After several pilot projects testing bike access on Bay Area BART trains, BART officials recommended that bikes be allowed on trains at all hours and in all stations. This would be a big change from the current rules, where riders can’t bring bikes on trains or into the cramped 12th and 19th Street stations during peak commute hours.
The restrictions were set up to prevent overcrowding on busy trains. But after heavy lobbying by cycling groups, BART has been looking into changing the regulations. In 2012, they conducted a three-day test in August, allowing bikes on trains and in all stations during rush hours. From that, BART officials learned commuters prefer to have the first three cars bike-free, which was tested in the March pilot.
BART surveyed more than 1,000 riders over the course of the week-long pilot back in March, where the usual restrictions were lifted. Overall, three-quarters of those surveyed said the bikes had little to no impact on their commute. The most common complaint was overcrowding, with 19 percent of riders saying the trains were too full.
About a tenth of riders said they would be less likely to take BART if bikes were allowed on trains at all hours. But almost a quarter of riders surveyed they would be more likely to take BART without the restrictions – and that got attention.
To make the commutes better for the riders who expressed concern, BART officials say they will make an effort to promote better “bike etiquette.” That includes putting up more signs cautioning bikers not to get onto crowded cars and creating special places for riders with bikes to wait at some especially cramped stations. BART also recently introduced a feature on their website that lets riders check out how full a train is before they board – giving bikers a way to avoid crowding trains.
BART officials took their findings to their Board of Directors last week, recommending that the bike restrictions be lifted. The Board will likely make a decision later this month.