PAT bus bike racks
Tagged: PAT bus racks
I had a weird experience today.
I was biking from town and the weather was getting wet and icy. I decided to bail and hop on a 64 bus (at Penn and Main). The driver started to wave at me. Did I do a bad job of securing the bike? I repositioned the front-wheel bar. Still something wrong.
I get on the bus and the driver tells me “You don’t want your bike on there”. Why? “Your rim will get bent out of shape, and you have a nice looking bike”. Ok, can I bring the bike on board? “No, no way” What should I do? “Why don’t you just ride it?” I didn’t want to, I didn’t like the weather (and my pants were kinda wet at that point).
Nothing happened to my bike (as I’d expected).
Very Strange. When the racks were just starting to show up on more and more busses (i.e. before they announced 100%) I went to put me bike on the rack and when I got on the driver wasn’t to pleased. he repeated over and over that he wasnt responsible for the bike and I would be better off not using the racks.
I just ignored him and got on the bus. showing my pass. when I got off he commented that I “shouldnt get used to having the bike rack” I think it was a few weeks later they announced they were going to have racks on 100% of the busses.
I know its just nature to complain about changes (I do it as well) but whenever I catch myself at if I feel so stupid about it.
I’ve only put my bike in once, lousy weather day with a flat.
I was pretty nervous and watched it for a bit since I felt so rushed putting the bike in and didn’t feel entirely confident it was totally secured.
But that I can tell, it was no worse for the wear.
The bus driver was clearly very irritated when I was putting my bike in, too. It was part of the reason I felt rushed (though mainly I was just trying to avoid delaying a bus full of people). Maybe it’s a common thing among bus drivers to have a chip on their shoulders about cyclists?
But the story has a happy conclusion, little afield of the thread, but do feel it worth sharing.
That driver made some sarcastic comments to the effect… “wasn’t I some big bike guy; what was I doing here?” I ignored the tone of and responded to with simple, and I guess humanizing answers. He saw my concern about the bike, took a couple jabs but in a more friendly way, and got a little laugh when I said “that’s my car in there”. He clearly decided I was ok by the end of the ride… maybe being the first to get up when someone older could use a seat. He actually waved as he pulled off. Which made me feel good. It’s not often you can see a real change in someone’s attitude in 25 minutes.
So, I’d say danger low, and always a possible opportunity for bridging gap if you bring your best self. I want the bus drivers on our side.
I’ve used the bus racks quite a few times, most drivers don’t seem to care (at least in my experiences). it may just be in the attitude, i tend to jump in front & manhandle the racks. i guess they figure that if i know what im doing, they don’t have to do anything.
I can’t say I’ve ever had any attitude from the driver about using the bike rack. I use the rack probably 50% of the time I’m on the bus. Sometimes I chat with the driver about it, or other random stuff. Of course I’m also rather intoxicated probably 50% of the time I’m on the bus.
I also have absolutely no fear that it’s going to hurt my bike – the best car racks are basically the same design.
I use the bus to take my bike to work pretty much everyday. This morning, I got to the bus stop a couple minutes early and so did my bus. Thinking it was going to be a good day, I went to unfold the bike rack and it wouldn’t budge. I tried to manhandle it and noticed part of it was bent next to the hinge. I told the driver the rack was bent and he told me, “Well, we can’t check THOSE in the morning.”
At that point, I wanted to rage all over his stupid face. Why, exactly, can’t they (where they = Port Authority) add “does the bike rack function properly?” to the driver/maintenance checklist (that I assume exists) to be checked before a bus rolls out into service? It would’ve taken someone at a garage 2 seconds to realize this rack was damaged. And surely if a bus accessory is advertised as being 100% available they have spares that could be mounted in place of the faulty rack I encountered this morning, but I digress…
Instead, I calmly asked, “Can I bring it on the bus or should I wait for the next one?” He apologized and pulled away from the stop without me. I then checked the bus schedule and decided I would be better off just riding all the way to work (work is ~12ish miles through Wilkinsurg/Wilkins Township/Monroeville).
I ended up riding through some serene lands along Churchill Road, not even minding the extra mile I did due to a missed turn. (I wouldn’t even have known that route had it not been for a recent thread on this board (thanks, @jonawebb!).) It ended up being a terrific bike ride, and it really did make the day a good one.
