Chicago Tribune Metra to allow bikes on trains
- Chicago Tribune: Metra to allow bikes on trains
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
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
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.
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