Riding Metro North with bikes

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Anonymous's picture

This is hurricaine season for large NYCC group rides bording Metro North trains. Although Metro North does generate revenue from our passage as well as gain points in the arena of mass transit/ alternative transportation, our presence does make things more difficult for them. We ride their trains at their pleasure. Even though we may have cycle permits that make us feel entiled to passage, the final say of whether we can board with our machines rests with the conductors. I am sure that most of you will agree that Metro North conductors tend to be very helpful and friendly. Some may be having a bad day and a very few are not helpful when confronted by a horde of cyclists on a busy train. What we must do is work towards being part of the solution rather than compounding the problem.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when riding Metro North with your bike:

Bike loading on trains out of GCT tend to be in the front of the train. As you go by the conductors standing as you enter the platform, ask them which car to board.

Bike loading on trains to GCT are generally at the rear of the train. Some stations have signs denoting bike loading areas. Even so, the conductor might ask you to use another car.

Once again, always contact a conductor on which car to use and how to secure your bike. If it is a center door car with an open storage area opposite a restroom, place your bikes along the wall in such a way that other bikes can be placed economically in that space. If the space is on seats and there is a 3 seat row, one way is to head your bike into the space front wheel toward the window side with the handle bars hooked over the back of the seat in front. Be mindful that your derailleur has no force on it. So hook it on the non-derailleur side of the bike. This arrangement will prevent grease from getting on seats. Other solutions involve placing the bike on the seats directly with the front wheel turned. Some conductors want the bikes in the asile. Far be it from me to plumb the depths of reasoning here. Just remember that the conductor has the final word. If you fear that your bike will roll, you can lock down a brake. Or, better yet, secure a rubber band from the base of a tube valve stem, around a tube of the frame or the bottom of a hand hold bar on either side of the doors, then back over the valve stem, again at its base. Rubber bands from bike to bike in storage between handle bars and seat posts will keep bikes together. Placing helmets between bikes can help to prevent scratching.

Never argue with a conductor; work and reason with them. Escalation of emotion, at best, will get you off the train at the next stop and make it difficult for us all in the future.

Prepare to disembark as the train leaves the station at the prior stop. The speed and efficency which you get on and off the train is your calling card. Axiomatically to this, arrange your bikes on the train so that the most accessible bikes are the first to leave the train. So on a return to GCT on the Hudson line will have Yonkers closest to the aisle, Marble Hill just inside, 125th St under that, and GCT bikes deepest in the pack.

Unless the car is full, conductors ask that we take seat and not stand in the aisle.

Always be prepared to show your bike pass.

Thank your conductors. They don't get paid extra for indulging us. And a smile will cost you nothing.

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)

Carrying a small bungie is a useful aid. [Coiling it around your seat post is an easy way to stow it.] It will let you secure a wheel to the overhead luggage rack in spots; tie off a single bike to a railing; and secure a group of bikes to each other.

Otherwise, I second Hank's comments. It's a resource we all depend on.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Bungie alternative

In his wisdom and resourcefulness, Hank has also invented the pseudo-bungie: Two large rubber bands bound by one half-knot. Works just as well as a bungie, and you can knot several of them together.

I always carry some, in purse as well as saddle bag. Indispensable!

Anonymous's picture
roscoegeo (not verified)
bungie substitute

A surplus rubber tube - no longer patchable - with the valve stem removed, is a good substitute for a bungie.

cycling trips