Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

News signs on MAX clarify bike hook access rules

Posted by on July 16th, 2008 at 7:54 am

The new sign says, “Hang bike here.
Allow cyclists access to hook.”
(Photo: Bill Alsup)

In an effort to make their bike hooks more user-friendly, TriMet has added new signage on MAX trains reminding passengers that the hook area is for bikes (not for standing in).

TriMet planner and designated bike guy Colin Maher says the new signs were installed because, “we heard that customers were having difficulty hanging their bike because another passenger was standing under the hook and refusing to move, even if they were easily able to do so.”

“So long as the train isn’t too crowded to board, we ask passengers not to stand under the hooks if someone needs to hang their bike.”
–TriMet’s Colin Maher

Maher adds that they hope the signs reinforce that the hook area is for bikes and that, “So long as the train isn’t too crowded to board, we ask passengers not to stand under the hooks if someone needs to hang their bike.”

(My only nitpick with the new signs is that they label riders with bikes as “cyclists”. I think it would be better if the signs said, “Allow riders with bikes to access hook.”)

The signs are part of a larger effort by TriMet to improve their bike hooks. Besides improving access, they’re also coating the hooks with rubber so rims don’t get scratched and they’re in the testing phase of moving the hooks so that wide handlebars don’t interfere with the train’s doors.

At this point, there are no plans to improve security of hanging bikes. Maher says TriMet recommends that riders stay with their bikes at all times to keep them secure. That’s good advice, because you don’t want to end up like this guy.

[Thanks to Jessica R. for the tip!]

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

  • beth h July 16, 2008 at 8:28 am

    There\’s a fellow making the rounds on the Yellow Line. He brings his bike on and if both hooks are already taken he pulls out a homemade S-hook and hangs it on the rail next to a bike, then hangs his bike on the improvised hook. Some people don\’t mind, but others point out that the second bike does indeed block aisle access.

    He\’s asked me a couple of times to NOT stand next to my hanging bike so he could hang his bike next to mine and I\’ve refused him both times, saying I was not willing to relax my guard on my bike for any reason. Both times the guy got angry and hung his bike on the other side.

    I think it\’s silly for city government to encourage multi-modal transportation when they cannot or will not provide the additional capacity for the rapidly growing number of bicycle riders who want to go multi-modal.

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  • Andy July 16, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Even on a quiet Sunday afternoon I found the yellow line to be full-up on bike hooks. Fortunately the folks on the train didn\’t mind my putting the bike on the non-exit-side door to stay out of people\’s way. We\’ve gotta find another way to improve capacity!

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  • KT July 16, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Jonathan, your nitpick is about how TriMet names people who ride bikes???

    What\’s wrong with calling people who ride bikes, cyclists? Isn\’t that one of the proper terms for people who ride bikes?

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  • Matt Picio July 16, 2008 at 9:13 am

    I think the situation is just going to get worse – there are no practical ways at this time to increase capacity. The train length is fixed by the length of city blocks, and can\’t be extended by the use of longer cars nor by an additional car per train. And while currently the system could accommodate a greater number of trains per hour, with the pending opening of the green line this will no longer be the case due to the bottleneck at the Steel Bridge – the system has an upper bound as to the number of trains per hour that can be run over that bridge, and the green line will test that limit.

    Dedicating cars to bike-only use isn\’t practical, since a MAX car can carry many more pedestrians than bike/rider combinations. Also, it would take time and money to switch the car configurations from ped only to rider/bike. There is no incentive for Tri-Met to do so, and someone would need to pay the cost for the time and resources needed to do so.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 16, 2008 at 9:19 am


    i realize my continued harping on that concept might get annoying for some people.

    but my point is that labeling people is inherently not good public policy.

    I feel that that \”bicyclist\” or \”motorist\” is a label that is a sad attempt to define a certain group of people solely by how they move around the city.

    What if a similar label was used to describe different races, social groups, or sexual preferences? many would find it completely unacceptable… but for some reason, most folks feel like it\’s OK to label people who ride bikes and people who drive cars.

