Bikes on Transit: The Bay Area Story


Despite all the fabulous development in hybrids and alternative fuels lately, we all know that the best ecological choice you can make is to ditch the guzzler altogether and ride a bike! It's cheap, healthy, and sometimes even faster (if you live in a hectic city like I do). Unfortunately, biking isn't always practical for a great many people who either live too far, have poor bike infrastructure, or just don't have the information to make it seem feasible.

That said, certain transit agencies are starting to tackle the first of those problems by making room for bikes on trains and busses. It's an ideal solution for long distance commuters who might live a mile or two from a train station and also work a mile or two from a station on the other end. In the Bay Area, the various transit agencies have done a decent job in this regard. How about your neck of the woods? It seems to me a great way to give people more options - making both transit and biking easier.

Because I live here, I'll give a little breakdown of what's available around the Golden Gate. After the jump, tell us what's going on in your area...Caltrain is a commuter rail line that runs from San Francsico to Silicon Valley, stopping near all the big tech companies along the way. Trouble is, once you're outside the city, public transit is virtually nonexistent, so bringing your bike on the train can be a godsend. Caltrain offers by far the best deal around for bikes - an exclusive car on every train with capacity for either 16 or 32 bikes, free of extra charges. It's such a good deal that it's starting to get overcrowded and prompting Caltrain to consider adding more bike space soon.

Golden Gate Transit, a commuter bus line from Marin County (north of the city), offers a rack for two bikes on the front of every bus. It's not exactly a lot of space, and often gets filled up forcing you to wait for the next bus. GGT also offers a ferry service to and from San Francisco on which a large number of bikes can be accomodated - making for a nice morning ride, followed by a scenic cruise!

MUNI: In San Francsico, all Muni busses have bike racks too, but they aren't super useful since biking in the city is at least twice as fast as getting on a bus, unless you've got a monumental hill climb. Busses in the East Bay offer similar options.

BART: Finally, there's BART, which also permits bikes on board, with a maximum of 2 bikes per car. BART is like a subway, but functions essentially as commuter rail for points east. Unfortunately, BART prohibits bikes on trains near and during rush hour, which really puts a damper on things. One hopes that someday BART will have an exclusive bike car, like Caltrain because I'm sure it would get used!

There's more information about the issue on the East Bay Bike Coalition's website, as well as the SFBC.

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