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Bikes on the trains

I support this effort.

Electrified rail and bicycles are the two most efficient and least-polluting modes for moving people on land. Bicycles get you quickly to and from the local rail station; rail takes you miles without personal effort. Combining bikes and light rail would therefore seem like a “no brainer” as a way to induce Houstonians to give up their addiction to private internal combustion transport.

But did you know that regular bicycles are currently banned from Houston’s light rail trains during the all-important weekday commuter rush hour?* Furthermore, only two bikes are allowed on per train car, which are as many as are allowed on the bus bike racks… and each rail car holds many more people than the bus.

These timing and capacity limitations exist because Harris County METRO chose not to install vertical bike hangers on its first fleet of light rail cars. It is vitally important to change this mindset now before the coming massive build-out of Houston’s light rail fleet, which will take place during 2008 – 2012. If this once-in-a-generation opportunity is lost, we will not be able to have the same bicycle access to light rail enjoyed by other cities throughout the USA.

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If the train draws people riding bikes from one mile away to each station, it will be far more successful than if it were only able to draw pedestrians from a quarter-mile away. A one-mile radius circle has sixteen times more area than a quarter-mile radius circle, after all. It is extremely important that citizens make their preferences known to METRO. I am urging all cyclists, transit fans, and environmentalists to write to Mr. Frank Wilson, the CEO of METRO, to let him know that:

1. The new fleet of light rail cars needs vertical bike hangers, to hold as many as eight bikes per light rail car
2. The rush-hour bike prohibition needs to be lifted for suitably equipped train cars
3. Ample safe and secure bike parking needs to be provided at all transit stops (a mix of regular bike racks and totally enclosed, highly secure lockers)
4. The folding-bikes policy (unlimited times, unlimited numbers, must be covered) needs to be maintained

Please write a polite letter in your own words to Mr. Frank Wilson CEO, METRO, 1900 Main St., P.O. Box 61429 Houston, TX 77208-1429.

Sounds logical and reasonable to me. County Judge Ed Emmett is supposedly on board with this, so there is political support as well. If you’re a bike rider, or you just think this is a good idea, click over to learn more, and send a letter to Metro.

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