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Metro is hardly going to add capacity for the sole purpose of accommodating cyclists (however much we might fantasize about it). If this ever comes about, expect such trains to be crowded and the passengers to be annoyed by your bike chain rubbing against their dress slacks.

Imagine getting in and out with a bicycle when it's crowded.

Imagine getting in and out with luggage when it's crowded.

I'm ok with not allowing bikes on crowded trains. It's not allowing bikes on empty trains that seems like bad policy.

Honestly, I'm not really OK with not allowing bikes on crowded trains. I accept it because that's just the way it is, but it seems to me its a lot like saying you can't get on the train if its crowded and you have a lot of luggage. Or you're fat. Or something like that. For the most part, this isn't an issue for me because I usually just ride my bike everywhere, even if the weather has turned unexpectedly bad. In my life, there's only one situation where I would like them to allow bikes on the Metro during rush hour -- it would allow me to get my bike and myself to the races at Greenbelt Park on Wednesday evenings during the summer from my downtown job without making me use up all my energy on the bike ride out there. But, even then, it's not make-or-break or something.

Since its inception, Metro has been driven by classism. Its institutional vision has been driven by a negative definition: we are not the NYC subway. It is defined more by what it doesn't want to be -- a blue-collar, inner-city subway -- than as what it wants to be, commuter light rail.

I'm convinced that Metro's rules about bikes are more about discouraging the wrong type of people than any practical concern. Are bikes really any worse than strollers or luggage or large packages? Of course not.

That said, the times I have taken a stroller on Metro I didn't feel particularly accomodated either.

You're probably right, Contrarian, although I hasten to add that I've never thought of bicycles as being defined by a particular class or type of people. I mean, they are blue collar, yuppy, preppy, grunge, hispanic, white, black, sort of all over the map. I could go on: racing, commuter, roadie, mountain, hybrid. Or some combination of the above (like myself, a commuter who likes to race who's got a government job and is often thought of as yuppy even though he's got a blue-collar background.) It's like one time I was riding my bike and someone yelled "faggot" at me -- it never even occured to me that riding a bike could be something that identified one's sexual orientation. And it's not -- it's just that people want to apply whatever label to it they want to. In other words, perhaps you're right, but perhaps also Metro is interpreting what they regard as undesireable based on a pre-conceived notion rather than reality.

I think of people on bikes as belonging to a certain class. Specifically I think girls on bikes are sexy.

And Dutch girls on bikes, well...

Strollers are not really a valid comparison (there is after all another person in the stroller). As for luggage, I suppose that I could accept the analogy if you added the qualifier "greasy."

Contrarian is right about the history of Metro, but it is not merely a matter of image. Metro's success depends upon attracting suburban riders. How many American cities do you know with a population of 1/2 million and a successful rail system that do not depend upon suburban riders? Given a choice between an inner-city destined for failure and Metro, I'll take Metro.

Yes, it's true that Metro's success depends on attracting suburban riders, but this does not contradict the idea of allowing cyclists on the Metro during rush hour. There are, in fact, plenty of cyclists in the suburbs. So I think the choice is between accomodating cyclists and giving up the suburban rider.


You have a good point that suburbanites ride bikes, but you are oversimplifying. The question is whether, on balance, taking seats out of Metro cars will help or harm ridership. Some cyclists may decide to take Metro. Some non-cyclists may decide that the loss of comfort and the chain grease on their $80 wool slacks aren't worth it. I don't know the answer, but I suspect that most cyclists who ride Metro, like most other passengers, commute to locations within walking distance of a Metro station. I suspect, moreover, that Metro can afford to lose the Greenbelt bike-racing constituency.

Loss of comfort; I doubt it. Finding a seat on Metro during rush hour is already near impossible in most cases. Fear of chain grease, I suppose, is a problem but I think that's more perception than reality -- you'd have to rub up against the chains in order to get chain grease on your clothes, and even then, it would only happen on one side of the bike. The problem is solved by simply avoiding that side of the bike; and the cyclist could help out by holding his or her bike on that side (and by keeping the chain clean so that it's not dripping with crap, of course). I seriously doubt someone's going to stop riding Metro specifically because they're afraid of chain grease (which is a lot easier to clean off than you let on).

