriMet as a primary means of transportation. That I should basically cower in the shadows until a \”more empty\” train comes? Am I now a second-class citizen, who now must adjust my work/commute/school hours, to accommodate someone else? Or that should leave a job I enjoy (ie: to someplace closer, with showers, etc..), and/or move away from friends and family (ie: into downtown, to shorten my commute), because it\’s too inconvenient for someone else to wait for a train with more room (ie: someone who was at a later stop, and would otherwise kick me & my bike off, because the train is \”too full\”).

    What happened to first-come, first-served? Why am I kicked off the train (with VALID & PAID! fare) just because someone else wants to ride. Why are people, who take up even more room, not also removed; folks with luggage, strollers, or carts full of groceries. Is it truly about the physical space, or about relegating certain people into a second-class citizen status?

    TriMet clearly knows the high-usage times, why can\’t they run more trains to accomidate these peak times? Or adjust existing schedules so that there\’s fewer trains outbound from the city, and more in-bound, during morning rush times (and of-course the reverse during evening rushes). Or…get with the times, and start adding the appropriate accommodations for an obvious emerging trend (ie: more hooks on the trains).

    c) Folding bike:
    For financial and medical reasons, that\’s not an option for me, period. But funny you should mention that; a folding bike consumes just as much \”floor-space\” as a hanging bike, a stroller, or luggage – why is a folding bike ok, but not a few more hooks for hanging bikes?

    That\’s all me…but for how many others are situations similar to mine also true?

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  • Gerod June 28, 2008 at 8:38 am

    I understand the safety issue with the crowded trains, but I think everyone needs to step back and look at the situation. The are more people riding bikes, using public transit and this issue will rise again and again. There are several categories of travlers now. Long term users, long term combined users (cyclist and public transit), and a new group of users being driven by the price of gas. Don\’t start getting angry at fellow users, we are all in the same boat for whatever reason, some by chioce others by using other options due to gas prices. The end result, some extra time to get home, no polution from you or your fellow users driving cars. Give me clean air and a few extra minutes to breathe it.


    For the security issues, Trimet make it safe for all in your terminals, especially those taking those waiting for the next train taking a breath!

    Wheel chairs and strollers are not to be included in this debate. My question is why would they?

    My 2 cents.

    Tacoma WA

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  • GB June 28, 2008 at 8:51 am


    I don\’t see how, if TriMet is claiming safety and security, you can exclude anything which takes up equal space. That includes folks with strollers, luggage, or groceries.

    The simple fact is, and with the exception of a few folks who seem to believe it\’s fair to cram themselves (plus bike) onto packed trains (sorry, it is full at that point, you need to wait – like everyone else). If I\’m on the train first, and have valid/paid your fare, why am I being removed, just to accommodate someone else\’s desire to ride?

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  • Steve June 28, 2008 at 9:47 am


    I would agree that if you have been allowed on the MAX you should not be \”removed\” unless you are violating a TriMet code, however to continue to argue that cyclists are no more a hinderance than luggage and groceries is pointless. Mass transit was designed to be a stand alone means of transportation. The fact that we are even allowed to bring bikes on the train and buses is something we should be thankful for.

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  • Mister Viddy June 28, 2008 at 9:57 am

    The bottom line is that TriMet never foresaw an increase in the number of people using bikes and now they are resorting to a quick fix, which is to start booting people with bikes.

    I did not witness this particular incident but it sounds very familiar, TriMet enforcing rules only when it suits them.

    What needs to happen is for TriMet to pick a policy, any policy and then stick to it. Exclude all bikes or clearly state only when hooks are available or first come first served but make it crystal clear. Because I do agree that if TriMet allows someone to purchase a fare then they should be allowed to ride MAX the same as anyone else.

    Personally, MAX is so busy now due to high fuel prices that I simply do not consider bringing my bike with me when I ride.

