Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Caltrain to *remove* bike racks?

That title probably woke up a few of you!

It sure woke me up. On Monday I boarded Caltrain 332 at 22nd Street, along with roughly 25 other cyclists, in the Southern (or "second") bike car. I was the last to board, and watched helplessly as I stood in line for probably a minute after all the other doorways were finished boarding. The Norther ("first") bike car might have had some room in it, I toyed briefly with the idea of riding down the access road to board there, but if it was full I would have been left behind, so I waited impatiently to board where I was.

I stumbled on, with a helpful and antsy conductor holding my hot chocolate for me to get me on and into the vestibule so the doors could close and we could start headed South. I looked at the chaos inside the bike car and leaned back to wait for the dust to settle, and started a conversation with the conductor.

"You know", he said, "they are doing a 'trend analysis on bikes' - starting today. And if they decide that you guys are delaying the trains they are going to remove some of your racks". Racks that we spent a lot of hard work getting into place.

This would be a catastrophe

I've heard plenty from Conductors that was wildly inaccurate or simply telephone game innuendo, but if this were true, it needs to be cut off at the pass. We've hit an equilibrium lately where bumps have not been too bad, removal of racks would be a big problem however.

I do note the following tweet seen just now...

A few things we can do in the meantime....

First - make sure you have a destination tag - if you don't have one you can make one yourself, even one that is official looking! There are some personalized ones that are very creative, even one someone made by carving a piece of wood.

Second - when you board the train, move as far back into the bike car as possible when looking for a place to rack your bike, and wait for people to get on before heading back into the vestibule/stairs to look for a seat. Train station delay is based not on when we get seated, but on when we all get onto the train. Blocking the entrance delays the train. If you check this video ...

The first rider slots her bike into the very first rack inside the door, then steps back into the entrance way to the bike car and blocks additonal riders from entering. In this case, the overall delay wasn't too bad because the following riders did move to the back. But if 3-4 riders jam up the entrance, we sit there, and sit there, and sit there, while the bean counters in San Carlos rub their hands and dream of removing bike racks. Don't be a n00b - move to the back!

6 comments:

ladyfleur said...

Have you learned anything more about this? Is there any truth to what the conductor said?

Aside from the obvious really late trains due to an incident or malfunction, I find that most trains are surprisingly within 2-3 min of being on time. And I'm getting on down in Mountain View toward the end of the line when any lateness would snowball.

Do you get the impression that conductors think bike riders on Caltrain are more trouble than they're worth? I sometimes do.

Unknown said...

One thing that would really help is if bicyclists organized themselves beforehand by destination, so those going furthest (usually MV) board first, then PA, etc. There is one conductor who forces bicyclists to do this, and it really helps. It drives me nuts that all these smart engineers can't figure this out. I watch somebody going to Millbrae board first and just wonder how they haven't thought this through.

Of course, if there is concern about getting bumped, then this whole idea goes out the window. But there must be some way we can improve the boarding process without getting rid of bicycle capacity.

All that being said, there would be a HUGE uproar if Caltrain tried to remove racks. The SFBC and so many other people have worked ridiculously hard to get where we are, so there would be massive outrage.

To be honest, the best solution would be to have the bikes get racked vertically against the wall so nobody is blocking anybody else. That is the real problem, that there has to be all this organizing of bikes. We should be able to just roll in and throw our bike up on whatever space is available and not have to worry about coordinating with others. That is the future ....

buntyross said...

Mostly bike riders use the first or last passenger box here in Australia and there are no conductors, making life much more easier.

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sulung74 said...

Yeah, If you love cycling and bike racks traveling becomes important to note

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David richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David richard said...

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