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I'm generally sympathetic to this blog, but bikes on Metro during rush hour is not a good idea. Many trains are simply too crowded and I don't believe that it would be feasible to simply ban bikes on "crowded trains" rather than during certain hours. Remember that there would also be added pressure on other facilities (elevators). There needs to be a clear policy that everyone understands. Otherwise there will be conflicts between bikers and other passengers.

I've heard those points before so let me see if I can respond. Elevators might be an issue. I've only once had to wait for a second elevator because the first was full - and that was at Woodley Park when it was full of able-bodies people going up the hill; but I've obviously never taken my bike at rush hour. Still, I suspect politeness would dictate that those in greatest need (handicapped, with baby strollers or luggage) would go before bikes and bikes would go before anyone else. So only people who ride the elevator, but don't need to, would be affected.

As far as the other point about the rule being unenforceable I would ask - then why is there a rule against riding on crowded trains at all? If you were to take the two rules (no bikes on crowded trains and no bikes during rush hour) and draw a Ven diagram...I'll give you time to do this....OK, you'd see that the two rules are the equivalent of 1) no bikes on crowded trains and 2) no bikes on un-crowded trains during rush hour. It isn't precise enough. If you'll concede that, I'll concede that a more precise set of rules would be harder to enforce. That having been said - they will be enforced the same way the rules are enforced out side of rush hour. They'll be self enforced and socially enforced. While I agree there will be those who ignore the rules and cause conflict I doubt it will be common. And if it is then they can revert to the rules in place now. I'm even willing to find middle ground and disallow bikes in busy stations or on busy sections of lines (I hear the orange line is bad past Rosslyn) but to say the whole system is off limits is overkill.

Elevators are an issue, even during current bike-ok times. They are always crowded with able bodied folk who clearly don't care for politeness.

Folks rush from the train to the elevator, and leave bikes, strollers and the such waiting for a second round. In the case of deep tunnels, this can take quite a long time.

My partner has regularly had to use a train for her commute, and folks often won't even hold the door if they see you coming.

Perhaps a Metro employee could stand by the elevator and weed, but then, how do we tell who needs the elevator if there are no ready clues?

Aside from that, what about a car on busy lines that is designated for the odd stuff, like bikes and strollers and the like? A few go-rounds of a metro-cop would enforce it. It could even be every other train.

Before drawing the Venn diagram, I looked at Metro's bike-on-rail rules again. As far as I can tell (I might have missed something), there is no rule prohibiting bikes on crowded trains off-peak and weekends. So, unless I'm missing something, there aren't two rules, but rather one.

Which makes sense. Given that many DC bikers don't respect the rules of the road (how much clearer do you have to be than "STOP") it seems sensible to me not to trust their discretion.

I recently heard that some bike activists in NYC started taking cardboard cutouts the size of a bicycle on the NY Subway during rush hour to make the point that bikes during rush hour would work. Supposidly the rules were changed. I do not know if this really happened, but it might be an interesting approach for the Metro.

Heh, now how to get the cutout to the Metro while on the actual bike.

I think its not about trusting bikers' discretions as much as figuring out what to do with folks who won't play nice. We could toss examples all day of folks on any mode of transport doing the wrong thing. Just because some bikers are jerks about somethings, doesn't mean they all are. I don't think the few that would be are worth tossing the system.

I'm sorry, but most bikers simply don't respect the rules of the road. Not all. Most.

Allowing bikers to decide when a train isn't crowded is a little like allowing them to decide when it is safe to blow a stop sign or stop light. (Except not as dangerous...)

As a sidenote, I wonder why so many bikers are so bad about basic traffic safety. Any thoughts?

I looked at the Metro Bike-on-Rails Guidelines again. There is no explicit statement that bikes are not allowed on crowded trains. I seem to remember seeing it explicitly stated (perhaps in a pamphlet) but I could be wrong. Nonetheless, the rule is implicit in the following statements:

“At all times, Metro Station Managers or Metro Transit Police may exercise discretion to temporarily deny cyclists access to station mezzanines and platforms during periods of passenger congestion until the congestion is cleared.”

