Folding Bikes Increasingly Popular on Rail

In the Bay Area, where transit and cycling are encouraged and on the rise, cyclists are increasingly turning towards folding bikes to enjoy unrestricted access to the two major rail systems, BART and Caltrain, due to conventional bike limitations.

"Folding bikes are not the most chic thing. They are more practical," said BART spokesman Linton Johnson. "We are seeing a lot more people turning to bikes to save on a gallon of gas, and folding bikes are the way to go."

"[F]olding bikes can be taken on any BART train at any time, which is not the case with regular bikes, which are subject to restrictions at certain stations during commute hours.

Although folding bikes have been growing in popularity, they still account for only a very small segment of bike sales in the United States. Of the estimated 18 million new bikes sold in 2007, only about 100,000 were folding bikes, according to Jay Townley of Gluskin Townley Group, a bicycle marketing and research firm.

"The folding bike business is growing. We are looking at a major uptick this year," he said.

Townley said part of the increase is linked to rising gas prices - but another factor is the impact of the "new urbanism," which has led to more people choosing to live in denser urban areas that have transit-oriented developments and housing."

From SF Chronicle:
The Bay Area's other commuter rail system, Caltrain, while not have restrictions on bike access like BART, has its own problem of ‘bumping' which occurs when demand exceeds capacity. They have developed a new plan which includes "recommendations to set up a subsidy program to help people buy folding bikes that can be stowed under the seats " as well as other measures to accommodate cyclists. [See related links.]

Thanks to MTC-ABAG Library

Full Story: Folding bikes: a transit alternative

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