Bay City News Service—Bike riders are going to have a little more freedom when using BART in the coming weeks.
Beginning Friday, BART will allow bike riders to use trains during commute hours on Fridays as part of a pilot program to test the impact bike riders have on passengers during rush hours, BART bike program manager Steve Beroldo said.
The program will lift all restrictions to when bikes can be on BART trains, and will be in effect each Friday in August, Beroldo said. Regular restrictions apply for bikes on Monday through Thursday, he said.
Beroldo said August was chosen because it is a lighter month for commuting. Friday was chosen because it is the lightest work commute day at BART, he said.
All the regular BART bike rules will remain in place during the program for safety reasons, Beroldo said. No bikes will be allowed in the first car, no bikes can enter a crowded car, and bikes can't block aisles or doors, among other restrictions, he said.
The San Francisco and East Bay bicycle coalitions went to BART six months ago to look for ways to improve riding for bikers, Beroldo said. A "bold and exciting" plan was in place about a month after their meeting, he said. The coalitions will help retrieve feedback for the program from both bike and non-bike riders.
"We want to hear from everyone using BART to find out if it would work," BART spokesman Jim Allison said.
The program will be evaluated from an operational standpoint from the perspectives of bike riders and non-bike rider passengers, focusing on rush hour times of about 7 to 8:50 a.m. and 4:25 to 6:45 p.m.
"We've never done it so we don't know what sort of problems we will encounter," Beroldo said. "We want to get first-hand evidence."
But the program, even as a test, is a step in the right direction, a bicycle coalition spokeswoman said.
"This is a great step forward to open up bike travel throughout the Bay Area," San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum said.
Shahum said with a greater number of people riding bikes throughout the Bay Area, this program will help people crossing city and county lines. Shahum said BART has done great at exploring new ways to allow bike riders to use their transit system.
"This is a great way to grow their ridership," she said.
Despite having never experienced it before, Shahum believes the program will show bike riders can use BART during all hours.
"This will allow the whole Bay Area another choice to a healthy and active commute," East Bay Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Renee Rivera said.
If all goes well with the evaluations, the bike coalitions will bring a proposal to BART in October to lift the bike restrictions completely, Rivera said.
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