My new-found bike rage

The Bart system has been in an asshole mood lately. Yeah, getting hacked would make me grumpy too. And, I try to defend them as I’m a tremendous fan of public transportation, but some things they do drive me absolutely insane.

As my initial San Francisco bicycle got stolen a month after I moved to SF, I’d never really had the chance to experience how awesome San Francisco is with a bicycle. This last month with the bike has changed all that. I stretch my arms out wide across the horizon and say, “I could go there right now” and I can. Everything in this town is suddenly within easy reach when you put down your your Clipper card and start pedaling. If the cross-city bike routes (HT Editor in Chief) actually happen, then things would be even more awesome.

That is of course with the exception of Bart. According to their official bike rules they encourage bikes for commuting, but then of course, they ban them on weekday trains from 7:05-8:50 and 16:25-18:25 which in effect means that you can’t bring a bicycle on Bart when you’d actually need it for commuting. Many people give this the “ahfuckit” and take them anyways despite the threat of a $250 fine that could easily cause bike rage (still can’t believe there’s a Wikipedia entry for that).

As it happened, I needed to go over to the East Bay one morning this week. I checked the schedule and saw that the first train that allowed bikes to the East Bay was at 8:53 and I headed down to Powell. Naturally, I was immediately stopped by the station agent who had stepped out of his little glass booth, high on his own farts to let me know that bikes were not allowed in the station until 9:30 despite being allowed on the train after 8:50.

Now, I can’t find this 9:30 time anywhere on the Bart website. The only thing I find mention of is having to go to Embarcadero for East-bound trains during the morning commute. But, does that mean you can’t take a bike between say, Colma & Glen Park? I don’t know and apparently Bart doesn’t either or they would have made it a lot easier to understand. Also, it would help a great deal, in this modern web age to have some kind of a hover element on the Bart trip planner that when you click on the Bike/No-Bike icon for more information that the systems sees your station choices and goes, “Holy shit! You’re going to take this train from Powell?!! At that time?!! The station agent will totally smack you down and call Bart police if you do!”

The real issue is that even though five million people a year take their bikes on the Bart system, Bart still regards it as a recreational option, not something people seriously do for transportation. The Bart logic on this becomes readily apparent as I met one of their media people who admitted to me of having gone to a Bikes on Bart meeting at Zeitgeist (a major SF cyclists’ bar) by car. So, not only was Bart nor a bike used, but a car. This is part of the problem in that Bart needs to get some people on staff who, I don’t know, use the system regularly and actually are using public transportation instead of just stating that they would like to use it more in their Five Year Plan during their interview.

It needs to be figured out how to allow bikes on Bart in a sensible way because whether you’re getting off on an end where you connection is on Muni or AC Transit, you’re basically screwed unless you’re cycle-enabled.