Bay Area Bike Share is for the suburbanite, too

Annual memberships for Bay Area Bike Share (which will probably end up being known as BABS) went on sale this week for $88. The bike-sharing service, which will launch in San Francisco and along the Peninsula this year, could dramatically change how the western Bay Area moves around. For those in the North and East Bay commuting to San Francisco, you might want to take notice. Even without stations of your own, a membership could still be worth the price.

During rush hour in downtown San Francisco, getting around by transit can be… difficult. BART and Muni Metro run well but trains are beyond crowded. Buses and cars get stuck in gridlock, and so biking is really the only way to move through the City with any speed. But getting your bike to San Francisco can be exceptionally difficult, too. That’s where BABS comes in.

BABS will let a commuter move easily from bus or ferry to someplace far from their stop. If you need to get to anywhere in downtown, you won’t be by what’s within walking distance of the Transbay Terminal or the Ferry Building. Ferry commuters and East Bay bus riders could benefit immensely from membership, as their transit choice doesn’t cover much of the City’s core.

A potential weakness, of course, will be that the central commuter hubs in San Francisco (namely the Ferry Building, the Transbay Terminal, and 4th & King Caltrain) will experience demand that outstrips the available BABS bikes and docks. Encouraging counter-commuters to use those hubs to leave the city would help balance the load. BABS should advertise heavily on the north side of ferry stations and look at expanding into ferry origins, like Vallejo, Jack London Square, and Central Marin, to encourage in-commuter membership and counter-commuting.

During your term of membership, you get unlimited free 30-minute rides. The next half-hour will cost you $4, and each subsequent 30 minutes will cost you $7. The point is to get you to dock your bike at a BABS station, not keep it all day. You’d be surprised how far you can get in 30 minutes.

An annual membership will set you back $88 (which will eventually pay for itself if you usually transfer to Muni), but if you just want to try, a 3-day membership is $22 and a one-day membership is $9. You can sign up today. Are you going to take the plunge?

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About David Edmondson
A native Marinite working in Washington, DC, I am fascinated by how one might apply smart-growth and urbanist thinking to the low-density towns of my home.

4 Responses to Bay Area Bike Share is for the suburbanite, too

  1. Pingback: Bay Area Bike Share is for the suburbanite, too « Vibrant Bay Area

  2. Pingback: Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog San Francisco

  3. Regarding balancing the load and heavily used, commute-time stations: other Alta-operated bike share cities have teams that move bikes around throughout the day. They collect bikes from heavy use kiosks, load them up on trailers and redistributed them back near transit hubs in the morning and back out to work locations in the evening.

    • True, but having been a member of one of those systems for a couple of years, I can say they are far from perfect. The teams help a lot, but I worry that it won’t be enough.

      London, for example, has a bike corral at the largest of commute train stations because they just can’t have enough dock space for all the demand.

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