"Tonight's BART decision is a momentous occasion. For years people on both sides of the Bay have had to contort their lives simply because they needed to take a bike on BART but couldn't during commute times," bicycle coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum said in a statement. "We commend BART for taking the smart steps toward opening up regional travel by bike."
The board examined several 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.
The BART board voted tonight on a plan 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 will cost about $19,000 to implement.
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 recommended 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 a permanent change would cost about $195,000.