    Once you label someone a \”bicyclist\” or \”motorist\” (or black, white, gay, straight, etc…) it\’s much easier to then begin to ascribe other behaviors to them.

    I realize this might seem like a minor thing to some people, but I really feel that everyone is better off when we begin see beyond simple labels.

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  • Maculsay July 16, 2008 at 9:22 am

    What Matt said.

    I\’ve never waited for more than one extra train to find a hook. If it gets worse, I\’ll just have to hit the ibuprofen, put the knee in it\’s brace, and enjoy the slower ride home. Sucks to be aging…

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  • joeb July 16, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Too bad there couldn\’t be a quick connect/release for an additional car at Goose Hollow and Lloyd Center for trains going out of town where city block lengths aren\’t as much of an issue. Slap on an extra car on leaving town, drop it off again before entering the downtown corridor. I\’m lucky enough to have the option to just keep riding so that\’s how I avoid overcrowding.

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  • reece July 16, 2008 at 9:34 am

    You\’ve never waited for more than one extra train to find a hook? Wow. I\’m impressed. I ride MAX daily from the eastside to Hillsboro and back and I\’d say that about 50% of the time I\’m standing. You must not be riding during the \”normal\” commute times..

    And, as for the woman above who is refusing a fellow bike rider a spot to hang his bike, that\’s just lame. on one hand, i applaud you for your vigilance to protect your bike, but those of us who ride frequently understand that there\’s more than enough room for two bikes in the space where the hook is, and seeing as how the trimet fare inspectors have been out in force this week kicking bikes (but not strollers…) off for not being on the hook…

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  • beth h July 16, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Another thought that comes to mind is that, until we create incentives for businesses to locate closer to where people live, people will continue to have to travel farther from their homes to find and keep employment. It\’s VERY hard to fashion a life where home, work and play are all within reasonable distance.

    We did it five years ago when we bought our fixer-upper. We told our realtor we couldn\’t live more than seven miles from my job, since I don\’t own a car and that\’s as far as I was willing to commute by bike one way.

    We got lucky. My commute is just under five miles each way by bike. I\’m not so sure we\’d be as lucky if we were beginning the house-hunting process today. Our suburban design for living is simply not that liveable anymore, and until we can re-fashion our landscape to be on a more human scale we\’ll see things get worse, not better.

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  • abbeynormal July 16, 2008 at 9:43 am

    I think it\’s great TriMet changed the signs. I have never been overtly denied the ability to hang up my bike by a passenger, but some seem to want to make it as difficult as possible.

    Hopefully TriMet can continue to find more solutions. Pedestrian and bike traffic are only going to increase. Personally, I think the best solution lies in a bike sharing program, coupled with high-security bike parking at the stations. That way, one end could be ridden with a personal bike, and at the other end, a shared bike.

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  • Maculsay July 16, 2008 at 9:47 am

    @reece #8 – you\’re absolutely correct – I always pedal during busy commuting hours, and my hook-waits are during non-peak hours. Being semi-retired, I sometimes forget what peak hours are 🙂

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  • N.I.K. July 16, 2008 at 10:05 am

    What if a similar label was used to describe different races, social groups, or sexual preferences? many would find it completely unacceptable…

    There are times when different groups of people with some amount of commonality need to be talked about or referenced and that\’s all there is to it. Pretending that a lengthier phrasing prevents unfair generalizations is absolute nonsense. \”This person who happens to be a homosexual\”, \”this person who happens to be Asian-American\”, \”this person who happens to be a journalist,\” etc. are all unwieldy, and still can result on fixation of affiliation/categorization. In slanderous instances, it can even used for further emphasis on the indicated quality rather than the person.

    If you need further evidence, reference the anti-bike contingent\’s frequent usage of \”bike riders\” or \”people on bikes\” over \”cyclists\” – these phrases are employed for demonizing us as bad people. For all the conventional wisdom surrounding \”putting a human face to it\”, it tends to get worse when you put a blank face to it.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 16, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I would also suggest TRIMET add bigger bike symbols on the exterior doors to alert novice transit riders where to expect bikes. The current ones are very small.

