Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taking Your Bike on Rapid Transit - Sub, El, PATCO and Rt 100

Frequent schedules and high platforms are the advantages of taking your bike on these lines. It is also easier to travel in small groups since cyclists can disperse on multiple rail cars.

ADA accessible stations offer the best bike access, in most cases you can roll your bike through a fare gate and take an elevator to the platform. Older turnstile stations with steps are still quite difficult for those who have trouble lifting their bike. Fixies and lighter road bikes work well on these old rail lines.

One mode of travel that can't take your bike along on is the trolley. Don't bother trying to take the 15, 101, 102 or Subway Surface (green) lines. Technically even your folding bike is not allowed, but this is rarely enforced. We would also like to see that rule abolished.

Broad St Subway (BSS) and the Market Frankford El (MFL) - Bikes are allowed at all times except weekdays 6-9 AM and 3-6 PM. All stations have high platforms but turnstiles are a barrier. Some stations have doors or wheelchair gates but you often have to signal to the token booth clerk to open it. They don't always cooperate.

On the El it is recommended that you stand in the vestibule on the left (port) side doors of the train as most of the station platforms are on the starboard side. Subway trains are wider and generally standing with your bike is not an issue.

Market Frankford El

Trying to force a full size bike into a wheelchair space on the Market Frankford El

Crowds can be a problem at any time, wait for the next train if you cannot safely board. Don't forget that on these lines SEPTA allows two bikes per car.

Norristown High Speed Line (Route 100)
Same hours as the El and Subway, however it is two bikes per train on weekdays and 5 bikes per train on weekends. Bicycles must move to the back of the train where there is more room. Access is generally easy although some stations have an inordinate number of steps.

On rare occasions drivers will ask where you are getting off and open the rear doors for you. Any operator that does this deserves a commendation comment to customer service.

PATCO High Speed Line
Overall PATCO offers the best access-modern faregates and smartcards. There are no time restrictions. 5 stations have elevator access 15th-16th Locust, 8th and Market, Broadway, Woodcrest and Lindenwold. Stairs are the only blemish at the other stations.

Rules are clearly marked on all trains, stand in the starboard side vestibule and be courteous.

Schuylkill River Trail -
MFL to 30th St
Rt 100 to Norristown Transportation Center

Cobbs Creek Bikeway
MFL 63rd St

Navy Yard, Stadiums
BSS to Pattison

Cooper River Park
PATCO to Collingswood or Haddonfield