(San Francisco Bicycle Coalition via Flickr)
(San Francisco Bicycle Coalition via Flickr)

The BART board says that after three trials, it’s OK for cyclists to bring their bikes on board any time of the day — with one small exception. The decision marks an about-face for BART, which once barred bikes, then required riders to obtain and carry permits, and then for decades barred bicycles from the system during commute hours.

The agency’s biggest concern about giving cyclists access during the before- and after-work rush has been how they’d fit in during the system’s most crowded hours. Paul Oversier, BART’s assistant general manager for operations, said today that through the three trial periods, cyclists “generally speaking go out of their way to be accommodating. I’ve witnessed bicyclists many times at West Oakland let trains go by even during this period, during the rush hour, because there wasn’t enough room on the train.”

The bike rules approved today allow bikes on the system at any time, with the following restrictions:

  • During commute hours (weekdays 7-9 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m.), no bikes will be allowed on the first three cars of any train. That rule is to accommodate passengers who want to avoid bikes during their commute.
  • No bikes are allowed in the first car of any train at any time.
  • Bikes are not allowed on crowded trains.
  • Cyclists must yield priority seating to seniors and passengers with disabilities.
  • Bikes are not to block doorways or aisles and are never allowed on escalators.

BART said it will look at the issue again as its trains take on more and more passengers. In an announcement, the agency said its staff will issue a status report on how the new bike rules are working out when the system has three consecutive months with an average of 450,000 weekday riders. BART’s highest average weekday ridership this year was recorded in September, with about 415,000 fare-gate exits.

“The Board vote to support bikes on board BART is based on monitoring several issues,” BART Board President Tom Radoluvich said. “These include formalized feedback from our frontline staff, results of improved signage, reviewing best bike rule practices from sister agencies, increasing secure parking and establishing a trigger point for additional evaluation.”

BART has reconfigured some cars to make more room for passengers with wheelchairs, strollers and luggage — as well as bikes.

Cycling advocates welcomed today’s vote. A couple of examples, via press release:

“Today’s BART decision is a momentous occasion. For years, people on both sides of the Bay have had to contort their lives simply because they needed to take a bike on BART but couldn’t during critical times. We commend BART for taking the smart steps toward opening up regional travel by bike,” says Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which has worked alongside BART and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition for years to increase access for bicycles on BART.

“By making full access for bikes on BART a permanent policy change, East Bay residents will have a new healthy and convenient commute option,” said Renee Rivera, executive director of the 4,500-member East Bay Bicycle Coalition. “This particularly benefits those who commute within the East Bay on BART lines where there is ample room for bikes, but who are restricted from bringing bikes on board by the current rules.”


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

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