Bike Share: Solving the Last Mile Problem

04 Sep

Inter-city transit commutes are rarely fast or efficient when one of the cities suffers from less-than-reliable public transportation and the other suffers from suburban sprawl. That was Alex’s challenge.

Alex lives in San Francisco and works 50 miles away in downtown San Jose. I first met her and her lovely city bike in the bike car on Caltrain. Her commute started with a short bike ride to the train station, then a speedy hour on the bullet train, and ended with a quick one mile bike ride from San Jose’s Diridon station to her office downtown. At around 90 minutes, it wasn’t a bad commute considering the distance.

But when a conductor hassled her about her bike’s wire front basket not meeting Caltrain guidelines, she was forced to park her bike in San Francisco and take the shuttle bus down in San Jose. That is, assuming her train was on time so she didn’t miss the shuttle. But now, Bay Area Bike Share has her rolling in San Jose again.


I ran into Alex and her co-worker Dennis this morning as they were undocking bikes outside Diridon station. It was Alex’s third commute day since the system opened and she was thrilled. No more worries of missing the shuttle, no more risk of overcrowding on the bike car, and no more dodging nit-picky conductors.

Dennis was pleased too. Also a resident of San Francisco, he works in their San Jose office only occasionally, but now he knows that there’s a bike available so he can zip over to the office and back again in the evening.

For both Alex and Dennis, bike share gives them convenience and options. For Caltrain, it means more riders without adding more bikes aboard. For the Bay Area, it means more people getting to work without increasing car congestion and the air pollution that comes with it. That’s why the Bay Area Quality Management District invested in the Bay Area Bike Share pilot, after all. Glad to see it’s working here in San Jose.

Do you have “last mile” issues with using transit? If there were a bike share bike available, would you take it to work, school, entertainment or to do errands?



Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Around Town



13 responses to “Bike Share: Solving the Last Mile Problem

  1. Official Parody Acct (@M4NH0)

    September 4, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    Cool to see all those empty racks! I’ve yet to see anybody actually riding one, though I do most of my riding at night

    • ladyfleur

      September 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Some of the empty docks are by design. There are usually about twice as many docks as bikes so it’s easy to find a dock at your destination. I was at Diridon just after 8am, so it looks like there were a number people on earlier trains grabbing bikes.

  2. Matt

    September 4, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    There is Bike Share at the Redwood City Caltrain station, and at the County Center where I work. It’s a grand total of 0.2 miles from station to office. It’s probably faster to walk the 2 blocks. Regardless, I plan to get an account anyway and ride it, if only to show the bikes around town and increase people’s awareness. Maybe take a really lonnnnnnnnng route.

  3. Matt

    September 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    P.S. Redwood City area isn’t saturated enough to make it possible to run errands. Maybe an occasional lunchtime joy ride until there are more stations….

  4. Grace

    September 5, 2013 at 7:21 am

    I’m in Chicago and have been LOVING Divvy – our bike share program. One of my more frequent trips is from the commuter rail station to my office, a distance of about a mile. Divvy has had to add docks at the train stations to accommodate the number of users (driven in part by the no bikes except folders allowed on inbound commuter trains during rush hours). Taking a bike saves a few minutes and puts a smile on my face in the morning. I’ve also used it to run short errands over the lunch hour – again distances of about a mile. Big thumbs up for bike sharing!

  5. Dave

    September 5, 2013 at 8:09 am

    One Bike Sharer took it to extremes
    Rode one from SF to Mt View by an nontrivial route on less. Had a problem arriving in Mt View. You can’t check the bike in at station in a different city than the check out.

    • ladyfleur

      September 5, 2013 at 10:38 am

      I saw that story. How fun. As for dropping off a bike in another city, I suspect the issue was San Francisco vs. Peninsula. I heard through the grapevine that the SF bikes have GPS on-board so they can not only track start and stop locations of specific bikes, but also routes.

      I’ll have to test it with a ride from Mountain View to Palo Alto to be sure.

      • Matt

        September 6, 2013 at 8:56 am

        How cool would it be to map out and ride a route that spells “Hi BABS” when the GPS draws the map.

  6. Rachel Unger

    September 6, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I fully intend to get an account just for this very situation. 🙂 Boo on the conductor, though, for making it more difficult to use Caltrain.

    • ladyfleur

      September 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Rachel!! Long time no speak (read). Glad you’re back!

      Which city/cities do you think you’ll be using bike share the most?

      • Rachel Unger

        September 7, 2013 at 9:42 am

        🙂 It’s been a busy summer, and my reading has suffered!
        In Mountain View, absolutely. There is the station at Caltrain, and then another one close to Hobee’s that will be dreadfully convenient. I haven’t checked if there’s a stop near the Town and Country plaza (have you tried Tin Pot Creamery yet? You should!) but I will. San Jose does not yet seem to have smacked me around the eyes with convenient stops, but I’m on the lookout.

  7. Alex!

    September 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Love this post! So happy you’re spreading the good word on Bay Area Bike Share. Next time I’ll photoshop a helmet on my head.

    • ladyfleur

      September 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      I’m glad you liked the post. I thought both your pictures turned out well. Have you shared the post with Dennis?


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