Biking on the Bus

I’m Tina. I work at Capital Metro in government relations. A few months ago, I started biking to work a few times a week. I have definitely noticed more people biking around town and I have definitely, as just a regular citizen but also as a Capital Metro employee, noticed more cyclists boarding our buses. (We are getting more questions about bikes on buses lately.)

Just to let you know, all of our buses have the capacity to carry two bikes, except the ‘Dillos. We can store two bikes in the rack on the front of most buses except for the Express coach buses, which allow storage of two bikes in the luggage compartment. (If you have never used the racks, they are really easy. If intimidated, just ask the driver.)

Unfortunately, once the bike rack is full, there is no additional room on the bus for bicycles. We have to give priority to passengers without pedals. (Makes sense, yes?) Although it has not been common, riders should be prepared for the possibility that the bike racks on their buses will be full. So, as much as we’d love to tote everyone and their bikes around town, there are limits, so please plan accordingly. (Hey, look at it as strength-training. Miss the bus? Pedal faster. Just kidding. I know we all want to take our bikes on the bus but c’est la vie in a bike-ridin’ town.)

Many other transit systems offer bike racks and all of us are experiencing an increase in bicyclists on the bus. Capital Metro did look at bigger bike racks but unfortunately they present some safety hazards. The larger bike racks that carry 3 bikes are wide and can potentially block visibility of turn signals and headlights. (This is a problem not just because we say it is but because we also have to meet certain federal safety standards.) There are also reports of bikes falling off of the three capacity bike racks in other cities. While we would like to have bigger bike racks, the current designs simply aren’t safe enough. But we continue to investigate bike racks on future bus purchases and we always keep an eye out for better bike rack technology to accommodate more bikes. Let us know if you know of anything!

Bus, bike, walk, drive (sometimes it happens). I challenge you to do what you can, even if only once a week!

8 thoughts on “Biking on the Bus

  1. pdm

    Other advice that may work for *some* people, and as a regular rider who uses the bike racks, I have seen people do these a few times when the bus arrives with the racks full:

    – If your bike ride would be short or nonexistent after the bus ride, consider locking your bike right before you get on the bus.

    – Try getting a foldable bike. Then you can just fold it up quickly and bring it on with you as a “carry-on”.

    – Is there a different bus that will take you where you need to go? Maybe it departs from a different stop? If so, have that bus in mind as a backup plan in case your normal bus comes with full racks.

    – Another strategy is to get to your bus stop one bus-arrival earlier. This way, if your bus comes and the rack is full, you can try for the next bus, without, say, getting in late to work.

  2. Grant

    pdm has some good comments, but one thing Cap Metro could do is to provide more secure locking facilities, not just racks but contained bike lockers, especially at major stops (like mine at 35 & William Cannon), for bikes for those instances when the racks are full. I know when I’ve been a daily commuter, I would have happily paid a small rental fee for secure locker for my bike.

  3. Ana

    i would definitely appreciate higher bike capacity on the racks, or as grant said, better locking facilities at the stops. definitely don’t mind leaving the bike behind if it will save me time waiting on the bus.

  4. harold

    I like how the light rail in Portland has hooks inside the train so you can bring your bike onboard. Seems like something similar should be possible for buses.

  5. Grant

    Harold, hooks like in PDX are probably not practical for buses. PDX doesn’t use them on their buses either (they use racks like us). The hanging hooks are nice–though I got thrown off the Max (PDX’s light rails) once for standing with my bike when the hooks were full. Usually they tolerate you standing with the bike if it’s not rush hour capacity, but I think one of the trimet cops was just being fussy that day.

    Of course, one of the best ways to get more racks on a route is to just have buses run more frequently 😉 I’d certainly favor funds going that direction then for fancy 3-person racks.

  6. chrysrobyn

    Two questions for CapMetro. The website seems infrequently updated but hopefully the blog people are able to be more responsive.

    1) How is progress on the Howard and Braker train stations going? I live near Howard and see no progress, I work near Braker and I see trees starting to get cleared near the area pictured in the “hypothetical location” which indicates they got through their property issue in the location hoped.
    2) I’d like to ride the train, but I’m still 2 miles from the Howard station. I’ve got my eye on one of the motorized Razors. It’s clearly smaller and lighter than a bicycle and it’s the wrong shape to fit in any bike rack. Is there any reason I wouldn’t be able to take it on the train?

  7. Adam Shaivitz

    Chrysrobyn, we completed our acquisition of additional land needed to straighten the track where there Howard Station platform will be located. We’re in the process of completing engineering design and preparing our final bid documents for construction. Track work is expected to start in July, and construction of the park and ride should start in August. Regarding the Kramer Station, our staff is working on finalizing the real estate agreement for the location near Kramer Lane east of Burnet Road. Once that is complete, construction should start very soon.

    Good question about the Razor. Have to get back to you on that one. As we get closer to service launch, we’ll definitely provide more information about how to ride the train and what you can or can’t bring on board.

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