TriMet says denial of tricycle as mobility device is supported by federal regulations

This three-wheeled handcycle isn’t allowed on MAX trains.

Last month we shared the story of activists who spoke out at a TriMet board meeting about their desire to take adult tricycles on light rail cars.

Current TriMet policy allows only two-wheeled bicycles on MAX. Portlander Serenity Ebert, one of the people who testified at the TriMet meeting, uses a trike as a mobility device and she’s pushing the agency to change its policy so that she and others can have the same access as other bicycle users.

Ebert has requested a formal exception based on her condition, but TriMet denied it on the grounds that she can use a walker instead of the trike in order to access MAX. As follow-up to our previous story, I asked TriMet if they would have allowed Ebert’s tricycle if she was unable to use her walker. Here’s the response from agency PIO Tim Becker:

“Any specific request would be need to be fully investigated on its own merit. That said, I can tell you that if Ms. Ebert was not able to use her walker, her request to use the tricycle as a mobility device would still be denied right now because that violates current policy. The Federal Transportation [sic] Administration currently uses tricycles (and bicycles) as a specific example of a ‘device not primarily designed to assist individuals with mobility impairments’.

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Becker then pointed me to the US Department of Transportation official guidance on the ADA and the definition of a wheelchair. “The definition does not include devices not intended for indoor use (e.g., golf carts or all-terrain vehicles),” reads the guidance, “or devices not primarily designed to assist individuals with mobility impairments (e.g., bicycles or tricycles).”

Asked how the community might persuade TriMet to change their stance on the issue, Becker said the agency is always reviewing plans and policies and remains open to feedback through avenues like their recently adopted Bike Plan. In general however, TriMet isn’t likely to budget on the tricycle issue. Even when plans come up for review, Becker said, “Historically, these reviews haven’t resulted in changes to allow larger devices largely due to space constraints, and the need for others to be able to safely move about the MAX train.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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