52 Replies to “News Roundup: Trains, Trains, Trains”

  1. No more restrictions on loading bikes in the ride-free area.

    Yeah, this always seemed silly. The only issue I see though is downtown stops where there is already a bus stopped ahead. Leaving enough room to load could be an issue. Especially for inside positions. I’ve never really understood the load the front rack position first if no other bikes are on the rack.

    1. This is the reason Metro gives:

      Why does Metro want me to load the outside rack position first when there are no other bikes on the bike rack?
      Having a bike in the outside slot (the slot furthest away from the front of the bus) assists bus drivers visually in leaving enough room between the bus and the vehicle in front of them.

    2. We are trained to pull up snug to the bus in front of us to keep people from J-Walking between buses. That’s a VERY dangerous place to be, especially on a hill. Leaving enough room to load a bike would encourage cyclists to load in a potentially dangerous spot. Think of the stop at 5th & Jackson headed Northbound. If the bus in back leaves enough room to load a bike and the bus in front rolls back while a cyclist is loading, well… You get the picture.

      The proper procedure is for us to pull up snug, the cyclist will let the driver know that they want to load but will wait for the bus in front to pull away. Once that bus is gone, the cyclist can load safely. Given that procedure, allowing bikes to load downtown during peak time can cause delays. That said, in most instances, it’s probably fine.

      1. Well, I can understand pulling up snug because space is limited at stops. Preventing J-walking? Darwin? If that’s a concern then you have to worry about the first bus stopped and the idiot that’s going to walk in front of it and try to cross. The current recommendations would require not only allowing room for someone to walk between the busses but to turn the bike 90 degrees to properly load. That’s at least an additional three feet. Now we’re up to at least five feet plus the extension of the rack.

        As far as the driver judging distance I don’t know. Is the bike that more visible than the rack? If it’s an issue then a flag mounted on the rack would be a better solution. I trust metro drivers to know if they have a bike rack deployed and really, how many seconds of following distance does that add?

      2. Bernie,

        As far as the driver judging distance I don’t know. Is the bike that more visible than the rack?

        Yes. When deployed, the bike rack isn’t visible at all, except possibly from a small mirror mounted – depending on the bus – near the left side of the driver’s window. On Gilligs, that mirror is mounted OUTSIDE the bus, and can’t be adjusted by the driver while underway (frequently jiggles out of adjustment) so often goes ignored.

        Sometimes a cyclist will remove their bike and not lift the rack up and the driver may continue on with the rack deployed – unknowingly. It isn’t about following distance so much as stopping distance. Those racks stick WAY out (though not far enough for the driver to see over the dash) and can collide with something if you get to close – like another bus, a sign, a car, a pedestrian, etc.

        I’ll also note that all front bumper mounted bike racks are still technically illegal in the state of Washington – and for good reason. Not only do they negate the safety of the front bumper in an end to end collision, but they obscure headlights and signals.

        Just for kicks – I did find this: http://homepage.mac.com/mpaineau/filechute/Paine_BIKERACK.pdf

      3. No, the rack is not visible from the driver’s seat for most drivers. The only way to see it is to look in the bike rack mirror and even then it’s not easy to spot – you really need to look at it carefully since that’s a small mirror. I’ve missed it a few times only to have passengers mention it to me at the next stop. I’ve developed a habit of watching cyclists remove their bikes to verify that they put the rack back up but I can still be distracted by another passenger asking a question.

      4. I actually had another driver contact the coordinator who called me to tell me my bike rack was down while driving the 10. The cyclist who left it down had just gotten off, but I’m glad it got mentioned as that rack could easily have swept another car while changing lanes or pulling in or out of a zone without me being aware of it.

        And I really don’t understand why the mirror on the Gilligs is outside the bus where a lot of folks can’t even reach it its so high.

      5. OK, having the bike in the front most position aids the driver. But chances are good as not that the first bike deployed isn’t going to be the last bike removed. So now you’ve got an inside bike anyway. If visibility of the rack is the issue loading front to back isn’t a very good answer.

