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Folding bikes “now” allowed on TransLink buses

June 4, 2015

Artist’s impression of what it might look like to take a folding bike onto a TransLink bus.

Normally I avoid blogging about transit or TransLink. I haven’t set foot on a bus or a Skytrain since 2010 — I couldn’t even tell you what the fare costs and you know what they say about not having something nice to say. But the so-called new policy allowing electric and folding bikes on Metro Vancouver transit is definitely something worth blogging and shouting about.

Lowering a barrier to cyclists using transit

According to a May 28 post on TransLink’s Buzzer blog, electric bicycles are now permitted on SkyTrain, West Coast Express and SeaBus and folding bicycles are now allowed on buses, when folded (and preferably in carry bags).

This is great news for metro Vancouver cyclists but leave it to TransLink to make a bit of mess of what should be a straightforward announcement.

It’s clear enough regarding electric bicycles: they’re now covered by the same rules that apply to bringing ordinary bicycles onto transit. But I’m left with a few questions regarding taking folding bicycles on transit.

First off, why can’t a person bring a properly folded-up folding bicycle onto any SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express? The announcement explicitly refers only to buses.

Secondly, this May 28 policy announcement clearly coincided with Bike to Work Week (May 25-31, 2015) — why did TransLink effectively only whisper it? I only learned about it by reading the fine print at the bottom of a bike store ad.

And thirdly, is this even a new policy like TransLink says it is?

What’s this folderol about it being a new policy?

A study prepared for TransLink five years ago appears to state, not as a future objective but as a fact, that in 2010 folding bicycles were allowed on all transit vehicles.

Page 18 of the Cycling Support Services Study — Strategic Plan, April 30,2010, states:

“Folding bicycles are allowed on all transit vehicles at all times. They are an effective way to encourage the integration of transit and cycling without the expense of supplying and operating secure parking.”

And again on page 88:

“Folding bikes are allowed on transit vehicles at any time without restricting the number of bikes on a transit vehicle.”

In an online bike forum thread entitled Does your local bus allow folders on? a resident of Burnaby, B.C., commented in 2012 that TransLink had told them in writing that folding bicycles were allowed on buses so long as they were in a bag. The commenter added that they had also taken their folding bike onto a bus, without it being in bag with no problem.

The one Coast Mountain bus driver I spoke to today told me that he was unaware of any policy regarding folding bicycles — whatsoever. He would allow them on his bus the same way that he allowed baby carriages, four-wheeled mobility strollers or two-wheeled shopping caddies.

In the event that he thought a particular folding bike had too many projecting pokey bits, he told me that he would ask the rider to leave it up at the front of the bus, where it would be safely out of the way of passengers and he could keep an eye on it.

As for new policies, the bus driver explained that these were regularly posted on a wall at “the bus depot”, where drivers could read them, when they went there, which they didn’t always do.

The 2010 TransLink Cycling Support Services Study did include a recommendation (marked “low priority”) calling for promotional programs to increase the use of folding bicycles on transit.

Was TransLink’s May 28 announcement that folding bikes are now allowed on buses just such a promotion?

All buses must go! No reasonable fare refused!

Like a rug dealer who holds an endless “closing out” sale, or a restaurant that falsely announces it’s “under new management”, just to encourage a bump in business, did TransLink just pretend that allowing folding bicycles on buses was a new thing, in order to promote a long-standing policy and have something fresh to throw out during the just-passed Bike to Work Week 2015?

Maybe it did. TransLink has certainly tried to fool customers with that “under new management” trick. But either way, the policy sounds like a really good thing, especially if it means that you can bring a folding bicycle onto all transit vehicles all the time.

TransLink should more clearly state the rules around this “new” folding bikes-on-transit-policy and then seriously promote the hell out of it. Click the image to enlarge it.

  1. Slowcrow permalink

    Yes, what great ‘new’ news!! I do hope all bus drivers are aware of it tho. Some are real touchy about using a 4-wheel baby stroller to haul groceries (no baby, just grub). He claimed without a baby aboard it, it was a ‘shopping cart’, and NO shopping carts allowed! This was in the suburbs and an almost empty bus, 3 stops from the bus exchange. But i guess i was kinda dressed down that day…. đŸ˜‰ But then again, if you have money enough for one of those bikes, you are a credible person…… And don’t forget, any person 60 and over, on straight welfare, can get the same 1 year $45 pas that the ‘disabled’ folks can, with NO hoops! Sure can open up a person’s world… đŸ™‚


    • I certainly know that it makes me want to have a folding bicycle. And coupled with the folding Burley bicycle trailer which folds down to the aspect of a two-wheeled shoppy thing, well that put the entirety of Metro Vancouver in any working cyclist’s daily reach.

      People are being tricked to see transit fares as a major source of TransLink’s operating money when they aren’t. They are, in fact, small potatoes: between 10 to 30 percent of of TransLink’s operating revenue. Puts the impact of fare cheats (less than 20 percent of transit fares) in perspective. Especially when one considers the costs of collecting the fares: $40 million per year for the Transit Police and over $300 million and counting to bring in fare gates and the Cubic Compass card.

      I think there should be two transit zones: the zone a person lives in and the rest of the areal covered by transit. Your “smart” transit card really would have to be a bit of a compass card as it would need to be able to geo-locate you. The point of the two zones would be free transit inside your home zone. You would only pay a fare outside your home zone.


  2. Slowcrow permalink

    Yes, that would be so nice for everyone! As a life-long driver, i found out,finally, that buses are NOT scary places, full of moronic losers. I was an abused addict, truly married to Big Oil. Mind you, i do not HAVE a rigorous schedule, and i can CHOOSE to avoid crowded buses…… Too bad chrissie didn’t like the idea of turning the Port Mann bridge into a unique green space. It could of been as glowing as the upcoming, albeit temporary, Burrard bridge world-wide yoga photo-op. (Will that bridge surface be somewhat oily, I’m wondering?)


    • The yogis will be on mats and, who knows, the may strew the roadway with flower petals — I think the whole thing cool in a daffy-as-Vancouver sort of way.

      But you’re still right about the oily part: the asphalt,the yoga mats, the LuluLemming gear the yogis are wearing — all made with petroleum. Everything we touch is oily.


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