Thursday, October 24th, 2013: Momentous vote opens up all day access for bikes, makes regional travel by bike easier
OAKLAND—Today, the BART Board of Directors voted unanimously to lift the bike blackout period permanently, opening all day access for bikes and removing a key obstacle to regional travel.
“By making full access for bikes on BART a permanent policy change, East Bay residents will have a new healthy and convenient commute option,” said Renee Rivera, Executive Director of the 4,500-member East Bay Bicycle Coalition. “This particularly benefits those who commute within the East Bay on BART lines where there is ample room for bikes, but who are restricted from bringing bikes on board by the current rules.”
“Today’s BART decision is a momentous occasion. For years, people on both sides of the Bay have had to contort their lives simply because they needed to take a bike on BART but couldn’t during critical times. We commend BART for taking the smart steps toward opening up regional travel by bike,” says Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which has worked alongside BART and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition for years to increase access for bicycles on BART.
Today’s BART vote comes after three successful pilots: Fridays in August, a week-long March pilot and a four-month pilot that began July 1. After the third pilot, a BART survey showed that 77% of riders were in support of eliminating the bike blackout period.
Ending the bike blackout will dramatically lessen many peoples’ commute times, allow them to leave their cars at home and spend more time with their families. Throughout the pilots, hundreds of people on both sides of the Bay sent in letters of support for lifting the ban, and spoke up at the today’s Board of Directors meeting.
“Lifting the ban would give me much greater options in travel hours and allow me to see my wife and son in the morning before rushing off to work or ending up having to drive, and it is a horrible commute by car even on the best of days. I love mornings I can take BART,” said Bret Stastny, who commutes between San Francisco to San Ramon.
For many people, permanently removing the bike blackout means a safer commute.
“Because of the rush hour bike blackouts, I eventually broke down and bought a car to safely get to and from BART as a woman,” says Mira Luna, who commutes between San Francisco and Oakland. “This was after I was robbed walking home from BART at night after work. I am trying to transition back to a bike and BART lifestyle and lifting the blackouts will help immensely in getting women safely to and from the stations, as walking can be very dangerous at night in many parts of Oakland and some parts of San Francisco.”
BART is following the lead of other major cities in removing restrictions to integrating bikes and public transit. New York City, which has nearly 5 million transit trips per day, allows bikes on board its subway lines at all times. Los Angeles and Chicago also allows bikes on board at all times.
When BART opened in 1972, bicycles were not permitted at all. A few years later, the rules were relaxed – but still required riders to carry a permit. In 1997, thanks to the advocacy of the San Francisco and East Bay Bicycle Coalitions, BART Board of Directors voted to end the permits. Permanently removing the long-time rush-hour bike ban is the final restriction to bicycle access.
To learn more about the history of Bikes on BART, visit ebbc.org/bikesOnBART_history