How to Improve Bicycle Access to the PATH Train (and here are the existing rules).

Today’s Rules about Bike Access on the PATH Train (as of May 2013)

  • Folded bicycles are permitted on the PATH train at all times. (I could see no definition for what constitutes a folding bike.)
  • Non-folding bicycles are permitted at all times except weekdays between 6:30 AM and 9:30 AM and weekdays between 3:30 PM and 6:30 PM (rush hour).
  • There is a limit of two bicycles per PATH railcar.
  • No bicycles are permitted in the first railcar of a train.
  • Bicyclists must use elevators or stairs and may not take bicycles on escalators.
  • Cyclists may not ride bicycles in trains, on platforms or in the stations.
  • PATH or PAPD (Port Authority Police Department) may require bicyclists to wait for the next train.
  • Cyclists are to hold their bikes while on trains and not to block aisles or doors.
  • In the event of an evacuation, leave the bicycle on the train and ensure that it does not block aisles or doors.
Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s web page about bicycle rules.

Suggestions for cyclists:

  • Join New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition and advocate for better bike access on New Jersey trains.
  • Be polite, cooperative and deferential to officials and other passengers, no matter what.  When you board a train with a bike, especially if it’s a recumbent, you are representing all ‘bent riders and cyclists in the Metro Region.  If there is a problem, please do not get into a dispute with the “nice official” (and if his name is not “Sir,” then it is “Ma’am.”)  But do get the official’s name, time of incident, nearest station, etc., take photos or video if possible, and write a note for yourself so you remember the details.  Then file a complaint here: http://www.panynj.gov/contact/contact-us.html.  This is the online submission form for the Port Authority.
  • Do NOT just sit and take it.  Go to Port Authority board meetings and speak during the public comment period for increased bicycle access.  You can contact New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition if you would like assistance in preparing a statement or would like other advice on presenting at a Port Auth. board meeting.  Personal stories make very compelling testimony.  (By the way, the people who attend these meetings can be quite interesting.  It is time well spent.)
  • The schedule for the Port Authority’s board meetings is here:
    http://www.panynj.gov/corporate-information/schedule-upcoming-board-meetings.html
Have fun and advocate for a better world of cycling, which is redundant,

Robert
————
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

New Jersey Transit, recumbents on board

A customer wrote me:”Any knowledge about if New Jersey Transit will allow it [an HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx] on the train?”

To summarize, as of now, standard frame bikes are permitted on NJT.  “Collapsible” bikes are permitted.  It appears that non-collapsible non-standard frame (recumbent?) bikes are not permitted.  It appears that a folded Grasshopper fx is permitted as would be a collapsed Cruzbike Quest, however individual conductors have discretion.  It appears that a Cruzbike is a thingamajig and not a bicycle.

NOTE: The rules may change over time. If you have expert knowledge or personal experience with NJ Transit that is at variance with what I’ve written here, please send me a comment with specifics, if possible, to help me keep this blog entry current.

Here are the current NJ Transit rules.  Also copied below.  Verify the current rules at the NJT website.  This blog page does not track the current rules in real time and may be out of date when you travel.

Before all else, what is a bike?

Here is NJ Transit’s definition of a bicycle, in case you weren’t sure if you were riding one:

39:4-14.5 Definition

“Bicycle” means any two wheeled vehicle having a rear drive which is solely human powered and having a seat height of 25 inches or greater when the seat is in the lowest adjustable position.

Source: http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/bike/regulations.shtm

 

Bicycles on Trains (as of May 22, 2013)

– Collapsible bicycles are permitted on all NJ TRANSIT trains at all times.

– Standard-frame bicycles are permitted on many NJ TRANSIT trains as described below:
. On weekdays – Bicycles are permitted on all weekday trains on all lines except inbound trains that end in Hoboken, Newark or New York between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and outbound trains that originate in Hoboken, Newark or New York between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. These trains will be designated by a bicycle symbol in public timetables. Trains on which bicycles are permitted may accommodate up to 2 bicycles on each single-level rail car and up to 8 bicycles on each multilevel rail car subject to crowding or the accessibility needs of other customers.

