Two-wheeled second class citizens on L.A.’s Metro rails

I’ll be honest. I’ve never ridden an L.A. Metro train.

Not the new Gold Line extension, aka La Linea de Oro. Not the Purple subway line, which promises to eventually pass just blocks from my home, giving me easy access to Downtown and the coast — provided they manage to build it within my lifetime.

Or any of the other colors in the system’s pallet, which still resembles a child’s line drawing more than a transportation masterpiece. Although it appears other cities are starting to take notice.

Not that I have anything against trains.

On the contrary, one reason I fell in love with London a few years back was the city’s Tube. As much as locals love to hate it, I enjoyed being able to walk a few blocks, board a train, and be anywhere in the city in just a few minutes.

When I lived in San Diego, I frequently hopped on the trolley rather than slog through that city’s traffic. And I long ago swore off driving in the Bay Area, since virtually any place too far to walk is easily accessible by rail.

But for those of us on the Westside, the trains are just too far away. Just getting to the western terminus of the subway takes me at least a half hour by car or bus. Or fighting my way on bike through some of the city’s most crowded and unforgiving streets.

Which is why I visit Mama’s Hot Tamales far less than I’d like.

And while I admire those who do it on a regular basis, it’s a lot easier to point my bike west and ride the relatively less-cramped routes that lead to the coast.

So I’ve been looking forward to the opening of the Expo Line, which, when it finally opens, will open up whole new vistas of the city that are currently too far or too difficult to visit by bike.

I look forward to the day I can hop on the train and be whisked away to visit my good friend in Altadena, without spending a fortune in gas and risking my life and sanity on the freeway. Or have dinner at El Tepeyac without driving an hour to get there.

And I look forward to taking my bike on the train, and hopping off to explore parts of the greater L.A. area I’ve yet to see on two wheels.

Yet that may not be a viable option, since Metro continues to treat cyclists as second-class citizens. Except instead of being made to sit at the back of the bus, we’re told that no more than two bikes per car are allowed on a train.

Or maybe not at all, at certain times or if the train is crowded.

It’s bad enough for someone like me, who looks forward to riding far flung parts of the city. But it’s a disaster for commuters, for whom a bike provides an effective means of travelling the last mile to or from work, in a city where effective mass transit is still in its infancy. Or for groups or families, who must divide themselves into separate cars — or separate trains.

Or just stay home.

And if you ride a tandem, you’re just screwed. Period.

Now contrast that with more bike-friendly transit systems, where cyclists are actually encouraged to take the train — or even allowed to ride free. Or the more enlightened approach proposed by the LACBC, which advocates accommodating everyone:

Metro must accommodate all users during regular and peak hours, and designate sufficient space for multiple bikes on trains. They must provide publications and clear signage to make it easy for passengers to see where bikes should be placed in train cars and how to enter and exit both trains and stations.

These accommodations can be implemented in multiple ways:

A) A large set aside area for bikes in either the last or first car. This car can also provide flip up seating and room for ADA (ed: Americans with Disabilities Act) accommodations. Hooks and straps can secure bikes to the floors of the train. B) Ample space in each train car for multiple bikes. The same ADA accommodations and bike-securing features can also be present in this scenario.

Instead of actively discouraging bikes on their trains, Metro should encourage cyclists to use the system as frequently as possible. An effective transportation system should offer an alternative to driving that can actually get people out of their cars and reduce pressure on our overcrowded streets.

And just like bikes on the roads, every bike on a train represents one less car on the street.

Which benefits everyone.

………

More on the schmuck aspiring musician who ran down a Miami cyclist on Sunday morning, despite having over 40 traffic violations in the last 12 years. DJ Wheels notes that, as an attorney, his jaw dropped when he read the following section in of the articles above:

In an arrest form affidavit by Miami-Dade police on Wednesday, officers said Bertonatti, who reeked of alcohol and failed a balance test, refused to provide a blood sample after his arrest. Officers and firefighters strapped him down on a fire-rescue board and forcibly took a blood sample as Bertonatti continued to resist, the form said.

