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TriMet says father/child separation incident is why bike trailers aren’t allowed

Posted by on May 2nd, 2011 at 10:42 am

max and bike (old shot from archives)

(Photo © J. Maus)

On Saturday, a two-year old child was separated from her father at a MAX station because the father was trying to load a bike trailer onto the train.

Here’s more from The Oregonian:

“Transit agency officials said Kevin James, 39, loaded the girl and his bicycle onto the northbound train at the Albina/Mississippi Yellow Line station about 3:45 p.m. Saturday. He then stepped off the train and to retrieve a bike trailer, TriMet said.”

“…this incident illustrates why bike trailers are not allowed on MAX, whether they are attached or not.”
— Colin Maher, TriMet

TriMet bike access planner Colin Maher says there’s “no indication” the MAX operator did anything wrong. The incident, Maher says, is a prime example why bike trailers are not allowed on MAX.

“Thankfully, the father, his child and his bike were quickly reunited,” Maher wrote via email, “but this incident illustrates why bike trailers are not allowed on MAX, whether they are attached or not… if a passenger gets off the train, there is no way to know they intend to get back on.”

TriMet’s bike policies are clear on this point, stating that trailers “cannot be accomodated.”

Maher says that with the summer season approaching, now is a good time to for folks to remember that trailers and tandems aren’t allowed on MAX. Also, as a general rule, Maher says, “It’s also a good time to remind parents to hold onto to your children when boarding and deboarding.”

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Michweek
Guest

when this happened a year ago (sans trailer) the train operator was said to be at fault. The train left the station with a child boarded but the adult was still folding up the stroller.
How is a bike trailer considered a different device than a stroller?

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

*HEADWALL*

Someone that can’t keep their foot in the door while loading their trailer is the reason NO trailers are allowed on the MAX?

Nick V
Guest

My best guess is that Trimet is concerned about the space that both a bike AND a trailer would consume on the train plus the time it would take to bring both aboard. But I can only speculate. With rising fares and lots of what I would say is money wasted, Trimet should be careful with how they handle issues like this.

craig
Guest
craig

I just contacted Wweek asking them to make TriMet their Rogue of the Week. All of you please do the same. Welcome to the USA’s most bike-friendly city.

Teresda (@PDXsays) Boze
Guest
Teresda (@PDXsays) Boze

Yes, Trimet General Manager: Why is a raven like a writing desk? HINT: by logician standards of sound ( READ: not a trick) logic, it is.

More to the point, though, this is a case of Put a Bird on it Passive Aggressive Portland policy setting. The real issue here isn’t separation of children from parents. That’s the hot button.

The *real* issue is lugging primary personal vehicles onto even bigger modes of primary mass transportation intended to replace cars, and only to provide fractional support to bikes as a courtesy to the occasionally personal primary vehicle users.

There is no intended discrimination or limitation here for bikes: Bikes get as much consideration by numbers per train car (bike racks are where bikes belong on Trimet MAX) as space for wheelchairs. The number of use by wheelchairs is accelerating and so is use by bikes. But the MAX is not designed for bike trailers right now.

But as Portland biking grows, as we get leaner and greener, so do the numbers of bikes in the MAX. It’s good we are headed that way, but an unanticipated increase in the plan.

So, Trimet General Manager – just call it out. Trains are not designed for bike trailers… yet. And start planning for it.

Parents, plan you bike trips with the kids according, and petition and assist the city, state, and national planners to think about bike trailers and how to incorporate those.

craig
Guest
craig

A stroller which is also a bike trailer is a non-difference, if you’re just pushing the bike trailer without a bike. I think they just don’t want to accommodate (1) the bulk of bike+trailer, nor (2) the resulting delay in loading the two pieces of equipment. TriMet’s clear lack of interest in evolving stinks. As the mode-split continues to shift toward more trips taken on bikes and mixed-mode (using bikes with transit), this will be an unavoidable obstacle. TriMet knows users very much need and very much already use MAX with trailers/strollers, and they’re just ignoring the elephant in the living room.

Schrauf
Guest
Schrauf

I just don’t see the problem. Not every anti-bike policy is automatically “wrong”.

Besides the separation issue, the primary issue is space. A stroller is takes up as much space as a bike, sure, but a bike/trailer combo takes up TWICE the space of a stroller – if not more. Max needs to move people, and their policy makes sense as long as space on Max is at a premium.

