BART next week will conduct its biggest test yet on allowing bicycles on board trains.
From Monday through Friday, cyclists will be permitted to take their bikes on any BART train at any time as long as they follow basic rules, like not entering a crowded train car.
The experiment, BART officials say, will help determine how far the train system should go in giving access to cyclists without creating too many conflicts with regular passengers in tightly packed trains.
Under current rules, BART bans bikes on trains on several routes during morning and afternoon rush hours.
But relaxing bike rules could spur more people to pedal rather than drive to train stations, easing BART's serious parking shortages while increasing transit use, officials said.
"We did testing last August on Fridays, a light day for ridership. Now we're rolling out a test for prime time during a full workweek," said Steve Beroldo, the transit system's bicycle program manager.
During the August test, some passengers grumbled about conflicts between cyclists and noncyclists.
To ease the problems, BART next week will ban bicycles from the first three cars on trains during peak commute hours from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
BART also will continue to enforce an existing ban barring bicyclists on the lead train car at any time.
Beroldo said BART is making a special appeal to bike users to be courteous next week to avoid a backlash against more access for bicycles.
"If a train is full, we ask that cyclists wait for the next train that has room," Beroldo said. "Most cyclists are courteous. The issue is how much of a problem will be created by the few who are not."
BART encourages passengers to take an online survey to give their opinions about the bike access test. The survey is available online starting Monday at www.bart.gov/bikes.
BART expects there to be more space for bikes and wheelchairs on board trains as it finishes a project in June to remove some seats nearest train doors.
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff
Bicycles will be allowed on all BART trains at any time from Monday through Friday, March 18-22, next week.
There will be some basic restrictions: Bicyclists cannot enter crowded train cars, but must wait for another less crowded train to arrive. No bikes are allowed in the first three cars from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., or in the lead train car at any time.
For more information, visit www.bart.gov/bikes