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How To Put A Bike On The Bus (the smart way)

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There are several reasons why you might want to carry a bike onto a bus.

Perhaps your commute to work is longer than you’re comfortable riding the whole way.

Maybe the weather is bad or you want to bypass a dangerous section of road on your journey.

This article tells you how to put a bike onto a bus. Maybe it’ll inspire you to bike commute or go on multimodal bike adventures!

Can I Take My Bike With Me On The Bus?

The first thing to consider is whether your planned bus journey will even be possible with your bike.

What are the factors that influence this?

Bus Company Regulations

Rules about bringing bikes onto buses are likely to vary from one place to another and one bus company to another.

It’s a good idea to go online and check what the bus company says about carrying bikes onto their buses. They may only allow it during off-peak hours, or the company may only allow certain types of bikes (e.g., folding bikes).

Bike Type & Bus Design

The type of bike you’re riding will have a big effect on how easily you can carry it onto a bus. You could carry a Brompton folding bike aboard and it wouldn’t be much different from carting a large bag. Conversely, an MTB could create chaos.

If a bus provides ample luggage space below or between seats, a folding bike becomes even more viable. Whereas a full-sized bike could still be a problem. A full-sized bike with a folding handlebar is more feasible because it’s skinnier.

Does The Bus Service Have Bike Racks?

A bus furnished with bike racks is clearly obliging when it comes to carrying bikes. Depending on location, bike racks may be inside or outside the bus.

In the US, Canada, and Russia, buses have racks at the front of the vehicle, whereas in some parts of the EU (e.g., Czech Republic, Poland) they might be at the rear.

Countries like France, England, and Scotland also have bike-friendly buses in some areas with large interior sections dedicated to bike racks.

Is there anything about your bike that would stop it from going into the bike rack?

A bike with fat tires may not fit into all bike racks, for instance, so you’d need to check the details if you have a non-conventional machine.

Video: A Bike Bus In Canada

Physical Limitations

How easy is access to the bus and can you lift your bike over a high step if necessary? Is there a space big enough for bikes that you can occupy?

Modern city buses tend to be longer than they once were and roomy in the center. Older buses, in particular, are less likely to have easy access (low steps or ramps) than modern buses.

If you’re struggling with a bike, hopefully, a kind passenger or obliging driver will help you onto a bus. This moves us to the next point.

Driver Discretion

It’s probable that a bus driver won’t allow you onto a crowded bus with a bike, as you’re likely to cause irritation and congestion and delay people from getting on or off. There may simply be insufficient room.

Try planning your cycle journey to avoid peak bus times. If you’re commuting to a 9-to-5 job, this is an obvious problem. A train may be an easier option at peak times.

Bike Value & Protection

If you’re thinking of transporting a high-value bike by bus, it’s not risk-free. Other passengers are unlikely to know or care much about your bike’s value, so it may take a knock or two. This can happen when bikes are yanked out of racks, for instance.

Long-distance buses or coaches often place luggage in a hold beneath the bus. Again, you might want to make sure your bike is protected before taking such a ride. A bike bag or case would help in such situations.

How To Put A Bike On The Bus

How you put a bike on a bus depends on the facilities the bus offers and the type of bike you have. Below are three likely scenarios.

Standard Bus & Folding Bike

A folding bike gives you more traveling options, especially on crowded buses. This is because folded bikes are treated as regular luggage by most bus companies.

Read more: Tips for folding bike commuting

1. Arrive Early & Unload Luggage From The Bike

What you don’t want to do with a folding bike is to have to run for the bus before you’ve folded the bike up.

Arrive in plenty of time and unload any bag you may have attached to the bike if it impedes the fold.

2. Fold The Bike

As the bus approaches, or before if you’re not quick at folding, fold the bike. Secure the fold with whatever mechanism the bike provides (usually magnetic).

If your bike does not fold to the size of a standard piece of luggage, you may need to check before embarking that the bus isn’t overcrowded with passengers.

The most compact foldable bikes tend to be those that have the rear wheel folded beneath the main frame (e.g., Bromptons, Helix bikes, Dahon Curl).

Video: How To Fold A Brompton Bike

3. Find A Suitable Seat Or Space

Once you’ve stepped onto the bus, find a suitable seat or space where you can tuck the folded bike out of the way. Ideally, avoid leaving it in the passenger aisle. Continue your journey as normal.

Bus With Front Exterior Bike Rack

1. Wait For The Bus Forward Of Its Stopping Place

Position yourself where the front of the bus will stop to make certain the driver sees you. This will ensure you can start loading your bike straight away without delaying the bus.

2. Make Sure The Driver Sees You

You need to make eye contact with the bus driver and make an obvious gesture that you’re about to mount your bike, like pointing to the bike. When you’re sure the driver has seen you, proceed to mount the bike onto the rack.

3. Prepare The Rack

If there are no bikes already loaded onto the bike rack, it is likely to be folded up flat against the bus. You’ll need to pull the bike rack into position so it can receive bikes.

4. Lift Your Bike Onto The Rack

If you’re loading your bike into the innermost (furthest) space, it may help to lift the bike in a low position by the fork and seat tube. That should prevent you from overstretching.

Otherwise, just grab it by the top tube and handlebar stem. You’ll always use the spot nearest the bus if yours is the only bike. Bikes will typically be oriented in alternate directions. The directions may be indicated on the rack.

5. Secure The Bike With The Support Arm

Release the support arm if necessary using any button that is present and move it over the top of your front wheel. The arm must be over the top of the wheel to properly secure the bike.

Do not attempt to lock the bike to the rack with your own locks. This is normally prohibited.

6. Boarding & Leaving The Bus

Depending on the bus company, you may need to ask for a bike ticket when you board the bus. Sit as near to your bike as possible so you can keep an eye on it.

As you leave the bus, hand the driver your bike ticket so he/she knows you’ll be stepping in front of the bus to remove the bike. Or just tell the driver.

If yours is the only bike on the rack, fold it back up flat against the vehicle before leaving. Never step past the bus and out into the road having removed your bike.

Bus With Interior Bike Rack

1. Mount The Bus

Mount the bus with your bike, checking as you do so that there is space available among the racks for your bike.

You may need to board in the middle of the bus for access to the bike space, depending on the bus layout.

2. Secure The Bike

Use whatever means the bus provides to secure your bike. This may be in the form of a strap, rack arm, or another mechanism.

Remove any accessories that may impede other bikes, like panniers.

3. Taking Your Seat & Leaving

Sit as close to your bike as possible in case there are any incidents. Take care not to knock into passengers or snag their clothes with your bike as you leave.

Keep an eye on protruding bike parts like the handlebar and pedals.

Wrapping Up

Taking your bike onto a bus doesn’t pose any problems in many parts of the world. You just need to familiarize yourself with the facilities a bus service offers.

Once you’ve worked out the details, buses can help expand your cycling horizons and enable you to see new places by bike.

We hope you found this article useful. Please feel free to share it or leave a comment.

Read more: Getting to work without a car

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Glenn Harper
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When Glenn isn't writing for BikePush, he can often be found cycling on his local rural roads. If he can help you benefit from bicycling in some small way, He’ll consider it a win.

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