BART trains to welcome cyclists — for now 

click to enlarge Bicycle Fridays: BART will allow cyclists to bring their bikes aboard trains all day Fridays during August, part of a pilot program studying ways to increase ridership among cyclists. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • Bicycle Fridays: BART will allow cyclists to bring their bikes aboard trains all day Fridays during August, part of a pilot program studying ways to increase ridership among cyclists.

Wiggle room on BART may be a little harder to come by during Friday’s commute, when the transit agency will start experimenting with allowing bikes on trains at all times.

BART currently bans bikes on certain lines during the busy weekday commute hours. However, the agency is embarking upon an ambitious policy to increase cyclists’ access, and during August bikes will be allowed onboard all day Fridays.

About four percent of BART passengers bike to stations, but the agency wants to double that by 2022. According to a recent survey, the weekday bike ban is the main inhibitor.

Bike Program Manager Steve Beroldo said the pilot will determine whether  it’s possible to ease restrictions or lift the ban. Beroldo said the agency will collect feedback through passenger surveys and employee observations. It also will monitor loading and unloading times on station platforms to see if the policy change affects travel times.

“We’re seriously looking at allowing bikes on BART more frequently,” Beroldo said. “But we’re not making any commitments beyond the pilot project this month.”

The ban on bikes on first cars and crowded trains will remain.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said she’s hopeful that the trial will lead to a permanent solution for increased bike access.

“This is a great step forward and proof that BART is more committed to opening up access for cyclists,” Shahum said. “We’re asking our cyclists to use common sense and courtesy — if a train looks too crowded, wait for the next one.”

BART Director Lynette Sweet said she’s heard plenty of feedback from her constituents about the trial — not all of which has been positive.

“We have people who are concerned that it’s going to be too crowded, and that bikes are going to be running into people,” said Sweet, who said she thinks the agency should dedicate one car per train just for cyclists.

Tim Kirk, who commutes every day on BART between Millbrae and San Francisco, said trains will be too crowded if the ban is lifted.

“The cyclists basically take up two seats every time they board a train,” Kirk said. “It would be one thing if they were courteous and obeyed the rules — but I usually find that they don’t.”

Roughly 14,000 passengers travel on bikes to get to BART stations. Because total ridership on the system is expected to increase over the next 10 years, the agency would have to support 35,000 bike-riding passengers to meet its 8 percent access goal.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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