Metra today made permanent a COVID-era policy that allows bikes on all trains, and said it was making room for additional bikes by installing new racks on its railcars.
Bikes have been allowed in the ADA seating area on Metra trains since 2005, but for most of that time they were restricted to non-rush period trains. During the pandemic, when ridership plummeted, Metra relaxed that policy to allow bikes on rush period trains, and now that change has been made permanent effective Feb. 1.
Last year, 260,000 riders brought bikes on trains, the highest annual number ever – even higher than pre-pandemic years. To facilitate the growing number of cyclists, and to ease conflicts with ADA customers, Metra is manufacturing and installing new bike racks on its railcars in-house. The new racks, which can hold two to four bikes and can also be used to store e-scooters, will initially be installed on about 50 cars, and those cars will be identified with an exterior bike logo and used on the trains that carry the most bikes.
The creation of the policy and installation of new racks was aided by bicycle advocates who lobbied the Metra Board of Directors, contributed to a working group that drafted the new policy, and tested the new racks.
“We are truly grateful to the passionate cyclists who helped us change our policy for the betterment of all riders,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “Metra and bicycles are natural partners, and it is gratifying to solidify our relationship.”
Under the new policy, bicycles and scooters, including e-bikes and e-scooters, are permitted on all trains, either in the priority seating areas of ADA-accessible railcars or in the new racks on railcars with the bike logo. There is no charge.
Bicycle and scooter spaces are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, and customers with disabilities have priority in the priority seating areas on ADA-accessible railcars.
Customers with bicycles and scooters may be required to leave the train if ADA-accessible space is needed for boarding passengers with disabilities. Every effort will be made to accommodate customers elsewhere on the train before requiring that they leave. Crews have the right to refuse bikes and scooters if all spaces are filled or if ADA-accessible seating is needed for customers with disabilities.
Bicycles must be secured to the new racks with a built-in strap or the cyclist’s own strap or lock. In the ADA-accessible seating areas, bicycles must be secured to the lower rail of folding seats with long bungee cords or other devices supplied by the cyclist. Bicycles must be kept clean and free of dirt and grease while aboard Metra trains and must not present a hazard to other customers.
Other details of the policy include:
- Bicycles and scooters must not exceed 80 inches long and 30 inches wide.
- Bicycles, scooters, and any connected equipment must be safely loaded and unloaded in a single trip without causing any hazard to the customer or others.
- Individual customers with bicycles or scooters must be at least 16 years old. Customers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult to bring a bicycle or scooter.
- Train crews are not required to assist with boarding bicycles or scooters, and the wheelchair lift may not be used to load or unload bicycles or scooters.
- Gas-powered bicycles and scooters are prohibited.
- Bicycles and scooters cannot block aisles or impede passenger movement. Customers must always stay in the vicinity of their bicycle or scooter.
- ln case of evacuation, bicycles and scooters will be left on the train clear of aisles and doors.
- Folding bicycles and folding scooters may be brought onto any train car and may accompany a person to a seat provided they are small enough to fit between the legs of a seated customer or can be stored under a seat. Folding bicycles and folding scooters must be in the folded position prior to boarding and cannot block any other seats from use by other customers.