biking | 511 Contra Costa

E-Bike Incentives Get People Biking More

According to the California Bicycle Coalition, more than fifteen percent of vehicle trips made in California are less than one mile. Eighty percent are less than ten miles. This makes an e-bike a great choice for replacing car trips. However, the cost of e-bikes are one of the strongest barriers to adoption, according to a recent study by researchers at UC Davis.

The good news is that both nationwide and statewide, programs offering cash incentives to help individuals purchase e-bikes are on the rise. In California alone, there are at least ten such programs.

To see how people’s travel behavior changed after buying an e-bike using an incentive program, UC Davis researchers evaluated survey data from rebate participants in programs across Northern California – including 511 Contra Costa’s program. They discovered between 35 and 50 percent of e-bike trips made by these individuals would have been made by car if an e-bike had not been available.

Rebate recipients also reported an increase in bicycle use. Two months after getting an e-bike, most reported shifting from biking “never” or 1-3 times a month to 1-3 times a week.

As for how getting an e-bike affected their driving habits, most e-bike rebate recipients replaced driving trips with riding e-bikes at least 1–3 times per month. Across the study group, a large share of respondents (82%) reported replacing at least one car trip with an e-bike ride.

The takeaway is that e-bike incentive programs work. And the majority of people who purchase e-bikes change their driving and biking behaviors, which helps reduce both traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

Let us help get you on an e-bike! Our E-Bike Rebate Program, which started three years ago, is still going strong. It offers rebates of $150, $300, and $500 to Contra Costa County residents. You have six months from the date you buy an e-bike to apply, so if you bought an e-bike recently, be sure to apply today!

Tips for Biking After Dark

With the end of Daylight Savings Time, sunset will occur before 5pm for most of the remainder of the year. This means the majority of commuters will be traveling home in the dark.

When biking after dark, especially during peak commute hours, it’s important to be both highly visible and able to clearly see your surroundings. Along those lines, here are some tips to help keep you safe:


Minimum Requirements: Front White Light and Rear Red Light or Reflector

By California law, if you’re biking after dark you must have a white light on the front of your bike and a red light or reflector on the rear of your bike. The front light needs to be clearly visible 300 feet in front of and to the sides of the cyclist.

If Riding Unlit or Poorly Lit Roads, Choose a Light That Illuminates the Road

Where a low-power front light might work to announce your presence on well-lit roads, on poorly lit or unlit roads you’ll need a light that can show you the road ahead. You’ll want to consider a light with an ouput of 400 to 800 lumens. That way you can see the road up ahead, identify obstacles and hazards, and let oncoming vehicles know you’re on the road. You’ll also want to consider using a red rear light, instead of just a reflector, in these conditions.

Wear Bright Clothing and Reflectives to Increase Visibility

For biking after dark, Hi-Vis yellow and green are the best colors for visibility. Steer clear of dark colors. Reflective details on clothing can boost visibility in general, as well as provide side-visibility, which lights alone often can’t. Reflective piping on gloves can assist others in seeing you and your hand signals.

Stay in View and Ride Predictably

Drivers are generally looking ahead, so when cycling at night you want to make sure you’re in their field of vision:

  • On roads where there is no bike lane, be sure to make use of the full lane, so that you are clearly visible to the motorists behind you.
  • Don’t make sudden turns without signaling properly.
  • Come to complete stops when required.

Additional Tips

Get additional tips on biking after dark from REI.

Walking School Bus

It’s back-to-school time! If you live within walking distance of your child’s school, you might consider forming a walking school bus.
A walking school bus can be as simple as two families taking turns walking their children to school. You can definitely go bigger, by including more parents and children, but it’s easiest to start with a small group of interested families.
For details on how to start your own walking school bus, read Street Smarts Diablo’s ‘how to’ guide.

Image courtesy Active & Safe Routes to School


Bike to Work Day is a promotional event to encourage the use of a bicycle instead of a car.

cal-red-02Add Bike To Work Day to your calendar:
iCalendar  •  Google Calendar  •  Outlook

About Bike To Work Day

On Thursday, May 12, there will be over 400 Energizer Stations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area where cyclists can stop by for refreshments and promotional items.
511 Contra Costa has supported cyclists and Energizer Station hosts throughout Contra Costa County since 2001 using Bay Area Air Quality Management District funds and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s half-cent sales tax for transportation funds.

Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY)

BCOY Eric Odell 2015Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY) award recipients are recognized for their dedication to riding their bike for everyday transportation. They are a testament to the many benefits of bicycle commuting: from improving their health to bringing families together. Nominations are accepted, evaluated and awarded by each county’s Bike to Work Day representative. Learn about 2015 BCOY award winners and their inspiring stories and see past winners from 2008-2014.
Nominate someone you know for Bike Commuter of the Year! The deadline for nominations is April 4.

tbc-logo team bike challenge btwdTeam Bike Challenge & Company Bike Challenge

Ask your friends, colleagues and neighbors to form a team with you and pedal your way to a greener, healthier and happier commute while earning points and medals! There are big prizes to be had in both Challenges, plus it’s a fun and easy way to see just how much biking does for your health, budget and the environment.

Need help planning your route?

511 Contra Costa’s Bike Mapper is the innovative and open bicycle mapping system specially designed to find flat, most direct, or fastest routes anywhere in Contra Costa County.  Read more about the 511CC Interactive Bike Mapper here, or check out our selection of free paper and online bike maps.

Contra Costa County Energizer Station Map

Coming Soon

Contra Costa County Energizer Station List

PM hours in bold

  • Iron Horse Trail at the Alamo Trail Head, 7:00-10:00 am, RPM Mortgage




  • Monument Corridor Trail across from Mohr Ln at Monument Blvd, 7:00-10:00 am & 4:00-7:00 pmCity of Concord/AssetMark
  • Front of 1371 Detroit Ave (Meadow Homes Elementary School), 7:30-8:30 am, Monument Impact
  • Front of 1135 Lacey Ln (Cambridge Elementary School), 7:30-8:30 am, Monument Impact
  • Outside Academic Services Lobby (Cal State East Bay Concord), 7:30-9:00 am & 4:30-6:00 pmCal State East Bay Concord
  • Meadow Homes Park at the corner of Detroit Ave & Sunshine Dr, 3:30-5:30 pmMonument Impact

El Cerrito

El Sobrante



  • Martinez AMTRAK, 5:15-9:30 am, Richard A.
  • Bottom of Benicia Bridge, 3:30-6:30 pm, Richard A.




Pleasant Hill


San Pablo

San Ramon

Walnut Creek

Contra Costa County has 33 Energizer Stations this yearWant to Host an Energizer Station?

If you are interested in volunteering for Bike to Work Day or hosting an Energizer Station in Contra Costa County, please contact us!  Find other Bay Area Energizer Station coordinator contacts here.

A big THANK YOU to our local Energizer Station hosts!

Coming Soon

Bike to Work Day 2015: Celebrate After Work in Concord – 5:30-8:30pm

Bike to Work Day 2015 LogoOn Bike to Work Day, reward yourself for commuting by bicycle with an after-work street party in Concord!
The Bike to Work Day Celebration will be on Salvio Street between Grant and Mount Diablo Streets from 5:30 to 8:30pm. There will be live music, games and face painting for kids, as well as educational booths about biking and safety.
At the Celebration, County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff will deliver a countywide Bike to Work Day Resolution on behalf of the Board of Supervisors. In addition, Bike Concord will provide free bike repair  and EJ Phair will generously donate 10% of food and drink proceeds when patrons mention Bike Concord or Bike East Bay.
For help mapping your bike ride to work, try using the 511CC Bike Mapper. To locate morning and afternoon Bike to Work Day Energizer Stations, click here.


Bike to Work Day is a promotional event to encourage the use of a bicycle instead of a car.
Contra Costa County Energizer Stations
Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY)
Team Bike Challenge & Company Bike Challenge
Need help planning your route?
Host an Energizer Station Next Year
Our 2015 Local Hosts

Bike to Work Day 2015 is presented by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, 511 and Kaiser Permanente.  Regional sponsors include the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Clear Channel Outdoor, The Canary Foundation and Challenge, Clif Bar, Bay Area Bike Share, REI and KPIX TV.
There will be over 300 Energizer Stations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area where cyclists can stop by for refreshments and promotional items.  511 Contra Costa has supported cyclists and Energizer Station hosts throughout Contra Costa County since 2001 using Bay Area Air Quality Management District funds and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s half-cent sales tax for transportation funds.

Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY)

Nominate your favorite bicycle commuter as a Bike Commuter of the Year.  One winner from each of the nine Bay Area counties will be selected.  All nominations must be submitted by April 20, 2015.
Congratulations to Eric Odell.  Read how Eric Odell is Contra Costa County’s 2015 Bike Commuter of the Year Winner.

