Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bike commuting in the Bay Area 2

My last post on commuting in the Bay Area was full of hill-love, this will be a little more of a downer. I mentioned last time that I liked to ride home over the hills rather than take the train. Even on those days I usually took the train partway, I just went over the hills first. The full trip is about 30 miles, one way, which is why I usually multi-moded it.

Where I worked before (Alameda) was a short hop from a BART station, about a 10 minute ride. That meant I needed my bike at both ends of the trip, which meant getting up really early. BART is semi-liberal with bikes, but excludes full sized (non-folding) bikes during commute hours which are ~ 7:00-9:00 AM and 4:30-6:45 PM. The issue I ran into before was that I would have to leave work really early to catch a train I could fit in (no bike-specific cars) which meant having to start really early so I could get my full 8 hours in.

The new office is across the street from a station, which means that bringing my bike with me is pointless unless I plan to ride after work. That means I'll be locking up at the station, which gives me the heebie-jeebies. Some stations have lockers that can be applied for. I have no idea how long the wait list is for the station near my dad's place, but the last time I was there I counted maybe 10 lockers. Apparently, some stations now have electronic, first-come/first-served lockers that can be registered for. The station near my dad's house is on the "coming soon" list. If I can't get a locker it means locking up outside which is something I've never had to do and I'm not at all comfortable with.

My plan is to check out the electronic lockers at one of the other stations (about twice as far away, but a locker would make it worth it), and time my ride to it. Hopefully I'll be able to do all that before I start working. If not, I'll check out the lockers by driving to that station for a couple of days during the week (to judge the usage) and time the ride on the weekend. The other option is to buy a folder, and as much as I'd love to do that I don't know how practical it would be. Given that my office is almost on top of the station at the other end of the trip, leaving the bike at the "home end" just makes more sense to me.

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