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Vashon and West Seattle Water Taxis can now take wide tire bikes (but still no long bikes)

Photo of a bike with wide tires secured in the Water Taxi bike section.
Photo from King County Metro.

The King County Water Taxi bike racks can now take bikes with tires as wide as 4.6 inches, nearly double the size of the old bike racks. This should significantly expand compatibility, especially as many of today’s most popular bikes (such as the Rad Power e-bike featured in King County’s blog post) have wide tires. The number of bike spaces remains the same at 26 per sailing.

This news comes on the heels of another great Water Taxi announcement: SDOT is funding an effort to maintain the Water Taxi’s summer service schedule through the fall and winter. This means service will continue its mid-day and weekend sailings. Combined with the better bike racks, more people in West Seattle will be able to rely on the bike/Water Taxi combo year-round.

While the new racks can accept wider tires, long bikes (including many family cargo bikes) are still not allowed on board. That limit is imposed due to the space available on the deck and the need to maintain accessible walking space.


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“While we are now allowing wide tire bicycles thanks to the newly modified onboard bike racks, we still cannot allow bikes longer than 73” or wider than 15”, because they impede access to: wheelchairs & other mobility devices, passenger boarding ramps, and emergency life raft loading stations,” said King County Metro.

More details from King County Metro:

They are designed to roll over most terrain, but “fat tire” bikes—including electric bikes—are not designed to fit into most standard bike racks. The West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxis have installed new bike racks that will hold both standard and “fat”—tire sizes as wide as 4.6 inches.

The popularity of bigger bikes, including electric bikes, has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Until now, the size of the tires on these bikes have prevented riders from boarding the Water Taxi, since for safety reasons, all bikes must be securely stowed, and previous bike racks were too narrow to accommodate tire widths over 2.5 inches.

The Water Taxi staff worked with bicycle storage experts Sportworks to find a solution.

The team designed racks that have been installed on the M/V Doc Maynard and M/V Sally Fox allowing them to accommodate multiple tire sizes. Each rack will hold nine fat tire bikes and have an overall capacity of 26 bikes regardless of tire width.

The water taxi is on its summer sailing schedule, and the City of Seattle and King County have reached an agreement to continue mid-day service seven-days-a-week this fall and winter.  Adult fare is $5.75 one way ($5.00 with an ORCA card). Customers with lower incomes, people with disabilities, seniors, and youth can apply for discount transit fares using the Reduced Fare Portal.


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2 responses to “Vashon and West Seattle Water Taxis can now take wide tire bikes (but still no long bikes)”

  1. Scott Otterson

    Will these racks take bikes with fenders or disks?

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      yes. The bike in the photo above has both fenders and disk brakes.

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