The City of Sacramento has installed some BikeLink bike storage lockers in parking garages. These are the first city-sponsored lockers, though Sacramento Valley Station (Capitol Corridor) has an extensive locker installation, Folsom has had lockers at the three light rail stations for several years, and Roseville has a few locations.
The new city locations are mostly parking garages: Memorial Garage, 805 14th St, City Hall Garage, 1000 I St, Capitol Garage, 1126 11th St, and Tower Bridge Garage, 135 Neasham Cir, with one additional location in the K St pedestrian tunnel to Old Town Sacramento/Sacramento Riverfront. I’m not overly fond of parking garage locations, as they are out of sight and not a place most bicyclists would think of to seek out bike parking, but they are certainly better than nothing, and people will eventually discover and use them.
I hope that the next set of BikeLink lockers in Sacramento are located centrally and visibly at high bicyclist traffic areas, for example DoCo, and the new convention center and community center. They are particularly important where bicycles will be parked for longer time periods, such as attending events, and where parking is needed at night. For short-term, day-time parking, regular bike racks will serve most users. However, employees who bike to work often do not have safe storage, I see a lot of bikes parked out behind buildings, locked to whatever can be found, and I suspect most of these are low-income employees of service businesses, who deserve better security for their bikes. So high retail locations like restaurant areas and malls should also have them, for the use of employees if not others.
Forty on-demand bike lockers have been installed at Sacramento Valley Station by Capitol Corridor. They are located between the station exit to the platforms and the thruway bus area. These lockers use the BikeLink chip-card system, which I wrote about in 2013 (BikeLink). These join long-term lockers and the Pedal Stop bike station, and new lockers at the Amtrak/Capitol Corridor station in Davis.
Unfortunately, you can’t purchase a BikeLink card in the station, at least not yet. You can purchase them in the Cafe Car onboard all Capitol Corridor trains, but of course if you arrive at the lockers without a card, that doesn’t help you for this trip. You can also order cards via BikeLink. I am not sure how long it takes to get cards through the mail, but I think I remember about a week. The BikeLink map shows three vendor locations in Roseville, since Roseville now has BikeLink locker locations, though I have not used these. The cards cost $20, and that full value is available for locker rentals, though if you use a bike station location with multiple bike racks, such as the Folsom station and several in the bay area, you do have to pay a one-time $5 fee.
The lockers cost 5 cents per hour. That’s a pretty incredible deal given how much car parking costs, and the peace of mind knowing your bike is very unlikely to be stolen or vandalized. Even your seat will be dry!
Hopefully this will be the beginning of more installations showing up around Sacramento and the region, as business and agencies realize what a convenience and encouragement for bicycling the lockers are.
If you are a light rail user, you may have noticed bike storage lockers at some of the stations. Two types of lockers exist:
rental lockers at 19 SacRT light rail stations, which are listed on the SacRT “Biking with RT” webpage
on-demand lockers at 3 SacRT light rail stations in Folsom, plus the Folsom Pedal Stop bike station
The rental lockers work well for people who routinely commute the same route to and from work, and are leased for 6 months or 13 months at pretty reasonable rates. The downside to rental lockers is that they can be used by only one person, and are empty when not in use by that person. Mike Mattos, SacRT Chief of Facilities & Business Support Services Division, said that these lockers were mostly purchased at the time of rail extensions, and they are repaired and replaced from operating funds. They move lockers from one station to others as demand changes. They have explored on-demand systems, but have not installed any because they don’t feel that any vendors so far meet their criteria. He pointed out that the downside of on-demand systems for typical commuters is that they don’t then have a guaranteed space at their station.
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.