San Carlos, Calif.-based rail service, Caltrain, began a bicycle valet service at their most-frequently used station that allows commuters to park their bicycles for free.
The secure bike station parking service, funded by a grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and CalTrain, is operated by Warm Planet Bikes and can accommodate 130 bicycles. The planning and construction of the new bike station cost $800,000 and took six years to complete. Fourth and Townsend, the main station where the service takes place, has the largest influx of cyclists.
“The bike community has strongly supported this project,” said CalTrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg. The idea came from a similar project done by a company that had leased space at the CalTrain Palo Alto station. The San Francisco-area bike community urged CalTrain to add the bike station. With an operating budget of $339,000, the project will need to become self-sustaining after three years.
“Facilities like this are an intermediary step. It’s just one benefit, intended for people who do not need to bring their bikes on the train with them to use at their destination,” added Weinberg.
Warm Planet Bikes also offers for cost bike maintenance and sales in order to support the free valet service.
The bike station had a soft launch last July, opening it up on a limited basis to commuters to park their bikes, with about 70 to 80 people using the service each day. “CalTrain doesn’t have the capacity to provide a secure space for everyone that needs it to store their bikes, so we offer this service,” said Weinberg. The official launch was held on Jan. 9, with a ribbon-cutting. “The bike community is very connected in San Francisco,” said Weinberg. “Word-of-mouth has been spreading. We are now able to accommodate the full onslaught of people who want to use the service. Right now we’re at over two-thirds capacity, and we’ll be at full capacity within months.”
To provide future guidance for the parking service, which is intended to be permanent, CalTrain is conducting a system-wide bike access survey over the next five months to determine how to accommodate everyone and the easiest way to get bikes in and out of the station. “We’re trying to work within limited resources to benefit everybody,” said Weinberg.