. On weekends – Bicycles are permitted on all weekend Raritan Valley, Gladstone, Montclair-Boonton, Main, Bergen County, Pascack Valley, Port Jervis, and Atlantic City Line trains. These trains will be designated bike trains and will accommodate up to 12 bicycles per train. Larger groups may be accommodated with advance reservations by calling our Group Sales Department at 973-491-7220. Bicycles are also permitted on all Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line and Morristown Line trains with the exception of trains ending in New York between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. and trains originating in New York between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Trains on which bicycles are permitted may accommodate up to 2 bicycles on each single-level rail car and up to 8 bicycles on each multilevel rail car subject to crowding or the accessibility needs of other customers.

. On holidays and business days before holidays – Bicycles are not permitted on trains (with the exception of the Atlantic City Line) on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, day after Thanksgiving, Sunday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Bicycles are not permitted on the day before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but are permitted on the holidays themselves.

. Other times – Bicycles are not permitted on substitute bus service during rail service outages.

When I first wrote this entry, the published rules were unclear as it relates to recumbent bikes.  At that time, one conductor told me that recumbents are fine and another told me they were not.  Another told me that all bikes were prohibited on rush hour trains (I hadn’t realized I was on one) and that particular conductor said he’d have to “let me off” at the next station, about 70 miles from where I had intended to start my weekend bike camping trip.  (What?  Please say you don’t mean it!)  Fortunately, I had a Grasshopper fx folding recumbent and he let me proceed as long as I folded it and stowed it out of the way.

Neile Weissman, a NY Cycle Club ride leader and bent rider, has worked hard to make it possible for cyclists to take bikes on NJ Transit.  Still, individual conductors have a great deal of discretion.

The current rules clearly give conductors the right to bar ‘bent riders from taking their bikes on NJT.  You can not — and should not — argue with the conductors.  If you want to change the rules, then you need to actively advocate for better ‘bent access.

Go to Port Authority board meetings and speak during the public comment period for increased bicycle access. You can contact New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition if you would like assistance in preparing a statement or would like other advice on presenting at a Port Authority board meeting. Personal stories make very compelling testimony. (By the way, the people who attend these meetings can be quite interesting. It is time well spent.)
The schedule for the Port Authority’s board meetings is here:
http://www.panynj.gov/corporate-information/schedule-upcoming-board-meetings.html

General guidelines for taking your recumbent bike on any train in the region.

Make sure you have a bungie cord or rope to secure your bike.  Cover the chain ring.  If you must take transit, take a short wheelbase ‘bent.  Even better if it folds.  Do what the “nice” conductor says and always be cooperative and polite, even if he or she tells you to take your bike off the train.  It’s understandable if you don’t like it, but on-board is not the time or place to try and make a stand, and your issue isn’t with the conductor anyway.  Take it up with the people in the NJT office…politely.  Give them every reason to say “yes.”

Please try and remember that when you’re riding a ‘bent, you’re representing all bent riders.  If you’re polite and cooperative, you make us all look good and that may be one of the best pathways for us to gain better access on transit.  If you’re something other than polite, you’re ruining things for yourself and everyone else.

If you have a recent story about taking your ‘bent on NJT which may help others negotiate the system, please send it to me as a “comment” on this entry.

Have fun, stay healthy, and maybe get a folding bent,
Robert
————
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson

Of course recumbents do hills.

Standard frame (or “diamond frame”) riders often ask me how recumbents are on hills.  (Answer: “You pedal up them.”)  Yes, there is the disadvantage that you can’t stand on the pedals, but I don’t need to since I have mountain bike gearing.  And on those steepest hills, where I’d stand up and power through on a standard frame bike, on a bent I just sit and power through.  Same thing.  When I started riding a bent, I admit I’d sometimes have to walk up a hill.  I didn’t yet have a fine sense of balance or strong “recumbent muscles.”  But I haven’t had to walk up a hill in years.  I just ride up.

I was thinking about this the other day after riding through Harriman State Park, from Garrison to Camp Nawakwa on Lake Sebago and back again to Garrison.  We had taken the train up to Garrison and started riding from there.  It’s a 46-mile round trip that begins with about 15 miles of steady climbing, without much more than a few yards of level road, then gives you a steep down, a long uphill false flat, more hills than I can bother remembering, and then you hit Lake Sebago.  The camp’s road is then a series of very steep un-graded hills, more up than down.  On the way back, reverse it.  Lots of down, some up, a long and steep uphill climb, and one very, very long downhill coast on a windy road with frequent blind turns where your brakes are very much your best friend.

The next day, no soreness.  Wow.  That’s a recumbent for you.

