From Stuttgart, a way to take more bikes on the train

Posted by on October 19th, 2009 at 10:30 am

Photo: City of Stuttgart via Cyclelicious)

TriMet’s light rail trains have a welldocumented capacity problem when it comes to bicycles.

It’s a tricky problem. TriMet’s mission is to move people, not their bicycles, yet we live in a multi-modal world where many people like to combine their trips with bikes and transit. TriMet would like to encourage people to use folding bikes or park at transit stations and then have a second bike at their destination. But for now — especially at peak hours — the capacity problem remains

In Stuttgart, Germany, they have a similar problem and they’ve come up with a great solution. Blogger Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious came across their “Vorstellwagen”, a platform made just for bicycles that runs between Marienplatz and Degerloch.

Granted, the train serves a recreational destination that’s high atop a hill with a 20% slope, but I still found this an interesting solution. Check out the City of Stuttgart’s website for more info (it will help if you know a bit of German).

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Bob_M
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Bob_M

Neat idea
FWIW a person with a bicycle displaces 3 transit commuters.

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

Jonathan:

I know you’re familiar with MAX and downtown Portland, so I don’t understand why you’d suggest this as a solution to the bikes problem on MAX.

The problem:

1) MAX trains are almost precisely the length of a full city block, which means that you can’t really add anything on to the front or back of a two-car train without blocking the intersection on one side or the other.

2) MAX runs two-car trains at rush hour in order to keep up with demand.

Thus, in order to attach one of these bike platforms to a train, you’d have to remove a car from one of the trains. Keep in mind that the capacity of a single MAX train car is 166 people. Wouldn’t Trimet be better off removing a few seats from one of their cars rather than removing one whole car’s worth of capacity?

Nick V
Guest
Nick V

That’s a cool idea. And I don’t really like Tri-Met’s suggestion of using two bikes for one commute. Unless I misunderstand, that would leave one of the bikes open to misfortune.

AaronF
Guest
AaronF

I would need some sort of theft deterrant in order to put my bike up front like that.

It’s ok on the front of the bus because I can watch it, but a setup like that… I’d have to be able to lock my bike up or something… which means everybody would have to wait for me to do that…

Marcus Griffith
Guest
Marcus Griffith

That seems like a pretty simple solution to the bike capacity problem. There would of course some details to be worked out, the platform length issue, some safety concerns with people trying to get on and off as the train starts to move..but it is an idea worth exploring. I would prefer the bike cart to be in front of the train, that way the train operator could make sure its safe before moving the train.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

cyclist,

I never made a direct suggestion. I am well aware of the limitations of applying this to MAX trains. This is merely something to provoke thoughts and ideas.

Perhaps this sort of solution could be used on limited sections of MAX lines on weekends? Like, for instance on the Gresham line past Lloyd Center… or, once MAX goes across into Vancouver, maybe something like this could be added to the Yellow Line starting at Rose Quarter.

AaronF
Guest
AaronF

Jonathan

I think it’s a pretty neat idea, and I appreciate the post… but I wonder if there is any effective way to incorperate it?

I’ve never had much trouble getting a bike from lloyd center to gresham on the weekends… (it’s been a while though) it’s mostly rush hour weekdays when the trains really fill up, right?

I can’t think of use we would have for them that would be cost effective… maybe a shorter train every 3rd train or so that has a bike rack and less passenger space?

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

AaronF,

I wasn’t talking about simply getting from Lloyd to Gresham… I was talking about how that line opens up points east to weekend bike adventures, bike camping, touring, etc… it would be great to be able to rely on MAX for weekend trips… when you’ve got many people in a group and/or cargo bikes loaded up that don’t fit on the hooks.

Q`ztal
Guest
Q`ztal

Refurbish older, Type 1 LRV, trains.
New chairs/benches for tighter seating density if possible.
Reserve 1/4 of floor space for bike hooks or some other method that allows higher density of bicycles.

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

Jonathan: On weekends people don’t have much of a problem getting their bikes on MAX, do they? I know you might be thinking about the ride this year where some absurd number of people (80? 100?) all tried to board MAX to get out to Gresham… but that sort of thing happens at most once or twice a year.

Also keep in mind that TriMet would have to run a special train that stopped short of downtown and turned back around again at the Rose Quarter… the amount of time it would take to attach/remove the platform from the front of the train (and where would you put it?) would be too onerous.

I understand you’re trying to spur ideas, but even if you spend a couple of minutes thinking about this from TriMet’s point of view, the operational challenges are immediately apparent.

