It was a pleasant surprise last week to find, not merely one, but two, vertical bike racks on Metrorail train car #141. And, it just so happens that car #141 was the last wagon that day – interesting . . .

You may remember that several months ago, there seemed to be a sort of prototype rack on one of the train cars, yet not the last one (as one would expect since the official rules governing the Metrorail Bike & Ride program currently mandate that all bikes go to the back of the train). The South Florida Bike Coalition posted on this confusing observation in January 2011 and questioned, “This rack was installed on the second car – does this mark a change regulating where people can bring their bikes on the train?” After weeks of multiple sightings of this mysterious single rack on Metrorail, it seemed to have disappeared altogether. The observation last week of these two new racks seems to suggest that we’re getting closer – slowly but surely – to seeing a more permanent presence of bike racks on Metrorail.

However, train wagon #141 (the car in which these racks are installed) has not remained the last car, so many reading this may have already seen these racks on #141 as the non-ultimate train car. That’s important to note . . . See, just as different buses are regularly shifted to drive the numerous bus routes throughout the county, Metrorail train cars are regularly alternated to different positions within the chain of wagons. This technical procedure, the constant interchanging of the train cars, is one of the primarily challenges to creating a set of more equitable, enforceable, and sustainable Bike & Ride policies.

As I see it, there are two fundamental options here: (1) make more space exclusively in the last car to accommodate the numerous and increasing bike-train riders while making the last car more of a “standing car”, and/or (2) put an adequate number of bike racks throughout all, or at least most, of the train cars, with conspicuous signage on the outside of the train doors/cabins indicating which cars have bike racks and which do not. I personally favor the latter.

The bike racks seen last week are of a different model than those seen around this time last year. (Perhaps the County has finally made a decision as to which models are most appropriate and cost effective for our community’s trains (?)) To accommodate these newer racks, two separates pairs of seats were removed on each side of the front of the train wagon. That makes four seats lost to two bikes. One less sympathetic to bikes on the train may initially find this trade-off unwarranted: “How could you justify giving up two seats just for one bike?!” It’s a fair question, and the response is simple.

While two seats are lost to a bike safely secured on a rack, it would be at least two seats (and sometimes even four or five, for those despicably inconsiderate bike passengers) lost to a bike on the train not neatly stationed on a rack. Additionally, having these dedicated spaces on the train for riders to safely secure their bicycles will significantly reduce the many intra-train mobility conflicts and safety issues abounding in the absence of such spaces. People will no longer have to play a body-contorting game of Twister with one another through a gauntlet of legs, handlebars, tires, baby strollers, and wheelchairs. An adequate presence of bike racks throughout the entire train – say, four to eight in each car – would do wonders to alleviate the many common conflicts that arise among cyclist and non-cyclist Metrorail riders.

Indeed, let’s hope these racks are here to stay and the County is preparing to expand them throughout the entire train. That would suffice until 2014 – or until Miami-Dade Transit gets cleared by the Federal Transit Administration to proceed with its $300 million deal to procure 136 new trains, originally slated for 2014. Whatever happens with the feds, these two new racks are a welcome addition to the train, and we hope to see more! As recently described on this site, though, even with new bike racks, there remain many challenges and opportunities to a sustainable Bike & Ride program on Metrorail.

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21 Responses to Metrorail ‘Bike and Ride’ Gets a Boost With New Hanging Bike Racks

  1. Anonymous says:

    i never though i would see the day this is awesome!!!

       2 likes

  2. Matthew Toro says:

    Awesome indeed! And even better days are coming, comrade!

       0 likes

  3. Walter Ward says:

    As a 80 yo and avid bike rider all my life (unable to ride anymore) this is the best thing that has happened since the invention of sliced bread.

       6 likes

  4. Christie Asencio says:

    WONDERFUL initiative! Miamians will greatly benefit from this and so will the city!

       3 likes

  5. Meghan Calfee says:

    Amazing! It’s great to be part of this progressive time in Miami. Let’s keep spreading the message.

       4 likes

  6. Mike Moskos says:

    Bikes, strollers, wheelchairs and even people transporting stuff in carts (like me) do create problems, even when you do your best to stay out of everyone’s way. It would be interesting to see what method works best (relegating them all to one car or to portions of each car). Wait ’til all the luggage starts once the airport line opens up. I wonder which MDT will choose for the new rail cars?

       2 likes

  7. Miguel says:

    I think it’s going to be even a greater challenge if MDT doesn’t prepare for the AirportLink scheduled to be online this Spring; there is going to be such an explosion of ridership. I work at the Airport and there are so many other employees looking forward to the AirportLink so they can leave their vehicles at home and avoid traffic. When you include travelers/tourist with check-in/carry-on bags, bikes, and increase in general ridership, it could possibly be a mess throughout all railcars. MDT planners needs to move fast!

