UC Berkeley student Sara Knox heads to school from the Embarcadero BART Station in San Francisco.
Bikes, now temporary guests on BART during the commute, won a permanent place on the trains Thursday.
After three experiments with eliminating a commute-hour bicycle blackout- and much discussion - the BART Board of Directors voted unanimously to allow bikes aboard BART trains at all stations at all times.
The two-wheelers will still be prohibited from the first train car at all times, the first three cars during the most crowded hours of the morning and evening commutes, and from cars that are already crowded.
Bicycling advocates, who've fought for unfettered access to BART since the system opened in 1972, cheered the decision.
The policy officially takes effect Dec. 1, but since a six-month test of allowing bicycles on all trains at all times is in progress, the unrestricted access policy is already in effect.
Public comments Thursdayon the proposed change drew mostly supporters, many of them members of bicycle advocacy groups or BART committees that have worked on the issue. The only public opposition came from Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents station agents and train operat0rs.
Bryant criticized BART officials for not asking train operators and station agents for their concerns about the bike program. She said train operators need to be able to walk through trains in the event of emergencies or certain equipment failures and said bikes can get in the way.
"It could be problematic," she said.
She said many bicyclists also use escalators in violation of the rules and board already-crowded trains or enter cars from which they're supposed to be banned, but there's no enforcement, leaving employees to make announcements that are often ignored.
"No one is going to do anything about bikes on escalators," she said, "because there is no one to do anything."
Bike advocates acknowledged the bad behavior of some bicyclists but said the tests have been successful, provoking no major incidents, relatively few complaints and no train delays - all concerns when the experiments began in August 2012.
"I see a lot of people, bicyclists and non-bicyclists, being very mindful of each other," saidRenee Rivera, executive director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, which has been working with BART on bike etiquette signs and education efforts.
BART surveys using randomly selected riders found that 79 percent of those queried thought the current program - with the first three cars off limits during the commute hours, which are 7 to 9 a.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. - should be continued despite some problems.
BART Director Joe Keller of Pittsburg, who had been skeptical of removing the commute-hour bike ban, said he changed his mind not only after seeing the poll results but after riding trains in which people standing, hauling luggage, pushing strollers and walking bikes all managed to find places to sit or stand without causing conflict or congestion.
While the board voted to allow bikes on all trains, it called for a review of the policy as BART ridership grows, directed the transit agency's staff to meet with employees on safety and enforcement concerns, asked for more secure bike parking at stations so fewer people would need to take their bikes aboard and urged bigger, better signs explaining bike rules and etiquette.