Our Response to Caltrain’s Strategic Plan

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Every day, thousands of people board Caltrain with their bikes, helping them get safely and conveniently to and from home, their workplace, their school, their grocery store or their child’s daycare. That number has grown exponentially over the last ten years, with a 364% growth in bike ridership, which outpaces even the overall growth in Caltrain ridership. In many ways, Caltrain has been a model for other transportation agencies around the country, with dedicated bike cars, reliable schedules and an eye to a greener, more sustainable future with the Caltrain Modernization Program. Still, we continue to see issues with a growing number of “bumps,” which is when a passenger is denied boarding due to limited bike capacity.

Currently, Caltrain is renewing their Strategic Plan, which will “establish a common vision for the agency and will frame key policy, service and investment decisions over the next 10 years.” The last Strategic Plan from 2004 included a recommendation to increase bike capacity to respond to the growing bike ridership. Thanks to the hard work of our members and advocates, the decision to have two bike cars for every train passed in 2009. For this upcoming Strategic Plan, Caltrain is now open for feedback, which is an opportune time to give your input on what this common vision should be.

In response, the SF Bicycle Coalition has submitted a formal comment, which you can read in full here (pdf). Even though Caltrain has led the way with bikes and transit, the exponential growth in bike ridership along with the people who get bumped every day lead us to our main recommendation: Increase bicycle capacity on Caltrain. We encourage Caltrain to explore both short-term opportunities to deal with the current problem as well as plan for the long-term vision.

In our letter, we also highlight the story of Melissa Holmes, a member of the SF Bicycle Coalition who had this to say:

I am regularly bumped off Caltrain. In the morning I add an extra 12 minutes on my commute to ride to 4th and King to avoid getting bumped. I live closer to 22nd. [...] I ride Caltrain less because of the concern that I will get bumped. (It is not practical for me to walk from Caltrain to my office.) I cannot be late to work and I have a small child at home so getting bumped really limits the amount of time I get to spend with my son.

If you haven’t already, we hope you can take a moment to share your experiences so we can make sure you have the freedom to choose sustainable ways to get around, and transportation agencies such as Caltrain support and accommodate these needs. Click here for a template to get you started.

Lastly, we wanted to celebrate the upcoming 1-year anniversary of Bay Area Bike Share, did you know that the most popular bike share station is the one located at San Francisco’s 4th and King Caltrain Station? We hope that, as Bay Area Bike Share expands, we can create more connections between bikes and our other transportation networks. Check out Bay Area Bike Share today to combine bikes and transit for your Caltrain commute!

Become a member and you'll improve your commute and get discounts at shops across the city.