What were we riding?  There was an HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx and a Street Machine Gte, with racks, fenders, and lighting systems.  They’re simply the easiest for throwing on a couple panniers for a day-ride and it’s always welcome to have the folding Grasshopper when taking the train.

Have fun and stay healthy,
Robert
————
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson

Recumbent Times: news and discounts (Fall 2010) – the BLOG version –

Greetings NYC Recumbentologists,

I hope the early fall finds you well.  I enjoy this time of year because it means — as the “fair weather” bike season slows down — I’m free to do more long bike rides.  Ironic, isn’t it.  Thankfully, I enjoy cold weather rides.  (And thanks to Busch & Mueller’s extremely good high-intensity lights, early darkness isn’t a problem.)

The other weekend, I took a spur of the moment three-day bike tour in up-state NY where I had nothing but great weather, great hills, and could see the beginnings of fall in the trees.  With a fully-loaded HP
Velotechnik Street Machine Gte, I spent the days riding the endless rollers of the Taconics and the nights sleeping under the stars.  Nothing quite like it.  There are many wonderful two- and three-day tours right outside our doors, for NYC bent riders, so what are you waiting for?  The hardest part might be carrying a fully-loaded bent down the front stoop.  (The easy part is granny-gearing up the 3-mile long hills.  Maybe.)

I’ve attached a photo of the expansive lowlands heading up towards Chatham.  As for those hills in the background?  Yes, eventually you get to climb them again, and again, and again… :-D.

Best,
Robert

— News —

:: Metro North and LIRR Repeal Restrictions on “Recumbents” ::

After a long period of allowing short recumbents on the regional rail without trouble, as long as it wasn’t a holiday, last Spring, the MTA suddenly instated new prohibitions, specifically naming “recumbents” as disallowed on the Metro North and Long Island Railroad.  Previously, the limit had been simply on bikes longer than 80″ and with protrusions (which would mean, among other things, long wheelbase bents).

Chun, an NYC Bacchetta Giro-rider I met last year, brought the new restrictions to my attention.  From there, I posted a note on the e-mail list for the Metro Area Recumbent Society (MARS) and on Bent Rider On-line reporting on this change and asking who in the community would like to join me in efforts to create a fairer rule.  It seems like only a matter of seconds before Neile (a Bacch./Rans/Lightning rider and veteran New York Cycle Club ride leader) leaped forward with wherewithal, whatwithal and whowithal, including the support of both NYCC and the Westchester Cycle Club.  Among those was David, with WCC.  (If you want to know more last names, etc., join me on the Third Sat. bent ride and I’ll fill you in.)

At Neile’s request, I wrote what was apparently a compelling letter, explaining that many bent riders were either riding bents, or nothing.  Neile knew exactly what to do and who to contact, what to say and I can’t imagine what else in order quickly to negotiate the red tape.  And David claims he did nothing more than put the final nail in the coffin, but it was obviously one heck of a nail, because it was within a matter of weeks, that the prohibition against short bents was lifted.

Even better, the MTA now more clearly defines their concerns and what they want us to do.  For example, don’t get dirt and grease on the train and other passengers, don’t block the aisle, and generally don’t inhibit the smooth operation of the train.  Seems fair enough, and it’s now easier to make sure we’re properly traveling with our bents.  Just look out for those holiday and rush hour trains.

Just so you know, the maximum dimensions for a bike are 80″x 48″.  I think we can safely assume that this is the length and height, though it isn’t specifically said. The width of a FOLDING bike is limited to “32 inches in width.”  I’m well aware we don’t have an exact definition of the envelope of a bike here, or even for a folding bike, but I do hope no one creates problems for New York bentriders by bringing a limousine bent on the train and starting an argument with the official about how the rules aren’t specific.  Do that and we’ll be back to square one except maybe this time they’ll rewrite the rules to say that recumbent bikes are fine; it’s recumbent RIDERS that aren’t allowed.

Trikes are still named as disallowed, but there seems ample allowance for a folding trike especially if it goes into a bag, becoming merely bulky luggage.  The HP Velotechnik Scorpions fs and fx and HPV’s new Gecko all fold and fit into a bag.  The Greenspeed trikes fold even smaller, so a bag would seem to do the job there as well.

Oh, and though it goes without saying, please be courteous to the
conductors and train officials.

