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BART survey shows bikers, other passengers getting along

BART riders seem to have adjusted to bicycles on trains at all times, with complaints down despite more bicycles and generally more riders since new rules were implemented in 2013, according to a new survey by BART.

In 2013, BART abandoned rules banning bicycles from BART cars during busy commute hours after several pilot test periods. A survey of 2,300 riders presented at today’s Board of Directors meeting found there were 3,800 more weekday BART trips with bicycles from 2012 to 2014, an increase of more than 20 percent.

Despite that and increased BART ridership over the same period, fewer respondents reported that trains were too crowded over the same period. In 2013, 25 percent of respondents reported that trains were too crowded for bikes and passengers, with 23 percent reporting they were too crowded in 2014. Respondents reporting there was enough room aboard trains increased from 22 percent to 29 percent.

BART Director Joel Keller said following today’s presentation:

“We are creating a harmony between bike riders and non-bike riders and the more experience people have the better it will become.”

But with BART ridership continuing to rise, BART officials are still looking at ways to alleviate crowding, including encouraging riders to leave their bikes at the stations instead of bringing them on board.

The survey found that about 20 percent of bicyclists who board with their bikes might leave their bikes at the station if it weren’t for fears of theft. In an effort to allay those fears, BART is in the process of adding 280 new eLocker stations throughout the system, including 84 spaces at West Oakland, and is adding new bike stations at several stations.

BART last month opened a new bike station storefront at the 19th Street station in Oakland featuring 130 free valet bike parking spaces. The eLocker system requires riders to pay using a special card, which can be an impediment to using the system.

Some BART directors wondered today whether the system could be linked to Clipper cards, but such integration likely couldn’t come before 2019 when the next generation Clipper cards are due.

The board also discussed other methods of improving bike storage at BART stations to combat the rampant problem of bicycle theft, including better positioning of existing racks, lockers that can be used in indoor stations, and better education in proper use of bicycle locks.

BART Director Rebecca Saltzman said:

“The vast majority of bikes being stolen are because they’re using bad locks.”

But she said many people are properly using heavy-duty bike locks but are still having their bikes stolen. BART officials anticipate having a prototype bike locker for use inside stations in the next six months. The directors also discussed ways to improve smooth movement within and outside the station, limiting run-ins between bicyclists and pedestrians.

Alan Smith, chairman of BART’s Accessibility Task Force, said he had recently been hit by a bicyclist at the Concord station and encouraged the directors to expand BART’s ban on riding bicycles outside of the station to all pedestrian areas:

“We’ve all dodged bicyclists racing up to the fare gates.”

The directors also discussed adding more stair channels for bikes like the ones in the Mission Street stations, better direction of traffic around the station and how to better enforce the rule prohibiting bikes from the first three cars during commute hours.

But despite the continued challenges, BART Director Robert Raburn said the survey showed great progress:

“There has been an improvement in the perception of the bikes on board policy.”

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  1. Why can’t bicyclists use the escalators?

    1. Black n Pink Fixed Gear says:

      One- people are scared that our bikes will tumble backwards onto them if we accidentally let go, and cause injury.

      Two- its hard to pass someone on the left if they are blocking the whole escalator with their bike and body in a side by side orientation riding up the escalator. People with a clue stand to the right and walk up the left side of escalators.

      The bike stair channels are great in my opinion.

      1. Both of these scenarios are equally applicable to staircases, especially the narrow ones in stations like Embarcadero.

        1. Black n Pink Fixed Gear says:

          Really? Not in my opinion.

          One- I personally am not scared of someone dropping their bike on me, but I have heard people on escalators complain about how it seems dangerous to them. Carrying a bike up stairs requires a lot more focus than riding up an escalator while holding only the brake lever of the bike. I think it would be far easier for someone lazily riding the escalator while looking at their phone to allow their bike to tumble backwards than someone actively carrying the bike on their shoulder. Just my opinion.

          Two- no one just stands on stairs with a bike. People with bikes are actively walking up stairs at about the same pace as everyone else. On escalators their is a fast lane (to the left people are walking), and a slow lane (to the right people are standing). Riding the escalator with a bike would block both lanes.

          I’m not going to argue about this anymore. Thanks Bruce.

        2. “Seems” is the operative word here. There’s no real data that it’s a problem having bikes on escalators. The one survey BART ever did found that luggage was more dangerous than bikes.

          Most transit systems in the country and the world don’t ban bike on escalators and they’re not really a problem. Just having the policy predisposes people to thinking there’s a safety issue, but no data actually supports that belief.

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