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Chicago Tribune Metra to allow bikes on trains

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  • EDWARD ROBERT SIROVY
    Chicago Tribune: Metra to allow bikes on trains http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-050311metrabike,1,2048871.story ?coll=chi-news-hed Metra to allow
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 11 7:59 PM
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      Chicago Tribune: Metra to allow bikes on trains

      http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-050311metrabike,1,2048871.story
      ?coll=chi-news-hed
      Metra to allow bikes on trains
      By Jon Hilkevitch
      Tribune transportation reporter

      March 11, 2005, 3:10 PM CST

      Bending to pressure from state officials, Metra today said it planned to
      allow bicycles on trains during weekday non-rush hours and weekends starting
      in June.

      The proposal, presented with some staff reluctance to the Metra board for an
      expected vote next month, signals a long-awaited backpedaling from the rail
      agency's historic opposition to bikes on Chicago-area commuter trains.

      "We are responding to a very small number of people who have become very
      vocal," Metra Chairman Jeffrey Ladd said after the board viewed a video
      showing bicycles being carried onto Metra passenger coaches and secured in
      areas ordinarily dedicated to wheelchairs.

      Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn and bicycling advocates disagreed with Ladd,
      saying potential users of the service far outnumber recreational riders who
      simply want to transport bikes to forest preserve trails. They challenged
      Metra to market bicycle-friendly trains as a way to make transit work better
      in the region.

      "It's also about access to jobs. There are a lot of working people who don't
      have access to the bus system from the Metra stations," said Randy Neufeld,
      chief strategic officer at the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation.

      The organization has been prodding Metra for 15 years, but only recently has
      Springfield weighed in on the issue. Quinn is backing legislation, sponsored
      by state Rep. Marlow Colvin (D-Chicago), that would require Metra to allow
      bikes on its trains during off-peak hours.

      Under Metra's proposal, bicycles would be prohibited on weekday trains
      arriving in Chicago before 9:30 a.m. and leaving the city between 3 p.m. and
      6:30 p.m.

      Bikes also would be banned during the Taste of Chicago summer food festival
      and on trains leaving the city between noon and 6:30 p.m. the Fridays before
      Memorial Day and Labor Day.

      Bicycles would be permitted on all weekend trains except during major events
      downtown. Riders would be limited to two bikes in the wheelchair storage
      areas of accessible trains. Metra has more than 400 accessible cars.

      Cyclists could not block aisles or vestibules, and they would have to move
      to other cars or leave the train entirely if disabled passengers need the
      wheelchair space, officials said.

      A bicyclist traveling alone would have to be at least 18 years old. Riders
      ages 12 through 17 would have to be accompanied by an adult. Children under
      12 could not bring bikes aboard trains.

      While bicycles have become commonplace on bus and rail systems nationwide,
      including the CTA and Pace locally, Metra has banned them since the commuter
      rail agency was created in 1984. The only exceptions have been for folding
      bicycles and a limited bike reservation system on summer weekends.

      Metra Executive Director Philip Pagano, a self-acknowledged non-bicyclist,
      said the railroad has "extensively researched" the issue since 1989 and
      hesitated allowing bikes out of concerns over liability and space.

      Officials often voiced apprehension about cyclists getting in the way of
      commuters, falling down station escalators or accidentally smearing chain
      grease on the clothes of other riders.
      Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune
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