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How to take your bike on the bus

I remember the first time I took my bike on the bus. It was years ago. I was on the 99 B-Line, and a lot of people were watching me and waiting for me to load the bike so we could get on with the journey.

I could see the general concept of how it worked, but the bike just didn’t seem to sit right. The bus operator was nice enough to give me some helpful visual bike miming with his hands through the windshield. It turned out that I didn’t pull the support arm high enough so the bike was sitting too loose in the rack. Once I pulled up the arm and moved it so it almost touched the neck of my bike frame, it was snug. The anxiety of the moment soon drifted away after I boarded the bus and we moved along to the next stop.

If you haven’t had a change to try a bike rack on a bus before, TransLink has just posted this video on the TransLink YouTube account on how to do this.

Besides this video, text on all you need to know about how to load your bike on the bus can be found on the TransLink website. For convenience, I’ve taken the vital info and posted it below.

Besides these pointers, my only additional tip is to always keep one hand on your bike until you’ve properly secured your bike with the support arm. This will make sure your bike can never fall back on you.

Restrictions

  • To fit in the rack, bikes must have a minimum of a 40 cm (16”) diameter wheel.
  • Motor-assisted bikes of any kind are not permitted.

Loading and Unloading Your Bike

Here’s how to load and unload your bike:

  • Before the bus arrives, remove loose items such as water bottles, pumps, and panniers.
  • Tell the driver you want to load your bike, and then lower the bike rack by pulling on the handle.
  • Lift your bike onto the rack.
  • Lift the support arm up and over the front tire.
  • Sit at the front of the bus and keep an eye on your bike.
  • When leaving the bus, please tell the driver that you need to remove your bike. Exit from the front door.
  • Remove your bike and raise the rack to the upright position.

Currently, bus racks require bike wheels that are a minimum of a 40 cm (16”) in diameter. Buses can take a maximum of two bikes at a time. So be prepared to potentially wait for a bus with space available to take your bike.

If you have any additional tips on taking your bike on the bus, please share them!


9 Comments

  • By Kevin, October 13, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

    Some people have trouble lifting their bikes onto the bike rack. Instead of standing in front of the bus (facing the driver) and lifting the whole bike up and on, a solution is to stand facing the short egde of the rack (facing the door) and roll one wheel up and onto the bus rack at a time.

    I’m not sure if i’ve explained the method clearly or not, but if your bike is heavy, or if you don’t have the upper body strength this method only requires you to lift half of the bike at a time.

    Remember to make sure that the bike is facing the right direction. ie. start with the front wheel facing the curb if you are using the rack closest to the bus, or with the front wheel facing the road if using the second space.

    Its also a good idea to get your bike orientated in the correct direction before the bus pulls up. If there are not bikes on the bus you will need to use the first rack thus make sure your front wheel is already facing towards the curb and wheel it out onto the street “backwards.” Its possible to load your bike in about <10 seconds (literally) but often takes the average person 30s-1min. Which is okay! But a few little tricks can make speed it up if you feel uncomfortable.

  • By Dejan K, October 14, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

    Does anybody know if the bikes with child seats (At the back) are allowed to be put on racks? I am worried that the relatively bulky bike seat may create blind spots for the driver.

  • By Jean, October 16, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

    Thanks for these links for bus rack loading for bikes. Kevin’s comment is helpful too.

    What Metro Vancouver cyclists and visitors to the area, about bike loading onto transit buses, is often transferable, similar knowledge that can be used for other transit buses in some other North American cities.

    http://www.velo-city2012blog.com/?p=420 The blog post includes link to an earlier TransLink Buzzer Blog article about use of transit bus bike racks.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, October 17, 2011 @ 10:00 am

    Kevin: Thanks for the great tips! Many bikes are particularly hard to lift (mountain and cruisers come to mind) and put on the racks. Thanks for bringing up the order that people should load their bikes.

    If there are no other bikes on the rack, you should load your bike on the rack closest to the driver. The front tire should be facing the curb. The front tire of the bike being loaded on the second (farthest from the driver) rack should face traffic. I’ll get to the exception to this next.

    Dejan: I understand that allowing bike’s with child seats are at the bus operator’s discretion. He/she might have the bike placed in the second rack, so the back of the bike is curbside. This would avoid blind spots right in front of the driver. If there is only one bike on the rack, it is ideal to have it closest to the driver. It is more difficult to load a second bike on the first rack once a bike has already been loaded on the second rack. That said, bus operators try their best to accommodate all bikes.

    Jean: Thanks for the links!

  • By Andrew, January 3, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

    Just curious about the bike riding down the sidewalk beside the bus. Is that safe/legal?

  • By ???, January 3, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

    I say not safe….. Brighouse station is the biggest example. The racks are located in a bad spot that encourage cyclists to ride through congestion with waiting bus passengers. I’ve been hit there twice.

  • By Jay, April 2, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

    I have an electra townie bike and am interested in bringing it on the bus. Does anyone have any advice for loading cruisers onto the bike rack?

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » The November 2011 Buzzer, Pet Peeve Battle and Ed Spence: Buzzer illustrator interview — November 8, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  2. The Buzzer blog » Family-friendly transit — January 18, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

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