A Different Kind of Congestion

Yesterday was a big travel day: from home to Wilsonville, back up to Hayden Island for the Columbia Crossing Open House and then to the Lloyd District for a economic development presentation.

All accomplished by bike and bike-on-transit. But not without some challenges.

Catching the #96 down to Wilsonville, three of us wheeled up our bikes at the first stop on the line to catch the last bus of the morning. I suggested that the last rider to arrive ask the driver if he could put his bike in the wheelchair spot – I have been told the driver has discretion, but have never seen an official TriMet policy on this. The driver said it was not allowed, and my fellow passenger had to lock his bike up to the fence next to the Greyhound station.

I used the Yellow Line both ways to Hayden Island. On each train there was a single low-floor car, so there were 4 bike hooks. For at least part of each trip, there were five bikes. Fortunately in that case the riders were able to stand with their bikes.

We definitely have a bikes-on-transit capacity problem! TriMet, are you listening?

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10 responses to “A Different Kind of Congestion”

  1. I would think the problem with a bicycle in the wheelchair spot on the bus would be what would happen if a wheelchair needs to board a few stops down the line? Do you kick the bicycle rider off at that point?

  2. Yes, no question the wheelchair gets priority. There are two wheelchair spots, so if the bus wan’t very full, you might still accomodate a wheelchair user and one cyclist.

    I have seen one driver (on the 12) allow a cyclist in the wheelchair spot. The driver used common sense, but was afraid he was breaking the rules.

  3. I think the rule is…no bikes on buses. This is due I think to the chance that a bike could be a heavy flying object in case of a crash. Wheelchairs are anchored or at least held in place by their occupant.
    Maybe its time for rear racks on TriMet. What do they do in Boulder, Co. and other bike friendly cities?

  4. SMART (South Metro Area Rapid Transit) in Wilsonville also is seeing an increase of bikes on buses and not enough space on racks. There is no official policy that I am aware of at SMART regarding bringing a bike on the bus if space is available, as it is currently up to the driver’s discression. Included in the latest update of SMART’s Transit Master Plan, is replacing current bike racks with ones that have a three-bike capacity.

    My first reaction to racks on the back sends out a safety alarm. Does the driver just guess when the bike is all clear? Maybe cameras are installed to see the rear of the bus I don’t know.

    Are there other transit agencies that currently offer racks on the back?

  5. I have seen a SMART driver allow a bike in the wheelchair area.

    I was allowed to do the same once when the driver was using a brand new bus that had not had the rack fitted yet.

  6. Another idea would be to intergrate some type of bike space rack in the dead are just opposite the driver by the door, over the wheel well. Sometimes when the busses are packed someone stands close to that are, but even then two bikes could fit if some type of device was place up there. That would be one safe or at least semi safe way to add some bike capacity.

    Also I must add. If a bike is considered a dangerous flying object in all reality it could be anchored to the bus just like a wheelchair.

  7. This was brought up here before, but I can’t find it. Basically, it probably is against the rules here but some operators allow it and other transit agencies (like Golden Gate Transit in the Bay Area) do it instead of bike racks and require that the bike be strapped down (possibly with rider-provided straps).

    The good news is that TriMet IS listening. 3-bike racks is one of the things that were brought up in the CAC Report on TriMet Budget & Operations on PDF page 12.

    Oh, and a bus like the #96 that travels at freeway speeds is not one that you want to have flying objects on. Just make sure the other biker(s) really need that bus and, in this case, know that they could also take the #12 to Barbur TC and catch SMART there (which, BTW, only requires a 2-zone fare vs an all-zone).

  8. The three of us standing there trying to figure out what to do discussed the 12/SMART option (I use that in reverse on my way home) but the timing didn’t work out in the particular instance.

  9. Yes, we do have a capacity problem on Tri-Met for bikes. I ride from Beaverton to Hillsboro and back every day, and during rush hour we consistently have 6 bikes/car. Riding downtown, it’s not uncommon to have 8 or 10. The fare inspectors have typically been less than understanding – one recently asked someone to leave the MAX car, and told them “it’s called biking to work, not riding MAX”. If we’re going to be bike-friendly, we need to do something about capacity, and soon.

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