    Plus it would make for good probike advertising as trains zip through town…bikes are a great way to \’skip a transfer trip\’ to get to the main line.

    In Northern Europe this is a very common practice – large bike symbols on transit see flickr page:


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  • abbeynormal July 16, 2008 at 11:11 am


    First off, I really disagree on comparing the use of the word \’cyclist\’ with categorizing people based on race and sexual orientation. It\’s a totally different ballpark.

    Besides that, I see where you\’re coming from on the cyclist vs. motorist issue, because that implies mutual exclusivity and therefore it creates a division that extends beyond the mode of transportation that people are taking at that moment. It also implies that people\’s opinions or behavior are solely formed by the activities they do. I think that most people see beyond this, but some might not and so it\’s worth being careful about language. However, in the context of a sign on the Max about hanging up bikes, the label is completely valid because it refers to the activity being performed at that time.

    When you walk, you are a pedestrian; when you drive, you are a driver; when you dance, you are a dancer; when you play piano, you are a pianist…and when you bike, you are a cyclist. I’m a cyclist and a driver (as well as many other things) and to refer to me that way when performing those activities is fine. To imply that I cannot be both or make assumptions about me because of those activities is not. The sign just uses ‘cyclist’ to distinguish between someone who has a bike in their possession and someone who doesn’t. That’s the very function of a label.

    Cyclist is not a dirty word. Sure, some may make it seem that way, but that’s no reason to avoid the word when it’s used in a proper context. If you shy away from using the word at all, then you only validate those who choose to put a negative context on it.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 16, 2008 at 11:20 am


    you make some good points and I will definitely keep all that in mind as I continue to form my thinking around this issue.

    for what it\’s worth, a source of mind at TriMet said initial drafts of the new sticker did indeed say \”passengers with bikes\” but that it was changed before printing (most likely for brevity\’s sake).

    maybe \”cyclist\” and \”motorist\” are not always bad.. but in certain contexts I feel they should be avoided.

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  • Rowan July 16, 2008 at 11:45 am

    There is a great opportunity here: Invent a small lock that locks the front wheel to the hook difficult enough that a thief couldn\’t just walk off with an unattended bike but you can easily unlock it at your stop. There are magnetic locks and also ones that lock and unlock with a remote (like a garage door opener).

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  • frost July 16, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Kierkegaard said \”Once you label me you negate me.\”
    Hell even Wayne Campbell understood that concept.

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  • JDL July 16, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Re #4 –

    A possible way to add capacity despite the Steel Bridge bottleneck would be to run more trains that don\’t cross the Steel Bridge. For example, trains that run the Yellow Line tracks between Rose Quarter and Expo Center, or trains that run the Red/Blue Line tracks between Downtown and Beaverton/Hillsboro.

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  • JP July 16, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Has anyone ever run accross this guy who intentionally boards the max where there is only one hook left to block a biker from hanging his/her bike? It has happened to me twice. He boards at the Hollywood stop in the afternoon and goes West.

    The 2nd time it happened, he was blocking my wife. Two dudes that were standing right there couldn\’t believe their eyes so they started getting in his face. One of them called the train operator. The operator got out of his cab, came down to where were at, the two dudes were explaining to him what was going on (all the while, my wife and I are standing there with our bikes as people stick up for us), and the train operator made us get off the train, because \”Trimet had no law about people having to move for bikes in the hook area.\”

    By this time, the whole train was watching in disbelief. It was winter and raining outside, so we were bummed we had to get off.

    I saw that guy many times at the Hollywood station after that, but never said anything after realizing how hard core he was about not moving for anyone no matter what. He kept telling us that \”his lawyer says he doesn\’t have to move for us,\” and that \”Trimet has no law making him move.\” Anyway, has anyone else come accross this guy?

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  • cn July 16, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Since short track started we\’ve been attempting to take the MAX to PIR. It\’s crazy how different the people patrolling the MAX treat me every time I ride. Sometimes they are very nice, my friend didn\’t have a hook for her bike, but the guy was very friendly and didn\’t seem to care. The same day, on the way home, I got chewed out royally but some guy with a yellow vest for not having a hook. (Not to mention there was only one car, but it wasn\’t full.)

