BART’s New Green Machine Bike Racks

A step closer to solving the bike-theft-at-stations issue?

One of the new bike racks at 16th and Mission BART. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
One of the new bike racks at 16th and Mission BART. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

BART has launched a pilot project at 16th Street/Mission and Pleasant Hill stations of a new type of bike storage security device. They’re called “Bike Keep” racks, but Streetsblog prefers to call them the “Green Machines.”

Register to use them here.

From the BART release on the new rack/Clipper-activated locking devices:

A new generation of technology-rich bicycle racks is just coming to market. These racks lock the frame and one wheel with a mechanism that is significantly stronger than the traditional bike rack and U-lock combination. They also feature an alarm that sounds if someone tampers with the bike. Users access the racks with a Clipper card, but solely for the purposes of locking/unlocking the racks — the racks will have no access to the financial or any other data from your Clipper account.

BART posted a video to explain how they work.

Steve Beroldo, BART’s bike program manager, said he discovered the product on the Internet, tried them out, and was impressed with the technology. BART is saying they are the first transit agency in America to offer them.

Streetsblog definitely approves of having bikes locked with a Clipper card (at no charge, according to BART–it’s just used like a key). That said, Streetsblog prefers the BikeLink lockers because it completely encloses the bike, and makes it darned near impossible to steal wheels, lights, seats, etc. The downside is the time to set up the BikeLink card, which is annoyingly separate from Clipper, but the price is nominal. The new green machine lockers lock the front wheel, but you’ll still need your own lock or chain to secure the back wheel. And, of course, your seat is still vulnerable.

That said, Ryan Russo, head of Oakland’s DOT, during his interview with Streetsblog last week, demonstrated how he uses a stretch of bike chain with some rubber tubing around it to secure his seat:

Some old bike chain and rubber tubing (to avoid catching your pants on it) keep this seat secure. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
Some old bike chain and rubber tubing (to avoid catching your pants on it) keep this seat secure. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

It’s nice that BART is moving steadily forward to make their system more compatible with cycling, from permitting bikes on trains at all hours, to setting up BikeLink stations, lockers, and attended facilities, to these new green machines. Obviously, even the best U-locks can be defeated, and it’s kind of a bummer that it’s so hard to stop bike theft. As Streetsblog covered a few years ago, theft is a major impediment to cycling.

Streetsblog hopes Muni will do more to get with the program too to discourage bicycle theft and make its rail vehicles more accessible to cyclists.

Streetsblog would be curious to hear how its readers are using bike racks, lockers (such as BikeLink) and what they think of these new green machine bike lockers at BART stations. And what are their experiences taking bikes on transit overall?

Post your experiences and bike/transit security strategies below.

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