Should an operator look the other way when someone loads a bike and trailer on a mostly empty train that will likely remain mostly empty? Probably.

Should TriMet admit that the separation issue/concern is a red herring, and their primary reason for the policy is space? Absolutely – even if the policy is reasonable, they should be honest about why the policy is reasonable.

When we have bike-only Max trains (like we should have), obviously trailers should be allowed.

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

I also don’t think light rail should need to accommodate trailers. Light rail is designed to move people and accommodating bikes strollers and wheel chairs is reasonable as part of moving people. However, hauling freight or transporting large object is not. I don’t think light rail should be used to haul any more than a person can reasonably carry on-board in one trip.

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

As a parent of 4 kids who has traveled on mass transit with kids in several cities, and who regularly combines bikes and transit, I can honestly say I would be extremely reluctant to attempt combining bicycles and transit with kids younger than 9 or 10. It is challenging to manage 2 or 3 kids w/ strollers and hands needing to be held. I know it would not work for me to manage even one bicycle and one young child in a crowd even without getting on and off transit. As a parent I just wouldn’t attempt it.

Trying to manage a young child, a bike and a trailer on transit looks to me like poor judgment.

David
Guest
David

This almost happened to me with my two year old when I was loading a couple of bags onto the MAX heading to the airport, but luckily I jumped onto the train before the doors shut. It wasn’t the fault of the bags (or the bike trailer), just a mistake that happens occasionally which we should try to minimize.

KLO
Guest
KLO

II am not advocating either viewpoint, but wanted to add my experience as another data point. The one time I traveled on MAX with a bike and trailer, I disconnected the bike while we were waiting for the train, and my husband loaded my bike and his bike on the train. Even with that help, I still needed additional help getting the packed trailer (child and camping gear) over the steep “step” from the platform onto the train. I was in full panic attack mode thinking we were all going to get separated. I guess I can say now that my panic was legitimate.

FYI – with the bike disconnected, it took up the same amount of space as a stroller or wheelchair.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

the only way I would bring my toddler and bike trailer onto the train was to first fold the trailer and attach it to my bike rack… much in the same way they make you fold your stroller when you get on the bus… it just takes up too much space…

so fold your trailer, strap it to your bike, then board with just the one bike with your luggage (trailer) secured to it, and small child close beside you…

if you need to jump off the train for some reason it’s easy to pull the bike and trailer back out with you in one swift movement…

of course you may not be able to use the bike hooks on the train, which I can only do on the new trains anyway because my bike is a few inches too long… but most people don’t seem to mind if you’re bike is just standing there diagonally below the hook…

Ralph
Guest
Ralph

As a parent my child stays with me no matter what.

I would never think about loading my child, in a trailer or in a stroller, on the train then going back for bags or bikes or what ever.

Paul
Guest
Paul

If you use the wheelchair ramps there is more time and a delay on the closing doors.

rootbeerguy
Guest
rootbeerguy

Would Tri-Met policy permit a bike trailer w/o bike to be loaded inside bus?

marshmallow
Guest
marshmallow

the adult loads the bike, the kid pushes his trailer/stroller…problem solved. kids are lazy these days

Barney
Guest
Barney

It’s weak that Trimet is exploiting this situation as a justification for its policy, but I don’t think the policy is a bad one given the current layout of the trains. When we bring bikes onto trains, we’re already using 2-3 times the space of the average rider. The “greater good” matters here: fitting more people on the train is better for the city than each person being allowed to bring the kitchen sink onto the train. It would be fantastic if the trains could be large enough to seriously accommodate this, but until then, I just don’t see how a pro-trailer policy facilitates the big picture for providing the city with quality mass transit.

Jay R.
Guest
Jay R.

