Can I borrow your kid? (commuter trains, bikes and strollers)

Coming from the Bay Area, I realized when I arrived in New York four years ago that I had been taking certain things for granted: cheap and bountiful year-round farmers markets, that my "winter jacket" consisted of a fleece pullover, and that you could bring bicycles on the commuter trains.
Ah CalTrain, and your dedicated bike cars, I miss you almost more than I miss being able to pick up a bottle of wine at the grocery store.
Metro North does allow bikes on some trains � as long as the train doesn�t enter or leave Grand Central between 5am and 10am or between 3pm and 8:15 pm or offer connecting service to a train that does. If you do want to bring your bicycle on one of these off-off peak trains, you must possess a reusable $5 bike permit, which must be procured by mail or from a Metro North station agent. Since I doubt the bike permit�s purpose is revenue generation, I�m not sure why Metro North bothers to require it, other than to prevent the dangerous "spontaneous" bike commuter or make it more difficult for people who commute from one of the Metro North stations without a station agent.
And even if you�ve got your permit and you�re attempting to board an off-off peak train, you may not make it. Metro North only allows a maximum four bikes per train and retains the right to refusal if the bike would interfere with the "safety and comfort of other customers." (I would like to argue that the public would be safer and more comfortable if MTA converted bar cars to bike cars because drunk bankers are more detrimental to public safety, but I�ve learned that since bankers usually get what they want it�s better not to pit your interest against theirs).
To their credit, Metro North now does allow folding bikes on any train, which is helpful for the lucky few who own, or can afford to purchase, a folding bike. And this past January Metro North announced the installation of bike hooks on M7 trains (Harlem and Hudson lines). According to their press release the bike hooks are "located in the area designated for wheelchairs" and so must be vacated if a disabled rider boards the train. Bikes are still only allowed on off-off peak trains.
I called the MTA press office this morning to inquire about the current status of the bike-hook pilot program and was told that the MTA is still collecting feedback from cyclists on the usefulness of the hooks. There are no plans yet to expand the program, nor has a timeline been set for the completion of the pilot phase. With the current MTA budget crisis, their spokesperson told me, bike hooks are really not a top priority.
Until the lawmakers in Albany start properly funding the MTA, I have a theory I'd like to test out. When I encounter a woman with a Hummer-stroller on Metro North, I always wonder how exactly MTA employees distinguish between a stroller and bicycle. If the average Hummer-stroller takes up more cubic space than a bicycle, what would the MTA say if you told them your bicycle was your stroller? Strap a seat on, stick a baby in it, and voila � the bike-stroller. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to convince any of my friends with kids to lend me the tots for an afternoon for a test-run.

0 Response to "Can I borrow your kid? (commuter trains, bikes and strollers)"

Post a Comment