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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tips for Taking the Bus with Your Bike

By Megan Maxwell 

Last summer my mother and I rode our bikes down the Pacific Coast together. We were newbie cyclists and we liked to veer off-course, so we sometimes rode city buses with our bicycles. On one occasion, we wanted to leave the coast and see Portland for a day. Another time, the bike route was taking us inland and we wanted to skip ahead to stay close to the ocean. Hence, we got very good at taking public transportation with our bikes.

Even if you’re not going on a big trip, you might need to take the bus with your bicycle while at home. Biking and taking the bus can reduce your monthly commuting bill by cutting gas costs, car maintenance, and insurance. It’s also a way to stay healthy and be green. And if you don’t have a car bike rack, buses are an alternative way to transport your bike long distances.

Tips for taking the bus with your bike:
  • It’s polite to let the bus driver know that you are putting your bike on the front before you do it.
  • Most bus bike racks are the same. Once you learn how to use one, you can use them all. There will be a handle at the top you have to squeeze in order to drop the rack down. Then you set your bike on the rack, and pull the tire bar over the front wheel.
  • You will definitely want to remove your panniers from the bike and take them onto the bus with you. Otherwise, they might fall off and get run over. Get everything unclipped before the bus arrives to avoid the schedule being delayed on account of you.
  • There is occasionally an additional charge for bikes, but it’s usually just a dollar or two. Have exact change because the bus drivers don’t usually carry cash. You can check fare rates on the local public transit website.
  • Try to sit in the front of the bus to keep an eye on your bike. Big cities sometimes have problems with people stealing bicycles right off of the racks. You probably don’t have to worry about that in smaller towns though.
  • Find a bus route by using the public transportation setting on Google Maps. It doesn’t always show all the available routes though. You can also do a search for bus routes in whatever county you are in.
  • On the downside, there are usually only a few spots on the bike rack. Some bus lines have rules about not allowing bikes onboard when the racks are full. Most bus drivers will let you carry yours on if the bus isn’t too crowded and you ask nicely.
  Whether at home or traveling, it’s useful to know how to take the bus with your bike.