The driver I encountered this morning is known to be a Surly Sally. He’s the type that will see someone running toward a bus stop, frantically waving at him to please stop, and he’ll just roll away because they aren’t at the stop, they’re 15 feet from the stop.
If I use the bus in the afternoon, those drivers have been noticeably kinder, more understanding, and generally accommodating. I’ve had at least two drivers tell me to just bring my bike inside the bus because they either didn’t trust the rack or knew it was broken.
FWIW, I’ve never thought that those racks were likely to damage my bike, unless I did something foolish like bang my rear derailer against it.
I’ve had good experiences with PAT drivers when bringing a bike, with very few exceptions. But I’ve reported broken racks many times using the web form on PAT’s site. My impression is the situation has improved somewhat from when they first got to 100% racks.
I used to have a “ride a fucking bike” sticker on one of my old bikes, and I had a driver who would get irate at me for it. I started putting my bike on the outside slot (facing the other way) so she wouldn’t have to see it, and she’d get really upset that I didn’t put the bike closest to the bus.
I also had several drivers do the “I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE IF SOMETHING HAPPENS BECAUSE OF YOUR INCOMPETENCE AT PUTTING THE BIKE ON THE RACK.”
+1 to “people suck, some are bus drivers”
For a short period I had a set of those balls that some people hang below their trucks, hangiing below the seat on my bike. When I put it in the rack, I realized they were pretty much swinging in the drivers face! Neither one of s said anything about it, but it was pretty funny.
It took me almost a year or daily racking before I stopped staring at my bike for the entire trip to make sure it wasn’t going to fall off. I have also racked it with some pretty full panniers with no damage noted.
I kind of think people who have curse words or genitalia on their bikes aren’t being especially kind, and I’m not surprised it bothers some bus drivers.
I’ve never had a problem with the bus racks except for the front wheel support sticking in winter. It would be good if the mechanics getting the bus ready would give a quick check to see if it’s functional, the same way I assume they check the tires, suspension, etc.
pretty much guaranteed that the forces on your wheels are much harsher from actually riding your bike with a full human on top than they would be sitting on the front of the bus rack.
i can see messing your wheel up if you don’t lift high enough and twist or bend the wheel in the support
I find it pretty amusing that a driver would get mad over seeing the work “fucking” on a sticker. I hope that driver does not have cable TV. That word is kinda tame compared to what i hear 12-16 year old kids saying in my neighborhood.
I will say though that I have only received positive comments regarding the “ride a fucking bike” sticker on my bike. And it was always from the persons I least expected too.
jiggly testicles off the back of a seat i could see grossing anyone out
i like to drop the f-bomb more than anyone but i can understand not wanting to have one on display in the front window of the bus.
If you’re installing it right I agree with Erok, it’s not likely to damage the wheel from any normal use.
I had an unpleasant driver tell me once (when I had a flat) that my seat was too high, which blocked her view (a questionable justification since I had never heard that before), and that I would have to rotate my bike front to back in the rack. I didn’t want to/couldn’t put the hook over my fendered rear wheel, so walked the rest of the way. Another time, on a busway route, the driver pulled too far forward and I had to hop the railing at East Liberty Station–a little annoying but not a problem for me, at least. Apart from those un-ideal rendezvous, I’ve had only good experiences with drivers.
I still continue to be in limited panic mode since my bike almost slid out of the rack on a hard/fast turn on the busway (http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/pat-bus-with-no-rack/#post-252642) and I try to keep an eye on my bike by sitting up front.
I’ve only used the racks once (flat tire, business suit, and a white shirt).
I worry that my front rack and fender will interfere with fastening the bike on.
Also, do you take your panniers off when putting the bike on a bus? I carry too much trash around with me.
If I put a milk crate on my front rack would that be a problem?
Enquiring minds need to know.
I leave my pannier on most of the time, taking it off when it looks rainy. I once had a bus driver object to it blocking his headlight but he had me put it on the other way and that was OK. I don’t think fenders etc will interfere with the front wheel support but I guess that would depend on clearances.
I’ve only used the bus racks 4 or 5 times, but 3 of those time have been in the last 2 weeks for whatever reason, and the bus drivers were cool each time (even when I had trouble figuring out how to get the rack lowered into position. I would still suggest that people send a message to Port Authority if drivers are being antagonistic – there’s got to be some policy that they’re breaking be doing so.