SkidMark
Guest

Bob_M: I fail to see how a bicycle+rider displaces 3 transit commuters. Are you saying that one bike hanging vertically takes up the room of 3 people? I usually stand next to my bike when I am on the MAX and I don’t think that if my bike wasn’t there that 3 people of even 2 could join me. On the bus I don’t displace anyone unless you are proposing that people should ride on the bike carrier. Also when I take my bike I get off the train much sooner because I can beat the train across downtown on my bike and on to my destination. I suppose I could take public transit for the whole trip, and in that way I truly would be displacing transit commuters.

EmGee
Guest
EmGee

If the Max was more bike friendly, it would change some commuting habits in a good way. More people with bicyles would get off at the Zoo and ride downhill to their destinations.

WRT bike flatcars in downtown, there would be no need for them. On the east side, the car could be attached at the Rose Quarter; on the west side at Goose Hollow. It would be simple enough to design cars with pneumatic tires that lifted out of the way when on the tracks, but would be jacked down to allow the car to be parked off the tracks. Put a little thought into it, and you could have bike riders preload the car before the Max reached the station.

Another possibility is for TriMax to just invest in some supersized sag wagons to carry bicyclists point to point (no intermediate stops). It’s time for someone to do some studies on whether this is economically feasible yet, or whether we need to wait a year or two more. Sooner or later it will make sense and TriMet is best positioned to make it happen. I’m guessing as fast as Portland is moving to biking, it will happen fairly soon.

Bob_M
Guest
Bob_M

SkidMark #11
Three is the number transit planners use in calculating ridership. The number means that one person with one bicycle and the facilities needed to for the bicycle take space that could be used for 3 people. I did not mean bus, but rail transit (this article is a rail article)

jacque
Guest
jacque

“the train serves a recreational destination that’s high atop a hill…”

So does ours! =)

Yokota Fritz
Guest

Regarding “3 people” in a bike space: I don’t know PDX — I live near San Francisco — but do people w/o bikes _ever_ get turned away because of a lack of space? In the Bay Area, the only people who are ever denied boarding on Caltrain (commuter heavy rail) because of space limitations are the cyclists. BART gets packed and I can understand bike restrictions on that. I’m curious what kind of ridership TriMet LRT gets.

Sarah Sharp
Guest
Sarah Sharp

Trimet should turn the upper seating in the back of one of the newer train cars into a bike-only section and run it once or twice an hour during rush hour. They could turn one column of seats into slightly angled bike staples. The other column of seats would also be taken out and they could put in an overhead bar or folding seats. People could stand in that area if the staples were unoccupied by a bike. If Trimet advertised the “bike car” schedule on bikeportland.org, some commuters may be able to change their daily commute to hop on it instead.

ben
Guest
ben

In may not help Portland, but in Phoenix this would be great. 8 bikes in a car at rush is not uncommon here.

Matt Picio
Guest

Personally, I vote for a Bicycle Lift up both sides of the western hills, like the one in Trondheim, Norway:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7j1PgmMbug8

I’d imagine many people, like me, could ride the whole way to Beaverton or Hillsboro if we just had some help over the hills.

E
Guest
E

I’m with Matt. I would not need the max if I had some help with the section from Rose Quarter to Overlook Park. 🙂

Lazy Spinner
Guest
Lazy Spinner

Matt – Many of us already do that commute without MAX. It’s simply a function of having the right equipment. good skills, and the proper fitness.

Riding a bike takes some committment. You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong but you do have to put forth some effort. If that climb is an insurmountable obstacle in a new rider’s mind, then I doubt they have the chutzpah to handle our town’s weather or drivers either.

Not trying to be elitist. Just being realistic.

Blah Blah Blah
Guest
Blah Blah Blah

Bike lifts? Come on…Why not just drive. Bikes are made to be ridden.

domes
Guest
domes

Regardless of the feasibility of this particular solution to the obvious capacity problem, I am happy that you are focusing attention on this issue. I was recently ejected from a train by a fare inspector because there were already four bicycles (one on each hook) on it. I spend a lot of money on tri-met and did not appreciate the exclusion.

rl
Guest
rl

Hey, let’s do this Portland style. We can have one of those ride-behind mounts for kids, but made for adults and mounted to the back of MAX.

http://bikeportland.org/2009/10/01/review-bridging-the-independence-gap-with-the-followme/

Sweet. Problem solved.

Editz
Guest
Editz

A Bicycle Lift in Portland? I can imagine some moron slipping off of it and suing the city.

dutch
Guest
dutch

zoobomb!!

20% is badass!

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

[OT] Stuttgart is similarly sized to Portland, and has something like 11 metro lines, which operate much faster than Trimet’s ever will. No wonder most people opt to bike.