BART to vote on allowing bikes on trains during rush hour

May 23, 2013 12:13:46 PM PDT
BART's board of directors will be deciding tonight whether to change rules that currently keep bicycles off of trains during busy commute hours.

The board will look at proposed bicycle policy modifications at its 6 p.m. meeting after reviewing the results of two pilot programs in August and March.

In the August pilot, there were no bike restrictions on Fridays, and for a week in March, bicyclists could bring their wheels on trains anytime.

Follow-up surveys conducted after both pilot programs showed majority support for increased bike access.

BART officials said recently that only 23 percent of those who took a survey after the March pilot favored a continued bike ban during commute hours. As many as 75 percent of respondents said there was little or no impact to their BART ride with more bikes on the trains.

Steve Beroldo, BART staff liaison to the agency's bicycle task force, said this morning that changing the bike policy is something that "not everyone is excited about, but the majority are OK with it."

In the past few days, he said, hundreds of letters have come in to BART sharing stories about the benefits of bringing bikes on trains.

BART staff is recommending that the board lift the bike ban on July 1 and modify its policy to allow cyclists on trains during rush hour in all but the first three cars.

Officials said that permanent change would cost about $195,000.

The board is also considering two other options.

One keeps in place the current rules, under which no bikes are allowed on trains from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The other is to relax the rush-hour ban for a five-month extended trial period from July 1 to Nov. 30.

The trial period would be handled similarly to the previous pilot programs, with evaluations presented to the board before it would vote on a possible permanent change in November.

According to BART officials, the extended trial program would cost about $19,000 to implement.

No matter what the board decides, BART policy will remain that bicyclists cannot ride in the first car of a train or enter overcrowded trains.

Members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will be at tonight's meeting to advocate for removing the rush-hour ban.

Beroldo said it is likely that the board will opt for either the permanent change or the five-month trial period.

The meeting will be held at the Kaiser Center at 344 20th St. in Oakland.

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