I don’t understand why people seem to think that this policy was instituted as a result of this incident. This has ALWAYS been Trimet’s policy, and it’s a good one. Bike trailers are bulky, and awkward. They take up a lot of physical space, and time to get on and off of a train, and the only reason it’s an issue is because a very minor few think that they’re entitled to a great deal more space than any other transit user.

michweek
Guest
michweek

Obviously the issue here is children. They take up space, don’t pay fares and can be a missle if they aren’t properly stored.

craig
Guest
craig

I’m not bothered by the policy, which is fitting given the current facilities offered by TriMet. What bothers me is the total lack of vision, as communicated time and again in the press by TriMet, in neglecting what has proven to be a winning service in other parts of the world by fully integrating bikes with light rail for a true multi-modal solution. (repeat link from above http://trailnrail.blogspot.com/2009/10/light-rail-bike-car.html )

marshmallow
Guest
marshmallow

the kid should obviously be in a bike seat mounted behind the dad, and the dad should be sitting on the top tube while the max is in motion…the kid would never be removed from her seat, saving time and the threat of her running wild on the max…also, he should be squeezing the brakes tightly at all times while the train is in motion…riding up and down the isles is trick best left to circus monkeys on tiny novelty bikes…to provide some entertainment to the rest of the passengers, he should be steadying himself with one hand on the overhead bars or walls and pedaling furiously backwards as though he himself is generating immense power for the max train…his daughter would be yelling expletives at her lousy and weak kneed father as a drill sargeant does with new recruits fresh out of prison…this is the only way we can earn respect with the entitled business class that commutes to work sans bike

marshmallow
Guest
marshmallow

my mom would have been like, good riddance, that son was a pain in the ass, thanks max, and skipped away

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

or just ride your bike there instead of taking the train…

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

The real issue (IMO) here is whether or not strollers and trailers violate the safe passage made by the ADA act.

If they do not,and the train is not full, a properly folded and stowed trailer should be no question…..
A properly folded and stowed trailer would not violate personal space, nor the ADA act, nor Tri Met’s policies.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

Personally, I’m amazed that I watched this story on 3 different news shows yesterday and not one pointed out that there was a bicycle involved.

Do you think the local outlets are waiting for juicier story to kick off their summer campaign against bicycle users, or that the opportunity to take a jab at public transportation was too rich?

Chris
Guest
Chris

Strollers are required to be folded up on TriMet, including buses and MAX! A parent bringing a stroller on MAX, but not folding it up would be reprimanded the same as a bike trailer. Note that I’ve never seen anyone written up for anything other than lack of fare, so I don’t expect them to do much…

Eileen
Guest
Eileen

I think this whole issue highlights how very family un-friendly our culture is and why most well-intentioned parents end up opting for car transit. In many other cultures I imagine other passengers likely would have helped out this father. Taking small children anywhere, even just to the grocery store, is a difficult logistical maneuver. Then you have to put up with the dirty stares from people if your child, say, starts crying in the middle of this maneuver. Dirty stares, crying child, safety of your child… it’s very stressful before we even start talking about bike trailers. Then people get on your case for even having a bike trailer. Sheesh. I’m taking the car.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Gee whiz. Subtle. Even China has a one-child policy. Enough with the “breeder”-bashing. Who else is going to raise smart kids to counteract all the morons out there?

marshmallow
Guest
marshmallow

In china, kids are doing kung-fu and pulling the adults around on trailers. That was then(or just the movies), and today they’re fat eating mcdonald’s and “westernizing” in front of the TV and internet. Kids all over the world are becoming doughy fat slobs. HTFU and teach your kids to become men. Even the girls should become men(metaphorically).

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

The whole “no trailers allowed” is just a convenient red herring for TriMet. The driver left the station without checking mirrors and ignored it when the parent pressed the stop button. The fact that there was a trailer involved is just a convenient point that lets TriMet place the blame on the parent.

Harvey
Guest
Harvey

The whole thing could have been avoided with the proper use of a Dutch au pair, and they have could explained how they do cycling in Holland without so much self righteousness.

The attitudes here, for the most part amaze me.
If you ride a bike in Portand, it seems that it gives many the right to be arrogant regarding their own needs and ignorant those needs of people who may not ride bikes. Most of the roads we ride on, we (those of us with cars too) funded through federal and state fuel taxes, so most often on our streets, we are getting a free ride as it is, but yet, we still want to more for free.

Max should introduce a nice flat bed car, with a bike corral, and a car with soft lighting and leather seating, wifi and a juice bar, reserved exclusively for cyclists and their bike/trailer combos. If we pulled $50million out of the $660Million we got last year, it would be a breeze.

Leave no child behind (on the Max platform that is), and ride in style.

craig
Guest
craig

The UIOWA study referenced above only relates to state roads, which are for the mos part irrelevant to this discussion.