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  • JT June 28, 2008 at 10:16 am

    It\’s difficult, because we can\’t increase train length, don\’t want to hang our bikes off the back and front (stolen bikes), and increased trains would increase costs by millions (but is doable).

    But how many people seated can\’t stand (at least for the trip that I had from Chinatown to 148th: 17 minutes), perhaps half of the seats can be removed for more bike-hook AND standing room? Or folding seats to be folded UP during rush hour?

    And the final solution: I could (and have) biked from downtown to 148th without too much ado.

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  • shishi June 28, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Being in NYC I can\’t help but find this a bit humorous. While bikes should be allowed on trains and front bus racks, as cyclists we do need to be more aware of other passengers. While their is much hatred for strollers in NYC; seniors, the disabled, and children should all be given a priority seating on public transit. When we try and make everything about the bike we start to loose focus on the bigger multi-modal issues. Well we have to be happy about access to transit with bikes (and keeping fighting for more of it) we also need to realize that sometimes we (you and your bike) might have to wait for the next train.

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  • Amber June 28, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I wonder if it would be possible to create a car, or section of a car that is all for bikes during rush hour? Probably in the last car. I\’m sure they won\’t go for it, but it would open up the bike areas in the other cars to non-bike passengers as well. 4 bike hooks per max car with only 2-3 cars is pretty ridiculous. Besides, most cyclists commute AT rush hour. How did he say it added to 24? The most that 3×4 adds up to for me is 12…but maybe my math is funny.

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  • Amber June 28, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I wonder if it would be possible to create a car, or section of a car that is all for bikes during rush hour? Probably in the last car. I\’m sure they won\’t go for it, but it would open up the bike areas in the other cars to non-bike passengers as well. 4 bike hooks per max car with only 2-3 cars is pretty ridiculous. Besides, most cyclists commute AT rush hour. How did he say it added to 24? The most that 3×4 adds up to for me is 12…but maybe my math is funny.

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  • J-On-Bike June 28, 2008 at 10:44 am

    In Washington DC, the Metrorail system prohibits bicycles during AM and PM rush-hours (and certain holidays where they expect high metro ridership). It makes sense to me…


    Bicycles are permitted on Metrorail (limited to two bicycles per car) weekdays except 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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  • Nelly Algren June 28, 2008 at 10:55 am

    You\’re doing a great job of researching the full story here. I truly appreciate that.

    I have plenty of criticisms for TriMet, however I don\’t see the cost-benefit of TriMet reconfiguring trains to accommodate more cyclists. And I do think comments that claim that TriMet was short-sighted in regard to this issue, are simply, well, short-sighted. Every decision TriMet makes comes with positive and negative outcomes. There is no perfect solution for most public projects. It would be wonderful to live in a world where the resources were endless, but we do not.

    The truth is that Portland\’s cycling community will need to look at other solutions itself. This cannot simply be put on TriMet. And any solutions developed cannot ignore the needs of other users.

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  • Nelly Algren June 28, 2008 at 10:58 am

    shishi: Great post. Thanks for the perspective! As a parent, I have become much too anti-stroller for my own good. Still, I wish Portlanders would learn to walk on sidewalks with my toddlers. When we visit NYC, no one blinks an eye as they walk past the little ones. Here people stop, if they see them, as if something horrible is going to happen if they attempt to pass by. It\’s very bizarre.

    There\’s my rant for the day.


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  • Joe June 28, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Seriously, this whole issue is ridiculous. When the cars are that crowded, it\’s terribly inconvenient for everyone when there are bikes onboard, particularly at each station (too many of them unfortunately), where people need to maneuver around the bikes or worse, the bikes maneuver around the rest of the passengers. At least a stroller doesn\’t jab people with handlebars and scrape people\’s legs like pedals do. I love to commute by bike, but when I need to take the train, I leave the bike at home. It might be a good time to reconsider where you\’re living if this is too difficult to swallow.

