Now that Genia Blaser, the subject of our series for beginners, is a bonafide city cyclist, complete with a Five Boro Bike Tour under her belt, there may be times when she wants or needs to transport her bicycle via public transportation. In the final post in our series, we explore some popular options.
We city cyclists will endlessly extol the pleasures of riding and it might sound like we wouldn’t dream of succumbing to the subway, or heaven forbid, a car––but the thing is there are many reasons why we will, we want to and we can. In New York City taking a bike on public transit can be a necessity (flat tire mid-ride) or a pleasant reprieve (tired legs) or a sensible extension of a commute or recreational ride (expand the horizon). Before you attempt to board a train or bus, here’s what you need to know.
Subways Allow 24/7 Access
Bikes are always allowed on the subway (terribly civilized, we know). The MTA suggests using lettered station entrances, as opposed to numbered line entrances, because these have “bigger stations and roomier subway cars.” The first and last cars tend to be the least crowded.
A comprehensive resource for public transit information is the Bikes Aboard page of the Transportation Alternatives website.
When you enter, if there is a station attendant, you can ask him or her to buzz you through the service gate located to the side of the turnstiles. The way to handle this is: ask, swipe your card at the turnstile, push the turnstile with your hand, then proceed to the gate––which will hopefully have been unlocked––and walk your bike through. On this and other forms of public transit, follow these tips:
- Be aware that at high-traffic times––commuting hours––train cars will be packed, and it’s likely that you and your bike just won’t fit. If possible, plan to travel at off-peak hours.
- While on the train, be aware of where your tires are: dirty treads and the white pant legs of your fellow commuters don’t mix well.
- Make sure to stand aside to let passengers off (and on) the cars.
- Standing up and holding a bike near train car entrance is your best bet.
More Public Transit Options
Buses: Unfortunately, bikes are not allowed on buses. However, you can tote a folding bike onto local and limited lines, but not express buses. Be sure to fold your bike before boarding and avoid blocking the aisles.
Ferries: Bikes are allowed on the Staten Island Ferry at no extra charge. You can also travel with a bike on regional ferries, but extra charges apply on some. Check here for a list of links.
Metro North and Long Island Railroads: In order to ride these lines with your bike, you need to purchase a one-time permit for $5. Bikes are not allowed during rush hours or major holidays; on weekends only eight bikes are allowed on most train cars (there are some that can hold more, and these are marked on the schedule). Before you travel, be sure to check these sites:
- Metro North Bicycle Regulations
- Long Island Railroad Bicycle Policy
The wonderful thing about New York is that from bike lanes to bikes shops, and subway to ferries, there is a vast support network available to anyone who chooses to use a bike as her primary method of transportation.