        Yes, the legality of front mount rack is debatable. They’re obviously deployed so I still don’t see the policy of loading front to back making any sense.

      6. Bernie,

        Two words: harm reduction. Greater visibility some of the time is much better than no visibility all of the time.

        Not too hard to figure out, really.

      7. What I’m hearing is the front mount bike racks are a hazard if a bike isn’t loaded in the front rack. Harm reduction “some of the time” is not good enough. A simple flag on each corner of the rack would eliminate this. If that’s the real reason for loading outside in then it’s a very flawed logic.

      8. Bernie,

        Not sure how you’d mount a flag on each corner of the folding rack. The flags would have to fold, too. Harm reduction some of the time is a darn sight better than harm reduction none of the time.

        As a driver, I’m fine with the “load front to back” protocol.

      9. I probably shouldn’t have used the term “J-Walking”. Really, Metro doesn’t want people walking between the buses – it’s dangerous for many different reasons. In many cases, it could lead to a preventable accident, such as the rollback, that could also lead to a sizable lawsuit against Metro. In short, it seems very wise to do anything within reason to prevent people from walking in that space.

        My point was that this training, coupled with higher peak loads, will potentially lead to delays. But that’s why this change is a 1 year trial. If I had my guess, they will figure out that the delays aren’t that big of a deal, but that’s just my guess based on the limited number of routes I’ve driven.

      10. Yes, I can understand not wanting anybody to walk between buses. That sounds like a much more convincing reason to not allow bike loading in the free ride zone than the idea that it slows boarding. Seems to me that a solution could be arrived at. If knowing that is the issue and not addressing it prior to the trial period then I’d really like to know “who’s in charge”.

      11. Bernie,

        I’d really like to know “who’s in charge”.

        You’re not alone in that.

        As to slowing boarding, I think that in the downtown core the issue is less to do with the amount of time it takes to load a bike and more about the length of the zone being short enough that buses really need to bunch up in order to allow 2-3 buses into a zone at a time. Extending that will cause some buses to lag behind intersections, waiting for the zone ahead of them to clear. I think that there are other hazards as well.

        However – they have dealt with this issue down in the tunnel, where bike loading has been allowed at all stops, all times of day. I’d be interested to hear from tunnel drivers how this has worked, and whether there have been a lot of loadings down there.

      12. Jeff, I’m not a driver, but from my observations of other bikers and my own experience as a biker, I don’t think it slows buses down much at all. As long as the biker is ready to go as soon as the bus stops (and has made eye contact with the driver), they can get the bike loaded and be in line to load pretty quick.

        Same thing with offloading. If the biker is first off, (after notifying the driver, of course) they can usually get back to the platform with their bike and the rack up before passengers have finished boarding.

        I’ve only had one instance of a driver pulling up too close to the bus in front of them to lower the rack.

        I always appreciate, too, when the driver makes a very visible sign they see you and you’re good to load. And when they set the brakes.

      13. Joshua,

        I think I mentioned earlier that it’s not the act of loading/unloading a bicycle downtown that slows things, but the need for increased distance between buses resulting either in a need to wait for the bus in front to pull forward to load, or having a bus behind having to hang back on the other side of an intersection to wait for the next light that can.

        Buses do pull up really close to one another – too close to lower the bike rack – at some downtown stops, particularly those on 3rd and 4th Avenues between Pioneer Square and Westlake.

        But again – there’s been loading available at all tunnel stops for awhile at all stations, so we’ll see.

        I do always set the brake when a cyclist is loading/unloading, both as an audible signal to “go ahead” and for the added security to avoid squashing someone. I can’t however vouch for the bus in front of me and guarantee they wont roll backwards. Lets hope not!

      14. My previous comment was mostly in relation to how tunnel operations have gone with bikes, and overall, I feel they’ve been good. Only one instance of “too close to load.”