    My theory with bikes on the MAX is just don\’t take them on. You never know when you\’ll get harassed by Trimet. Besides, it\’s good to be warmed up for the races anyway 🙂

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  • Resident July 16, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I\’m not looking to get lambasted here, but the capacity thing could be worked out if cyclists cycled more and rode the train less. It astounds me how many relatively fit looking people load up a bike and ride the train for ten miles.

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  • JP July 16, 2008 at 3:16 pm


    It depends on where you are. I would say don\’t have your bike on the train downtown, but if you\’re going from, say, Goose Hollow to Sunset TC, it saves tons of time. I personally would rather get to my destination in the fastest way possible getting sweaty as little as possible. Plus, I\’m not into all the spandex. Actually, that\’s what I don\’t understand: all the people riding the MAX with their full logo-plastered spandex. Isn\’t that stuff for something other than commuting? Yeah, maybe if your commute is 15 miles up hill or something. Oh well.

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  • Brian July 16, 2008 at 3:18 pm


    It isn\’t just a \”fitness\” issue. Some areas of Portland (particularly the West side) are just not very safe places to ride your bike. Also, I don\’t know very many people who are \”fit\” enough to climb the hill up to Washington Park. Think before you post please.

    As for Trimet, I get the impression that they think bike capacity is a short term problem, and that come winter bike traffic will decrease and the problem will go away. I guess they aren\’t paying attention to gas prices. High gas prices, and eventually, gas shortages are in our future for the long term. It would behoove our public transportation officials to think about long term solutions instead of the stonewalling I have seen from them recently.

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  • KT July 16, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    J.Maus, thank you for the response.

    But I agree with Abbeynormal, who articulated my thoughts quite well! We must have been on the same wavelength.

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  • JP July 16, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    J. Maus, I agree with you. I don\’t like all the words that hint at the us vs. them mentality.

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  • Brad July 16, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Resident #21 – Some of us utilize the MAX in the mornings to get to work on time. With kids to get ready, a dog to feed and walk, etc. it isn\’t always practical to shove off at 6:00 AM to arrive at the office showered and changed before 8:00 AM.

    I skip the MAX in the evenings and use that commute as my workout as time and personal presentation are not issues. Plus, I ride as training for bike racing(commuting just an inexpensive side bonus) so two crossings of the West Hills each day defeats those aims and taxes the wrong energy systems in the wrong manner.

    Whaddya know?! Cyclists in Portland have diverse reasons for riding!

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  • Fran July 16, 2008 at 7:21 pm


    Which side is the non-exit side on the yellow train? I ride that line and exits are to the left at some stops and the right at others.

    Just because no one said anything to you doesn\’t mean they weren\’t thinking, \”Gee, I hope this isn\’t going to be the time I need to get off the train in an emergency, what with that bike blocking the door.\”

    Last week, I was penned in by two bikes on a packed train from the Rose Quarter to Rosa Parks Ave. I didn\’t say anything because I hate confrontation and you never know how someone will react. I know I wasn\’t the only one very uncomfortable in that situation, because some of my fellow riders commented when the cyclists got off the train.

    I agree there needs to be a solution to the capacity issue. I am taking up riding again after a long time and would love to take my bike on board, especially during the Steel Bridge closure.

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  • Duncan July 16, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Totally off topic. As someone who has to fly to work, and whose office is in Kalama, I wish I had y\’alls problems.

    Thanks for listening.

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  • John Russell July 16, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Fran (#27),

    I believe that Andy is talking about the fact that North of the Prescott Street station, all of the stations are to the right, as they aren\’t sandwiched between the tracks. Based on my measurements and observations, it would appear that two tracks and one station take up just under 40\’ of ROW out of Interstate Avenue\’s 80\’. Whether the station is between or next to the tracks appears to be based on the need for turn lanes. Prescott, for example, which has a few extra feet of ROW, has room for turn lanes, whereas Albina/Mississippi has turn lanes at the expense of parking.