“Bicycles are not permitted on Metrorail on July 4th and other special events or holidays when large crowds use the system.”

And with this:

“Cyclists must wait until all exiting and entering passengers have cleared the doorway before moving their bicycles into the railcar.”

Which implies that bikes and users have lowest priority so obviously if the train is full they have to wait for the next empty one.

As for why cyclists break the rules, I think it has to do with the fact that the rules were designed for cars. I’m not saying that breaking the law is OK but merely my theory as to why cyclists do it. Cars are faster, heavier and less nimble than bikes; and their drivers have shorter sightlines. In addition it’s no big deal to stop your car at the bottom of a big hill, but on your bike it can suck. In some jurisdictions (Idaho and Montana for instance) bikes can treat stop signs as yield signs. Here’s a paper, written by a physicist, on why cyclists hate stop signs. It’s as good an answer as you’ll ever get.


Wrong way biking on a street is another problem. This you see much less often, but usually it’s about shortening distances.

At the risk of prolonging this thread, I find your response really interesting. You insert disclaimers ("I'm not saying that breaking the law in OK") but basically end up justify bad biker behavior.

I would submit that the basic problem is that both bikers and motorists suffer from deep cases of entitlement syndrome. After investing $30000 in a SUV, a motorist figures that the government should build him roads, keep his gas prices low, etc.. The cyclist, on the other hand, sees himself as some kind of athletic hipster/environmental messiah: since he isn't burning fossil fuels or producing greenhouse gases (except by exhaling), he figures that he has a free pass. He can break/reinvent the rules of the road.

Bike advocacy is a great thing. Bikes make the world a better place. The problem, unfortunately, is that a lot of cyclists are much too caught up in their narcissistic world ("the world must change to accommodate ME").

I don't think I justified it, I only tried to explain it. It's like I might understand why a kid from a bad neighborhood would become a drug dealer but I don't think it's justified. I understand why cyclists (myself included) run stop signs and stop lights.

From where we stand now you can either make cyclists conform to the present situation - via massive enforcement. Or change the present situation (by changing road design and laws) to accomodate cyclists. Whichever way you go, you're deciding that some part of "the world must change to accomodate me."

I have seen studies that show that MOST drivers speed. So, it's clear that most drivers break the law.

However, I've never seen a study that proclaimed that MOST bicyclists break the law. I do not break the law, and I bike.

I'm all for enforcement of the laws; if a biker runs a stop sign, he/she should get a ticket, but so should the pedestrian who crosses against the light, the driver who parks in the bike lane, and the cop who is driving along talking on his cell phone.

This is my last post on this subject.

taleswapper: Please, do you really need a study to prove that most cyclists run stop signs/lights? washcycle, at least, is honest enough to admit this. And yes, of course we should ticket pedestrians who cross against the light, drivers who park in bike lanes, etc..

washcycle: I am perfectly willing to entertain changing certain laws. It is hard to imagine a world in which cyclists are not expected to stop at city intersections, however, if only to avoid collisions with other cyclists.

The bottom line is this: successful bike advocacy should start with an awareness that many people, including pedestrians, motorists, and hikers, find bikers to be a nuisance. The idea that cyclists can do no wrong and/or that the problem is that "natural" cyclist behavior is being criminalized may be popular on this blog, but it will not win in the court of public opinion.

Bikes on Metro during rush hour would be awesome, but Metro is too scared it will start losing revenue from parking - that's really the truth. Many other transit systems have methods for allowing bikes on board during rush hour - if we can put people into outerspace, I am quite sure we can figure this one out too.

The biggest issue that needs to be addressed on Metro is the overuse of the elevators. I am SO tired of seeing disabled people have to wait around to use the elevators when hoards of able-bodied folks jump onto the elevators because they are too fat and lazy to walk the extra distance to the escalators. It is disguesting and Metro needs to do something about it.

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