Is MARTA really SMARTA for cyclists?
I have been riding my bike and using MARTA for a little over 3 years now. What started as a way to exercise has turned into a way of life in regards to my commute to and from work (as well as other activities in my life.) But during those 3 years I have often questioned whether or not MARTA was supportive of cyclists. So I decided to do some research over the web and see how MARTA compare to other transit systems. The links to all the sites I used are at the end of the post.
First thing I compared was bikes and buses. MARTA is on par with all the other systems I compared that have buses (BART and MTA are primarily rail systems.) MUNI in San Francisco does state that bikes are not allowed on Historic Streetcars, Cable Cars, and Muni Metro Light Rail Vehicles as they do not have bike racks. Most systems utilize the bike racks on the front of the buses. And at one time, the San Diego required a permit to have a bike on the system, but they no longer have that requirement.
The next item I compared was bikes on trains. MARTA is one of the few systems that will allow bikes on the trains at all times with little or no restrictions. Below is a breakdown in regards to other systems;
- BART allows bikes on the trains with the exception of the first car, and has special restrictions during commute hours.
- In Boston, bikes, with the exception of folding bikes, are not allowed on the Green Line, the Mattapan Trolley, or the Silver Line. (Note: The Green Line is the busiest subway line in the US.) Also, a maximum of two (2) bikes are allowed on each car on Blue, Red and Orange Line trains only.
- On the DC Metro, bicycles are permitted on Metrorail (limited to two bicycles per car) weekdays except 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Like MARTA, they ask that you keep the doors and aisles clear.
- In San Diego, all trolley lines and all Trolley stops can accommodate bicycles.
- On the New york City system, they ask you to stand near either end of the subway car. Never put your bicycle where it blocks the aisle or doors - you'll create an obstacle. If the only available space is near the door, the train is too crowded. Wait for the next uncrowded train. But other than that, bikes are allowed on the subway.
- And finally, in San Francisco, as i mentioned earlier, bikes are not allowed on the trains / subway cars.
MARTA seems to be on par with other systems as well. My only complaint, I wish they would designate areas for cyclists like they do for seating for the elderly and disabled. Many times people are standing in the area behind the train operator booth and it makes it difficult to bring my bike on board. MARTA asks that bikes do not block the aisle of the doors. And I have noticed an increase in the number of cyclists using MARTA
The last area I looked at was bike racks and bike storage. In this area, MARTA seems to be sub-par. I uses the East Point and Lindbergh stations on a regular basis and bike parking is non-existent in or around the entrance to the stations. (NOTE: There is bike parking in the parking decks at Lindbergh - But they are not located near the entrance to the stations.) At the East Point station I have seen many bikes chained to the inside fences of the station. Obviously there is a need for racks that someone at MARTA is not seeing. This seems to be a hit or miss in regards to what stations have racks, and are they accessible and usable.
- On BART, bikes must be parked in racks and lockers. Bikes parked against poles, fences or railings will be removed. In fact BART has some new electronic bike racks.
- As far as Boston goes; bike racks are located at most T stations and more are being added. (I noticed the large number of bike racks while i was in Boston earlier this year.)
- In Washington DC, the site does not mention bike racks or lockers.
- San Diego has bike racks at all trolley stations. (Again, having been out there recently, I can say there are plenty of well maintained bike racks.)
- Could not find info on the NYC system. Anyone have information that they can share?
- MUNI - San Francisco - Bikes are not allowed on the trains, but many of the trains share a station with BART so there are usually bike racks available. Also in San Francisco, there are bike racks all over the city. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition carries a lot of political weight and is not afraid to use it.
So is MARTA really SMARTA for cyclists?? I would have to say yes. There are some shortcomings in regards to bike storage at the stations. And they do need to designate areas for cyclists on the trains, but overall, they seem to be very bike friendly. They are comparable to most of the major transit systems in the US. Thanks MARTA for helping cyclists to make a difference in the quality of life, and the air we breath in Atlanta.
MUNI (San Francisco) - http://www.sfmta.com/cms/bcomm/BikesonMuni.htm
MBTA (Boston) - http://www.mbta.com/riding_the_t/bikes/
Metro (Washington DC) - http://www.wmata.com/riding/bike/index.cfm
MTS (San Diego) - http://www.sdmts.com/Bikes_onboard.asp
MTA - (NYC) - http://www.mta.info/nyct/safety/bike/