    Hope this isn\’t too much of an explanation for you.

    Now for my transit comment. It\’s actually about how C-Tran in Vancouver accommodated bikes. Yes, Vancouver!

    Today I was biking as quickly as I could from downtown to get the the Parkrose TC to take the last C-Tran bus of the night back to Fisher\’s landing. I just barely make it, and there\’s one cyclist already there, so we fill up the rack. We\’re about to leave, when another cyclist pulls up. It was the last bus of the night, so I was thinking that this guy was out of luck, but then the driver just lets him put it in the handicap zone. Apparently it\’s a new policy that only applies to the the last bus of the night, but at least they\’re accommodating us riders with bikes. And not to negate what you are saying or anything, Jonathan, but in most cases that I am on the bus or MAX (usually bus), I am a cyclist using transit to extend my rides. I guess I see it as the riders who are never without their bikes as cyclists, the ones who would ride their bikes if they were kicked off, and the people who wouldn\’t are the riders with bikes. That\’s just my take on it, although I definitely appreciate the attention to such a subtle, yet significant, change

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  • Tom July 17, 2008 at 3:24 am

    #21, If I could ride over the West Hills I would, but since I\’m on my feet for most of my 12 hour night shift, needless to say, I\’m a little worn out. It\’s not like it is exactly flat where I\’m riding from.

    The nice thing is that I\’m moving pretty much against the flow of MAX commuting, coming West in the AM and East in the PM from the Westside. I plan ahead for waits and really don\’t have a problem anymore.

    As for winter, having experienced this myself, the amount of riders does go down. Riding in the rain, dark and wind is a mighty tall order, even with the price of gas. I don\’t see the \”fair weather\” folks sticking around in December, but I could be mistaken! Ridership with bikes will drop off and then Trimet will back-burner stuff until the sun comes out again and this issue picks up once again. It\’s how it\’s been lately.

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  • Donna July 17, 2008 at 7:24 am

    I\’m not looking to get lambasted here, but the capacity thing could be worked out if cyclists cycled more and rode the train less. It astounds me how many relatively fit looking people load up a bike and ride the train for ten miles.
    With all due respect, you can\’t look at someone and know they have asthma. My lungs just can\’t take the incline of the West Hills.

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  • JP July 17, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Looks like #21 got lambasted!

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  • Tasha July 17, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    This is the age where folding bikes need to become hugely popular. When I was in Europe (where incidentally, bikes are banned on the trains during rush hour in London), folding bikes were everywhere. I have a feeling as out city grows and more and more people are commuting by both bike and MAX/bus, makers of folding bikes will start making a hell of a lot more of them and they will be the next big thing.

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  • Duncan July 18, 2008 at 7:37 am

    I am not riding a folding bike.

    No no no…

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  • Seth CLUB26 July 20, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    I ride a Freeride Mountain Bike and the hooks with the hard plastic on them I cant hang my bike. my tires are BIGG and I get no room with that hook. and can we get a seat on the back of the other chair so that the person with the bikek can sit next to it. thank you

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  • nothstine July 24, 2008 at 10:42 am

    JP wrote:

    Has anyone ever run accross this guy who intentionally boards the max where there is only one hook left to block a biker from hanging his/her bike? It has happened to me twice. He boards at the Hollywood stop in the afternoon and goes West.

    JP, does this sound like him? (See incident #2: The angry crossword puzzle worker.) The guy I was dealing with looked sort of like a young, sullen Bob Saget.


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  • JP July 25, 2008 at 2:55 pm


    Yep, that\’s the guy.

    Beware, everyone, of this guy who we speak of on the MAX.

    If anyone can get a picture of this guy not allowing people to hang their bikes on the hooks, we could maybe end this guys quest to get punched so he can then sue.

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  • SkidMark July 25, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    How does he \”not allow\” you? Tell him to get the f*ck out of your way. Move him.

    I\’ve never had anyone keep me from hanging my bike up.

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