Transit officials pave way for more bikes on trains

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L.A. County bicycle commuters may soon catch a break. KPCC’s Shirley Jahad says public transit officials are considering whether to lift bike restrictions on light rail and subway trains.

Shirley Jahad: In the sprawling Southland, taking a bike to work often means hopping onto public transit for part of the ride. Right now, that’s not easy to do because L.A. County Metro trains don’t allow bicycles during morning and evening rush hours. The transportation agency’s board is reconsidering that ban.

Lynn Goldsmith: It would be very simple. Bikes are allowed any time.

Jahad: Lynn Goldsmith runs Metro’s bike program. She says transit officials want to make it easier for people to ride their bikes and the rails. Safety factors into that decision. Goldsmith says Metro has to do a better job of telling riders how to safely carry their bikes on and off the trains.

Goldsmith: Bicyclists really don’t know where the best place is for them to stop. There’s no clue outside the train car. There’s no clue inside the train car.

Jahad: Metro officials are considering how to clearly designate bike areas and bike safety rules for trains. Many of the cars are narrow – especially on the light rail Gold, Green, and Blue lines.

The transit agency may remove some seats to make room for bikes. It could also limit the number of bikes on each train car. Some bike advocates say that’s a bad idea. Aurisha Smolarski is with the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition.

Aurisha Smolarski: There’s a growing number of people using bicycles so limiting it to two people per car presents a problem. Because let’s say a family of four or a couple comes on the train with their bikes and there’s already someone there. It makes it inconvenient for people who travel by bike and Metro to use the system.

Jahad: At two public hearings, transit officials fielded arguments for and against the bike accommodations. They expect to present a bike plan to the Metro board by the end of the month.