MTA Launches Bike-and-Ride Web Site

mtagrab.jpgIn honor of Bike Month, the MTA last week unveiled a new web site that promotes bike-and-ride commuting while providing a one-stop source for info on the numerous logistical hurdles faced by cycling customers. "MTA+Bike" was launched on Friday.

On this website … travelers can obtain information about policies for bringing bikes on board the New York City Subway, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and Staten Island Railway and can learn about the availability of bike lockers near regional railroad stations and bike lanes on bridges operated by MTA Bridges & Tunnels.

The site also announces two "recently clarified" policies:

  • Folding bikes, appropriately folded, are considered luggage and not subject to rules governing standard frame bicycles. Therefore, folding bicycles can be brought on board local buses as if they were a backpack or suitcase. They can also be brought aboard LIRR and Metro-North trains at any time without a permit and are best stored in the overhead luggage racks. Conventional bikes are not allowed on board buses operated by New York City Transit, the MTA Bus Company or Long Island Bus.
  • Bicycles can be brought aboard the Staten Island Railway except on rush-hour trains traveling in the peak direction.

It’s nice to see MTA acknowledging bike-and-ride like this, and it would be even better if the agency would partner with DOT on siting additional bike parking near train stations. While the city is working on measures that would make it easier for cyclists to find secure parking at the workplace, as previewed by DOT’s Josh Benson last week, for cyclists who need to park before riding, or who won’t benefit from new zoning that might require indoor parking, here is what MTA+Bike has to say:

Bicycle racks provided by the New York City Department of Transportation are available
near many Subway entrances. Bicycles chained to Subway entrance railings will
be removed
and delivered to the Lost Property Unit (212-712-4500), so please lock up your
bike appropriately.

  • Michael1

    I think the MTA may have some underlying terrorist/security reason for that. I think the MTA should increase outdoor parking shelters and racks to compensate for the demand instead of threatening cyclists who lock on subway entrances. They do it because bike parking is scarce. If they had the infrastructure then they wouldn’t do it. Then, they wouldn’t be wasting their money and resources trying to cut them off and send them to Lost & Found. The MTA should think before they talk when it comes to things like this since they are notorious for keeping empty promises.

  • BKcommuter

    I think it’s appalling that the _huge_ MTA-owned (though not MTA-operated) Battery Parking Garage has no provision for bicycle parking.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The MTA is really the agency that needs to implement some kind of Velib plan for its commuter rail riders.

    That would allow them to ride to their home station, lock their own bike, travel to NYC, and used a borrowed bike to complete their trip to work, instead of bringing a bike on the train.

  • gecko

    The MTA should follow the lead of Commissioner Sadik-Khan and the NYC DOT and aggressively act to make cycling work a lot better in this town.

    Requests for proposals, design competitions, and project opportunity notices (PONS) similar to a current one at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) are good places to start:

    “PON 1217 ADVANCED ENERGY SYSTEMS FOR NYC PASSENGER MASS TRANSIT

    The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Program Opportunity Notice (PON) 1217 seeks proposals to support activities leading to the study, development, qualification and/or demonstration of innovative products and systems that reduce the energy use of passenger transit systems under the jurisdiction of the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).”

    http://www.nyserda.org/funding/funding.asp?i=2

  • gecko

    Re: #4 “The MTA . . . , A “Not-Just-Parking” MTA Bike Center at 16th and Union Square West (the old Zen Palate) with cycle tracks up and down Second and Third Avenues (provided by DOT) would be a good start.

    Should there still not be enough space for bike parking at Union Square, local car garages could also be put into service where conceivably, bike parking might bring in more income since a lot of bikes can fit into an automobile parking space. Collaborative efforts with local health clubs such as the YMCA, Equinox, etc. for showers, lockers, etc. could provide additionl local amenities and income.

    A significant success in this trial might suggest setting aside dedicated “cyclist cars” on various subway lines like the “L”.

  • MTA + Walk

    Next they can do a little for the 99% of transit riders who walk.

  • gecko

    #6. MTA+Walk, You’re right, transit is essentially mixed mode where walking plays an important part (a hybrid system not broadly acknowledged and thereby unoptimized) but possibly in part, 99% of transit riders walk because cycling is not convenient or practical even though much of transit in this city is not terribly pleasurable and over capacity especially, the Lexington Avenue line.

    It’s kind of amazing how crowded the Lexington Avenue line is even at 6 o’clock in the morning. At the projected $2 billion per mile for the Second Avenue Subway, it should be worth trying less-costly options.

  • spike

    The MTA still has a long way to go, but It is great to see some changes happening after a decade of inaction under Pataki. One gets the sense that there may actually be people actually thinking about the customer at the MTA now.

