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More room for bikes on trains

Bay Area bike commuters are popping a few celebratory wheelies at the news that Caltrain, the rail service that runs between San Jose and San Francisco, is adding more bike racks to its train cars. Overall bicycle capacity will rise 27 percent — resulting in some carriages having as many as 40 slots for bikes.

To get the job done, Caltrain will remove some seats and reconfigure interior layouts to accommodate both cyclists and regular passengers. What I find most encouraging is that Caltrain acted in response to a campaign by cycling advocates to create more space for bikes. The activists put a spotlight on a growing problem: bike commuters arriving at the station in time to catch a train only to be told that there was no more room for them. Passengers can stand without too much inconvenience and still get to work or home on schedule, but cyclists may have to wait up to an hour for the next train.

After a spirited public meeting last Thursday, Caltrain decided to reconfigure the cars. On an average weekday, 2,400 cyclists take bikes on board — about 6 percent of total riders. Now even more commuters can save a car trip to/from the station and gain the added mobility — and improved health — that comes from taking along a bike.

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