Image: When Caltrain added a third bike car to its Bombardier train sets in 2016

SVBC has been working on improving access for people who bike to Caltrain for many years. Our strategy has been to work with Caltrain to address your top three concerns:

  • Space for Bikes: Will I get “bumped” and not get a space on the train with my bike?
  • Theft: Is my bike going to get stolen if I lock it up at a Caltrain station?
  • Last Mile Connections: How do I get that last mile once off the train?

Recently, there’s been developments in each of these areas.

Bikes Board First

As of March 11, 2019, all trains and bike cars are “Bikes Board First”. Historically, passengers without a bike would board the trains first, followed by passengers with bikes. Last year, Caltrain did a pilot of the Bikes Board First program to see if this would improve boarding times. The pilot was successful, shaving a minute off of some boarding times. Caltrain has now implemented this program on all trains and at all stations. There are announcements on the boards and over the loud-speakers at stations.

On-Board Capacity for Future Trains Workshop

After advocacy from activists like you, along with our partners at San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Caltrain is holding a workshop on April 17 to address security and space concerns on the new trains.

As Caltrain electrification nears, the future electric trainsets are in design and construction. When the bike car design was revealed last year, there was concern that the configuration of 36 bike spaces but no seats on the lower level of the bike cars could increase bike theft and worsen security. When Caltrain received new funds to add additional cars to the electric trainsets, SVBC and SF Bicycle Coalition urged staff to reconsider the bike layout.

Now, Caltrain has heard our concerns and is holding a joint workshop with the Bicycle Advisory Committee, the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, and you, the public. This workshop will have a board game-style exercise where attendees will work with to-scale models to come up with different ideas for the interior layout of the train cars. You will be able to see firsthand the tradeoffs in design by adding and removing seats, bike spaces, and other amenities. If you ride Caltrain with your bike, please come and share your ideas! Let know if you can attend and/or have questions.

Joint workshop
April 17, 5:45-7:30 pm
SamTrans HQ
1250 San Carlos Ave., 2nd Floor Auditorium
San Carlos, CA

Bike Parking and Bike Share

Due to advocacy from SVBC and SF Bicycle Coalition, Caltrain has also been working on improving secure bike parking at stations and increasing access to bike and e-scooter share. In 2018, Caltrain received $3.5 million in funding to implement improvements. Last year Caltrain hired a principal planner, Dan Provence, tasked with improving station bike, micromobility, and pedestrian access.

Dan comes to this role from a long career at SFMTA as well as a long stint as a member of the Caltrain Bike Advisory Committee. He has ridden Caltrain with his bike for many years and knows firsthand where improvements need to make. Recently, Caltrain published an interview with Dan to learn more about him and his projects. Read the full interview here.

Dan hit the ground running, “I have some short-term initiatives to free up lockers for folks on the waiting list. I am also trying to install more electronic lockers. They’re on-demand and a more efficient use of space than keyed lockers that are rented exclusively to just one customer… I am actually doing station assessments right now to determine their unique needs and how best to accommodate [bicycles].”

He’s also working on longer term projects, like grade separations, safe biking facilities on city streets surrounding stations, and more, “One long-term project I’m working on is the San Jose Diridon station plan. We’re looking at station design concepts that include storage capacity for well more than 1,000 bikes. Today that station has less than 100 spots designated for bike parking.”

We’re excited to have Dan on board and working passionately to create better bike access to Caltrain!