@mick – depending on your front rack setup, I think you might have a tough time getting the spring bar to hold onto your front wheel properly.
The swinging testes were a one time thing, they fell off shortly after I put them on there! I also wasnt reallly thinking when I put the bike on the rack and only noticed them after we were already en route.
I do not rack nearly as much as I used to, but when I was doing it daily, I had mostly good drivers with a few iffy ones in there. The ones that I had the best relationships with were the ones that talked to me and I talked to. If I had a driver that looked like he had never seen a bike on the front of their bus, when I got on I would say something like “does that look ok to you” or simply “is that ok” in a nice tone.
I’m not a regular bus rack user, but all the previous times I’ve used it the drivers were considerate. So that’s why yesterday felt like a weird episode.
Now that I think about it, there is one rational reason drivers might not want the bike rack in use. This is when they’re turning the corner and some driver has stopped past the white line. The bus has to stop while the cars figure it out (or not). The bike rack makes the process a bit harder by cutting down on the clearance.
I’ve racked my bike a dozen times or more, for a variety of reasons. Most drivers are cool with it, although early on I remember getting a few more surly attitudes.
I do have one issue though. I am not tall enough! To be efficient, I like to be ready when the bus arrives, I swing the bike into the street, front tire facing curb to use the inner slot, then reach over the bike to lift the handle and drop the rack into position. Sometimes though, I misjudge the distance I need, and I end up lowering the rack onto my bike. Then I have to lift the rack a little bit, move the bike out towards me a little bit, and resume the lowering of the rack. On more than one occasion, the rack has gotten away from me a little bit at this point, and I have dropped the rack the last 6 inches or so. Drivers REALLY HATE that! I always wave and apologize when it happens.
I could work around this by keeping my bike off to the side, but I tend to leave my panniers and/or rack bag on the bike when I rack it, and I don’t have a kickstand, so propping the bike upright while I lower the rack ins’t always an option. Yes, I need a kickstand.
I don’t watch the bike any more. It’s either safe or it isn’t, and my watching it from inside the bus is unlikely to change any outcome that might befall the bike. But, I am sometimes nervous that someone will try to STEAL the bike. Or that the bus driver will drive off too quickly. So, when I signal the bus driver of my intent to depart the bus, I always say “oh, and I’ll be taking the bike.” Sometimes they can tell by my clothes, sometimes not. I like to be sure.
Two questions, one hypothetical, one real. First the hypothetical. Wouldn’t it be really easy to steal a bike from the front of a bus? Wear appropriate clothing on a busy bus, when someone racks a bike, see if they are paying attention. If not, wait until a busy stop, get off early, grab the bike and be gone. I guess that encourages me to be more vigilant about watching the bike. And, as an older female on a lightly used set of bus routes, I think the drivers generally know that the bike is mine.
Now the real question. I’ve never racked WITH another bike already on the rack. So, if I get on first, and use the inner slot, and and the outer slot is filled before I get to my destination, how hard is it to get a bike out of the inner slot while the other bike remains in the outer slot? Remember my height issues noted above, among other concerns.
Just wondering what the experience has been like, for anyone who has been there.
I’m 5’9″, and I’ve lowered the rack onto my bike a few times too. But when someone else’s bike is in the outer slot, I find it’s pretty easy to stand on the sidewalk and pull my bike out that way. I haven’t tried it on one of those old articulated buses with the very high racks though.
You could ask the driver to lower the bus if you think you’ll have trouble. They’re happy to do that.
I generally put my bike on the rack, then take off the pannier and frame-mounted lock, having already removed and stored my frame pump. I worry that the extreme bumpy bus ride (rougher than it gets when I’m riding) will weaken the mounting hardware.
Re: theft. Given all the video on buses, and the driver right there watching too, I think few thieves would risk it.
Theft is theoretically possible, but I think the risk is low.
As to getting a bike off the inner slot when there is one on the outer, it isn’t hard to do, but is a bit trickier than a single bike alone. A video would help, and I don’t know of one.
How I do it: I stand on the curb, pull off the J-hook, and pull the bike straight at me. Putting a bike on the inner slot when there is a bike on the outer is much the reverse, but I have not done this very often.
