Berkeley Celebrates the Opening of a Beautiful New Bike Station

bike_station_exterior.jpgThe new Bike Station on Shattuck near Downtown Berkeley BART. Photos: Matthew Roth.

Berkeley cyclists and BART staff celebrated the grand opening of the new Berkeley Bike Station yesterday at 2208 Shattuck Avenue, one of the largest enclosed bicycle stations in the country and just steps from Downtown Berkeley BART.

The new station expands the capacity of the existing bicycle cage started in 1999 in the Downtown Berkeley station by the Bicycle Friendly Berkeley Coalition. The bike station is a partnership between BART and the City of Berkeley and will be operated under contract by Alameda Bicycle, which has successfully operated BART’s bike stations at Embarcadero and Fruitvale stations, as well as the Downtown Berkeley cage since 2008.

BART Board Vice President Bob Franklin described the bike cage in the BART station as cramped and crowded and said the city needed a better facility.

"As the bike station began to fill up, it got people to envision something bigger and better, a facility where you didn't have to navigate a flight of stairs, a facility with other services," said Frankin. "This shows that Berkeley once again blazes the trail, not only do they blaze the trail but they do it in a clean, zero carbon emissions way."

The new station quadruples the number of bicycles that can be stored securely and makes it more accessible to Berkeley residents as well as BART riders by being in a ground-floor retail space.

Of the 268 bike spaces in the station, 155 spaces will be in triple-decker racks in the free valet assisted parking area and 113 spaces will be in the self-service smart-card self-park area. Free valet bike parking from Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., while the enclosed self-park area will be open 24 hours a day. Self-parkers can access the area by using their Bikelink card, with parking costs at 3 cents per hour from 8:00 am - 8:00 pm weekdays and 1 cent per hour at all other times.

The facility will have bathrooms for customers and smart car uses and will provide bike repairs and accessories at cost. Alameda Bicycle owner Gene Oh also explained a rent-to-own program where the full cost of renting bikes from the facility would be deducted from the purchase price of a bicycle (50 percent of all rental money for a particular bicycle will be subtracted from the sale price, no matter who does the buying).

"The premise of this idea is simple," said Oh. "There are commuters who are convinced that cycling is the best way to get to work. However, there's a large majority of people who do not acknowledge the benefits of cycling to work or taking BART and AC Transit to get to the final leg of work," and the station could provide that incentive to make the switch from driving.

Construction of the $765,000 station came from numerous sources:

  • $496,784 from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s “Safe Routes To Transit” program
  • $80,000 from a Federal Transit Administration grant
  • $130,000 from the State of California Public Transportation Modernization, Improvement and Service Enhancement account (PTMISEA)
  • $50,000 from BART Capital funds

Carli Paine, Transportation Director for TransForm and a Safe Routes to Transit grant administrator, said her advisory panel selected the Berkeley Bike Station because of its import for connecting transit to other modes and for contributing to the reduction of driving. The grants are from a voter-approved fund of $20 million that comes from bridge tolls.

Paine said the Berkeley Bicycle Station was a good solution to the last mile problem: it provides convenient, secure bicycle storage. "It's really important that people walk and bike to regional transit," said Paine.

Rick Rickard, the Acting Executive Director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC), which helps administer the Safe Routes to Transit grants, described yesterday's event as a culmination of efforts to connect bicycling and BART riders. Rickard reminded the audience that the EBBC started with the campaign to allow bikes on BART and now it was proud of the state-of-the-art facility.

"This shows that we've come a long way, baby!" exclaimed Rickard to applause.

Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, who arrived at the event by bicycle wearing a fiery red helmet, said Berkeley wouldn't be content without being the premiere bicycle city in the country. "This is a great, great step in that direction," she said.

"This bike station is a significant addition to Berkeley, which is already recognized as one of the most bike-friendly, environmentally-committed cities in the nation," Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said. "The city is proud to partner with BART in providing this facility to foster a clean, green transportation alternative."

"I think this is not only going to not only be important for Downtown Berkeley, but for the East Bay," added Bates.

Rickard__Franklin__Bates.jpgEBBC Acting Director Rick Rickard, BART Board Vice President Bob Franklin, and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates do a ribbon cutting with ceremonial scissors.

Gene_Oh_Alameda_Bicycles.jpgAlameda Bicycle owner Gene Oh demonstrates the functionality of the new racks.