Suggestions: to cover chain rings I carry a strong lightweight plastic bag.  You may know it as a “Chinatown grocery shopping bag.”  Costing only about $3, they’re available in all your favorite colors, as long as you like black/white plaid, red/white plaid or blue/white plaid.  As for chains, I recommend chain tubes or covering chains with a plastic trash bag cut open length-wide.

For folding bents, the HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx is a true folding bike that goes into a bag.

Related links:

Metro North Bike Rules
http://www.mta.info/mnr/html/getaways/bikerule.htm

Metro Area Recumbent Society
(ignore the dates on the website’s home page. The e-mail list is active.) http://www.recumbents.com/mars/

Bent Rider On-line
http://www.bentrideronline.com/

New York Cycle Club
(They don’t encourage bents on rides but they’re worth supporting simply for their wonderful ride library.)
http://nycc.org/

Westchester Cycle Club
A very nice group of riders.
http://www.westchestercycleclub.org/

HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx
http://www.hpvelotechnik.com/produkte/ghp/index_e.html

:: Everything On Sale Forever: 4% Discount on Everything ::

Until further notice, customers get a discount of 4% off on all new recumbent bikes and accessories.  No catch.  That’s all there is to it.  No club card, no forms to fill, no cash-back, no passwords to remember, no points to keep track of, just a simple 4% discount on everything when you buy it.  There’s nothing more you need to know, but if you have any questions, just call me.

:: The East Coast’s Newest HP Velotechnik Premium Dealer ::

This summer New York City Recumbent Supply(tm)/The Innovation Works, Inc. became a Premium (top-level) Dealer for HP Velotechnik.  What this means for you is that I will always have at least three HPV models in stock for demo rides and am committed to developing and providing the highest levels of expertise on HPV products to riders in the region.  If you have questions about HPV, call and ask.

At this time, demo models consist of the Street Machine Gte, the Scorpion fs, and the Grasshopper fx.  I’m also carrying the full line of HPV accessories and options.

This is where I say that HP Velotechnik makes the world’s best bents, but you already know that.  What you may not know is that they can be sized to fit small riders.  Or that when you’re going 47mph, fully loaded with 40 lbs. of gear, they feel rock solid and comfortable.  (Yes, that orange blur ripping down Rock City Rd. onto County Rte. 66 in Old Chatham, NY, the other day was me.)

:: Reminder: HP Velotechnik sets new prices on October 1st. ::

Last year, HPV was unique in that they _dropped_ their 2009 prices due to the strong Euro.  This year it’s a different story.  If you’ve been thinking of ordering a Velotechnik, consider doing it before the end of September 2010 to get this year’s prices.

:: Blog ::

Everyone has a glob.  I mean a blog.  And I do too.  In my case, I’m posting useful information for bent riders and breaking news about the brands I carry.  My aim is to create the best knowledge base I can to help more people ride bents in the metro area.  Anything you’d like me to cover?  Just drop me a note.
http://nyc-recumbent-supply.blogspot.com/

:: Mirror, Mirror, Who’s the Fair(ing)est of Them All? ::

Last summer, recumbent accessory maker Terracycle (“TC”) bought Windwrap (“WW”) fairings.  They’ve made some changes, they’ve organized the line-up, they’ve made it all easy to understand, and now I’ve started bringing in TC’s new strong and lightweight fairings.

It’s simple to get the right fairing for your bent.  TC has two fairings for Volae and HP Velotechnik.  And then, of course, HPV has their own brand of fairing (the Streamer).

If you want a TC/WW fairing for your HP Velotechnik, you will use either the GX or XT fairing (with mounting hardware).  Though, in general, I advise HPV owners to use HPV’s Streamer fairing to keep it simple and most useful.

For Volaes, you will use either the GX or XT fairing (w/ hardware).  Easy.

For Greenspeed tadpole trikes, you’ll use either the GX or XT.  (Anura delta trikes take the BLC.)  And for Rans short wheelbase bents, it’s either the…wait for it…GX or XT.  (Rans LWB’s are a different story.)

The fit chart is at: http://www.terracycle.com/ww_Fit_Chart.htm

Where it gets interesting is when you want to add a headlight to the mix.  Terracycle recommends you mount one or two headlights to either side of the fairing or else attach one to the hardware below the fairing at the front of the bike.  This is because the light from a headlight situated behind their fairing will simply reflect backwards off the material.

