Bike Stations Planned at Two S.F. Transit Centers by Noam Birnbaum

With two new bike stations being planned at the Caltrain depot and Embarcadero BART, San Francisco cyclists will no longer be able to cite thievery as the reason they don't ride to work in the morning. Now, if we could just do something about that rain.

Caltrain has agreed to seek $400,000 in federal funding to build a bike station at its SOMA depot. The funding, which Caltrain expects will be approved this summer, will go toward design and construction of a bike station with a desired capacity of about 100 bikes. A suitable site has yet to be determined, but planners are currently favoring the entrance to the depot at the corner of Fourth Street and Townsend, taking into consideration the site's square footage, accessibility to the depot, and aesthetic architectural concerns.

Under a business plan developed by Victor Vesey, owner of the Bike Hut on the Embarcadero, the bike station will be run by a yet-undecided third party who will be responsible for parking bikes securely at $1 per bike, as well as offering other profitable services such as repair, rental, and sales to allow the bike station to pay for itself. Caltrain may seek a further subsidy to alleviate the bike parking fee. This multipurpose bike station will not only appeal to Caltrain riders, but will also fill a need for SOMA, which has few full-service bike shops.

Although every Caltrain is equipped to hold twenty-four bikes, the demand is about twice that number, with cyclists composing seven percent of Caltrain riders. The bike station, which may not be completed for another two to three years, will help get more San Franciscans onto bikes and mass transit for their daily commute.

Another plan is underway for a bike station at the Embarcadero BART, slated to hold between 50 and 70 bikes, with a possible completion date by the end of this year. Originally slated for the Powell Street BART, the plan was relocated to Embarcadero to appeal to those cyclists who ride to work downtown, those who commute by BART to the East Bay, and recreational cyclists who may want to pedal the waterfront on a rental. According to Harley Goldstrom, BART's Acting Executive Director for External Affairs, rentals were included in the plan "to make it an economically viable project."

Like the Caltrain plan, operation of the Embarcadero bike station will also be conducted by a third party, to be decided in the coming months. "Lots of people will have a say about how it gets operated, including the State, the Air Quality Maintenance District, the City of San Francisco, and the SFBC," said Goldstrom. "I'd rather leave it as a process that is really in development and will need to be worked out with the community."

East Bay commuters who don't live near the Berkeley Bike station will still have to fend for themselves during the morning rush, when BART does not allow cyclists on San Francisco-bound trains. However, help may be on the way with bike stations being considered for the Fruitvale and Pleasant Hill BART stations. So get out your rain gear, because soon your excuses will no longer hold water.