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  • Sasha June 28, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I agree, this is completely ridiculous. Bikes on the train are a privilege not a right. Pedestrians come first in my book. We\’re lucky to have any accommodation during rush hour, and I think it\’s completely fair to ask extra bikes to wait for the next open train. You\’re going to be delayed, what… 10-20 minutes during rush hour? Get over it. You\’re still going to get there faster than sitting in the stand-still HOV lane on the freeway!


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  • Eileen June 28, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Maybe I\’m missing something, but if there is that much demand at those times, why don\’t they add more trains/cars at those times? Would that be too simple?

    And also wonder what I\’m missing – anti-stroller? Where does that come from?

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  • Gerod June 28, 2008 at 3:39 pm


    I think the issue is minor and will take some time for commuters to get used to the idea of crowded trains. I believe no one should be asked to get off if they are already on. I am sure the accomodations can be made to benefit all travelers. Rush hour limits on bikes, strollers, groceries? But it should not go that far. I wouldn\’t mind a little inconvience on a crowded train, I rode public transit in St Louis MO with standing room only (no bikes in the 80\’s, but most kids had skateboards-no issues) I think manuvering around a bike, stroller, grocery bags should be nothing new to anyone traveling on public transit. I just believe that Trimet is trying to prevent confrontations between passengers.

    At the same time we as passengers should be more aware of crowding and be flexible in our travels. (ie if the train looks full and you have a bike, stroller etc, if another train is coming with in 20 minutes, look and decide to wait). I am sure in a couple of months this issue will be forgotten. We need to more considerate of others and others of us. I see the me, myself & I all the time when I drive, more so when I bike, we take this with us everywhere. If we back away from this a bit we could all get to work and home without any stress even with crowded public transit.

    With the increase in revenues from the new travelers Trimet should be able to reinvest in more space, better designs to accomodate more bikes and have certain areas made to accomodate strollers, groceries can still rest by feet while standing and sitting.

    2 More Cents


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  • Meg June 28, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    @GB #28,

    I understand that they can\’t run more cars at this point because when the new orange/green line is added to the mix, Steel Bridge will basically be at capacity for MAX trains. Which I guess means MAX is done expanding… @_@

    I still find it a little strange that they\’ve chosen to build that one choke-point into the whole system, across all lines. It seems like it would\’ve been better to extend a spur from the yellow line across the Broadway bridge for the new line, back when that bridge was being refurbished. What do I know, though, I\’m no traffic/transit engineer… πŸ™‚

    To the topic at hand .. I do know that I try to never take my bike on the MAX anymore. Even when there are bike hooks (quite likely due to my route) it is a big pain to have to stand there with it, keep it from bumping into the glass on the door, having people bumping into it and giving me dirty looks as if they couldn\’t have seen the handlebars sticking out in front of them .. πŸ™‚

    I try to just ride my bike to work and back on the same day each time and avoid the MAX entirely in that trip, though I do have the luxury of being able to do that easily (and having secure storage on both ends), which others do not. However they stick their fingers in their ears and deny that it\’s their challenge to meet, I think this problem is going to continue coming back and haunting Tri-met.

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  • Bob June 28, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I got a flat tire downtown yesterday while riding with my wife. We decided to take the #15 bus home. There was already one bike on the rack so I was going to put my flatted on on the rack and ride my wife\’s home. The bus driver noticed this and allowed us to bring one of our bikes on the bus. The bus wasn\’t crowded and by putting it next to the side seats by the back door the bike didn\’t block the aisle. I\’m sure this is against TriMet policies, but in this instance it didn\’t negatively affect any of the other riders.

    TriMet rightly deserves criticism and needs to add more bike space on its buses and trains, but not everyone who works there is a bad apple. This driver used common sense and was very generous to her customers.

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  • Andre June 28, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Why don\’t we as a city get creative and bury the max line through downtown. If Seattle, the most ineffective of all cities (anyone remember the monorail) managed to bury a large scale tunnel through downtown for transit, Portland should be able to do the same.

