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HomeCyclingBikeLink playing cards now get you into Sound Transit bike cages (after...

BikeLink playing cards now get you into Sound Transit bike cages (after an additional step)


Biking to mild rail is usually the quickest approach to get round Seattle. For riders who stay past a brief stroll to the station, biking is an effective way to skip the slower native bus connection (if there even is one) and head straight to the prepare or categorical bus. In case your vacation spot is close to a station down the road, then it’s a lot simpler to lock your bike earlier than boarding somewhat than attempting to deliver it on board.

Nevertheless, leaving a motorbike locked up all day exterior a station makes it an interesting goal for theft. One basic possibility individuals have used is to have a crappy (or crappy-looking) mild rail bike with an excellent lock. The concept is to make your bike seem to have little worth within the hope that any thieves will discover a extra interesting and simpler to steal bike close by. That is pretty efficient, although it merely deflects the issue onto another person.

A extra sustainable and truthful answer is for Sound Transit and King County Metro to construct safe bike parking at main transit stations and hubs. Each companies have been experimenting with completely different choices for years, and Sound Transit’s latest stations embody a mixture of common bike racks, bike lockers and bike cages. There are at the moment cages at Beacon Hill, Angle Lake, Tukwila Sounder, South Bellevue, Roosevelt, U-District, and Northgate Stations. Three extra are deliberate alongside East Hyperlink, together with Judkins Park, Bellevue, and Mercer Island.

However till very not too long ago, gaining access to every could possibly be a bit sophisticated and inconsistent. Now many of the safe bike storage choices are accessible by one service: BikeLink.

An open bike locker with a bicycle and child inside.

The bike lockers are fairly spacious and might even match many cargo bikes. Additionally they double as little one care in a pinch!

BikeLink is a California-based firm that makes on-demand bike storage options. Bike lockers put in at Sound Transit stations since 2020 have been BikeLink lockers, however now the company’s bike cages additionally use the identical BikeLink playing cards. Each the lockers and the cages price 5¢ per hour. It’s nice that the paid safe bike parking choices are lastly unified below one service, however customers might want to leap by some vital additional hoops to get entry.

The largest obstacle to utilizing the lockers is that it is advisable order a BikeLink card on-line and cargo it with at the very least $20 simply to get began. As soon as it arrives within the mail, you can begin utilizing it to entry the bike lockers. However if you wish to use the bike cage, you’ll be greeted with this message:

Screen explaining the free text verification process.It positively feels bizarre to textual content a photograph of you and your ID to a random cellphone quantity to entry a chunk of public infrastructure. However I did it, and it took about an hour or so earlier than I acquired a message that I used to be verified and will use the cage.

I’ve been utilizing the U District cage for some time now by the earlier system managed by Sound Transit employees, which was additionally considerably laborious to arrange. I’ve by no means seen one other bike inside. I’m hopeful that the BikeLink system helps extra individuals get entry to the cage in order that it will get higher use as a result of it’s fairly nice when you get inside. There’s loads of area for bikes, giving these stations room to develop as extra individuals bike to transit and learn to use the cage. I even actually just like the upper-level bike racks, that are spring-loaded to make them surprisingly straightforward to raise into place. I do want there have been areas for cargo bikes, although I’ve made it work. My suggestion can be to exchange one of many hanging spots with a number of customary staple racks. And perhaps an outlet for charging an e-bike?

A bike on the upper rack.A cargo bike next to a bike rack.

The issue, although, is that BikeLink merely isn’t handy as carried out right here. It’s an additional card it’s important to carry round and one other on-line cost account to handle, and also you lose the worth on it in the event you lose the cardboard. Particularly since ORCA simply launched the long-awaited second era of its unified transit cost service, it’s irritating that accessing bike parking was not simply built-in not directly into ORCA. You additionally can’t load cash onto your BikeLink card utilizing the model new ORCA merchandising machines. BikeLink does combine with the Clipper Card within the Bay Space, so integration is feasible.

However the Clipper Card doesn’t with with the Bay Space’s bike cages but, highlighting a further complication: Id verification. A motorcycle cage is barely safe if entry is by some means restricted to the bike homeowners utilizing it. If anybody can go inside, then it could most likely be safer to only lock your bike exterior the cage the place extra individuals can see it since it’s simpler to steal a motorbike the place no person is wanting. So how do you make it straightforward for individuals to get entry whereas additionally making it troublesome for thieves to get in? That’s why BikeLink requires the ID verification course of, permitting them to know who accessed the cage in case of theft. It’s an imperfect answer to an issue with out an apparent answer.

There’s no query that requiring a 3rd celebration service will restrict use of the BikeLink providers. Lots of people will proceed locking their bikes to out of doors racks as a result of they’re free and don’t require a card. However the lockers and cages are nice when you leap by all of the hoops to get entry. I fear that low use could ship the mistaken message in regards to the demand for safe bike parking at transit stations. A number of individuals are biking to mild rail stations, and so they don’t need their bikes to get stolen. Widespread use of any service requires as little friction for potential customers as potential, and particularly for the cages the BikeLink system has an excessive amount of friction as it’s carried out within the Seattle area at present.

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