       1 likes

  8. B says:

    I think the bike racks should be closer to the doors. In your picture the train was not crowded, but if it is crowded (rush hour, late train, event, increased ridership in the future), it would be pretty tough to wait for the train to stop, get your bike down, then try to get through a crowded aisle before the doors close. People are going to get scraped and/or clothes torn. If the cyclist tries to “prepare” ahead of time, she has the challenge of balancing the bike along with compensating for the train’s motion. I suppose you could “prepare” one station ahead and hold your bike beside the door, but it would be best if the racks could somehow be right beside the door, perhaps replacing one of the handicap seats in the “bike rack” cars?

       0 likes

  9. Matthew Toro says:

    That’s a very important point, B. On the Portland TriMet, for instance, the train doors are labelled with bike symbols indicating where bikers should enter. The bike racks are located just beside the doors. Take a look at this: http://trimet.org/howtoride/bikes/bikesonmax.htm

    I’m not 100% certain, but I’ve heard that the new Metrorail train cars (supposedly expected for 2014) will be equipped with bike racks adjacent to the train doors.

       0 likes

  10. Daniel says:

    I heard when the orange line opens they will run more trains, but each with only four cars. Hopefully they will keep the same frequency for the green line while only adding for the orange line. They have plenty enough extra cars to do this. They have over a hundred but never use more than 60 at once (rush hour equals five six car trains each way). I also heard the orange line may run all night, probably hourly from midnight to 5 am, but may not go the entire length of the route (ie only to gov center or brickell). I think they should try running the metromover 24 hours again, too.

       1 likes

  11. B says:

    Based on my reading of the MDT transit plan document, they plan to run every other train to the airport, so the frequency on the “intersecting” green/orange line would be something like 3-4 minutes at paek and 7-8 minutes midday. For those of us making bus connections, the increased frequency will be much appreciated! I doubt they will go 24 hours, but they will probably add the MIC station to the late night bus routes.

       0 likes

  12. Daniel says:

    Well the peak service is now at 10 minutes and 15 midday; half hour evenings and all day weekends. I don’t know how long it’s been since you’ve ridden but it’s been this way for a while; since the downturn cuts a few years ago. I think they will reduce the number of green line trains when it opens to like 16 minute headways meshed in with 16 minute orange lines, giving an 8 peak on the shared line. I wouldn’t get my hopes up for 5 minute headways. That’s a lot of service for an underutilized system. At any rate, we’ll know in three months.

       0 likes

  13. Daniel says:

    Here’s a picture of a loaded bike rack at brickell station. it should be a pic o the day.

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7157/6556151039_9d89bb90df_b.jpg

       1 likes

  14. Kevin says:

    The bike racks are a great addition! I agree with those above MDT should prepare itself for increased ridership. I’m hopeful the new Central Station is going to increase ridership significantly, especially as more and more tourists now stay in Downtown and Brickell, not to mention the hundreds of daily airport employees that live near a Metro station. If only we could have Metro service to other parts (Design District, FIU, Orange Bowl, etc).

       0 likes

  15. Daniel says:

    Hopefully the AirportLink will bring a lot of attention to the lack of transportation to south beach, which will probably come as a surprise to unknowing tourists. It costs about 35 dollars to go from the airport to south beach, of course there is backstage lobbying against a quicker, $2 alternative. Just like SunLife charging an exorbitant $30 dollars a parking space, of course they would be against a north corridor.

       1 likes

  16. B says:

    @Daniel: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember the 10-minute peak headway was supposed to be temporary, due to the construction of Airport Link; it had been a little more frequent before this, I think 7-8 mins. You’re probably right that the TDP (p. 7-20) “recommended” 3.5-minute peak headway or better is probably not going to happen.

    Due to lack of ridership, it makes sense to run 3 or 4 car trains, especially off-peak. Those rail cars are pretty empty off-peak:(

       0 likes

  17. Daniel says:

    Yes, it’s also a waste of energy because metrorail uses the heaviest cars availabe. Notice how high the platforms are, compare it to the DC metro.

       0 likes

  18. Mike Moskos says:

    FYI: Looks like there will be a discussion of the configuration of the new Metrorail cars at the transit subcommittee of the CTAC (Citizen’s Transportation Advisory Committee) on January 11 at 5:30pm.

    http://www.miamidade.gov/mpo/agendas/MPO_ctac_sub_agenda_20120111.pdf

       0 likes

  19. Maria says:

    I am not a cyclist and was unaware of the last wagon rule. I usually prefer the last wagon because that’s the easiest to access where I sit at my departure station. But I’ve seen bikes in other wagons and many of them strewn about quite rudely with no consideration to other passengers. I’m wondering if a) many cyclists are unaware about using the last car and b) even with bike racks if there will still be cyclists who won’t use them … the comment about being able to move your bike out of the racks quickly enough before the train door closes begs the question.

    I’m all for using bikes and public transport, but there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution here. By the way, the photos are referencing to Flickr, so I can’t see them.

    – Maria from http://sexandthebeach.blogspot.com

       0 likes

  20. Tony Garcia says:

    Thanks Maria – fixing now….

       0 likes

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