Monday, July 16, 2012

Appropriated Identities Light Rail Diversions

How I imagine a Mayan bicycle mechanic would appear, with wrenches

Right around the midpoint of the Oak-Encanto bikeway sits a light rail station with some cool public art. On a hot day at noon in the summer, those air conditioned light rail cars with the bike hangers can be a welcome respite, a way to cover some miles and cool down while doing it. The art at this stop is cool, centered around a bronze statue with some interesting details.

Public art at the Light Rail stop across from the Heard Museum

It seems like I see more and more bicycles on and around the light rail whenever I ride it. Sometimes, the bicycle hangers are even full, but no one seems to mind in that case if you stand and hold your bike. At least not on the weekends, not sure what a crowded work day would be like. I guess you could always wait for the next train while pondering the details of this bronze stele.

Compare with this stele from Copan (public domain image, from here.)


  1. I can usually find a place to hang my bike during the morning commute. On the way home in the evening, I almost have to stand for at least the first half of the ride until space frees in the bike racks. I have plenty of complaints about riders who don't even try to hang their bikes and instead sit with their rides in front of them, taking up three seats in the process. Nevertheless, the overall mix of light rail and bicycling is a success story.

    It's such a success story that Metro Rail needs to look at next steps, and I think the agency is doing that based on a recent survey they did of riders. One possibility is to add more bike lockers at stations so that people who ride to and from rail can store their bikes securely during the day and therefore not bring as many of them on the trains. That will work for some people, but probably not for me since I enjoy having my bike at the office in order to pedal to lunch or errands during the day.

    Another possibility is to run more three-car trains. Currently, you see those routinely in the morning but not in the evening unless there's a Diamondbacks home game. Finally, my own suggestion is that Metro Rail might want to consider removing seats from the center section so that even more bikes can be hung there. No matter what happens, it's great how light rail ridership just continues to increase long after the claimed novelty has worn off and it's great that so many bike commuters are part of that trend.

    And, yes, the station art at Encanto/Central is pretty cool. Other favorites: the "Stargate" at Central/Camelback, the history of the justice system at 1st Ave/Jefferson, and what I call "retro Tempe" at Dorsey/Apache.

    1. I saw one woman sitting on her bike lined up with the doors, not blocking them, and pointed in the right direction for her when she got off, which seemed slick if you can pull it off. A folding bike would probably be the way I would go if I took the light rail every day, so that I knew I would be able to deal with any level of crowding with minimal hassle, and could tuck my bike under my desk without worrying about parking it, either.


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