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  This blog page does not track the current rules in real time and may be out of date when you travel.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.



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:

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 Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson

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