BikeLane.jpgBART will conduct a weeklong test program allowing bicycles on all trains at all hours next month, officials announced today.

Currently, bikes are banned from all trains during commute hours, a policy that has been the subject of protest from bicycle commuters for years.

The pilot program, which will run from March 18 through 22, will prohibit bikes from the front three cars of all trains during commute hours, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Bikes are prohibited from the first car at all times for safety reasons, officials said.

The pilot program is the second test expansion of bicycle access to BART this year. In August, bicycles were allowed on all trains at all stations every Friday.

“Some people feared disastrous consequences if bikes were allowed during commute hours, but the August pilot showed that just doesn’t happen,” said Shirley Jackson, a member of BART’s bicycle advisory task force. “Everything went really well.”

Bicycle advocates greeted the news of the second pilot program with enthusiasm.

“We heard from countless bike riders on both sides of the Bay that the August pilot opened up regional commuting by bike for both experienced bike riders and those wanting to give it a try for the first time,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, in a statement.

If the second pilot is deemed a success, BART staff will return to the board with a proposal for permanent changes to bike policy.

BART is also working to reconfigure cars to allow more space for bikes, strollers, luggage and wheelchairs, officials said today. Reconfigurations should be complete by June this year. Efforts are also underway to expand bike parking and lockers.

“Expanding access and parking for bicyclists encourages riders to ditch their cars, freeing up car parking spaces for those who have no other option than driving,” BART board member Robert Raburn said in a statement.

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