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Ever take your bike on Link Light Rail? How did it go?

I’ve actually never taken my bike on the light rail. I guess it has never come up. The bike/bus combo is close to my heart, but I don’t really take the light rail all that often.

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Sound Transit sent out an alert yesterday that said:

Travelers LOVE Link light rail. So, as a reminder during the busy travel season, bicyclists and passengers with luggage may use the bicycle storage area next to the doors on a first-come, first-served basis. In addition, luggage should not be stored in the ADA seating area, but can be stored under your seat.

When I read this I thought, Oh! Travelers LOVE Link Light Rail. That’s great. But are bikes getting in the way or something? Then you read Sound Transit’s rules, and they say that only four bikes are allowed in a train car at the same time. So if you get on and there were already four there, do you have to get off at the next stop? Is there a fight to the death to see who stays?

I’m sure people just work it out and it’s fine, but it is an odd rule, right? There are other systems that don’t allow bicycles at all, so maybe four bike per car is actually really high. Seattle Likes Bikes has had some issues with the bike/Link experience:

The only location I’ve found that works is against whichever doors are not going to open at the next station. For instance, when traveling south from the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT), by standing against the left side doors you have to contend with traffic only at the center stations.

So I put it all you out there: How would you rate your experiences bringing a bike on the light rail? What works, what doesn’t? If you’ve found a winning strategy, let us know.

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9 responses to “Ever take your bike on Link Light Rail? How did it go?”

  1. tonya

    I use light rail with my bike all the time, and luggage in the bicycle area is a horrible pet peeve. You can’t sit down in another seat with your bike. You can with luggage. It’s already tricky enough when you *can* get your bike on the hook … people still have to dodge it (and I ride a tiny 47cm road bike). So yes, I think they can do better and perhaps if they design different cars in the future they can consider that. I’m not holding my breath, though.

    However, it’s still better than a bus in that you can fit as many bikes as you want on the train. Yes, it gets in the way of regular folk, but if you’re alert and kind about it most people don’t mind too terribly much. Better than waiting for a bus that doesn’t have room for your bike!

  2. Andreas

    I took my bike on Link once. When I got to the station I looked for info on bikes, and read that the doors nearest the hooks would have a bicycle symbol, so after I carried my bike up the stairs, I waited, and when a train came I went to the doors with the symbols. Then I got confused. I was expecting something like they have on MAX (which I used on a trip to Portland once): a large, clearly marked area right inside the door. Instead, I saw nothing. Thankfully the train was pretty much empty, so stood with my bike in the wheelchair zone.

    A station or two later, I saw a guy loading his bike on a train going the opposite direction and once I knew where to look, I finally noticed the little bicycle symbol at about waist height on the divider that separates the bike area from the doorway. All I could think was, WTF? The bike area is tiny as hell, its orientation ensures that handlebars & seats project into the aisle, and that divider makes it difficult to get in & out of the area. I mean, how the hell are you supposed to get your bike in & out of that area if a train is crowded? That divider shouldn’t be there, and the hanger should be rotated 90 degrees so that you can just roll your bike in and not have to use the aisle at all to get your bike on & off.

    Also, I think it’s worth comparing TriMet’s bicycle page to ST’s. TriMet has a separate page just for MAX, with train car diagrams, a full picture of the bike loading area, and a video, though the video doesn’t actually show someone physically hanging up a bike on MAX. ST’s bike page has mostly text and a tiny shot of the hanging area, which is not very helpful. A simple 1-minute video that shows someone entering a car and actually hanging their bike up would go a long way.

    1. Andreas

      I kinda misplaced that second link. Oops.

  3. Shirley

    My husband occasionally uses the light rail with his bike to get to work and he is 6’4 so he has a HUGE bike. When he puts the bike on the hanging hook the bike ends up taking up a large portion of the aisle. People have a hard time getting by even with my tiny bike. I think that the bike storage should have been better modeled after the train system in San Francisco. If you decided or you can’t put your bike in the storage area then you have to block that door opening and feel like a jerk when you are stuck there.

  4. I take my bike on Link very frequently, and there is usually not a problem with the process. I was dismayed by this announcement, though, because the bike hooks beat the floor for bikes by a wider margin than they do for luggage. I have been of the opinion that the two seats across from the bike hooks should be replaced with a luggage rack.

  5. Encouraging folks with luggage to use the area where bicycle hooks are is a bad idea. I agree with Tonya: Folks with Luggage can put it under their seat, on an empty seat, or stand by the door with it. If you’re there with a bike, you don’t have as many options.

    I was on a Link train last week that I swear had more luggage on it than people – Thankfully everybody was just using empty seats near them to haul their luggage. (The train was about half full since it was the middle of the day.

  6. all I gotta say is… I can’t wait for the U-Link to open so I can easily get from home (Capitol Hill) to the Burke Gilman, without having to ride up and down the hill.

    1. Andreas

      Hey, once they’re done with all the repaving on 10th, riding down the hill should be kinda fun. Riding up, on the other hand, will always be a pain in the ass.

  7. Emily

    I am flying into Seattle in a couple weeks and plan on taking the light rail. I was worried about luggage, so I looked on the official website. It says that luggage is to be stored in the bike area, so people are juzt following directions!

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