My Trip: Bike on Bus Challenges Smoothed by Drivers

A few weeks ago, I once again had to go to a medical appointment near Washington Square, and put my bike on the bus to get there.

Much to my horror, just before we reached our destination, the driver stopped the bus and told me mike bike was slipping out of the rack! Apparently the clamp that goes over the front wheel had vibrated around and down off my wheel. This might be because the fender on my cruiser keeps me from putting the clamp on past the 12 o’clock position (as I believe is recommended). Has anyone else had this occur? I’ve since started using a bungee cord to secure the clamp in place. I’m very grateful to a very attentive driver for being on the ball and not running over my bike!

On the way back from my appointment, I was frustrated that the first bus to go by already had two bikes on it. 15 minutes later, the next bus has one bike slot open, so I grabbed it.

Unfortunately, along the way back into Portland we passed another rider who wanted to put his bike on the already full rack. The driver did something I have not seen before, and is probably against the rules, but very common sense. He asked those of us with bikes when we were getting off. When I told him I was getting off a few stops later, he let the 3rd bike owner put his bike in the wheel chair area temporarily – very nice!

In the few stops until I got off, I got an earful from rider # 3 about how often he can’t get his bike on the rack because it is full, often on the last bus of the evening, which he said in some cases had required him to get a hotel room in Portland for the night.

TriMet, can we start getting racks that hold three bikes?

And thank you to the two drivers who made what could have been very frustrating experiences work out well (even if the rules got bent).


3 responses to “My Trip: Bike on Bus Challenges Smoothed by Drivers”

  1. 1. Yes, three-bike bus racks exist.

    2. Actually, drivers are allowed to use their discretion in terms of letting a third bike into the bus, but many of them don’t know that or are unwilling to allow it. I’m really glad to hear that you had two great experiences with bike-friendly TriMet drivers, and I hope you sent in comments commending them. I had a really negative experience with a TriMet bus driver lately as regards bikes (one of the reasons I try to avoid it whenever possible), but I couldn’t say what the rule is, since I don’t do it very often. In any case, I’m a firm believer in positive reinforcement via the comment card (you know it goes in their files and helps them during their next review, which can’t help but make them feel friendly towards the comment-writing bike rider…).

  2. There is an operator’s fourm on Yahoo! Groups and this issue was recently brought up:

    1. TriMet used to have different bike racks that were harder to use (one reason for the permits) and, according to one operator, bikes did occasionally fall off of them.

    2. Partly because of ending the permit system, bike rack use has gone up. This does result in bikers wanting to use the rack when it is already full.

    3. In some districts, like San Francisco’s Golden Gate Transit, wheelchair spaces are actively (officially) used to store bikes. However, those places often require the bike user to bring and use securement straps, which tie the bike down.

    Also, the pictures I’ve seen show three-bike racks on Sound Transit buses in Seattle. And its operators–its more than just driving the bus. At least a bike is less dangerous than a lawnmower.

  3. When I lived in Eugene, I recall riding the bus on many occasions with one or several bikes inside. I remember one night there must have been 5 bikes inside!

    In Tillamook, we ordered our newest buses with 3-bike racks, the older buses all have 2-bike racks. This summer we’ve had bike rack use get up to 5-6% of total rides.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *