The Chainlink

So last Friday I am returning to home from Waukegan via Metra (which I was a fan of until this story) and the ornry train conductor tells me I CANNOT take my bike with me due to Lollapalooza. I ask him how I was allowed to take it on this morning to get here and he tells me that was up to the discretion of the conductor. I ask him if he can wait for me to lock up my bike and replys to me- if you hadn't been arguing with me this whole time you could have already been back on the train- and proceeds to leave without me.

Since the train only comes once an hour, I decided that a 40 mile commute home in the rain on my bike was the only acceptable alternative. What is wrong with people that the only power they can wield is over people and their bikes... PATHETIC. Never the less, just under 2.5 hrs later (with a head wind of course) I managed to get home. BASTARDS!

My wife has had similar problems with CTA drivers- now I am not dissing your job but come on- you don't need to treat people as if you lord over the world.

Oh and another thing- how many times am I almost going to get run over by bus driver trying to pull up to his next stop 2 seconds quicker by cutting me off every couple of stops???

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what he said.

amen brotha.

DB

shy do non-bike folks have to be such "jackHoles" anyway (I coined that term btw) - we are actually
making their (car / motor vehicle obsessed) life "better".

....and my friends make fun of me 'cuz I'm buying a sailboat for retirement.
Motor suck ! (my two motors are my left and right quad - ha ha)
I find that Metra's current bike policy is difficult to rely on to transport me and my bike, but I wonder if it reflects what they think their ridership wants. If they felt enough of their riders want a better bike policy it would be in their best interest to adopt one.

As for the CTA, I agree with h3. I've never had a problem with the train operators, even when disregarding the rush hour or bike limit per car rules. And I find that bus drivers usually drive with a fair amount of consideration when interacting with me on my bike. But I've also learned to anticipate what they might be doing, and I try to understand that their job isn't easy. If I see someone standing at a bus stop I assume that the bus will be slowing down and pulling over, and I adjust and signal accordingly. And depending on the situation (whether there is a bike lane, the behavior and position of other vehicles, etc.), I'll tend to pull up behind a bus at a stoplight instead of forcing them to hover behind me or try and pass me back three car lengths into the next block.
Metra is pretty random on their enforcement of bike policies. I have printed out the policy and usually have it in my bag.

In general, on the UP NOrth Line, the conductors have gotten better. You def have to pay attention to the daily blackout times and the summer festivals, though.

The main reason that I purchased a folding bike was due to not wanting to be stranded. I have found it a way to avoid hassles.

Rubani said:
I find that Metra's current bike policy is difficult to rely on to transport me and my bike, but I wonder if it reflects what they think their ridership wants. If they felt enough of their riders want a better bike policy it would be in their best interest to adopt one.

As for the CTA, I agree with h3. I've never had a problem with the train operators, even when disregarding the rush hour or bike limit per car rules. And I find that bus drivers usually drive with a fair amount of consideration when interacting with me on my bike. But I've also learned to anticipate what they might be doing, and I try to understand that their job isn't easy. If I see someone standing at a bus stop I assume that the bus will be slowing down and pulling over, and I adjust and signal accordingly. And depending on the situation (whether there is a bike lane, the behavior and position of other vehicles, etc.), I'll tend to pull up behind a bus at a stoplight instead of forcing them to hover behind me or try and pass me back three car lengths into the next block.
I was not allowed on Metra last week because I didn't not have a chord to bungee my bike with, even though i could see the car was empty on the 12:50 am train.
The blackout dates were posted back in April, 2009. I agree that their notification procedures really do suck when limiting bikes (they really should have posters put up or just signs a few days before blackout times), but the dates are posted well in advance. I put them in my calendar, even though I hardly ride the Metra with a bike.

Trains and buses are meant to move people, not bikes. There's always room for helping Metra understand more that the ridership is growing more interested in taking bikes on trains. However, with the limited capacity of rolling stock, getting more people on the train over bikes is really necessary.

One thing you have to understand about Metra is that it's a railroad. There are hardened people working as conductors who have been freight conductors for years before coming to commuter rail. They may not necessarily see the point of why bikes have to come on trains. I find that it's better to attract bees with honey, and thus I'm very nice to my conductors when I ride the train, thank them, etc. It's not an easy job (although that is not an excuse).
As a regular rider of Metra, I know they do have some strange rules regarding bikes on trains. But to be honest, the rules are pretty well advertised, including blackout days- they make announcements at the stations, on the website, and frequently have signs up at the stations.

I also think Rubani is on to something- current ridership isn't really forcing them to be more accommodating to bikers since there are so few of us. What I think would really fix the problem is a section of the car allocated ONLY to bikes, such as they have on Caltrain cars in California. There is a section of a car with seats removed to be used only for bikes. That being said, we'd have to lobby as riders of Metra for that to happen, and with as few bikes on trains as I usually see while on the train I just don't see that happening.
The Rock Island is more bike friendly than most lines. Some conductors are very helpful. The number of bikes on this line has been steadily increasing. I've been on more off-peak runs lately. It's become fairly common to see 3 bikes per ADA accessible car on the Rock Island.

The bind I'm encountering is the unpublicized budget cut that's been happening for a few years - fewer open cars per train. When the schedule says that 9 bikes will be allowed on a particular run, this assumes that there will be 3 ADA accessible cars open. The reality is that the particular train you're on may have only 2 cars open, with only one of them being an accessible, bike-designated car, so the real capacity for that train may be only 3 bikes.
I really have to agree with pretty much all of this.

I rarely ride the Metra with a bike but I keep track of black out dates and fests because the train is there to move people, no bikes. Metra allows bikes on as a courtesy to cyclists so we should be nice when we deal with them.

vxla said:
The blackout dates were posted back in April, 2009. I agree that their notification procedures really do suck when limiting bikes (they really should have posters put up or just signs a few days before blackout times), but the dates are posted well in advance. I put them in my calendar, even though I hardly ride the Metra with a bike.

Trains and buses are meant to move people, not bikes. There's always room for helping Metra understand more that the ridership is growing more interested in taking bikes on trains. However, with the limited capacity of rolling stock, getting more people on the train over bikes is really necessary.

One thing you have to understand about Metra is that it's a railroad. There are hardened people working as conductors who have been freight conductors for years before coming to commuter rail. They may not necessarily see the point of why bikes have to come on trains. I find that it's better to attract bees with honey, and thus I'm very nice to my conductors when I ride the train, thank them, etc. It's not an easy job (although that is not an excuse).
My daughhter had an interesting encouter on PACE a few weeks back. She accidentally got on the wrong bus. Since that bus was going to the turrnaround (Woodfield) anyway, she asked the driver if she could just stay on and come back around. The driver got growly and told her to get off his bus, and then proceeded to pull away before she could get her bike off the rack!

Fortunately her bike wound up at the bus barn's lost and found, but she caught particular hell trying to get there on public transport to recover it two days later.

AFIK, it was just a case of a particularly grumpy driver, one whom she'd not encountered before on her regular trips. Usually she has no hassles.
Next time tell the conductor you have some crack cocaine and they will let you on with the bike no matter what day and usually will waive the fee as well.
I would like to mention that I was extremely courteous to the conductor. As I was getting on the train he basically yelled to me No Bikes! I said excuse me because I didn't understand what he was talking about. He then got into it with me saying I couldn't take the bike on the train because of Lollapalooza. I asked him what I should do because I was allowed on the train that morning with my bike and they never mentioned one word to me about this. He told me it was up to the discretion of the conductor. I tried telling him I understand that but that did not help me with my current problem. If it had been up to his discretion why couldn't he have allowed me on the train until he felt it was getting too full?

I should also say that this was my fourth time taking the train and I had no idea they had whole days that were blacked out. I did see signs talking about no alcohol on the train that weekend but I did not see the no bikes one. Until that unpleasant experience I told people how great Metra seemed to be.

Had the guy been able to wait one more minute for me to lock up my bike none of this would have ever happened. But alas- he felt that my "arguing" with him constituted his correct decision to leave without me- on a train that runs once an hour... thank you so much for your caring and understanding sir!

All I can say is that I hope this fine gentleman receives the same courteous experience in a situation in his life where he is stuck somewhere.
I've gotten that before.

Once I used a belt...another time (I was beltless) and grabbed some baling cord from a garbage : it was
strong and I always carry a leatherman so I was able to cut it.

The conductor thought I was a little weird...so I am - who cares

or if other bikes are present on that car : you can ususally buddy cord them together. sharing is good

DB

DonRay A.K.A. Zesty said:
I was not allowed on Metra last week because I didn't not have a chord to bungee my bike with, even though i could see the car was empty on the 12:50 am train.

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