So, how does HP Velotechnik handle this, when their bright B&M headlight is mounted on the front boom, behind the Streamer fairing?  Doesn’t it just reflect backwards?  No, it does not.  That is to say, HPV solves problems before anything goes out the door.  Put simply, there is no problem combining a HP Velotechnik Streamer fairing along with a
headlight.  Extra parts are required, but HPV supplies them at no extra cost when you buy a fairing.  Don’t worry.

The easiest thing to do is this: if you own an HP Velotechnik, get the Streamer fairing.  If you own a Volae or Rans or Greenspeed, get the TC fairing.  In either case, follow the manufacturers instructions.

:: Four Reasons to Use a Front Fairing ::

1.  It keeps your feet warm when you come out for the Third Saturday “Grant’s Tomb” Bent Ride in January.  And any other time you ride on a cold day, you’ll be glad you have it.

2.  It keeps you drier when it’s raining.

3.  It’s the easiest way to add a few mph for no additional effort due to improved aerodynamics.

4.  Maybe, like me, you wear glasses and you think your bike should wear glasses too.

:: Flevobikes?  And Green Machines?  Here in NYC?! ::

Did you know you can buy a Flevobike Green Machine right here in New York City?

Rick Horan, the USA Flevobike distributor, lives in Queens.  And I can get you Greenmachines.  For those who don’t know it, the Green Machine is a remarkable bent with a fully enclosed drive system and Rohloff speedhub.  Basically, it’s a nearly zero-maintenance bent.  It’s not feather light, but it’s not too heavy either.

Recommended for everyone who doesn’t like greasy chains.  (And who does?)

:: Volaes: “best for the buck” ::
Ideal for road biking, commuting and light touring

If you want the fastest bike for your dollar, you should be considering a Volae.

They’re light.  They’re fast UPHILL.  They have attachment points
(“braze-ons”) so you can install high quality Tubus racks and fenders, too.  Dynamo lights can be added with no hassle.  They carry up to 250 lbs. for commuting and touring.  With Pitlocks they can be locked to a bike rack.  They’re well-made and have good components.  They’re better than anything in their price range.  Special orders arrive in a week.  Each bike is a custom-fit (for no extra charge).  They even have great paint.  And the price is right.

Call me for a test ride.

:: Greenspeed Tadpole Trikes ::

Greenspeed trikes are like second cousins to HP Velotechnik Scorpions.  That is to say, they’re a very good machine by any definition.  But they’re the perfect choice when you want a fast, strong trike that handles well, but you don’t need the maximum performance and suspension of a Velotechnik.

Most notable about Greenspeeds is their incredibly tight turning radius.  They also place the rider close to the ground, so there’s high stability and a low center of gravity.  Vital, for when you take those tight turns at speed (and you will).

One fun machine.  And great colors.

:: Got Photos? ::

I’d love to post more photos of customers enjoying their bents.  If you have a photo you’d like to share on my website, please send it in!

:: Current Brands Carried ::

HP Velotechnik, Volae, Rans, Greenspeed, Flevobike, Ortlieb panniers, Tubus racks, Busch & Mueller and Spanninga lights, SON hub dynamos, Terracycle accessories, Schwalbe tires, hand built wheels by Peter White.  And more.  Just ask.

Have a great fall!!

All best,
Robert

————

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Metro-North disallows recumbents

(Note: A few months later, MTA reversed its position on this. See the Summer Newsletter entry.)

This stinks.

Just now, a friend brought it to my attention that the MTA’s “Bike Permit Regulations” website now specifically names recumbents as “not permitted.” This must have been updated in the last two months.

It seems possible, however, that folding and split-apart bents, like the HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx, Volaes with ES frames, and bents with SS couplings may still be permitted, but I’d put them in a closed carrying bag if only to avoid encouraging further restrictions. My guess would be that dirty chains and chain rings have upset some transit officials, but that’s just a guess. (E-ml me individually if you need info. about carrying bags sized for the Grasshopper fx and the Scorpions fs/fx.)

See:
http://www.mta.info/mnr/html/getaways/bikerule.htm

Also see:
http://www.mta.info/lirr/about/Bicycles/#FoldingBikePolicy#FoldingBikePolicy

I assume I’m not alone in believing it would be worthwhile to work with the MTA to reconsider, at least to allow short wheelbase bents with covered chains and chain rings.

I’ll spearhead this. Is there anyone on the list with professional negotiation skills who could volunteer to join me in this effort? Write me.

Best,
Robert

————
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson