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CALTRANS NEWS

MARCH 2007

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Bike Station Project Opens in Palo Alto

By Ken McGuire and David Priebe
Division of Local Assistance

So, you took your doctor’s advice about getting more exercise and decided to include a bike ride in your commute. The first day was going pretty well, except for that one hill, which never seemed that steep in the family sedan, and arrived at the station -- only to find the bike racks at the station and on the train full of bikes.

Where did all these people come from? Didn’t they know you needed a space -- or you’d be late for work. While you were weighing your options, your train came and went -- and it certainly seemed like no one cared.

Jeff Selzer and his bike
Jeff Selzer is General Manager of Palo Alto Bicycles
and is also operator of Bike Station Palo Alto.

But wait. The City of Palo Alto and its local transportation partners feel your pain. On February 27, Bike Station Palo Alto celebrated the grand re-opening of its state-of-the-art bicycle parking facility at the historic Palo Alto Caltrain Depot. From its original opening in April 1999 until it was closed for renovation and seismic work in November 2004, Bike Station Palo Alto used a valet system to park thousands of bicycles, with a peak of 80 bicycles per day.

The new facility, designed and constructed by Joseph Bellomo Architects, features a 24-hour security camera system, round-the-clock electronic key access, and a double-tier bicycle rack parking system that accommodates 96 bicycles.

The depot is part of the Palo Alto Transit Center, a central hub for Caltrain, SamTrans, Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus lines, the Dumbarton Express, and the Stanford University's Marguerite Shuttle. The bike station’s proximity to the transit center will facilitate multimodal travel by bicycle and transit for longer commutes -- that might not be practical by bicycle alone. The parking facility will also alleviate the high demand for bicycle storage on Caltrain.

Users have two choices. To park a bike on the lower tier, simply guide the bicycle into the rack. The upper racks are user friendly too. Just lower the lightweight upper rack and lift your bicycle into the guide rail, which automatically secures the wheels and locks the bicycle into place. Each rack also accommodates a bicycle lock for additional security.

In 2008, when the train depot renovation is completed, the bike station will offer bicycle rentals, service, and repair, bicycle and accessory sales, as well as a changing room and outdoor seating area -- accessible by electronic key.

Costs range from $1 a day to $96 for a one-year membership. Each option requires a $20 annual administrative fee.

The Bicycle Facilities Unit in the Division of Local Assistance and District Local Assistance Engineers administer the Bicycle Transportation Account (BTA), an annual program that provides state funds for city and county projects that improve safety and convenience for bicycle commuters.

Eligible BTA projects include, but are not limited to: bikeways, bicycle parking, bicycle racks on public transit, traffic control devices, safety improvements, and maintenance on existing bikeways. Recently, the BTA contributed funds to similar secure bicycle parking projects in the cities of Long Beach, Oakland, Pasadena, and San Francisco.

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