  • Brownstone

    reply to #1
    Bike parking at station stair rails is largely a physical hazard problem with bicycles sticking out and tripping or catching people walking in crowded areas next to the stairs. Some bike handle bars are sticking through the railing at face level. Not good. Sloppy work by some cyclists makes us all look bad.
    But that is no excuse for the MTA to fail to safely meet the demand for bicycle parking at their stations. This long term ignorance of the need, recently tuning to active removal of bikes give an appearance of outright hostility to the idea of bicycles as access to and from rail and bus stops.
    The MTA has for many years had an ongoing multimillion dollar program to develop car parking at stations, but has no orgainized bike parking program and has hardly put a penny into bicycle parking.
    Benign neglect or deliberate hostility?

    One area where direct hostility reigns is in Grand Central Terminal and other major stations. The MTA police have determined that parked bicycles pose a major terrorist threat and cannot be parked in or adjacent to GCT. IT does not matter that an SUV packed with explosives can be parked where some of the bike parking is proposed, bikes are seen as the only danger. We are seen as the problem, not the solution.

    To #7:
    You may be right that a very large majority of transit riders walk to buses and trains, in large part this is simply because population density and the dense rail and bus network in the city makes this the best alternative. Though I doubt that this reaches 99% except for the Manhattan CBD.
    However, even within NYC, and certainly for commuter rail outside the city, there are many people living more than a 5 minute walk from the train. These are the bicycling target audience. In the city these people wait for buses or drive, in the burbs, they largely drive and park.

    In Denmark, Netherlands and Japan, numbers around 30 percent or more passengers use bicycles for transit access. These are locations with standards of living and weather not very different from NY. What is different is the attitude of the transit system and station area government towards bicycle parking.

    Repeated studies have shown that the single biggest block to bicycle commuting is not traffic safety – though quite important, not weather or clothing or sweat or hairdo, but the lack of secure bicycle parking. Bicycle commuting is only practical if you can expect to find the bicycle where you parked it, not vandalized or stolen, or “officially” removed. Where there is no designated parking, and the response to ad-hoc parking is bikes being cut and thrown away, there certainly will be little bike use to access transit.

    At suburban stations, if there is no way to secure a bicycle with a full set of night lighting to illuminate unlit roads, there will be little bicycle use to transit.

    If there is no way to secure a bicycle overnight at a station, there will be little reverse commuting to suburban office parks, schools and shops.

    I’m pleased that the MTA has combined all their bicycle policies in one place. But now we can focus on the gaps and limitations in their programs and policies and develop ways to fix those gaps.

  • drose

    I saw one other thing that Josh Benson mentioned last week that hasn’t been picked up on here yet: the temporary FDR roadway that was constructed during the FDR’s rehab will now be used as the missing link for the East Side Greenway b/w 61st and the 40’s. He didn’t say how long it would take to put this in place, but imagine he had authorization from on high to state this. Good news for those who have to ride on 1st/2nd Ave for now.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (the temporary FDR roadway that was constructed during the FDR’s rehab will now be used as the missing link for the East Side Greenway b/w 61st and the 40’s.)

    Please, no one tell Deborah Glick. She’ll make the remove the roadway, because it was supposed to be temporary, and do a multi-year, multi-million dollar EIS before putting it back.

  • This is terrific news for folding bicycle riders! But why do people need a permit to bring a standard bicycle on board a Metro-North train? Are there really so many people trying to bring bicycles on board that there’s not enough room to accommodate them? It sounds like another policy designed to hassle cyclists.

  • Steven Faust, AICP

    The Verrazano-Narrows bridge has never been completed – it stands unfinished after 45 years.

    The bridge was designed to include 2 walk/bike pathways, similar to those on the George Washington Bridge’s upper level.

    New Yorkers of a certain age still remember protesting the 1964 opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, because Moses would not complete the designed bicycle and pedestrian paths across the Narrows. We learned in 1963 that Moses told Othmar Ammann to remove the paths, so that bad publicity from possible suicides would not impact his TBTA bond ratings. Removing the paths did not stop suicides; people just drive up, usually during rush hours, block traffic, and then jump.

    The things Moses did manage to stop were the tourists (who spend money) that would come for the World Class View from Longest Bridge in the World (it would be the longest with a path); failure to add 2 miles of new path connecting to the South Beach paths and more on Staten Island, serving the recreational walkers, runners and bicyclists who already make intense use of Brooklyn’s Shore Parkway walk/run/bike path; and stopped the many commuters who would forgo congested expensive driving for the option of bicycling between Staten Island and Brooklyn free of tolls and congestion and parking problems.

    Traffic counts show that 10 percent of VNB traffic has door-to-door trip distances under 8 miles. This is well within bicycling distance and is competitive in time to driving, given growing congestion and parking limitations and is faster than the bus. The bridge crossing is 2 miles (street to street), which is less than a half mile longer than the 1.5 mile path on the Brooklyn Bridge, hardly a restriction. In the past 40 years, over one million runners and bicyclists have crossed the VNB during the NYC Marathon and the Five Boro Bike Tour, on just 2 days every year.