Team Bike Challenge & Company Bike Challenge

The competition begins May 1, 2015 between friends and colleagues.

511CC Bike MapperNeed help planning your route?

511 Contra Costa’s Bike Mapper is the innovative and open bicycle mapping system specially designed to find flat, most direct, or fastest routes anywhere in Contra Costa County.  Read more about the 511CC Interactive Bike Mapper here, or check out our selection of free paper and online bike maps.

Contra Costa Energizer Station Map

See Contra Costa County Energizer Stations in a larger map
See all Bay Area Energizer Stations

Contra Costa Energizer Station List

PM hours in bold

  • Andrew H. Young Park at Danville Blvd & Jackson Way, 7:00-9:30 am, RPM Mortgage
  • Iron Horse Trail at Stone Valley Rd West, 7:00-9:30 am, RPM Mortgage




  • Front of 1371 Detroit Ave (Meadow Homes Elementary School), 7:00-8:30 am, Monument Impact
  • Front of 1135 Lacey Ln (Cambridge Elementary School), 7:00-8:30 am, Monument Impact
  • Near fare gates at Concord BART, 7:00-9:00 am & 4:00-6:00 pm, Bank of America/County Connection
  • Monument Corridor Trail across from Mohr Ln at Monument Blvd, 7:00-10:00 am & 4:00-7:00 pmCity of Concord/AssetMark
  • Outside Academic Services Lobby (Cal State East Bay Concord), 7:30-9:00 am & 4:30-6:00 pmCal State East Bay Concord
  • Front of 1900 Grant St (Todos Santos Plaza), 2:00-5:00 pm, Umpqua Bank
  • Monument Corridor Trail at Meadow Ln, 3:00-5:30 pmMonument Impact


El Cerrito

  • Just half way up the block from El Cerrito Plaza Bart at the New Ohlone Greenway Natural Area, 7:00-9:00 am, City of El Cerrito
  • Front of 540 Ashbury Ave (El Cerrito High School), 7:30-9:30 am, El Cerrito High School

El Sobrante








Pleasant Hill


San Pablo

San Ramon

Walnut Creek

Want to Host an Energizer Station?

If you are interested in volunteering for Bike to Work Day or hosting an Energizer Station next year, please contact us!

A big thank you to our local hosts!

Street Smarts Diablo Bike & Roll to School Events: March 31 – May 6, 2015

National Bike to School Day is Wednesday, May 6. As a lead-up to the big day, Street Smarts Diablo is teaming up with select middle schools in Contra Costa for a series of individual Bike & Roll to School events. Middle school students will be accepting the challenge to get to school on wheels by riding their bikes, skateboards and scooters!
Drivers are advised to exercise extreme caution from late March through early May as bicycling and walking events will mean an increase in school-aged children walking & bicycling to and from school.
NBM2014_Web_Site_Header_editNational Bike to School Day is a one-day event occurring in May that encourages and celebrates biking to school. Bike to School Day events can include bicycle safety education, parent-led bike trains, and other bicycle-related education and encouragement activities. Street Smarts Diablo’s Bike & Roll events build off of the energy of National Bike Month, encouraging student health and fitness, biking safety, and concern for the environment while decreasing traffic congestion around campus.
As part of the Bike & Roll to School celebrations, Street Smarts Diablo will have some free helmets on hand to provide to students who arrive to school with wheels and need a properly fitting helmet. Parents are welcome to bring students’ bikes to school by car, so that any child starting the day without a helmet can get to school and roll home safely.
If your child is planning on biking school, these two guides from the National Center for Safe Routes to School will help get both of you ready:

Schools participating in the 2015 Bike & Roll Challenge – click any event for more information:
streetsmartsdiabloFoothill Middle School, Walnut Creek – Tuesday, March 31
Pine Hollow Middle School, Concord – Thursday, April 2
Martin Luther King Jr. Junior High, Pittsburg – Wednesday, April 15
Antioch Middle School, Antioch – Thursday, April 23

Walnut Creek Intermediate School, Walnut Creek – Tuesday, April 28
Rancho Medanos Jr. High, Pittsburg – Wed., Apr. 29

For more information on Bike & Roll to School events, contact Street Smarts Diablo at 925-969-1083.