      15. Much higher volume on the surface, and all bus. We’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping that Metro provides the drivers with some guidelines – as it is, it chose to announce this 1 year test before notifying the drivers themselves, so I’m at least a bit concerned that they may not be as prepared as they could be.

        For my part – it will be nice to be relieved of the responsibility of telling cyclists who board outside the CBD that they can’t remove their bike until we get to the last ride free stop – or asking someone wishing to board downtown to ride to the last stop to board because they’re unfamiliar with the policy.

  2. Reinhardt says it took 15 minutes for someone to rescue him. He wonders why no one woke him up, and was upset he was left sleeping and vulnerable.

    “If I’m sound asleep, I could have been robbed, I could have been killed for that matter,” he said.

    If you really believe such ridiculous things, then maybe you shouldn’t fall asleep on a train. Talk about not taking any responsibility for one’s own actions.

    1. So quiet on the train, one can sleep through your ride. Something you can’t or shouldn’t do in a car.

      1. I once PRETENDED to sleep for 5 hours so that I could stay on the ICE (HSR) all the way to Frankfurt instead of having to get off right across the border (coming from The Hague) and ride various S-Bahns and Regional Bahns all the way back to Heidelberg.

        Sleeping and/or pretending to be a dumb American and not understand German saved my ass more than a couple of times…

        Hey I was a poor college student, what can I say!??! ;)

      2. as a conductor i frown upon this. as a former backpacker vagabond i can appreciate the hell out of this.

    2. I saw one comment on this making the point that, if he couldn’t get out of the train, how would a robber or murderer have gotten in?

    3. Well if they are running on the first two AM SOUNDERs from Tacoma, it could be possible. I saw that when I rode the back-haul to the temp job I had in Kent in September and October, and there were a few people lingering on the train just getting off, and I was getting on about 1 minute to the doors being shut.

  3. More train news…there was a mudslide this morning between Seattle and Everett. Per BNSF’s 48-hour moratorium rule, Cascades and Empire Builder service will probably be bus-replaced as far as Everett. Anyone have any more info? Any news about Sounder for Monday morning? I’m having trouble getting any info about it.

    1. i was afraid of this. it was POURING in Vancouver, BC on thursday. we had a mudslide last monday just south of Bellingham. My train hit a tree and then they closed the line for 48 hours.

    2. I liked the story KING-5 had on it. According to them, the mudslide affects the Sounder train. No mention of BNSF or Amtrak. Just Sounder. Like they’re the only ones using those rails…

  4. Thanks to Mike Skehan for pointing out that Canadians do enjoy our NW beer. It made me thirsty just reading it! On the same sort of subject line, does the blog have a guide to eating along the Central Link route?

    1. Thanks bob, still drawing maps?
      Of course the beer run takes about 3 days, so, not quite up to HSR standards. But by the second day, who cares?

      1. Thanks Jason and AW. I am taking a group out from work and they specifically wanted to hit an eating spot along the mid section of the Link Line, this helps a lot.

      2. There are a ton of restaurants in Columbia City.

        The Beacon Hill Blog didn’t really address what is around Beacon Hill Station, but there are a few good places up there too. El Quetzal is much loved.

  5. That is quite possibly the worst done article on SLU ever. It was not a neighborhood upzone, it was one block for UW SLU Phase III. And we got a requirement for retail which I think is a big win.

      1. Just to the west of the UW Medicine Blue Flame Building, south of Mercer. Can’t remember the other streets around there.

  6. Seattle Likes Bikes has goals for 2010, a vision for 2020.

    The 2010 stuff looks like a baseline achieve or fail position to me. OK, I’m bias toward bikes. Yeah, the 2020 stuff was pie in the sky. Really, who has a crystal ball that sees that far into the future. I don’t agree with some of the stuff listed but for a bike advocacy group reaching “far into the future” I see it as just a poke in the saddle for discussion.

  7. Does anyone know if this loading bike in Ride Free Area only apply to Metro? How about Sound and Community Transits?



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