Everyone should have access to public transit

Editor’s note: this letter was sent to The Oregonian on October 22nd in response to their guest column by Nanci Gulacy, titled “It’s time to ban bikes on MAX trains.”

For me, riding a bike is a daily exercise. It has been for the nearly five years I’ve lived in Tigard and worked in different places around the Metro area. In many cases when I leave my house on a bike, I eventually end up on one of TriMet’s busses or trains.

Some bicycles only occupy
as much space as a briefcase.

Combining bicycling with public transportation is one of the things that has allowed me to drive less, be more active, and spend more money locally. Even when I’m traveling places with safe routes for bicycles I’ll sometimes choose to hop on a bus or train if I need to cover a longer distance in less time. Also, bus routes and train stations can be very far apart in areas outside of downtown Portland and, for many people including myself, riding a bicycle is the only timely way of accessing TriMet.

Banning bicycles from any form of public transit would adversely impact tax-paying citizens and reduce the number of people who choose to ride a bike and TriMet. Banning any kind personal mobility device, including bicycles, won’t solve the problem of people being rude and inconsiderate on the MAX. Limiting or banning bicycles on the MAX will only hurt rule-abiding citizens, which is the opposite of what we should be doing.

TriMet understands current demand sometimes exceeds the supply of space for bicycles on busses, WES, and MAX. That’s why TriMet is working to provide alternatives by building Bike and Ride facilities, installing additional bike parking, and encouraging people to use folding bicycles to save space.

If we want to have a complete, functional public transit system we’re going to need to figure out ways to make it viable for everyone, no matter how they choose to get to and from the bus stop or train station. I, for one, am excited that more people are riding TriMet, with and without a bike, and I’m looking forward to constructive conversations about how we can ensure everyone gets where they’re going without impeding other people’s travel.

Best regards,

Will Vanlue
Communications Manager
Bicycle Transportation Alliance



Comments (6)

  1. Paul Permalink  | Oct 22, 2012 04:20pm

    Reasonable thought Will

  2. Skid Permalink  | Oct 22, 2012 04:41pm

    The reason there are so many bikes traveling from the West Side into the city and back is because it is the easiest route over the West Hills. Not every cyclist is even capable of making this trip, and the ones that can may not want to get that sweaty on the way to or from work. Leaving their bike at a MAX station is not going to work if you need to travel by bike at both ends of your route.

    If there are that many bikes at peak times maybe there should be MORE bike hooks or spots for bikes. Some transit systems have an entire car for transit riders with bikes during peak times.

    I do not think a folding bike is the answer for a situation like this either, many racers take their road bike on the MAX to get to PIR, or take their MTB to Forest Park, or their BMX to the skatepark. Would it be better for them to drive their car with their bike on the roof? Personally, I want to ride my “nice” bike most of the time, not some bike whose main design feature is its ability to be stored.

    • Will Vanlue Permalink  | Oct 22, 2012 07:34pm

      You’re right: different solutions work for different people. I bring my folding bike to save space for full-size bikes of others who want or need them. Others might have a station bike at one end or another of their trip. Still others will need or want to bring their bike on board.

  3. Allan Permalink  | Oct 22, 2012 05:46pm

    folding bike in the area where a hanging bike could be but preventing a hanging bike-

    This photo shows the most annoying thing about folding bike owners. They are too clueless to put their bikes in a place that would actually allow another biker to park their bike! I have seen this multiple times and it has prevented me from parking my non-folding bike on the hook. FAIL 🙁

    • Will Vanlue Permalink  | Oct 22, 2012 07:32pm

      Rest assured, the picture of the folding bike here was taken when the train was empty. I only placed my bike like that to demonstrate how small it folded and so the bike symbol was still visible. Normally I tuck it next to the hanging spot. It fits quite nicely without blocking anyone’s access to the hook.

  4. r. willis Permalink  | Oct 24, 2012 09:43pm

    it would have been better not to lead with the recreational cycling angle. most of the people i see on the max trains with bikes very obviously have no practical alternative. ms gulacy says cyclists “already have their form of transportation,” but of course the same could be said of the people who walked to the train. the train is a link in a complete system, of which walking and biking are a part.