Bike-n-ride for beginners
by Emily Aplin
Combining bicycles with public transportation can save both time and money, but it can also be intimidating. Even without the bike, there are schedules and routes to figure out and procedures to follow when getting on and off the bus or train. Add in the cumbersome two-wheeler and the task can seem overwhelming.
But bringing your bike on a bus or train doesn’t have to be stressful. With this guide to biking and riding, you can use public transportation in new ways, and you’ll be wondering why you didn’t start sooner.
Most UTA buses are equipped with racks that can hold up to two bikes at a time. Bus drivers may allow riders to carry their bikes inside the bus if the racks are full and the bus isn’t too crowded, according to UTA spokesperson Carrie Bohnsack-Ware.
The bike racks are easy to use, said Jackie Briggs, a frequent bus and bike rider. “The bus drivers are really nice, too. I didn’t know how to load my bike the first time, and the driver got out and showed me,” she said.
For illustrated instructions on loading your bike onto the bus racks, visit UTA’s website at www.rideuta.com. I
After securing your bike on the bike rack, make sure to pick up a bike card from the driver. It reminds both of you that you have a bike to unload from the bus when you reach your destination. Return the card to the driver as you exit, so the bus won’t pull away before you can get your bike.
On TRAX, you take the bike with you inside the train. Each train car can accommodate up to four bikes, two at the front end and two at the back end. The doors on the train have pictures of bikes to indicate where bikers should enter. Once inside the train, bikers must stand with their bikes at all times, making sure that the bike does not block other passengers from boarding and exiting the train.
Briggs said she has taken her bike on TRAX a few times. Her only complaint is that some mornings there are too many bikes getting on the train to go to the U. If you plan to take your bike to the U on TRAX, keep in mind that it could be a crowded ride, and you might end up waiting for the next train.
Bicycles are also allowed on FrontRunner trains’ lower levels. All seats on the lower level fold up, so there is plenty of room. Bohnsack-Ware said that since FrontRunner started running in May, they’ve had no problems accommodating riders who bring their bikes on the trains.
Depending on how you decide to integrate bike riding with public transportation, the bike lockers that UTA recently installed at various TRAX and Frontrunner stops may be a convenient option. Lockers can be rented for an annual fee of $75, which includes a $65 refundable deposit for the key. Contact Pat Dierks at UTA for more information or to reserve a locker.
“I don’t think people realize how convenient bikes are if TRAX doesn’t stop right at your doorstep,” said Bohnsack-Ware. “With gas prices the way they’re going, people are looking at alternative ways to get where they need to go. It’s a good opportunity to see if using a bike with public transportation can work for you.” u
Emily Aplin is a recent graduate of the University of Utah. She lives downtown with her husband, and takes full advantage of public transportation whenever possible.