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New BART rules make it easier to bring bikes on trains

A BART rider takes a bicycle up the elevator at Civic Center Station on Jan. 9, 2024. New bike rules passed by BART's Board of Directors last year went into on New Year's Day.
A BART rider takes a bicycle up the escalator at Civic Center Station on Tuesday. Bikes are now allowed on escalators at most BART stations. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

BART riders with bicycles can now use the escalators in most stations around the transit system under new rules that went into effect this month.

The new rules also allow riders to take their bicycles into all train cars except the lead and strap their bicycles to lean bars instead of having to hold them. The changes were approved by the BART Board of Directors in September 2023 and took effect on Jan. 1.

The only stations where bicycles are not allowed on escalators are the 19th Street Oakland, Antioch and Oakland Airport Connector stations, which have narrower escalators, the transit agency said. Prior to the rule change, bikes were only allowed on elevators and staircases.

A BART public service announcement on a BART car on Tuesday, January 9, 2024 informing riders that bikes are permitted on escalators within BART stations. At the beginning of 2024, BART has allowed riders take their bicycles, scooters, etc. on escalators.
A public service announcement inside a BART car informs riders that bikes are permitted on escalators. | Source: RJ Mickelson/The Standard

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The changes are meant to ease access for riders who bring their bicycles aboard trains.

“Carrying bikes up and down stairwells can be difficult and not all bikes fit in our elevators,” BART Director Rebecca Saltzman said in a statement. “Updating our rules will make BART easier to use for cyclists and families bringing bikes on the train. Bikes play an important role in getting people out of their cars and on public transit and these updated rules encourage environmentally friendly multimodal travel options.”

Kennedie Fontenot, who often uses her bike to get around San Francisco, said she was happy about the news and believes it is a step in the right direction for those who cycle and use public transportation.

“I have asthma, so it is hard for me to have to go up and down these stairs while carrying a bike,” Fontenot told The Standard while inside Powell Street Station. “Now we just have to hope that escalators will be in service.”

New signage on an escalator at Embarcadero BART station  in San Francisco indicating bikes are allowed on escalators on Tuesday, January 9, 2024. At the beginning of 2024, BART has allowed riders take their bicycles, scooters, etc. on escalators.
New signage on an escalator at the Embarcadero BART station indicates that bikes are allowed on escalators. | Source: RJ Mickelson/The Standard

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She said the change will also make BART safer for non-bike riders who use the stairs.

“If you are on the escalators, you won’t have to be constantly moving, and you can stand in one place,” Fontenot said.

Erron Norfleet agreed that allowing riders to bring bicycles on escalators would increase the safety for non-bicyclists inside stations.

“There are a lot of stations in San Francisco with stairs that, even without bicycles, are hard to climb,” Norfleet told The Standard as he rode the escalator at Civic Center Station.

Although the new BART bike rules expand where bikes are permitted around the system, bicycles are still not permitted in crowded train cars. Bicyclists must also yield priority seating to seniors and people with disabilities, and those under the age of 14 must have an adult present with them.

Joel Umanzor can be reached at jumanzor@sfstandard.com