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New card-swipe bike lockers unveiled at MacArthur BART

on October 29, 2008


Oct. 29–With grandeur befitting the opening ceremony of the Tour de France, BART officials and employees staged a decorous introduction to the new BikeLink Bicycle Locker System this morning near the front entrance of the MacArthur BART station.  With the new system, bicyclists can now store their bikes and gear in large lockers at various BART locations in the East Bay.

Members of BART’s board of directors and Bicycle Task Force representatives commenced the event by pedaling through the blue ribbons strewn up next to the new storage units, which were decorated with bows.  A portable machine lightly blanketed the spectacle with bubbles.

“This is yet another step in BART’s commitment to bicyclists,” said Tom Radulovich, a board member and daily bike rider.  “Bicyclists haven’t been treated with enough consideration in the past, and hopefully this shows we’re changing in this regard.”

To use the lockers, bicyclists purchase “smartcards” either online at, or at the various stations. These smartcards serve as both payment devices and keys to retrieve gear.  Users locate an empty locker and slide the card through the reader, which releases the gate.  Upon a biker’s return, the card is swiped again, deducting money based on the number of hours the locker was used.  The rate is three cents per hour.

“This new technology is efficient, secure, easy to use, and affordable,” said Lynette Sweet, another board member.  “For 20 dollars, you can get 666 hours of rental time.”

The lockers are large enough to hold bikes of many sizes.  “There’s also enough room to fit helmets, bike bags, and other loose items comfortably,” said Gustavo Huber, a spokesman for eLock technologies, which created the rental system.  “You wouldn’t be able to leave those items on a regular bike rack.”

In addition to the racks, there are still traditional lockers people can rent at certain stations on a yearly basis.  But according to BikeLink’s pamphlet, the problem with traditional rental lockers is the long waiting lists.  Many of the units go unused for most of the year because only one person has a right to each locker.  Huber cited on-demand access for everyone as a benefit for the new system.  “Anyone who needs a locker can use it,” he said, “so a single locker can hold several peoples’ bikes per week.”

The new lockers are the result of a vote by the BART board of directors last January. The nine-panel board recognized the growing need for bicycle storage.  “We’ve noticed that there are more bicyclists riding to BART in the last several years because of the rising gas prices,” Sweet said.  “We want to continue encouraging people who are driving to take public transportation.”  When asked how the BikeLink system would increase the number of people using rapid transit, Sweet pointed to the nearby bikes chained on the racks and said, “You can see that a lot of these have pretty complex bike locks on them.  Some people spend hundreds of dollars on these devices because bicycle theft is a big crime at BART.  We wanted a safer alternative, and these lockers are very secure.”

Bicyclists said they were happy with the new lockers.  “I used to bring only my folding bike, but now I can use these lockers to store my regular one,” said Ian McDonald, 53, who commutes on BART to downtown Oakland every day.

Although the 40-locker MacArthur station was the chosen site of the opening ceremony, there are an additional 160 units ready for use at Ashby, Dublin/Pleasonton, Lake Merritt, North Berkeley, Rockridge, San Leandro, and West Oakland.  Next year, BART plans to begin Phase II of the electronic lockers program, which will provide the service to stations in San Francisco and other parts of the East Bay.

“But what happens when you get here and there’s no BikeLink space available?,” said Craig Hagelin, 61, who used to take BART from Walnut Creek to the MacArthur station daily.  “It could get very crowded, and some people won’t have a space.  That’s a bit of a worry.”||||||||||


  1. Wayne Wisecarver on January 19, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Great idea. These locker’s fill a growning need. I’d like to see BART set up one or two cars on each 7 and 9 car train to better accomodate increasing bike transportation. Bike riders must congregate at the doors. It makes getting on and off more difficult. If on designated cars, the last two seats on either side at either end of the cars were removed, bike runners which hold up the bike could be installed like slanted parking places on a street.

  2. Oak Railings on March 12, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I think its a fantastic idea. I can become a cross country biker!
    hope its ok to post my site here: Oak Rail Installers

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