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Hang that bike!

Posted Aug 25 2012 11:49pm
Bob, in Tempe, finds the perfect bike to coordinate with our Bike Shop Hub Ortleib panniers.
Bob and I took the rail to Tempe last week in order to check out a new triathlon store that just opened up.  The train was surprisingly crowded with bicycles last Saturday, mostly parked in opposite the door, and since our ride would last about 20 minutes, Bob suggested that we hang our bikes inside the bike compartment.  It was a rather awkward maneuver, despite the fact that Bob's a pretty strong guy, since he to work in limited space and within the short time that the train is at the stop.  He hiked both on to the hooks though. 

Our his and hers Breezers hanging in the bike section of a rail car.
So far, I've never tried to hang my Breezer.  For one thing, it weighs 35 lbs, and I just don't think I can manage lifting it up to the hook, which is pretty high for a 5'1" lady.  For another, I pulled a muscle in my lower back and don't want to completely incapacitate myself while riding public transit.  To be quite honest, half the people on the light rail just stand with their bikes by their side during their trip.  Most of the people that I see lifting their bikes up to the hooks are youngish, fit men.  The instance I saw a woman do so, she was lifting a fixed gear bike that appeared to be very light weight and void of any bags or accessories.  I've never seen a senior citizen attach their bikes to the hooks, period.

This kid is probably texting his roommate to meet him at the station and help him get his bike off the hook.
Nonetheless, the trip would probably be more comfortable and the cars easier to move around in if bicycles were off the floor and in the bike section.  I wonder if the problem is the design of the bike hanging system.  When I first heard about it, I assumed that it would have a curved track beginning at the floor that would allow the cyclist to easily wheel the bike up to a hook.  No, this is not how the system is designed.  The track simply runs vertical to the floor of the rail car and begins about two feet from the floor.  The hook is located almost to the ceiling.  Even without back pain, I couldn't do that, and I'm strong.  I think a better design could accommodate many more bikes against a single wall of the bike section and leave the other side available for seating and standing - as well as room for mounting bikes to the hook.  What do you think?  Have any SRAB readers used a system more friendly to people who aren't power-lifters?  I wonder if Valley Metro would consider looking at a different system for future expansions?
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