    Maybe we should be spending our chunk of 4.2 billion for a freeway for whiny Washingtonians in a tunnel for the max through downtown. This will allow the increase in train length and thus capacity that we all want.

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  • rixtir June 28, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    If Trimet was doing \”everything it could\” to accommodate cyclists, there would be enough room on the trains for cyclists.

    As usual, Trimet sucks and looks elsewhere for the blame.

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  • Josh June 28, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    No, it\’s ridiculous that any passenger with a validated fare be refused services.

    That does it! I\’m bringing my horse on the train now.

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  • GB June 29, 2008 at 8:22 am


    Animals are prohibited πŸ™‚

    Unless of-course you can convince them it\’s a companion animal…

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  • SkidMark June 29, 2008 at 9:10 am

    I use the train to ride from Beaverton Transit Center to Goose Hollow. I never took the polka-dot jersey in the TDF so I am not up to riding up and over the West Hills every single time I go into the City. It is also dicey riding on streets like Barbur Blvd, Capitol Highway, and Farmington at night because they are not that well-lit. If you talk to the majority of cyclists on the train in that area you\’ll find they are there for the same reason. All you people saying \”just ride\”, I have to wonder if you have ever made that climb on a singlespeed, or if you could do it every dday twice a day, on any bike.

    If I never rode a Tri-Met train again I would be happy, but I will live where I live until the little one is out of school.

    A folding bike is not the answer if you are riding a specific bike for a specific reason, like there are no folding track bikes, mountain bikes, BMX bikes, or tallbikes. For me a bike is more than a commuting tool, that is what a train is.

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  • dcatalyst June 29, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    i live in Portland and work in Beaverton. The bus does not service the place where I work, so locking up my bike downtown would not only invite theft, but would add an hour and a half of walking to my morning commute. As it is, Bike-MAX-Bike works out to about 55 minutes, which would be 35 minutes of driving if I owned a car. If Tri-Met continues to address the issue this way without troubleshooting the increasing ridership issue, they are likely to anger an activist community. The proposed solutions by Tri-Met do not address the issue at hand, so let\’s start talking solutions!

    One such solution would be to add a bike car every half hour or so. Another would be to redesign some of the existing cars for use during rush hour.

    Let\’s be clear, the issue is the failure to accommodate bikes, not increasing bike ridership. We *want* increased bike ridership, we just want to ensure that everyone else can ride, too.

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  • rixtir June 29, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    People who don\’t think bikes belong on trains haven\’t got a clue about how public transit and bikes complement each other to make car-free cities possible.

    Car-free cities aren\’t (just) about walking, they aren\’t (just) about biking, and they aren\’t (just) about riding the train. They\’re about all of the above, working seamlessly together.

    A transit agency (and its apologists) that gives priority to people who drive to the park & ride lots just doesn\’t get its role in the transportation needs of a city tat is trying to reduce its dependence on the automobile.

    Which is probably what one could expect from transit administrators who drive to work.

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  • Parker June 30, 2008 at 12:29 am

    I\’ve gotten better about riding my bike all the way in bad weather as MAX use has clearly increased in the past year. Never occurred to me to get indignant about it. It seems like the cheapest solution is to put more sheltered bike racks at the max stops, which would at least alleviate those who make a two-part trip. The city is going to need more racks everywhere fairly soon.

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  • brettoo June 30, 2008 at 1:09 am

    In reply to Amber\’s question above: by coincidence, this was just posted on Copenhagenize.com:

    On Danish regional and intercity trains there are compartments for bikes, prams and wheelchairs. You can sit down if you like, but if one of the three vehicles come on board, you move to accomodate them. And, in order to help your bike stay upright, we have these lovely little seatbelty things to assist you and your bike.

    Oh, and in case you\’re in doubt, this is one of the bike compartments on the local trains.
    You can see photos of the facilities at copenhagenize.com.

