Metra revamps bicycle policy

Written by Douglas John Bowen
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Chicagoland's Metra announced Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014 that it is revising its "Bikes on Trains" policy to replace bans during exceptionally busy periods with "warning dates," in which bicycles will be allowed but owners will be cautioned that crowded conditions could prevent Metra from accommodating an initial or return trip.

The new, more flexible policy also will allow bicycles “on early morning rush hours trains – those that arrive downtown at or before 6:30 a.m.,” beginning Oct. 6, Metra said. After that, bicycles will bepermitted on weekday trains arriving in Chicago after 9:30 a.m., as well as outbound trains from Chicago before 3 p.m. and after 7 p.m., in effect still banning bicycles from traditional rush hour periods.

“We believe these changes will provide better service to bicyclists in a way that is safe for all passengers and onboard personnel,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno.

Metra’s policy allows bikes on all non-rush hour trains, unless, in the judgment of the train crew, those trains become too crowded, the railroad said, adding thatuntil the projectec changes, bikes also were banned on non-rush hour trains during certain specified “blackout dates” – generally when special events generatedunusually heavy ridership. Those blackout dates now will be eliminated and replaced with bicycle warning dates.

Metra’s standard bike policies will be in effect on the warning dates, which means bicycles are generally allowed but can still be barred if the train crew judges that the train is too crowded. During warning dates, Metra will advise passengers through alerts, announcements and its website that there is the potential that bikes cannot be accommodated on the initial or return trip due to expected higher than normal ridership.

Under the revised “Bikes on Trains” policy, small folding bicycles in protective covers are permitted on all trains. Standard bicycles are accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis on weekday off-peak hours and on weekends. Space is not guaranteed for bicycle carriage, Metra warned. Metra also stressed that train crews “have the final authority on accommodating bicycles. “

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