Warm Planet Bikes has provided more and more Caltrain commuters a secure place to park their bikes at the Fourth and King Street Station in downtown San Francisco in recent years. But the shop could soon shut down without continued support from the public transportation agencies it relies on. Though Caltrain is developing an agreement to support the shop, it may not come until it’s too late.
“Caltrain needs to provide interim funding for uninterrupted service of bike parking at Fourth and King,” said Shirley Johnson, vice chair of the Caltrain Bicycle Advisory Committee and head of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Bikes ONBoard Project. “To expect Warm Planet to stay open without paying for it, that’s just not possible.”
When the bike shop opened in January 2008, it had room to provide attended parking for up to 100 bikes. But over the years, demand has grown, and managers have sacrificed more and more retail space to accommodate parking and avoid “bumping” bike commuters the way Caltrain often does.
Today, Warm Planet parks up to 170 bikes per day, all for free. But the grant the shop had originally relied on ended a year and a half ago, and without a lift from agencies like Caltrain — the transit system whose customers it serves — the shop can’t sustain itself much longer.
“It’s been difficult, but I’ve been making a go of it,” said Warm Planet’s owner and president, who goes by the single name Kash. “This facility doesn’t exist so I can run a bike shop. This facility exists so that people who want to get on Caltrain can park their bikes.”
Kash has sought out other sponsors but says it’s difficult to attract support, since Warm Planet is a for-profit business despite the bike parking services it provides for a public transit agency. Advocates have been pushing Caltrain to find interim funds to keep the shop going, and though staff is negotiating one, a proposal has yet to be put on the table.
“We are very pleased to have a bike parking facility there,” said Caltrain spokesperson Christine Dunn. “We know how important it is, and we have no intention of closing it.”