    Do you think maybe some other countries that use bikes and light rail might have encountered this problem before, and might have some ideas about how to solve it? For one thing, several European countries provide much more extensive bike parking at their rail and metro stations, so you can just leave your bike at the station instead of taking it all the way from home to work and back.

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  • Donna June 30, 2008 at 7:46 am

    What Rixtir said.

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  • bjorn June 30, 2008 at 9:22 am

    #33 and others, I don\’t agree with this notion that we can\’t increase the length of the trains. It is true that we can\’t add more trains because they need to be spaced out in time so they don\’t run into each other, but we could easily double the length of the trains during rush hour. This would mean that the trains would block streets downtown. Basically every few minutes a street might be blocked for 20-30 seconds, to which I say big deal. We have to consider useful transit to be more important than car traffic to do it, but there is no reason why longer trains can\’t be run during the times when the trains are typically overcrowded right now.


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  • Zagreus June 30, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Rixtir, I can say for a fact that both Fred Hansen and Steve Banta use public transportation–neither drives to work. This is true of many Tri-Met employees, including managers. Many also bike to work.

    Steve Banta has improved service because he sees problems by riding the system. He has also gotten Tri-Met road suprervisors out of their pickups and onto trains and busses.

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  • Meep June 30, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I think the problem is that Tri-Met has tried to implement changes without considering all of its passengers. In DC the cycling population is relatively small, and I only saw maybe 2 bikes on a train at a time (this was two years ago, so maybe things have changed). They also have a more extensive rail service. Portland has more cyclists per capita AND most of the train activity seems to be going to and from the west where all the large companies are. It makes sense as to why we\’re having these problems, but the solution is less clear.

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  • Nate Desmond June 30, 2008 at 9:49 am

    I do not know what the best solution would be, but I do have to say that, as gas prices go up, TriMet should be anticipating higher bicycle traffic.

    I have read a few of the different solutions and think that the best one is to make more space for bikes. Someone recommended that a bicyclist should have two bicycles – one on each end of the MAX route. Who can pay for two bikes? Are not most bicyclists riding to save money? If you pay for my second bike and the storage costs, then I will be glad to do that.

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  • Oliver June 30, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Just wait till November, when poor weather means we (again) can add wholesale failure of the ticket machines at every busy downtown max platform to the joy of dealing with fare inspectors, the security guards, the cyclists, the strollers, the grocery shoppers etc.

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  • GLV June 30, 2008 at 11:25 am

    \”…we could easily double the length of the trains during rush hour. This would mean that the trains would block streets downtown.\”

    …and passengers would board/deboard trains in the middle of the street? No way that is ever going to happen, nor should it. It in absurd suggestion. Even a subway won\’t fix the problem, because the entire system is designed for 2 car trains. A subway would eliminate the Steel Bridge bottleneck and allow more 2 car trains, but MAX trains will be 2 cars long forever.

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  • Icarus Falling June 30, 2008 at 11:33 am

    It has been shown and explained many times why they cannot increase the lengths of the trains.

    It is also very apparent why Tri Met would not, and will not, have bike only trains.

    There is not enough bike traffic to justify it for one.
    Tri Met does not care enough about cyclists that are fare payers to accommodate them properly on the trains
    already in use, what the hell would make you think they are going to appropriate specific cars for bikes?

    The Steel bridge crossing has also been explained by Tri Met in the past as a stumbling block to longer trains, let alone the fact that most platforms are not long enough, and having trains in some blocks that are short will disrupt light cycles, light cycles which are timed to supposedly keep traffic flowing.

    I despise Tri Met, but I could go on and on with answers to the constantly asked question \”Why don\’t they just add another train car and make it bike specific?\”

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  • John June 30, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    All the posts make good points. But those of us commuting at rush hour are on a schedule too.

    I buy/validate a ticket with the expectation of being able to get on a train. If I then have to wait for the next train, that erases any time savings for me so I might as well ride the whole way at that point and take a shower at work (by taking max I can avoid working up a sweat).

