Improving Active Transportation Options in the Bay Area

Marty MartinezLike a number of staff at the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, I spent much of last week at the Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference in Long Beach. In addition to getting to see my co-workers in the flesh, I really enjoyed the networking opportunities. I was pleased that there was an entire panel devoted to ways in which active transportation opportunities are being improved in the Bay Area. I met one of the panelists—Eric Anderson a planner in the City of Berkeley Department of Public Works Transportation Division—who presented on the Berkeley Bike Station.

I really was interested in hearing about the Berkeley Bike Station. Though I love bicycling, I’m not an avid cyclist and so haven’t been aware of the station, even though it’s been above the Berkeley BART station for well over a year. But just the week before attending the Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference I happened to be in Berkeley and stumbled upon it. I just felt overwhelmed by how huge and welcoming it seemed, and this was just from the outside. The friend I was walking with was completely amazed. She said it made her want to get on a bike right then and there.

The Berkeley Bike Station has capacity for 268 bikes. It provides free valet parking for bikes, and through an agreement with a local shop, also provides bike repair. While it’s mainly intended for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) riders, that includes a large diverse group of people in the Bay Area. Eric Anderson says it gets used by a number of high school and college students, and is hopeful that younger students get to increasingly take increasing advantage of it.

There is a very real opportunity to expand on opportunities to connect transit with active transportation to schools, and bike stations could play an important role.

Steve Beraldo, the BART bike program manager, told me that the station provides the highest level of convenient, secure bike parking possible. He said it’s the busiest of the BART bike stations, and that use has increased 42 percent since 2009.

For me, it was really exciting to learn more about active transportation improvements in the Bay Area. This kind of infrastructure is what’s really necessary if we’re going to get more people involved in walking and bicycling. And I liked the partnership between an agency and a private repair shop. This kind of creative thinking is really inspiring.

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