History of the bus bike rack


The first bike racks were installed on a select few of the former Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (Metro Transit) buses in the late 1970s. This bike rack was initially purchased from a company in California and was quite expensive (around $1,000) for the time.

Originally, the racks were only on buses that traveled across the SR-520 Bridge because there are no bike lanes on the bridge.

In 1982, Metro’s machine shop re-designed the rack to facilitate easier removal and replacement when washing the buses. Also, Metro wanted to lower the cost because the biking public was lobbying for more routes that could provide bike service. Metro wanted racks on the outside of buses because managers thought there would be too many problems with bikes inside the coaches. Approximately 300 racks were manufactured in-house by Metro employees.

The commercial bike rack the transit system purchased in the late 1970s was actually a set design, but Metro employees made improvements to suit their needs. In 1982, machinist Bruce Hargin designed and built all the tooling necessary to produce the bike rack in-house and over the course of time did a great deal of the associated machine tasks necessary for production runs. A number of Metro employees during and since those early days have contributed with modifications and ideas. Machinist Dick Huggett, metal constructor Augusto Desimone, machinist Jim King, and machine shop chief Larry Whitney all contributed. When Whitney came to the machine shop in August of 1983, he implemented a change in the mounting method making the rack easier to remove and install. Metro stayed with the last generation rack until it quit building them in 1993.


At that time, Metro started looking for a commercial product that was better suited to the task and especially one that did not need to be removed every time the bus was washed. If the racks were not removed, they would be mangled in the wash and also damage the expensive oversize brushes in the washing unit.

Metro ultimately selected Sportworks in Woodinville to build a bike rack to the transit system’s specifications. This helped launch the private company into the bike-rack expert they are today. Sportworks’ bike racks are currently on buses in more than 400 cities.

From that point on everytime Metro ordered new buses a request for a bike rack was included in the bid. Today, all Metro buses are equipped with bike racks.

source : http://transit.metrokc.gov

picture : http://www.fta.dot.gov, http://www.metrokc.gov



Filed under Public Transportation

5 responses to “History of the bus bike rack

  1. Pingback: History of the Metro bike rack « Fruit from the Tree

  2. Pingback: Did You Know? - Seattle Transit Blog

  3. I was reminiscing about my early experiences with Metro’s bike racks. The time frame was my late high school years, so it must have been about 1978-1979 or so. Anyway, I remember that the first bike racks used by Metro were mounted to the back of the bus. They held 4 or 5 bikes, if I remember right. The bikes were hung from the rack on the back with the front wheel pointing straight up and the back wheel near the front bumper.

    There were only four stops where you could get on or off: Montlake Station, Evergreen Point Station, one stop downtown, and one on the Eastside (which I never used personally, but I think it was at a Park & Ride lot.

    There were a few commuters at first, but I used it mostly on weekends on a bike loop from my U-District home, up the Burke-Gilman trail, and back around to 520, where I could take the bus across. It was a pretty cutting-edge idea at the time.

    The demise of rear-mounted bike racks came quickly, if I remember right, when a few people tried to ride for free by jumping on and hitching a ride on the rack when the driver wasn’t looking. The next generation of racks were, of course, on the front of the bus.
    Beo : thank you for sharing, Bryan…

  4. Florb

    The Metro racks prior to ’93 had several issues. They were front loaders with swing away arms that required the cyclist in the front position to remove his or her cycle if the interior cycle was being removed. The racks were only on select routes which meant that only some buses were fitted with them. This caused a customer service problem if an operator arrived at a designated stop with a bus without a rack. Then, of course, there was the problem of washing the buses with the older rack.
    Metro researched racks for several years attempting to find one they could fit on every bus in order to make the service universal and easy to use. It was the first large transit system in the country to fully equip an entire fleet (at that time around 1,100 vehicles) with bike racks. The $1.3 milliion in funding came from the Federal Transit Administration (CMAQ funds) and was support by recently adopted regional multi-modal policies. Metro also used funds to fit vanpools with racks, create an administrative agreement with NW Bicycle Alliance and to test and develop a bicycle locker program.

  5. Pingback: Cult of the Green Man » Blog Archive » Transport in the U.S.

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