    I think if inspectors/security are going to ask us to get off a train and not allow us to board they should be prepared to refund our money. This can simply be done by taking our validated fare and giving us an unvalidated fare in return.

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  • brettoo June 30, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    A few responses:
    1. The Danish cars, as the linked post states, aren\’t bike-ONLY cars, but rather give PRIORITY to bikes, prams, and wheelchairs; regular riders can use them but must give way when a priority user needs the space.
    2. Current bike usage may or may not justify such priority now, but it\’s a chicken-and-egg situation. As the Danes and Dutch and others proved, both with trains and separated cycle tracks, first you have to create the infrastructure (in this case, the designated bike priority cars), and THEN, when users see how convenient they are, they\’ll start using them and will easily justify the investment.
    3. Having two bikes can be expensive, true. But as a trip to the Community Cycling Center will show, it doesn\’t have to be. In Europe, many families have two sets of bikes: a cheap beater bike specifically for leaving at the metro/train station, and a good bike at home. In any case, a cheap second bike is certainly cheaper than a car, or even a couple of tankfuls of gas these days.
    I thought I read recently that Tri Met was investigating providing more bike parking at Max stations. True?

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  • mad mike June 30, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Meep #58,

    Unfortunately, as a former DC resident, I can say that the reason they\’re so much more capable of accomodating bike subway riders is that they\’ve a strictly enforced policy against rush-hour bikes.

    I really do think our system is progressive in this sense, but should still strive to accomodate us all. And I haven\’t really heard a great argument as to why they can\’t run a bikes only train every 1/2 hour (or even hourly). It would probably only need be done during rush hour and — even at that — only on specific bike heavy lines or portions of lines.

    Yeah- I\’m in that camp of folk that will just switch back over to car driving if I\’m going to risk being late arriving at work, or stuck on a platform watching multiple unusable trains pass by trying to get home. Which would be depressing, but whatever.

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  • Icarus Falling June 30, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    If I read one more time that Tri Met\’s solution to this problem is either buy a folding bike or use two bikes for your commute, I am going to crap my pants….

    It is obvious that Tri Met just doesn\’t get it, doesn\’t care to get it, and will not be doing anything about this problem.

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  • Spanky June 30, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I agree with the first come first served comment above.

    Except that I suspect TriMet is or may be a bit concerned about liability if a passenger should be injured by falling against a bike or whatnot, if it was not \”properly\” stowed. There are more than a few folks out there more than willing to claim injuries as the result of minor incidents involving mass transit.

    I wonder if there\’s any investigation pending on ways to accomodate more bicycles on the trains. Too bad they can\’t do exterior racks like the bus.

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  • Meep June 30, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    mad mike #65
    I didn\’t have a bike in DC… almost forgot about the banned policy. Admittedly, the only time I would have needed a bike would have been around my neighborhood, because I could easily walk from the Metro to work. With my current situation in Portland, if I didn\’t have to work in Hillsboro I wouldn\’t even bother with the train…

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  • Cecil June 30, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Anonymous (Post #22) said

    \”Wow. There are many anti-bike, pro-trimet Trolls posting on this thread.\”

    Um, I have to say I don\’t see many \”troll\” postings – all I see are people who have voiced an opinion (and have done so fairly respectfully as far as these kinds of discussions tend to go) that Tri-Met may have a point in limiting the number of bikes during particular periods. The fact that someone has a different opinion doesn\’t make him or her a troll.

    I would love to see a system in which everyone who needed or wanted to take their bike onto a bus or train could do so without a problem, but we don\’t have that system yet, and given the fiscal realities of public transportation, it may be a while. Until then, perhaps one thing we CAN work on with Tri-Met to obtain immediate relief is to find a way to refund the fare of someone who has purchased a ticket only to be put off the train for lack of room . . .

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  • John Lascurettes July 1, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    A simple fact: Length of city block going east-west throughout downtown = exactly two MAX cars long.

