Metro Transit puts sensors on bike racks to track usage in pilot program

On Wednesday November 15 the Bicycle Advisory Committee had their monthly meeting. In the meeting the advisory committee discussed sensors on Metro Transit bus racks, historic streets in relation to Access Minneapolis, the Engineering Subcommittee, and the Hennepin county budget

Tony Drollinger from metro transit discussed the pilot program of putting sensors on metro transit bus racks to track usage. Most people who have used the bike racks have run into the problem of getting on a bus that already has two bikes on the front rack. At this point, the cyclist can ask to bring their bike onto the bus but the bus driver has the option to decline, most of the time due to an already overcrowded bus or someone with a wheelchair or walker using the handicap area which is really the only area to have a bike. If someone with a wheelchair does get on the bus then the cyclist would have to leave with their bike because the wheelchair is prioritized.


Metro Transit looked at a case study via Vancouver which has a sensor that shows when the Bike Rack is pulled down, but doesn’t show whether the rack is full. Metro Transit started a pilot program with 23 buses, including every bus on the A line and 8 other buses. These buses have a sensor on the arm that lifts over the front wheel of the bike that sends information to Metro Transit so they can study how often those racks are filled and which routes have the potential to have people trying to get on with their bike and being turned away.

The pilot program will look at data and its completeness, identify funding to put sensors on other buses, and to test real-time information at A line station signs. The cost of the sensor and its installation is $300 per bus.

As referred to above the pilot hopes to experiment with having real time information at A-line stations so riders can see if the bus about to arrive has space for a bike.

The advisory committee discussed the idea of placing three bikes racks on the front of buses and the barriers to this. Those barriers being: the expense of replacing current bike racks and maintenance issues specifically meaning less space for buses in storage garages because the racks are slightly larger and turn radius. Drollinger did state that if the problem was big enough, cited from the sensor pilot program and the rolling out of more buses with sensors on bike racks, this might push Metro Transit to look at three bike, bike racks.


This type of sensor could also be used to show transit users in real time whether the wheelchair area of the bus, via the straps that connect the wheelchair to the bus, is being used so transit users in wheelchairs will know before the bus arrives whether they will be able to get on the bus.

From the rest of the Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting:

Virginie Nadim from Access Minneapolis gave an update on Historic Streets and the update to the Citywide Action Plan and the design guidelines for maintenance of historic streets. The update to the Citywide Action Plan is to ensure consistency with goals and street design in Access Minneapolis.

Chris Linde from Ward three gave a summary of the Engineering Subcommittee. Linde spoke about four projects: the second phase of the Oak street protected bikeway, the 4th street reconstruction, Hennepin and 1st NE resurfacing, and Upper Harbor Terminal preliminary master plan.

Finally Nick Mason led a discussion on the Hennepin County budget.  


The Bicycle Advisory Committee meets once a month at city hall along with two subcommittees which also meet once a month. 

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