Pick a Bike Rack for Caltrain’s Electric Trains

Caltrain Wants your Help Designing the New Fleet's Bike Cars

The 'hybrid option" could include one row of these angled bike racks that allow cyclists to remove and load bikes without leaning bikes on top of one another. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless otherwise indicated
The 'hybrid option" could include one row of these angled bike racks that allow cyclists to remove and load bikes without leaning bikes on top of one another. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless otherwise indicated

Caltrain is displaying three different bike racks today until 7 p.m and tomorrow from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 4th and King. They’re asking riders to check them out and vote on what kind of bike rack storage they want on the railroad’s new electric trains, coming some time in 2019. The options are to either keep bike cars more or less as they are now, where cyclists stack their bikes up along a rail, or adding some bike racks – either with angled parking or suspended from hooks.

Elizabeth Amezcua, who was there for Caltrain, said most interest so far seemed to be in a hybrid solution, where some of the bikes would continue to be stacked against a railing and some would go into the more advanced bike holding systems as seen in the photos above and below:

Many Caltrain customers were concerned that people wouldn't have the strength to lift bikes into this vertical hanger, even though it was the most space efficient
Many Caltrain customers were concerned that people wouldn’t have the strength to lift bikes into this vertical hanger, even though it would be space efficient

She added that the traditional against-the-railing storage was generally more popular with people traveling long distances. “Like from San Jose to San Francisco,” she explained.

She also said there would be two bike cars on each six-car consist, with bike space in the lower level and seating on the top level and at the ends. The result will be between 68 and 72 bikes per train, or (claims Caltrain) about an 8 to 12 percent increase over bike space for current trains, according to the website. To put that in historical perspective, a few years ago, some Caltrain consists carried only 16 bikes. UPDATE: Since current Caltrain consists can carry up to 80 bikes, it’s not clear how they are claiming an increase in bike capacity. Streetsblog is looking into this and will update accordingly.

Aleta Dupree, a Caltrain customer who was passing through, said she was most impressed with option three, the arrangement in the lead photo. “Bike storage is very important because bikes are an important part of a ‘transit first’ policy,” she said.

Amezcua sitting between the bike displays during a slow period at King Street Station.
Amezcua sitting between the bike displays during a slow period at King Street Station.

Steve Ulrich, a Caltrain conductor, said he has concerns about the vertical storage solution. He finds that people already have trouble lifting their bikes up the stairs on the existing trains and vertical hangers could cause delays. “We’re not supposed to help people but we do…and it delays trains,” he explained.

Caltrain conductor Steve Ulrich wants a solution that's easy for passengers to load into and out of
Caltrain conductor Steve Ulrich wants a solution that’s easy for passengers to load into and out of

Amezcua said there were about 30 people who stopped by to try out the racks and vote during morning rush, but that she expected more during the evening rush, when people aren’t all scrambling to get to work.

Caltrain’s displays will be up tomorrow/Thursday as well, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 pm., with future opportunities to see them and try them out as follows:

  • August 14 – Try out the bike rack samples and vote! 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
    Redwood City Station
  • August 15 – Try out the bike rack samples and vote! 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    Palo Alto Station
  • August 18 – Try out the bike rack samples and vote! 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    Menlo Park Block Party, Santa Cruz Avenue

You can comment and vote at the displays, or, of course, make your thoughts known online on the CalModTrains website.

And be sure to let us know which bike rack design you prefer. Comment below.

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Caltrain will add a third bike car to all six of its Bombardier trains, Executive Director Michael Scanlon announced at the transit agency’s monthly board of directors meeting last week. With the new cars, bike capacity will increase from 48 to 72 on each of the Bombardier trains. But it could take up to one year […]