Controversial Plan To Tackle Bike 'Bumping' On Trains

Should a packed commuter train remove seats to make room for cyclists or charge to bring bikes on board during peak hours? The Caltrain line between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, the first to accommodate cyclists, is wrestling with this issue.

"'Leaving San Jose anytime between 5 and 7 (p.m.) is just nuts,' said Robert Cox, who rides the train there from his home in Redwood City. 'I've seen people get bumped a lot and it's just going to get worse.'

That's not news to Caltrain, which recently completed a report that recommends several possible solutions such as building more bike lockers at stations, starting a bike sharing program or charging a fee for allowing bikes during peak ridership hours.

But bikers, who now make up an estimated 8 percent of Caltrain's weekday riders, say the report misses the point, and that the train services should free up some space for their bikes either by removing more seats or adding more train cars."

"Caltrain's Bicycle Parking and Access Plan, released last week, gives a broad look at issues bicyclists face when using Caltrain.

It was initially called the Bicycle Master Plan, but cyclists complained that it focused on parking and access at Caltrain stations and ignored the 80 percent of cyclists who carry their bikes on the train. So the name was changed, but bikers say the focus didn't change much."

"The (San Francisco Bicycle) coalition crafted its own bicycle plan, which it distributed to Caltrain board members at a recent meeting. (Andy) Thornley, (program director) said he hopes officials will consider their suggestions, including taking out more seats".

Caltrain: Bike Plan Available for Review
Planetizen: Bikes on Trains: The Downside Of A Popular Program
SF Bicycle Coalition: Caltrain and Bikes - Have you been left behind?

Full Story: Riders say bike plan falls short



Designated Bike Car?

This would seem to be a no-brainer. Add one or more cars having vertical bike racks similar to those on VTA light rail, require all bicycles to be placed in those cars during peak commute periods, and charge bicyclists* a (moderate) premium for essentially occupying more than one seat per trip.

*and any other rider freighting more baggage/accessories on board than can fit under their seat, directly overhead, or on their lap.

Irvin Dawid's picture

Daily News readers respond - published Letters to Editor:

If you take up more space, pay more

It's simple - those bringing bikes on the train are taking up more space, so they should pay more. Any argument contrary is simple selfishness.

We have the same problem on the Capitol Corridor between Davis and Sacramento.

Use More Space And Pay More

"those bringing bikes on the train are taking up more space, so they should pay more."

Which is exactly why people who drive to work or shopping should pay more for parking than people who bicycle. Yet the overwhelming majority of employers and shopping malls provide free parking for those who drive. The drivers take up more space but don't pay more.

Do Caltrain and Capital Corridor provide free parking at their stations? Even if the parking is not free, compare the amount of road space used by cars and bicycles on their way to the Caltrain and Capital Corridor stations; again, a car take up about ten times as much space as a bicycle, but because the roads are free, the cars don't pay more.

Does anyone know the total land area in the United States devoted to free parking and free road space for cars? I suspect it is one of our largest land uses, apart from farming, forestry, and the like. It is all provided to people who take up space but don't pay for it.

Charles Siegel

Irvin Dawid's picture

How bad is it? You Tube captures it all in Mountain View

See 2 videos:"Caltrain bumps 28 bikes in Mountain View" (standard 'gallery car') and "Caltrain bumps 22+ bikes at Mountain View" (Bombardier car - and tensions flare - from the conductor)

Playlist: Caltrain bumps bikes

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

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