BART eager to fast-track trains’ bicyclist ridership 

click to enlarge Tough haul : A bicyclist flouts BART’s escalator bike ban Monday. System officials may soon drop the restrictive policy. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Tough haul : A bicyclist flouts BART’s escalator bike ban Monday. System officials may soon drop the restrictive policy.

BART officials are considering launching bicycle sharing, improving bike access at stations and designing new trains to accommodate more riders as ways to double the rate of cyclists using the system over the next decade.

Today, slightly more than 4 percent of passengers use bikes to get to BART. By 2022, the agency hopes to increase that total to 8 percent.  The agency released a draft report Monday detailing initiatives to achieve that goal.

The report recommends evaluating and potentially increasing the cost of automobile parking at stations; making it possible to pay for bike storage with Clipper cards; and reconsidering the agency’s current escalator bike ban, which forces riders to lug their bikes up and down several flights of stairs or wait for one of BART’s often remote elevators.

Other proposals include adding bike-sharing facilities at stations, creating area maps with preferred bike routes and designing BART’s new trains to accommodate more cyclists. Altogether, the report detailed 20 strategies for increasing the number of bikes on BART.

By encouraging more bicyclists to use the railway, BART can increase its ridership, cut down on expensive construction of automobile parking spaces and reinforce its image as a green transportation provider, according to the draft report.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, praised the report.

“We’re eager to see BART really maximize the many benefits of bicycle access to make it easier for more people to travel regionally by bike,” Shahum said. “With their bike plan update, we applaud the elevation of bicycle access as a central and essential part of BART’s success.”

For the next several weeks, BART will be collecting feedback from passengers and cyclists, said Steven Beroldo, the agency’s bike program manager. The plan will then go before the agency’s board of directors for further input.

Once suggestions from those outreach sessions are integrated into the report, the agency will review each station for specific improvements and determine if there are resources to pay for the upgrades,  Beroldo said.

Right now, about 14,000 passengers per day travel on bikes to get to BART stations. Because total ridership on the system is expected to increase over the next 10 years, the agency would have to support 35,000 daily bike-riding passengers to meet its 8 percent access goal.

“Our ridership is expected to double over the next 20 years, and there is not enough room for them to all drive to BART,” said Bob Franklin, an agency board member. “We’re going to have to get people to access BART from their bikes, and when we make it safe and secure, people will take up that option.”

Plan in motion
A look at recommendations in BART’s draft bike plan.

  • Clean elevators regularly
  • Revisit bike ban on escalators
  • Light all bicycle parking areas
  • Evaluate and implement bike sharing at all BART stations
  • Provide space for bicycles in new BART trains
  • Educate passengers and staff on use and benefits of bicycles
  • Fight bicycle theft
  • Support local efforts to improve bike access to stations
  • Allow Clipper payment for bicycle parking

Source: BART

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