In an effort to attract riders back to the commuter rail lines, the MTA will be waiving the $5 dollar fee and permit requirement to bring a bike on Metro-North and the Long Island Railroad.
The change goes into effect September 7th, but the MTA will also have a one-day grace period on August 22nd, the day the Five Boro Bike Tour returns after a hiatus during the pandemic.
While the permit rule will be removed in September, all other bike rules remain in effect. That includes a maximum allowance of four bikes per train on weekdays, and eight on weekends.
Still, the MTA doesn’t think this will be an issue.
“Having a lot of bikers on the trains would be a really great problem to have, so we’re just trying to welcome back as many people as we can and eliminate the obstacles to welcome back as many bicyclists as possible,” said Catherine Rinaldi, president of Metro-North, at a news conference at Grand Central Terminal on Thursday.
Other rules that will remain in effect prohibit bikes on trains during rush hours, on several major holidays, and around holiday weekends.
The MTA has designated some weekend Metro-North trains as “Bicycle Trains” and will have a bicycle symbol on the schedule. These trains allow more bikes on board than regular trains.
The agency announced the looser bike policies in tandem with the return of the Five Boro Bike Tour, which was suspended last year due to the pandemic. Registration ends on Sunday. In the past, the number of participants was capped at 32,000, but this year it will only permit 20,000 people to ride.
Advocates and lawmakers have been pushing the MTA to do more to connect the cyclists and transit networks.
Mayoral-hopeful Andrew Yang had called for adding a bike lane on MTA controlled bridges, like the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, as part of his campaign. And a bill that passed both houses of the state legislature, introduced by State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, would’ve set up a committee at the MTA to improve pedestrian and cyclist access to MTA bridges, but Governor Andrew Cuomo never signed it.