Brompton Folding Bike on NJ Transit at Rush Hour

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One of the many advantages of owning a Brompton folding bicycle is being able to bring the bike with you on NJ Transit trains with relative ease. Traditional bicycles are sometimes not allowed on some trains, and sometimes can be forbidden during rush hour and certain holidays.

My folding bike in the NJ Transit hub

My folding bike in the NJ Transit hub

In my case, I was taking a NJ Transit train from a busy Penn Station in New York City to Hackettstown, NJ. There is nothing quite like rush hour in the big city, and it’s more chaotic on a friday night. My adventure with a folding bicycle was about to get interesting!

I looked up the bicycle policy for NJ Transit, and it states, “Collapsible bicycles are accommodated on all NJ TRANSIT trains at all times,” but also says, “If the bicycle or Segway is considered by an NJ TRANSIT employee to pose a hazard to the safety of other passengers due to overcrowded trains or other operating conditions, the employee may prohibit the bicycle or Segway from entering the train car.” This got me thinking that maybe they’d keep me from boarding the train with my folding bicycle.

Thankfully I had the Brompton cover bag stowed under my seat. In only a minute I had covered my folding bike, giving the appearance that I was just carrying a mid-size suitcase. I could still roll the bike through Penn Station, and I was able to pick up the bike with ease when walking down stairs and when boarding the train. I felt very ninja-like as I got on the train. Yes, I knew I was able to bring my Brompton on, but I still feared that a NJ Transit employee could kick me off the train.

Once I got my folding bicycle onto the train I had to be sure I didn’t take up too much room. I kept the bike at my feet, but sat near the aisle so the NJ Transit ticket collector wouldn’t see me taking up the foot space of two seats. Of course my fears were overblown, as they simply took stamped my ticket and hurried onto the next passenger.

NJ Transit train, no problem for a folding biker

NJ Transit train, no problem for a folding biker

Transferring trains with a folding bicycle can be as challenging as folding bike bus travel. You can roll your Brompton on the train platform, but it still takes up some space, and you don’t want to get in the way of commuters during rush hour. I’ve found that scooting to the side, out of peoples way, is the best bet. Sometimes signage isn’t so clear, and you don’t want to be “that person” that gets in the way of everyone.

Once you arrive at your destination, say “thank you” and nod to your train conductor and carry your folding bike off the train. As you see other passengers scurry to their cars, take your time, take a few breaths and unfold your Brompton. I like taking my time with this, decompressing from a long train ride and feeling the anxiety of hundreds of commuters on a packed NJ Transit train. Put on your helmet and gloves, exhale and go about the rest of your evening proud – you’ve just taken you folding bicycle on a NJ Transit train during rush hour!

by Seth Werkheiser