On Bike to Work Day, Nathan Dushman of the SF2G bike commute club led a group of riders from the Millbrae Caltrain and BART station to Oracle’s breakfast spread along the Bay Trail, helping some new riders get practice taking their bikes on the train.
The new riders have a lot of company: the number of Caltrain riders who use a bicycle for their first and last miles is growing at an even faster clip than Caltrain’s rapidly growing overall ridership. The most dramatic spikes are in Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose Diridon stations, which have seen increases of 23 to 24 percent. The growth in bike ridership is in line with dramatic growth in bike commuting in Palo Alto and Mountain View.
These increases follow Caltrain’s decision in 2011 to support two bike cars on every train, substantially decreasing the number of “bike bumps” where riders can’t board the train because the bike car is full. During the count period, Caltrain carried 24,550 bicycles over a 5 day period, with 59 riders bumped; a bump rate down to .2%.
In the Bay Area, bicycling is a useful way to make the first and last connection – according to research from SPUR, 80% of jobs in the Bay Area are within 3 miles of regional transit.
The delayed regional bike share program , with a pilot planned to go live in August, may help alleviate crowding in the bike car, once riders are able to pick up a bike at the station and drop it off at their destination. But with only 750 bikes to start in San Francisco, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose, it will be quite a while before riders can expect bike share bikes to be easily available.