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Town Square

All Aboard! Taking your Bike on Transit

Original post made by Janet Lafleur, Rex Manor, on Jul 11, 2013

My bike alone can only take me so far so fast, and sometimes I'd rather arrive somewhere without looking like I've been pedaling for hours. That's when I turn to trains and buses to extend my cruising range. Here in the Bay Area, we are really lucky that almost all of our transit operators allow bikes on board.

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Comments

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Posted by Enough already
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jul 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm

How many articles can you possibly write about biking? Serious question, just wondering.


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Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

@Enough already: That remains to be seen, doesn't it? But to put things in perspective, I have written over 400 posts on bicycling elsewhere so I think you may be stuck with me for a while. :)

Is there a particular bike-related topic of interest to you?


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Posted by NSH
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 11, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Enough Already: How many negative comments can you possibly write about something you don't enjoy? Serious question, just wondering.

Personally, I look forward to Janet's articles every week and I'm happy that the Voice is giving her space to write about something that's of interest to many in our community. If you feel differently, no one is forcing you to read something that is not of interest to you. (And certainly no one is forcing you to add more unpleasantness to the world through anonymous commenting.)

Janet: Back to the actual content of your article, my step-through bike isn't very light and I'm not very nimble, which has always made a bit concerned about my ability to get on and off the train safely and quickly. Any tips? (Also thanks for being gracious in the face of such grumpiness.)


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Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

@NSH You're right, it can be tough to get off and on the Caltrain with a heavy bike, especially on the old-style train cars that have three tall steps. But I can do it with my heavy city bikes, like the one you see in the photo.

What I do is stand on the left of the bike, reach over the bike and grab it low on the frame behind the seat tube. I lift it so that the weight of the bike in on my hip and the saddle in wedged in my airpit. The more weight I have on the rear rack the further back I grab it on the frame.

My left hand goes on the handlebar. Pushing down a little on the handlebar can act as a lever to help lift the rear. I'm 5'6" and I've gotten a 50 lb Dutch bike on the train this way but it took practice.

I hope this helps. It would be a lot easier to show in a video.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I have seen people carrying their bikes on to Caltrain using a leather strap wrapped around the 2 vertical tubes of the frame. The strap apparently adds very little weight, but gives you a place to carry the bike comfortably and without affecting your balance too much. If you google "bicycle frame handle", you can see some photos and vendors.


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Posted by Enough of Enough
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:55 am

Enough, do you call up baseball writes and complain they talk about baseball too much? Do restaurant reviewers write about restaurants too much? How about travel writers...to many stories about trips abroad?
*You might want to notice the title of this blog. Its called "Bike Fun"
and I've noticed its become quite a bit more popular than other blogs in this space and since cycling is growing by leaps and bounds, I would take a big bite of a "get used to it" sandwich, and if that doesn't taste good, you can have a "Don't click on the story" cookie for dessert.


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Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 12, 2013 at 8:13 am

Thanks for the article! I've never tried this and really should.

You mentioned each system's capacity for bikes, which leads me to wonder: how often are they full? Is the next train or bus that comes along likely to have space, or might you be waiting for a long time? I imagine I'm pretty safe on the weekends at least?


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Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 12, 2013 at 9:15 am

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

@Scott Caltrain doesn't have as many overcrowding issues since they've gone to two bike cars per train. The issues are usually around big events like Giants games and parades or when there's another problem on the train line.

Starting in Mountain View helps since northbound trains are never full and there aren't that many times southbound trains are full past Mountain View, except maybe for Sharks games. If you're boarding in San Francisco to come home, arrive at the station 15 minutes early and you can line up in the station for a good spot.

For VTA, I've never hit a train with too many bikes, but I've seen plenty of buses with two bikes on the front rack. I've gotten lucky the half dozen times I've taken the bus. Then again, the VTA 22/522 on El Camino has buses every 12-15 minutes so if I had to wait it probably wouldn't be long.


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Posted by MV Cyclist
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm

One of my favorite tours on a bike involved cal-train and a pack of my friends (all riding abilities). The pace was leisurely and involved multitudes of stops to check things out along the way: We rode Cal-Train to SF, then rode up along the Embarcadero, stopping for a fresh pastry near the Cannery before continuing to the Presidio and Fort Point. After that we rode over the GG Bridge.
By then it was time for a brunch meal in Sausalito before continuing around to Tiburon. We then hopped the ferry to Angel Island where we rode around to check it all out the relaxed on the lawn while waiting for the ferry back to SF. Once back in SF we simply headed up the Embarcadero again and caught the train back to MV.
Its a full day, but its not as hard as it sounds, though you must be in _reasonably_ good shape. Its a memory making day :)


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Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

@MV Cyclist That's a classic route for a reason. You can ride past all the tourist spots and there's something amazing about riding across the Golden Gate bridge, no matter how many times you've done it before. So much fun to play tourist so close to home.


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Posted by MV Cyclist
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm

@Janet, agreed. Its so nice to be able to hit up places that a lot of times are stressful to drive to, but on the bike you simply roll through with a big fun grin. See something cool? Stop right away, check it out and off again...hmm I need to call some friends and plan another one of these :)
Enjoy the rides this weekend all!


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Posted by Enough Already
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jul 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm

your posts provide alot of usefull information and are appreciated by many it seems.

Is there a particular bike-related topic of interest to you?

yes actually, slow moving bikes in the streets that think they are cars. It seems like they have no regard to cars what so ever. On el camino when they are in the number lane (i think thats nearest to the divide) casually riding drives me crazy! also not to vent but you did ask - what is proper procedure when a bike and a car arrive at the same time at a 4 way stop? bikes act like they always have the right away.

thanks in advance- i like your style of writing and articles.


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Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 13, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

@Enough Already Bicyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of drivers on all roads except freeways. That means that at four way stops bicyclist should take their turn with the same rules as drivers.

When bikes are traveling slower than the usual speed of traffic they should use the right lane unless they are avoiding an obstacle, passing another vehicle, or preparing for a turn. If the lane is two narrow for a bike and a car to travel side by side safely, the bicyclist may ride in the middle of the rightmost lane.

I suggest reading the full text of the law (CVS 21202) here: Web Link

Of course, people don't always follow laws regardless of whether they're driving, biking or walking, especially when it doesn't seem like a big deal to them. So drivers drive over the speed limit, bicyclists roll through stop signs and walkers cross roads against the traffic light (for example).

I find most people are courteous, which makes the rude drivers, bikers and walkers stand out more.