Last night I used my BikeLink membership to store my bike at the Berkeley BikeStation, which is just two blocks from the Downtown Berkeley BART station. I was wandering around downtown in the late afternoon and early evening before going to a concert, and it was more convenient to be without my bike while walking, and then not having to negotiate to bring it inside at the concert. The BikeStation is a self-service setup, so you can put your bike in and get it out again at any time of day. The adjacent staffed BikeStation has weekday hours, but it doesn’t have to be open to use the storage.
BikeLink is a membership system. Storage costs about 3-5 cents per hour, often less at low-use times, so it is a very reasonable deal. To get started, you have to purchase the card for $20, though, and there is a $5 identification charge on first use. At any rate, $20 buys a lot of bike storage time.
I first wanted to use BikeLink one Sunday in San Francisco when I needed air for my tires and couldn’t find an open bike shop in the part of town I was in. I remembered that there was some sort of bike place at Embarcadero BART station, and so went there, but found it required that I have a card ahead of time. So I signed up and was mailed a card. I used it several weeks later to store my bike there at Embarcadero while attending the Climate Forward SF rally.
BikeLink also has storage lockers at a number of BART stations, other transit locations, and bike-heavy places throughout the bay area. I’ve not used these lockers yet.
BikeLink uses the same sort of electronic card as the ClipperCard transit system card which is now in use throughout nearly all of the bay area. Apparently there are discussions about merging the systems, or at least letting BikeLink credit be stored on the ClipperCard, but at the moment, they are separate.
I asked SACOG about whether the new ConnectCard (similar to the ClipperCard), which is being planned for the Sacramento region, would be able to use BikeLink as well. The answer was that the systems are theoretically compatible, but no plans for interoperability are in the works. I’ve heard that just getting all the transportation entities in the Sacramento region to agree on a common card has been a challenge enough.