Bike/Ped Path Coming to Richmond Bridge (2015)

Plans are underway to build a separated bike/pedestrian path on the upper deck of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. As part of a four-year Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTC) pilot project, the shoulders on the upper and lower decks of the bridge will be converted to a bike/pedestrian path and a traffic lane, respectively.
RIchmond Bridge Bike and Pedestrian Path
The bike/pedestrian path is slated to be 10 feet wide, separated from vehicles by either a movable barrier or temporary concrete walls, and include a raised approach on the bridge’s east side. In addition to the new bridge path, transportation officials plan to build a bike/pedestrian trail connecting the bridge and Richmond to Point Molate.
If all goes according to plan, the bike/pedestrian path will be completed in the fall of 2017. Once complete, the new path will fill a major gap in the Bay Trail.

Coming Soon to the East Bay: Bay Area Bike Share (2014)

After a successful pilot in San Francisco, Bay Area Bike Share is going east.
After a successful pilot in San Francisco, Bay Area Bike Share is going east.

In less than a year, these baby blue bikes have zipped around San Francisco and the peninsula on over 200,000 trips, and soon, even in the East Bay. This spring, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which supplied much of the original funding to launch the Bay Area Bike Share, committed $8.7 million to expand the system to the East Bay. Here are the three things you need to know.

1) How Does Bay Area Bike Share Work?

You can join Bay Area Bike Share for a $88 annual pass, $22 three-day pass, or $9 for a 24-hour pass. Annual members get a fancy electronic key fob, and other members can just get a keycode from the bike station itself. Enter your keycode into the bike’s dock, pop out the bike, ride it some place fun, and then return it to that or another dock within 30 minutes. There’s a mobile app and website to help find an available bike or empty dock.

2) Where Will the New Bike Stations Be Located?

In this phase, the 750 new bikes will be distributed between Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville.  MTC will be conducting a public planning process to make sure the bike stations are located where people need them.

3) When Can I Get On A Bike?

It is anticipated that the bike stations could be on the street during the spring of 2015 . Look for a launch date to be announced later this year, which MTC is hinting could be before Bike to Work Day in May.

How Do I Learn More?

If you’re on Twitter, follow @SFBayBikeShare, @BikeEastBay or @MTCBATA for the latest. Or subscribe to our newsletter, which goes out every second Tuesday with the latest transportation news for Contra Costa County and the East Bay.


BTW2014_logo_stackedThe morning commute brought 4,175 bicycle commuters which is more than the combined a.m. and p.m. count for cyclists recorded last year.  So far we have seen our Best Dressed; a Walnut Creek Councilwoman pedaled a bike blender to make a smoothie; and bicycle commuters in San Ramon were treated to burritos. What’s in store for the evening bicycle commute today? You’ll just have to stop by an energizer station and see for yourself. Check out our Facebook page for this morning’s photos.
Contra Costa County Energizer Stations
BTWD Photos & Videos
Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY)
Bike-Friendly Business Awards
Team Bike Challenge & Company Bike Challenge
Need help planning your route?
Host an Energizer Station Next Year
Our 2014 Local Hosts
Come help celebrate National Bike Month and California Bike Commute Week in May with Bike to Work Day.  Bike to Work Day is a promotional event to encourage non-bike riders to try commuting by bicycle.  The 20th Anniversary of Bike to Work Day is presented by, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Kaiser Permanente, with additional support from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Typekit, BART, Clear Channel Outdoor, Beyond Pix Studios, Adobe, the Canary Challenge, Revolights, REI and Clif Bar.
There will be over 300 Energizer Stations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area where cyclists can stop by for refreshments and promotional items.  511 Contra Costa has supported cyclists and Energizer Station hosts throughout  Contra Costa County since 2001 using Bay Area Air Quality Management District funds and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s half-cent sales tax for transportation funds.

BTWD Photos & Videos

The 511CC flickr stream is chock full of Bike to Work Day photos from years past.  Check out the BTWD 2013 photos.  View older Bike to Work Day photos here.
BTWD 2014 ShirtWant to share your BTWD 2014 experience?  Send your best photos and videos from BTWD for a chance to win 2014 Bike to Work Day t-shirts!  Your submissions (with a brief description) must be sent before Monday, May 12th at 5:00 pm to be eligible for the drawing.  Participants must commute through Contra Costa County. You can use any social network to post your photo (Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, etc.), however entries will be accepted via Twitter (Mention @511CC and use the hashtag #ibikecoco – that’s i bike coco and #btwd2014) and email ( Simply tweet @511CC or email us with your photo or a link to your photo.
Watch the official 2014 BTWD video by Beyond Pix:

Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY)

Congratulations to Ray Pixton from Pleasant Hill, CA as Contra Costa County’s 2014 Bike Commuter of the Year.  In addition to an award, Ray Pixton will receive a set of Revolights and a set of Bay Trail Maps to help with his planning adventures.  Read about other Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY) award recipients in the Bay Area.

