bicycling in the east bay

This weekend I was in the east bay. I normally switch over from Amtrak to BART at Richmond, and from BART back to Amtrak at Richmond at the end of my trip, but this weekend I had a much less tight schedule, so decided to pedal my way around. From the station, I headed south to the waterfront, looking for the San Francisco Bay Trail. Many of the streets in Richmond are seriously deteriorated, just as is true in all of the east bay, but some have been renewed. I picked up the trail, which winds for quite some ways along the edge of the bay, sometimes far from the freeway and city and quite pleasant. At Golden Gate Fields, the racing stadium, the trail seemed to disappear, or at least I couldn’t find it. Today I found some good maps online that would have gotten me around this gap, but not having them, I reverted to surface streets. Since this was also the point at which I noticed that the slow tire leak had turned into a fast leak, I pulled out my phone and located a bike shop to get it fixed.

OhloneGreeway_new-section

Blue Heron Bikes on Gilman in Berkeley is a Brompton dealer, and turned out to be the perfect place to go. I got the tube replaced, and then decided to get my other tire replaced, as it was two plus years old and had been punctured so many times I could see daylight through it. The work was done with professionalism. Better yet, I had great conversations with shop manager Jeremy and owner Rob, about Bromptons and all kinds of other biking. A couple was also in, waiting patiently for Jeremy to finish with my bike, one a Brompton owner and the other soon-to-be Brompton owner, and it was fun talking to them as well. Continue reading “bicycling in the east bay”

BikeLink

BikeStationBerkeley_tray-racksLast 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-card

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.