There's an additional point -- I know at least two people who live in the city but work in the 'burbs, far from a metro stop. In both case, I know that they would take the Metro out to the closest stop and ride the rest of the way to work. Personally, I think they're wussies for not riding their bikes the whole way, but surely if I know two people there's a lot more out there. And don't think the so-called "reverse commute" couldn't use some relief on the highways.

Seriously, this is an issue that deserves a little creative thinking rather than finding reasons why it can't be done. How about a designated car on each train that has a few rows of seats missing at the end?

Your snide comment about the "Greenbelt bike-racing constituency" misses the point. (It's snide because I used it as an example, not as the only example.) You CAN'T take Metro during rush hour right now -- they'd be gaining riders by using a little creativity, not losing them.


You are right about this being a matter of perception. Unfortunately, Metro's viability has a lot to do with perception.

Perhaps Metro's policy is deeply misguided. But you should at least consider the possibility that Metro is aware that they are losing a few cyclists by banning bikes but that they have weighed this against the impact (in terms of perception, as well as other things) of allowing bikes.

And I fail to see why the fact that Metro is already overcrowded helps your case.


I'm sure it's possible that Metro weighed the possibility that "they are losing a few cyclists" against the impact of allowing bikes during rush hour. (Although if it's really just "a few cyclists," as you claim, how could there be much of an impact?)

I do think you might want to consider switching your moniker with Contrarian, however. :)

A contrarian? Me?

One possible solution would be to have one of these flatbed train cars per train- say at the back of the train- and put larger doors on it to accomaodate the cargo/bike/stroller passengers. People who are going to take a train car that is standing only are either going to be more physically fit- or not bothered by standing for a long time- or they are forced by crowding into the flatbed car. We give priority to handicapped and elderly by having designated seating- so why not a designated car for other needs? This area is now the 3rd or 4th largest metro area [ Baltimore/DC] in the USA - and Metro should not only expand the use of these cars, and expand its passenger base- but operate trains much more frequently on off hours, have express trains- add 3-4 tracks in areas that are to be built to lessen congestion- and operate on a 24 / 7 schedule.Metro also very stupidly designed many stations to have one entrance way at the end of a station in order to "socially engineer" where people would get on the trains- this is a total failure- and Metro should put MULTIPLE station entrances in ALL stations.Despite these idiotic mistakes- it is a good system, and can be improved. We are a real city- and deserve real mass transit.


I agree with you post on a number of accounts, but I think you're dreaming.

1) "We give priority to handicapped and elderly by having designated seating- so why not a designated car for other needs?" Perhaps because there is no federal law (à la ADA) requiring accommodations for cyclists. (Although I'm sure many of the posters here would love to have one.)

2) "operate on a 24 / 7 schedule" To operate 24 hours a day, a system needs redundancy, i.e. enough tracks so they can do maintenance on a rotating basis while maintaining service. NYC has enough tracks to do this on large parts of its system. Neither DC nor Paris (which otherwise has a great Metro) does. I have no idea how much it would cost to upgrade DC's infrastructure to make this possible. Probably tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars, as it would require new tunneling (I think). It would also have an enormous impact on the city (digging up roads, etc.).

... and you wonder why I call you a contrarian, Quez!?

Quez- you're right- Im dreaming- but thats where a lot of projects get started.If they put the same $$$ into mass transit that is dedicated to highways and airports we would have a metro that rivalled Munich or Moscow.The powers that be just want to throw our $$$ away and make us more beholden to their friends in Saudi Arabia,Nigeria,Texas, and Venezuela.Until they wake up and give us back what was in this country proir to WW2, - in other words, first class passenger trains and mass transit for every city and small town-we will suffer at the hands of these profiteering despots.I say lets try the flatbed cars, and see if they work.

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