Transportation

Davis to install electronic bike lockers to help solve train storage problems

Bicycle commuter Paul Dorn of Sacramento boards an Amtrak train Sacramento in 2009 on his way to work at UC Davis. Davis is installing 60 state-of-the-art bike lockers to promote alternative transportation and help reduce storage problems on Capitol Corridor trains.
Bicycle commuter Paul Dorn of Sacramento boards an Amtrak train Sacramento in 2009 on his way to work at UC Davis. Davis is installing 60 state-of-the-art bike lockers to promote alternative transportation and help reduce storage problems on Capitol Corridor trains. Sacramento Bee file

Davis is adding dozens of solar-powered electronic bike lockers outside its Amtrak station in an effort to boost train ridership and reduce the number of bikes on board.

The city plans to install 60 stainless steel eLockers by early fall, replacing existing bike racks and 20 outdated bike lockers. Cyclists can rent the solar-powered lockers via electronic key cards that operate on BikeLink software, a network that enables cyclists to rent at any eLocker location.

The Davis City Council this week approved a budget adjustment for the $282,145 project that is financed by the Federal Transit Administration and local funding.

The Amtrak Station Improvement Project exists as the merger of two larger projects: a plan by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority to implement eLockers across Capitol Corridor-served stations and a city of Davis effort to improve the Amtrak depot.

Three cities along the Capitol Corridor, Fremont, Berkeley and Suisun City, have already installed eLockers at their train stations, according to a report by the joint powers agency. But the Davis lockers will be the first put in by the agency.

“Davis is a natural ribbon cutting for this process,” said the authority’s planning manager, Jim Allison. “Davis really likes the train and Davis really likes bikes, so I think that’s a great combination.”

Earlier successes with eLocker implementation at all Bay Area Rapid Transit stops, according to Allison, set the standard for the joint powers agency’s project. Payable through BikeLink’s online network and accessible by electronic key card, the Davis eLocker rental rates are expected to start at 5 cents per hour.

Capitol Corridor officials want to encourage alternative transportation use, but some passengers three years ago complained that train aisles – and disabled bathrooms – were growing cluttered with bikes on board. Officials have added storage on some trains but also see expanded bike lockers as a solution.

A survey conducted by the agency reported passengers were more likely to bike to the train station if the station provided a secure place to lock their bicycles.

“We hope this increases the number of people taking the train, which decreases our overall carbon footprint,” Allison said. “If passengers are also riding their bikes once they are off the Capitol Corridor due to the eLockers, we are allowing for a greater contribution to sustainability.”

In collaboration with the Capitol Corridor agency, Davis aims to address city goals for increased environmental sustainability and high demand for the station’s existing bike lockers.

Over a decade ago, Davis unsuccessfully requested funding from the Federal Transit Administration for an Amtrak station parking garage, according to Teri Sheets, assistant general manager for administration for Unitrans, a bus service jointly run by the city and Associated Students of UC Davis. The proposal was denied in favor of a more sustainable plan to improve the city’s public transportation through Amtrak station improvements that began in 2012.

To date, the federal agency purchased one new university bus – doubling Unitrans service to the Davis Amtrak station via the A and Z Lines – and funded various renovations to the Amtrak depot. Such improvements include on-site security cameras and an LED bus-schedule display.

The proposed installation of eLockers “are merely a continuation on a variety of improvements to the Amtrak depot that started a long time ago, aimed at making it very user-friendly,” Sheets said. “The eLockers will facilitate intermodal connectivity of public transportation and secure commuters a place to store their bikes.”

Sheets believes the project will benefit a variety of community members – “the businessman commuting to his afternoon meeting, or the UC Davis student going home for the weekend.”

Alex Roth, 38, a local celebrity known for roasting coffee beans via bicycle-power and delivering coffee throughout Sacramento via train, believes the Amtrak Station Improvement Project will help reduce bike theft in Davis. A 20-year resident of Davis, Roth said sturdy, theft-proof eLockers will provide travelers and commuters peace of mind.

Brenna Lyles: (916) 321-1083

  Comments