BART lifted that restrictionevery Friday in August as an experiment and surveyed riders about the experience.
The poll found riders evenly divided, with 37% wanting to keep the blackouts; 37% wanting to end them; and 25% wanting to reduce the blackout periods to one hour from two.
“I think they should have a specific spot on the train for bikes and I think they should allow them at all times,” BART rider Daren Decrane told KQED’s Lauren Benichou.
In addition, BART reports that only 10% of those surveyed experienced any problems during the pilot program. These riders most commonly complained of bikes blocking aisles, doorways and seats; bikes entering crowded trains; and bikes running into or brushing up against people.
Asked if lifting the blackout would affect their likelihood to ride BART, 25% said they would be more likely to ride, while 10% would be less likely to ride and 66% would not be just as likely to ride either way.
Only 17% said lifting the restrictions made their trip worse, while 9% said it made their trip better, and 74% said it had little or no effect.
A lot of bicyclists don’t follow the rules already, many respondents said; about a quarter thought bicyclists block aisles and enter crowded trains.
“The one important finding that we are going to take away from this is that there is a lot of potential to make BART better by allowing people to bring their bikes on during the commute period,” BART’s bike manager Steve Beroldo told Benichou. “But it’s going to be a balancing act, because…as ridership continue to increase, there is the challenge of having more people on the trains and having bicycles on the train.”
You can see the complete results by downloading the full report.
BART will hold a public discussion in a public meeting Monday, Oct. 1, at 6 pm.
Among the alternatives the system is considering for the future, according to its website:
Reconfiguring car interiors to create more space for items with wheels (i.e. bikes, wheelchairs, strollers). This project is ongoing but may be accelerated.
Embarcadero Station, because of its narrower platform and limited vertical circulation, may present a challenging situation for bikes during the commute period and it might be better to encourage bikes to use nearby Montgomery Station.
Allowing bikes on the narrow lower platforms at 12th and 19th in Oakland may require some direction on how passengers queue to assure good circulation.
Relaxing restrictions would require additional communication on bike etiquette—(e.g. don’t board crowded train, what to do if train becomes crowded, use stairs and elevators not escalators, yield to elderly/disabled, etc.). This could take the shape of an ongoing informational campaign.
Making train specific load factor data available in a user friendly format (e.g. as part of the bart.gov trip planner). This will have dual benefits: (1) help bicyclists find the least crowded trains and (2) spread the load overall creating additional “capacity” for all passengers.