………

Culver City’s proposed bike plan is available for review; oddly, Alta Planning doesn’t seem to be involved. Dr. Alex discusses the recent meeting between cyclists and the LAPD, while Stephen Box addresses enforcement double standards in bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills. Flying Pigeon introduces Nihola cargo bikes to L.A., and masters the art of shaft-drive bike repair. Next time you ride along Venice Beach, you’ll be even closer to the ocean. Growing tensions between cyclists and drivers in Morgan Hill, CA. A popular Miami man who recycles bikes and gives them away to youngsters is attacked by thugs following an attempted burglary. Twelve ways to reform D.C. area bike laws — including some good suggestions for us. San Antonio takes up the three-foot passing law vetoed by Texas’ governor last year. A bike riding soon-to-be-former talk show host gets a job offer from a Texas bike shop. 9,000 women in the United Kingdom petition for safer streets. Police seek a hit-and-run cyclist in the UK. An 11-year old British girl was killed when she swerved her bike to avoid a holly leaf. A helmet cam-wearing Brit bike blogger gets death threats. Google Street View captures a falling cyclist. A candidate for mayor of Toronto says he’ll tear out bike lanes on major streets, which does not go over well with his fellow cyclists. Finally, an angry driver honks when a cyclist takes the lane — not realizing he’s following a bike cop.

Oops.

8 comments

  1. I quite frequently take the Red, Purple, Green, and Blue lines with my bicycle. Regarding the limitations during rush hour, I’ve never seen any bus driver or train driver enforce them, and I’ve never worried about it. Regarding this two per train car rule…I’ve been on the train with people crammed up against me and my bike and there are three other bikes in that car. I have never seen any enforcement of these rules.

    So if they aren’t enforced, why are they even rules? What really irks me is the bike racks on buses that have only two spaces. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to let two or three buses pass me because there was no room for me, including on New Year’s Eve, at 4am. The bus driver politely stopped and opened her door and just stared at me. She asked me if I was getting on, and I said “Well, I can’t get on with my bike, can I? And your rack is full.” And she just stared at me like I was just going to leave my bike on the sidewalk. So at 4am on New Year’s Eve I had to brave the streets with speeding drunk drivers (people-including PD-doing over 60mph on Wilshire Blvd according to the speed scanner posted there).

    I’ve been meaning to write Metro a letter. I feel very strongly that they put me in a precarious situation (and yes I know I had options, but the option of lock my bike on the street in Santa Monica until I can come and get it, when I live on the other side of LA is not really an option).

    • bikinginla says:

      Copy me on the letter if you want, and I’ll post it on here verbatim.

      • Actually maybe you can help me, I was waiting to write it because I remember reading, either here or on SoapBoxLA or somewhere that Metro had that chance to put the 3 space racks on buses but opted not to for a really ridiculous reason. I wanted to cite that in my letter. Do you know where I could find that info/report/decision?

      • bikinginla says:

        It wasn’t me. I did a search online and couldn’t find anything, so I’ve reached out to Mssrs. Newton, Box, Brayj-Ali and Linton to see if they recall anything about it.

  2. Digital Dame says:

    TriMet in Portland is roughly as friendly towards bikes. On the MAX trains, you have to board through the doors marked for bicycles (talk about second-class). If it gets crowded and you and your bike are in the way, you’re supposed to get off the train and wait for another.

    Bikes on TriMet.

    It may be better up here in some respects, but it’s far from perfect.

    Loved the video in Orlando! ;)

  3. TheTricksterNZ says:

    Loved that video from Orlando. Motorist fail there. Bwahahaha. Especially the “ride single file” – um, wait a second?!

    Also those erosion pics look like Gold Coast when I was there in May. They got smashed by a rather nasty storm.

  4. Mattapoisett IN LA says:

    FYI, Alta is involved with Culver City. From the planning meetings and workshops we have gone through it seems like they have proportionally three times the resources that the City of LA has. Plus there has been good support from the 50 or so people who show up to those meetings

    For me the highlights are the Sharrows they are proposing for Jefferson, Overland and parts of Washington and Sawtelle.

    Bike Lanes for parts of Washington, Green Valley Circle and Jefferson

    What I really don’t like is they have labeled as Bike Routes, Sepulveda between Ballona Creek and Centinela, and on Washington and Culver between Overland and Ince, all three routes are Inhospitable to cyclists but are necessary routes for a lot of cyclists.

    Take Care

    – P.

  5. Ray says:

    Buy your way out of it.

    Get a folder like a Brompton or Dahon if you want multi-modal capabiliities. Your desired result will be faster and probably take fewer hours of your labor than to get the racks upgraded or additional space on the Metro cars.

    Such acts of advocacy aee very positive, don’t get me wrong.

    I’m please that public transit management is attending to these longstanding complaints at all, so keep up the pressure. NJ Transit uses bike hooks on light rail, finally. It makes for better use of space.

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