Interbike Blog

San Diego Looking to Limit Bikes on Trains

Surprised to see a photo of a bike commuter on a a train on the cover of this morning’s North County section of San Diego’s Union Tribune newspaper. “That’s great!” I thought at first. Then I read the headline: Cutting back on bikes onboard – Officials cite safety in limiting number to 4 per car on train” Just what I was afraid of with the huge growth in bike/train commuting recently.

Photo by CHARLIE NEUMAN / Union-Tribune

Photo by CHARLIE NEUMAN / Union-Tribune

The story deals with the recently inaugurated Sprinter light rail line launched earlier this year in northern San Diego County. I haven’t had a chance to ride it yet, though I suppose I could take it to my current Metrolink train in Oceanside. There’s been criticism that the line is a “train to nowhere” from Escondido to Oceanside, California. As a result, apparently many more than expected (upwards of 12 per car, according to the article) are bringing their bikes on board to complete their journeys at either end.

“We have really been overwhelmed with bikes so far – more than we expected,” district spokesman Tom Kelleher said. “It’s a pleasant dilemma.”

I agree – this is a “pleasant dilemma” to have, right? This is a great sign and takes the mission of a light rail system one step further: people leave their cars behind even to get to and from the train. With the encouragement of this great participation by cyclists, all that’s needed is a creative and “pleasant” solution. Unfortunately, we’re dealing with government bureaucrats here. Their answer to so many bikes on the trains: limit them to 4 citing safety reasons. The transit district is also proposing that bikers just use the 278 bike lockers installed at the stations along the route. Yeah, no need for your bike at the other end of the line in a suburban setting…

The limit is planned to go into effect on July 1st.

“On July 1 there are a lot of people who just won’t ride the Sprinter anymore, which is just going to be unfortunate,” Keehan said. “It’s not good for the transit rider or the transit district to not accommodate those riders.”

The commenter “Left Coast” summed up the situation best and provided the best solution:

so let’s see, right at one of the MOST significant times in public transit history, where they have the greatest opportunity to increase ridership, and help the environment, what do these dummies do?!

ENCOURAGE people to bring bikes… many, many bikes. make one of the cars one big bike rack. think you idiots, THINK! stop being bureaucrats for once in your lives.

I just hope Metrolink doesn’t get any ideas from their peers to the south and try something like this. I really like the idea of making one of the cars “one big bike rack.” I chat with a fellow bike commuter on the platform, but when the train comes we have to split up so that we won’t compete for the limited bike racks. Would be great if we could ride on the train with the other bikers.

To end this post, I’ll leave you with one final comment to help frame the situation with a bit of humor:

Pack the train with bikes and people! It is not about comfort it is about saving fuel!
In 3rd world countries you could be setting next to a box of chickens or a pig head.

Posted In: Advocacy


  1. In the Bay Area right now we’re fighting to keep what we have and even look at increasing capacity of possible. I was bumped from two trains on Wednesday before I was finally able to get on the third train.

  2. Bloomberg, the Mayor of New Yawk, recently said that bikes should not be allowed on Subways. Currently you can bring a bike on a subway at any time of day. Given that buses in NYC do not have bike racks, it is a good thing that Bloomie doesn’t have the authority to act on this particular whim.