Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bikes on MARC?

Area transit blogs are making noise about the merits of allowing non-folding bikes on MARC trains.

MARC has an across the board ban, according to Matt Johnson over at Greater Greater Washington, on bringing bikes aboard, citing safety and space concerns.

Johnson says that the ban is only one of two in the country's commuter rail system. He lists a variety of solutions for MARC's concerns: straps to tie down bikes, allowing bikes during off peak hours, limiting cyclists to two per train.

He also argues that MARC is not following a 2000 law passed by the Maryland General Assembly that requires the MTA to make accommodations for cyclists.

Johnson's post provoked a heated discussion, i.e. from commenter neff: "I'd rather see all private cars and bikes banned than have smelly sweaty bike jerks invade another space of pedestrians."

The Sun's Dresser picked up on Johnson's post and took MARC's side in the argument, also citing safety concerns.

"In an uncrowded car, I can see them becoming a missile," Dresser worries. Dresser notes that he's a fan of cyclists and suggests that commuters purchase two bikes, keeping one at work and one at home.

As a daily MARC commuter who occasionally bikes from her house in Baltimore to Penn Station, I've often thought about buying a folding bike as it would be easier to maneuver during rush hour. Used folding bikes on Craigslist like this one are affordable at $125, especially when you think about what you'd save on Metro fares.

Considering the glacial pace at which MARC makes changes to its system, I wouldn't hold your breath for a relaxing of the bike ban.



  1. I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for a while before ending up in Baltimore, and one of the many great things about being a bike/public transportation commuter out there was how bike-friendly all public transit options were. BART, MUNI, and Caltrain all had enlightened policies on the subject--particularly great was the space Caltrain cars had for securely strapping your bike to the wall.

  2. At least you can take a folding bike on MARC and the other transit agencies in the area. Also, based on my interaction with Stephanie Yanovitz (senior transportation planner at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council), I'd expect there will be more pressure on MARC to allow regular bikes in the future; however, space constraints and infrastructure will always make a folding bike more practical for multi-modal commutes.

    Larry Lagarde
    Bikes that are fun, practical & easy to store.

  3. But SHOULD the policy be changed? That's the real question...