I can see why this might be more difficult on the 1900-series suburban buses, especially for someone who isn’t tall. Those buses are scheduled for retirement in the next year or two, and are being replaced by more of the 3000-3200-series articulateds, which, though long, are the same height as the rest of the fleet.
I worry about theft all the time. I know it’s unlikely, but it can see somebody running up and grabbing my bike off the rack and riding off with it. Even though the bus driver is right there, is he going to get off the bus and chase the thief? I don’t think so. But, realistically, I don’t think it’s that likely. Just something to worry about, and I keep my eye on my bike when the bus is stopped.
I’d think self locking the wheel to the bike frame would be a good safety precaution, even throwing some bungies through the weels and frame can slow someone down a lot. If someone grabs it and runs, they can’t just hop on and ride away, if they try, they are gonna have a bad time.
It could goof up your wheel though… but it’s a recommendation they make on the chicago transit authority page.
talking to some folks in portland about theft, they said that they’ve never had a single theft that they’re aware of. their biggest problem is when people forget that they put a bike on the front and the agency doesn’t know what to do with the bike at the end of the day
@ahlir Now that I think about it, there is one rational reason drivers might not want the bike rack in use.
There are a bunch of relatively rational reasons.
Slightl;yu diminished visibility. An extra 40 seconds getting on and off (possibly much more). An accident that would have been bus and car at less than 5 mph with no damage becomes a bus/car/bike accident with a wrecked bike. A bike incorrectly secured coming off in traffic. A second bike damaging the first bike while being mounted or dismounted. The list goes on.
Drivers are well paid to deal with the problems they face, but that dosen’t mean they aren’t issues.
“Deal with it , dude.”
I think all you’d need to discourage grab-and-ride-offs is running a bungee through the back wheel. The 10 to 20 seconds it would slow the thief down would give you just enough time to jump off and deal with it.
That also holds tons of Roadrunner/Coyote type humor potential.
Yeah, I think grab and ride off’s from busses are not very common here or most places. I would be more concerned in a city with a large bike theft problem like SF, NYC, DC, Philly. However, If it’s easy to do, I’ll lock a wheel to my frame.
Wait..if you can’t laugh at truck nuts on a bike, You have no sense of humor. Also, “fuck” is just a word.
Getting back to the topic at hand, I only used a bus once because of weather and I don’t think the driver had an issue. I think he understood that it was not weather that was easily/safely bikeable in.
Thanks to whoever arranged the rack to practice with at the try-a-bike. I got my bike off and on easily.
I’ve used the bus racks only once. I had a flat, I was a few miles from home, I didn’t have a patch kit, and was wearing spd shoes. I opted to pay 2.25 to get home, well worth it.
To resolve the problem of misjudging the distance between the bus and the bike when lowering the rack:
I hold my bike on my right shoulder with my right hand, so the bike is parallel with the front of the bus, and lower the rack with my left hand. Then, I turn counter-clockwise 180 so the bike is facing the correct way, and place it with my right hand.
Ok, Joe, that’s easy for you to say, and do, with that extra 8-12 inches you have on me. But, when I put my bike on my right shoulder, it’s still only about 4 inches off the ground. And, I might already have a purse on that shoulder……
But, your strategy is sound.
Not to say their behavior is justified, but imagine if the length of your car/truck/motorcycle/moped/bicycle varied by +/- 2 feet throughout the day, and immobile objects randomly appear in your sight lines that you normally use to judge distances.
I wouldn’t do it voluntarily, that’s for sure.
@swalfoort: If you need a kickstand, we have a box full of them at Free Ride. Stop by tomorrow (we’re open from 1-5pm) and take your pick.
When I use the rack on the bus, I usually lean the bike against me with the front wheel facing left and the top tube angled away from the bus. Then I reach over the bike and grab the rack handle to release the bike rack. I realize I’m taller than some, so that strategy works for me. Is it feasible for you to just lay your bike down against the curb while you pull the rack down? or maybe prop it against the bus door?
Also, I’ve had a driver tell me I’m not allowed to leave bags or anything else bulky on the bike when it’s in the rack, so I always take my pannier and water bottle on the bus with me. But it sounds like some of you are leaving quite a bit of cargo on your bikes when you rack them. Does anyone know what the official policy is?
“Remove loose items from your bike such as water bottles, pumps, bags, etc.” per PAT’s site.
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