BART Ridership Up, Staff Digesting Bike Pilot Results, Draft Survey Results Out

BART’s historic Bike Pilot Project ended on August 31 after a successful trial.

Bicyclists loved it, of course.

But what has happened since August?

Many cyclists have been wondering….

 Here’s an update.                                                          
BART is still processing the wealth of information and feedback it received last month. The  DRAFT survey results BART released Friday–which show that 90% of BART passengers did not experience problems during the bike pilot–are just one example. In August and September BART’s ridership has also jumped considerably(BART averaged 345, 256 riders per weekday in FY 11, which ended June 30, 2011. In FY 12, ending June 30, 2012, 366,565  weekday riders rode BART. So far in September, daily weekday ridership has topped 400,000  four days in a row and 9 times overall. And ridership at Oakland’s 19th Street station–with no auto parking lot and no bike station–is up almost 10% over 2011.) The increased passenger load makes adding more bikes on trains more challenging–for now–with BART’s limited rolling stock.

         

BIKE PILOT RECAP

For the first time since BART began carrying passengers 40 years ago, BART ended its bike blackouts entirely for all five Fridays in August. For a limited trial period bicyclists were able to take their bikes on any BART train going in any direction, to or from any BART station, at any hour. 

Cyclists could board BART trains as long as there was sufficient room (just as at all other times) and all other bike-related rules  applied during the pilot: there was  no other special treatment for cyclists and bikes were not allowed on escalators. 

According to the June 8 memo from  BART’s impressive General Manager, Grace Crunican, the first BART GM to come from a transit background:

“The goal of the pilot program is to test the impact on passengers and train operations of having bikes in the stations and on the trains during peak periods. Allowing bikes on board at all times can make BART more convenient for people and potentially increase ridership. (Emphasis added.)

The pilot will be evaluated from an operational perspective, from the perspective of bike riders, and from the perspective of non-bike riding passengers…If the pilot demonstrates…potential to ease the restrictions…we will…bring suggested changes to the Board for discussion.” 

AFTER THE PILOT: BART PROCESSING NEW INFO 

The bike pilot yielded lots of information to the BART staff and to activists–just what they wanted. It also revealed several areas in which BART needs to improve bike access–whether or not the current BART policy  banning bicycles during peak commute periods is ended or modified.

The bike pilot will be discussed  at Monday’s meeting of the BART BIcycle Advisory Task Force (BBATF), 6-8 PM on October 1,  in Room 171 of  the Joseph P. Bort Metro Center at 101 Eighth Street in Oakland. It’s across the street from Lake Merritt BART(Bike parking is available inside.)

BART is already modifying its older cars, removing “wind screens” to make them more accessible for all passengers. The staff is also exploring changes in signage, new passenger courtesy campaigns (to reduce rider conflicts), improved station access, better bike security, and possibly modifying the bike blackout periods themselves. Until BART staff is certain that changes can be implemented safely and successfully, they are unwilling to recommend new policies or procedures to the board.

Look for a full report to the BART Board on the August Bike Pilot in November or December, with implementation of the board’s decisions to follow,perhaps in 2013. 

BART’s improved welcome to cyclists has been decades in coming. The August pilot project joins BART’s new 2012 bike planimproved bike security efforts, new bike stations, and reduced blackout hours, among other progress. Some BART staffers still resist or oppose increased bike access on BART trains, but the agency has bike advocates on the inside, too.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have represented Alameda County on the BART Bicycle Advisory Task Force (BBATF) since 2011. My comments here are solely my own: they do not represent the official or unofficial views of BART, the BBATF, or any of its members.

Look for more about Bikes on BART in this space soon.

If you have any local transportation news, questions, tips, or comments, please contact us or leave a comment.

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First-Ever Parklet on Park Street: International PARK(ing) Day 2012 in Alameda

Did you see Alameda’s first-ever “parklet”  in front of Tucker’s Ice Cream on Park Street Friday?

 The parklet–the first one in an Alameda business district–was designed to  reclaim and repurpose some asphalt for the 12 hours of International PARK(ing) Day(IPD) on Friday, September 21.

And it worked.

You can see more photos here of the two-parking-space project, which BikeAlameda board member, new media instructor, and mom Donna Eyestone initiated last year. Alameda parent, Planning Board Vice-president, and architect David Burton, designed the parklet. Burton is also the Chair of  Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda (CASA).

Planning Board member, dad, and former Transportation Commission Chair John Knox White  and many others helped out. Local materials were donated by BikeAlameda, CASA, The Reuse People, Urban Island Home Furnishings, and  Ploughshares Nursery at Alameda Point,

 The biggest star of the show, however, was Ruby, one of  Donna Eyestone’s Rhode Island Reds, proudly representing the famous Alameda Backyard Chickens. (They were featured in   BikeAlameda’s May 6 Alameda Backyard Chicken Coops Tour.) 

 While I was there Friday afternoon most of the pedestrians walking past the parklet stopped, asked about it, sat on the bench, enjoyed coffee or ice cream, admired the plants–or discussed Ruby, Donna’s “best-behaved” chicken-in-residence.

The parklet literally enlivened Park Street, adding something pleasant and unexpected that created connections–a community. Prominent and active Alamedans and city staffers stopped by, a family watched the goings-on from the open-air window seating at Tucker’s, and John Knox White shared the photo he took  from the parklet at about 10:15 Friday morning of the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s flyover,

International PARK(ing) Day (IPD) began in San Francisco in 2005, when Rebar,an interdisciplinary studio working at the intersection of art, design and ecology,” took over a downtown parking space for just two hours–the limit on the parking meter. Photos of the event went viral across the web and International PARK(ing) Day was born. Rebar creates projects that inspire people to reimagine the environment and our place in it,“and  is a major player and resource for the Park(ing) Day movement, even publishing a PARK(ing) Day Manual, in which Rebar asks:

“What is the range of possibilities for creativity in a space usually dedicated to the storage of a private vehicle?”

Rebar provides a bit of an answer:

“Motivated by the desire to activate the metered parking space as a site for creative experimentation, political and cultural expression, and unscripted social interaction, Rebar offers PARK(ing) Day as a prototype for open-source urban design, accessible to all… thousands of people around the globe—working independently of Rebar but guided by common core principles—have created hundreds of “PARK” installations and formed an annual international event.

Urban inhabitants worldwide recognize the need for new approaches to making the urban landscape, and realize that converting small segments of the automobile infrastructure—even temporarily—can alter the character of the city.”

Take a look across the bay at this year’s San Francisco PARK(ing) Day. Check out “Our Favorites from Today’s PARK(ing) Day Extravaganza,” from sf.curbed.com. Or check out Brisbane, Australia’s wildly successful five-year history with PARK(ing) Day. You can also see how Salesforce.com transformed Howard Street into a block-long parklet during Dreamforce X all week long at San Francsco’s Moscone Center. too. 

 In 2011, 975 parks were created to celebrate PARK(ing) Day in 162 cities spanning 35 countries on 6 continents. (The  City of Alameda could not approve Donna Eyestone’s last-minute permit application quickly enough for an Alameda IPD event last year.)

This year was better: the City of Alameda approved Donna Eyestone’s permit to create something different in two parking spaces in front of Tucker’s Ice Cream, Alameda’s iconic ice cream parlor and social hub.

Donna, her chicken, and a host of supporters challenged the auto-dominated uses of Park Street Friday, re-imagining what can be done with a basic asphalt-covered urban space.

How can we re-imagine Alameda’s urban spaces and ways of moving?

What creative changes have you helped bring about?

(Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.)

Look for more about bicycling, walking,  BART, AC Transit, driving, and transportation issues in this space, coming soon.

If you have news, questions, tips, or comments about any aspect of local transportation, contact us or leave a comment.

Read more about Alameda Street Smarts here.

NBCfail Retrospective – Abysmal Olympic Road Cycling Coverage

Long after the 2012 London Olympics have ended, my anger over NBC’s awful-miserable-amateurish Olympic coverage–especially the live streaming of the road cycling events–has subsided only a little. Here are some thoughts:

NBCfail’s online Olympic road cycling event coverage <insert verb beginning with “s” related to vacuum cleaners here>, was substandard, underpowered, poorly directed, and worse. In honor of the infamous Twitter hashtag #NBCfail dedicated to NBC’s Olympic failings, I refer to the network as  #NBCfail below.

1. #NBCfail interrupted live streaming of the road cycling events–during critical time splits–with ads for VISA, Coke, and some car company–products in which I have zero interest at that hour. (My wife and I had arisen as early as 4 AM PDT to watch these races live and uninterrupted, thinking–foolishly–that #NBCfail  would do as well with the Olympics as they had with the Tour de France (TDF).
2. #NBCfail  provided NO commentary on the first–and the most important to roadies like us–cycling events: the women’s and men’s Olympic road races and time trials. Where were Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen?
3. #NBCfail ‘s camera crews and camera work were much worse than the Tour de France (TDF) coverage we had just watched during July–especially from the motorcycle (“moto”) crews. And the director’s choices of  “newsworthy” or significant instant replays were really amateurish and sub-par.
4. #NBCfail  clearly did not have sufficient clear bandwidth to provide uninterrupted streaming of its various (poor) live camera feeds from the cycling events. Interruptions were frequent.
  • Why did #NBCfail  go to such great lengths to avoid using so many readily-available “best practices,” — even its own?
  • WHAT IF #NBCfail Had Been Smart–or Not So Greedy….????
 #NBCfail could have used “crawler” ads that do not interrupt live coverage–like professional soccer broadcasts–but they were either too dumb or too greedy (guess which?) to use them. 
(Why are we bothering to pay for this, anyway?
3. #NBCfail could have covered the Olympic cycling events well–like they themselves cover the  Tour de France every year. We pay #NBCfail (formerly Versus, formerly Outdoor Life Network) good money  every year to watch the live, online TDF coverage and hear the superb commentary by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. (Despite beginning at 4-6 AM PDT almost daily for three weeks straight, it’s worth every penny of cash and hour of missed sleep.)
As far as #NBCfail was concerned–especially on prime time– a) cycling was not an Olympic event, and b) only USA athletes were competing at the Olympics.
Especially with all the prime-time “Olympic fluff,” we were never even tempted to watch #NBCfail‘s TV coverage at any time, prime or otherwise. (We remember watching many previous Olympics, predigested according to  jingoistic NBCfail’s greedy censor-editors… d
We soon tired of  the invasive, repetitive ads and the poor quality of the coverage, giving up on the ‘live” coverage after tiring of  the invasive, repetitive, and interrupting ads, not to mention the poor quality of the coverage itself. (see above, or #NBCfail on Twitter.) We passed on the chance to see the Olympic track cycling, gymnastics, water polo, and other events that were important to us. (We caught up on them through online news sources rather than watching them live. At least we got more sleep.)
We would have GLADLY watched BBC’s live streaming but the BBC’s live stream was blocked in the USA and we had no access to an alternate feed, being on Apple computers. (I almost committed heresy and bought a PC just to gain access to the PC-only app and feed…)
After this awful  2012 Olympics experience I will do anything possible to avoid watching #NBCfail for any reason, especially for sports coverage. 
NBC  must have wanted to produce this end result: they sure did a great job of convincing us to avoid #NBCfail ‘s Olympic coverage–and NBCfail in general– like the plague.