    Trimet can\’t add more cars to a train since all lines go through downtown. There is no place to decouple the \”extra\” cars next to downtown and would defeat the purpose of the cars anyway.

    There are other reasons (e.g., Steel Bridge capacity), but that one should suffice.

    Now if Trimet had had the foresight to go ahead with a subway system in Portland\’s core, we\’d not have this problem today. Instead, we\’re going to crisscross more surface trains downtown with the Green line. Oy vey. This will be fun.

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  • bjorn July 2, 2008 at 9:34 am

    #70, sounds to me like the simple fact is that a train 4 cars long would only block one street for the short length of time that a train stops so really there is no reason why they can\’t double the capacity with very little effort.

    The steel bridge only prevents increasing the frequency of the trains not their length.


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  • Icarus falling July 2, 2008 at 1:04 pm


    The SIMPLE fact is:

    There is a thing called \”light timing\” (centrally computer controlled I believe) that would be totally thrown off by four car trains. It would also increase the actual traffic problems that are part of the reason most bus/train systems are in place.

    The city is not going to allow the timing of lights throughout the city to be F\’ed up, nor should they be expected to, by longer trains, nor is Tri Met going to run longer trains just to accommodate more bikes.

    Another pipe dream gone sour. Sorry.

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  • John Lascurettes July 2, 2008 at 8:52 pm


    Also note that at rush hour the trains are sometimes already back-to-back and just two blocks apart (in other words there\’s one more-or-less at every stop simultaneously downtown). So if you had a three or four-car train blocking the street between stops, and a train at every two-block stop downtown, every street would be blocked. Or you\’d have to have fewer trains, defeating the purpose of adding extra cars.

    Let\’s also not forget that there will be a green line crossing the red, blue and yellow line soon too.

    Put all that together: instant gridlock of trains and busses. Then sprinkle that with some cars. It isn\’t pretty.

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  • bikeman July 3, 2008 at 9:12 am

    why should trimet cater to bikes? if you want to have a bike you should be riding it, not cheating yourself out of a great chance to ride. sounds like some people are all about saving their gas money but are too lazy to get some decent excercise. why would anybody wnat to ride max anyway? with all the drug dealers, tranisents, gang bangers and hookers on mass transient its no wonder people are getting beat up, stabbed, and/or robbed on such a substandard system

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  • beth h July 3, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Bikeman — multi-modal transportation is something that MANY more people will want to utilize as cross-town commutes of ten miles or more become unreasonable for an aging population.

    As for bikes on MAX in general, I admit that I am less inclined to use the Yellow Line even though it\’s where I live. Over the last several months there have definitely been more incidents of unruly, threatening behavior (especially from young people). With school being out and lots of youth in this part of town having no employment or other options for positive summer activities, I can only guess that the situation will not improve soon.

    Also, it seems that a lot of the Yellow Line trains only have one car, making light rail travel more crowded and tense at all hours of the day. Demand is definitely there; why won\’t TriMet run two-car trains more often on a line where more residents need public transit to get around?

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  • Afro Biker September 10, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    As always…whining bikers. Everybody has to put up with crowded trains. EVERYBODY. Please learn to deal with situations where everything isn\’t handed to you on a silver platter.

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  • SkidMark September 10, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Please learn to not think that everything is handed to us on a silver platter. Yeah, you know I\’m saying…

    I don\’t have a problem letting a train or two pass me on the way home, in the morning it would be a different story, but leaving earlier just leaves time for an espresso (not a latte).

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  • Zaphod September 11, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I noticed that this post is getting play out of the blue. I haven\’t re-read all the posts but, as I see it, the crux is this:

    Working any job requires you arrive on time consistently. If rail cannot be relied upon for whatever reason, too crowded, delayed whatever, your employer doesn\’t care. They just note that you are late. Enough lates and you gain a reputation. A few more and you\’re looking for a different job. Thus anyone who wants to make progress in their career can\’t rely on rail in its current state.

    This employee then has to choose between riding or driving.

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