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Bike Commute Options During the BART Strike

1036759259_63a15dbcd5.jpgBig, green AC Transit buses (foreground) have extra bike capacity in their cargo bays. Other AC Transit buses, such as the one in the background of this photo, only have room for two bikes. Flickr photo: Racingmix

When the BART strike begins on Monday morning, the best way to commute will likely be via the Internet. If that's not an option, then bicycling will be a good alternative for lots of people.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will have commuter convoys at all of the city's BART stations Monday, acccording to the SFBC's Neal Patel. They will also have an energizer station from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Market and Battery.

While auto traffic will be heavier, Patel said that might not be a bad thing for bicyclists. "Really slow moving traffic and not moving traffic is in some ways safer than fast moving traffic."

If you're commuting across the Bay, however, be prepared for crowded buses, ferries, and bike parking stations.

Robert Raburn, director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, said the organization might offer emergency valet bike parking at BART parking lots, but nothing is certain yet. "Fruitvale Village bike station will be open on Monday, it's outside of BART property," said Raburn, as will "the Embarcadero bike station, because it serves Muni."

Taking bikes on AC Transit buses is another option, said Raburn. On the big, green (MCI) AC Transit buses that cross the bay, Raburn said he's seen as many as ten bikes stored in a single cargo bay. "There's a lot of capacity, it takes some delicate maneuvering to extract the bus, and you can't have people that are squeamish about scratching their paint. Nevertheless, there are solutions out there." Other transbay AC Transit buses, which are smaller and white, only carry two bikes per vehicle, so riders could be stranded if they don't have a backup option. Both buses operate on the same transbay routes.

Ferries from Bay Farm Island and Alemeda/Oakland may be a safer alternative. If you do take the ferry, said Raburn, "Always carry a bungee cord. Be self-sufficient, because rack capacity on ferries is probably going to be jammed."

Caltrans also runs a bike shuttle over the Bay Bridge, but it is generally full to capacity even under normal conditions, so Raburn advised against counting on it.

Whether the BART strike will draw in hoards of new bike commuters remains to be seen, but transit access, parking, and bike route information will be crucial for new riders and for cyclists who normally bike to BART. "Where there's capacity on transit, it could be a good moment," said the EBBC's Raburn. "But it can also be a turnoff for some people if they're in a jam packed bus or ferry."

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