Wilmette, News

New bike racks going on 50 Metra cars to start

The COVID-era policy of allowing bikes on Metra trains has been made permanent, with the transit agency announcing the news in a press release this week.

To support the policy, Metra reportedly is installing new bike racks on its railcars.

Many North Shore communities, including Highland Park, Winnetka and Wilmette, are serviced by Metra’s Union Pacific North Line.

The new bike racks, which can hold up to four bikes and can also accommodate scooters, will initially be installed on about 50 cars. These cars will be identified by an exterior bike logo and will be used on trains that carry the most bikes, the release says. It is not clear how many cars per line will feature the bike-friendly cars.

Originally enacted in 2005, the policy was only extended to non-rush-hour trains during the pandemic. Last year, 260,000 riders brought bikes on trains, the highest number Metra has on record.

The decision to make the policy permanent was at least partially prompted by local bike advocates who lobbied the Metra Board of Directors for the change.

“We are truly grateful to the passionate cyclists who helped us change our policy for the betterment of all riders,” Metra CEO Jim Derwinski said in a statement. “Metra and bicycles are natural partners, and it is gratifying to solidify our relationship.”

In addition to helping to accommodate the growing number of cyclists, the policy reportedly does not interfere with ADA regulations, allowing customers with disabilities to have priority access to transportation.

In order to ensure that all riders have equal access to space, bicycle and scooter spaces reportedly will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. In the event that all spaces are filled, customers with disabilities have priority in designated seating areas.

Other details of the policy include that bicycles and scooters must not exceed 80 inches in length and 30 inches in width, and that they must be securely loaded and unloaded in a single trip. Individuals with bicycles or scooters must be 16 or accompanied by an adult.

More details on the Metra policy on bikes and scooters can be viewed online here.

Metra installs Code of Conduct

The Metra Board of Directors has passed a new Passenger Code of Conduct that seeks to make riding the train safer for riders and employees, according to a release from Metra.

The code outlines the prohibited behaviors that reportedly will not be tolerated and could result in a suspension of riding privileges or confiscation of fare cards.

According to the release, the new code was spurred by a recent law passed by the Illinois Legislature that gives transit agencies the ability to take action against riders who engage in certain conduct.

Examples of prohibited conduct are: verbally or physically threatening another person; causing or attempting to cause physical harm, pushing or attempting to push another person; hitting, kicking or attempting to hit or kick another person; and sexually assaulting or attempting to sexually assault another person or persons.

Metra Police will have the authority to issue notices to passengers who engage in any of these behaviors. A hearing date will then be scheduled and the issue of suspension of riding privileges and/or confiscation of fare media will be discussed. Passengers may also be arrested for criminal trespass if they are found to be riding during a suspension period.

“The safety of our riders and our workers is paramount, and Metra intends to make full use of this new state law to make sure we are protecting both riders and workers to the best of our ability,” Metra CEO Jim Derwinski said in a statement.

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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