Riding Tandem: A Whole New Era of Biped-Cyclist Relations Begins

After experiencing nearly a whole week of trying to get to and from work without BART, it's likely that commuters have discovered a new appreciation for those trains — and all the smelly, annoying nuisances that come with it.

That includes cyclists and their space-hogging bikes.

Perhaps that's why this past week (the week after the BART strike) commuters seemed happy enough to share the trains with cyclists. Starting this week, BART dropped its long-standing ban on bikes for an extended trial period, allowing cyclists to cart their bikes on the trains during rush hour. The trial period will run through November and unless something Godawful happens, it will probably become permanent.

Curious about how the new rules would change my life (I live in the East Bay, but recreate in San Francisco), I decided to hop BART with my bike in tow during rush hour.

I caught BART at the Macarthur stop in Oakland around 5 p.m. and got off at 24th Street in the Mission, then hopped another train headed back across the Bay.

My one-hour ride on BART was more like business as usual; I experienced exactly zero problems, and even when the train did get packed with cranky commuters, they didn't take it out on me. No dirty looks, and no nasty comments. I even had enough room on the train to avoid having that panicky feeling.

And no, my bike didn't inconvenience anyone.

What happened next was even more unbelievable: When I hit my stop and needed to exit the train, the mobs made room for me.

So far BART has reported everything is going swimmingly since the agency ditched the rush-hour bike ban. Steve Beroldo, who works with BART's access department, says that "if cyclists are considerate and don't push their way onto trains, this could definitely work."

It seems like there should be little cause for concern at this point. I'm sure that somehow cyclists and non-cyclists on BART can get through this awkward get-to-know-you phase and maybe, just maybe, become friends.

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Tonight on SF Weekly, Leif Haven interviews his dog "Winkie".

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