The corrosion of Aaron Stone

Open Letter for Bicycles on Public Transit

Thoughts on living in San Francisco, and on getting around this place…

San Francisco is an extremely car-congested city. Even if I owned a car, I’d be fighting every day for parking and space on the roads. Why would I do that to myself? So, I bike to work, or I take the bus and walk a few blocks from the bus stop. When I used to live on the Peninsula, I took Caltrain to work. Before that, I lived in Oakland and took BART to work.

So let’s focus on problem areas: First, the roads are in terrible condition, with potholes big enough to eat bicycle tires whole - sometimes even smack in the middle of a dedicated bicycle lane! Second, our bridges do not have consistent bicycle paths. Third, our public transit is outright hostile to bicycles.

Let me dwell on that third point. Each and every public transit agency has different policies about when, how many, and what kind of bicycles are allowed on-board a bus, light-rail (SF Muni), electrified-rail (BART) or heavy-rail train (Caltrain).

It should be national policy to encourage and subsidize the expansion of bicycle commuting capacity in all public transportation systems. The cost of adding one rack-seat combo to a bus or train is a heavy burden upon a municipal transit agency, but in terms of societal cost vs. cars – that require roads, traffic signals, gas stations, parking lots, garages – that dollar spent subsidizing the municipal transit agency’s bike-on-board rack is suddenly a fraction of what we’d otherwise spend to enable that same person to commute by car.

Bicycles on board public transit. It just makes sense.