    Completing the VNB walk/bike pathways will offer a direct auto free and toll free option for travel across the Narrows and a world class recreation-tourist attraction.

    It will also provide a viable emergency route for Staten Island residents during the next blackout or disaster evacuation. Right now, we can walk home from Manhattan to all the other boroughs, but we cannot walk home to S.I. At least, the MTA should have a plan to handle emergency evacuation on foot and bike. During the 2003 Blackout, the MTA police blocked the bridge to pedestrians and thousands of S.I.’s were trapped in Bay Ridge with no way to walk home.

    The NYC Department of City Planning has performed the engineering study for completing these VNB paths, and found it can be done, for a total of $26 million, less than one third of what was spent on the SI baseball stadium.

    After more than 40 years, it’s time to complete the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

    Between The Bronx and Queens, the Triborough Bridge provides a crossing at the western end. Up until 1946, the Bronx-Whitestone had both bicycle and pedestrian access. This was removed to add two traffic lanes and add truss stiffeners. The Throgs Neck Bridge opened in 1964 without any paths. Today, the Bronx-Whitestone has no structural capacity to restore the paths, but the Throgs Neck should have enough strength to carry a path. In the meantime, there should be full time bicycle racks on the bus routes that cross these bridges.

    The MTA is trying to be Green. That should mean doing more than using LED necklace lights on the VNB to save electricity – it means opening up these great cross city bridges to non-motorized traffic. That can save serious amounts of gas, cut CO2 emissions, cut congestion and provide healthy exercise, all for a few million dollars.
    That’s what complete bicycle access can produce.

  • Steven, well said and I couldn’t agree more. A few points:

    1. Regarding the Bronx-Whitestone bridge, why can’t the two traffic lanes added in 1946 be restored to cycling and pedestrian paths?

    2. I loved riding across the VNB during the 5 Boro. On the three bridges in question, why aren’t cyclists allowed to cross them riding in traffic?

    3. To expand your point about full-time bike racks on bridge buses, ultimately the city should have bike racks on all buses, but I would additionally prioritize full-time bike racks on express buses (which don’t even allow folding bicycles on board). Actually, do *any* city buses currently have bike racks? I haven’t noticed any, but I mostly use the subways.

  • Steven Faust, AICP

    to Urbanis # 14
    1. Pulling back 2 of the 6 motor lanes from the Bx-W bridge would be a tough haul. It is more practical to adda path to the TNeck. The two bridges are fairly close together, and the TN is the most eastern crossing.

    2. Bikes on bridge roadways. The VNB and TN have just about wide enough lanes, but bad expansion joints. Still, there is about 36 ft for 3 lanes, and dropping the lanes to 10.5 ft to get a 4.5 ft bike lane leaves things tight for trucks and buses. Current construction leaves even less lane space. Not all cyclists can manage a narrow lane, and there would still be no place for pedestrians. Putting a path up between the cables – as originally designed – would not need any space form the motor lanes. The paths would ADD total bridge capacity, make the pie bigger and not have to cut back on one mode for the other. If Manhattan auto decongestion is going to work, then the VNB has to be available for motor traffic to bypass Manhattan.

    3. NYC is the last major US city not to have bus bike racks. Bike racks have become the standard on nearly all transit systems around the country, small to large. Even NJ Transit runs into Philadelphia with bike racks.
    There was a few years that the Triboro Coach buses on the Whitestone Bridge mounted bike racks. But not every bus had a rack and the service was not well advertised. Since the NYCTA took over the private bus lines, there has not been racks on that route. I don’t know what the ridership was or if there ware any other issues, but since cyclists might have a long wait for a rack equipped bus, I doubt that they had a lot of riders. I also doubt they had any problems. Anyone have hard data on the B-W bike bus?
    Old history – 1977 the MTA NYCTA ran a weekend bike bus on the VNB. It carried some 1800 riders, who carried their bikes up onto the bus and out again. No riders or bike or the bus were hurt all summer. The hours were 8am to 4pm, only weekends, so the bus stopped running long before dark, and was useless for commuters. The NYCTA was not satisfied with the ridership and ended the service at the end of the summer.

    Today, putting bike racks and a bike-inside-bus for the VNB buses would be a good fast start to providing VNB bike access. Bikes inside the buses could be carried on a space available basis, from the last stop before the bridge to the first stop across the bridge. That should eliminate problems with bikes bothering inside bus passengers. The City Planning study recommended the bus bike racks as the first step to full VNB access.

  • @Steven #15, Thank you for your thoughtful and informative response. I am in 100% agreement that pedestrian and bicycle paths need to be added to the VNB. The question I was asking is why, without changing current lane allocation, cyclists are not permitted to ride in regular mixed-use traffic lanes across the bridge. In the city, cyclists can ride in any traffic lane, not just dedicated bike lanes. Or is the volume and speed of automobile traffic on the VNB simply too dangerous for most cyclists?

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