Bike-Friendly Business Awards

Bike East Bay awards three companies the title of “Bike Friendly Business” to recognize their efforts encouraging bicycling.  There are no restrictions: you can nominate your own business, nominate a friend’s business or a company you work for.  Find out how!

Team Bike Challenge & Company Bike Challenge

The competition begins May 1, 2014 between friends and colleagues.

Need help planning your route?

511 Contra Costa’s Bike Mapper is designed to find flat, safe, and fast routes anywhere in Contra Costa County and the Bay Area.  The 511CC Bike Mapper is the only mapper to give you a complete elevation profile for your trip and allows you to choose from nine pre-computed routes.  Or check out our selection of free paper and online bike maps.
Still not sure what to do?  Check out Bike to Work Day: Are you ready? and see you at the Energizer Stations!

Contra Costa Energizer Station List

PM hours in bold

  •  Iron Horse Trail at Stone Valley Rd West, 7:30-9:30 am & 4:30-6:00 pm, RPM Mortgage





  • Iron Horse Trail behind Lunardi’s/Danville Train Depot, 6:30-9:00 am, Street Smarts/Town of Danville
  • Iron Horse Trail at Sycamore Valley Rd, 7:00-9:00 am & 4:30-6:30 pm, The Studio

El Cerrito

El Sobrante


  • Hercules Transit Center on Willow Ave, 6:30-8:30 am, Sunnie S./511 Contra Costa







Pleasant Hill


San Pablo

San Ramon

Walnut Creek

  • Olympic Blvd & Newell Ave, 6:00-9:00 am & 4:00-7:00 pm, Bike Walnut Creek
  • Near fare gates at Walnut Creek BART, 6:00-9:00 am & 4:00-6:00 pmSports Basement/Mike’s Bikes – Bike mechanics on site and in a.m. 10% off coupon which if used in-store you get a FREE SB water bottle.
  • Near bike racks at Pleasant Hill BART, 6:30-9:00 am & 4:00-7:00 pm, REI/Republic Services -expert bike technician on site to provide a quick check and adjustment of brakes, drive train, tires, chain lube.
  • Iron Horse & Contra Costa Canal Trail intersection, 6:30-9:30 am & 4:00-7:00 pm, Contra Costa Transportation Authority/511 Contra Costa -Lemonade slushies!
  • Iron Horse between Broadway & Newell Ave, 6:30-9:30 am, Whole Foods Market
  • Front of 2730 Shadelands Dr, 7:00-9:00 am, Gilbane – bicycle bells while supplies last!
  • Ygnacio & Contra Costa Canal intersection, 7:00-9:00 am & 5:00-7:00 pm, Encina Bicycle Center -bike mechanic on site to diagnose/make minor repairs.
  • Corner of S. Main St & Newell Ave, 7:00-10:00 am, Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek Medical Center – a DIY bike repair tools for minor needs, cool bike light, and 5 Thrive Dollars!
  • Contra Costa Canal Trail off N. Wiget Ln, 7:30-9:00 am & 4:00-7:00 pm, Renaissance ClubSport/Sports Basement – A.M. TEAM ClubSport will be there as will for support with any bike concerns or basic instruction if needed.  P.M. bike mechanics on site and 10% off coupon which if used in-store you get a FREE SB water bottle.
  • Contra Costa Canal Trail off Geary Rd & Lexington Pl, 6:00-9:00 am & 4:00-6:30 pm, Generations Church/AssetMark

Want to Host an Energizer Station Next Year?

Energizer Stations are all set for 2014.  If you are interested in volunteering for Bike to Work Day or hosting an Energizer Station next year, please contact us!

A big thank you to our local hosts!

Removing The Conflict Between Buses and Bikes

Catching the Bus to Horseshoe Bay

A bicyclist peacefully overtakes a bus loading and unloading passengers. Photo credit: Canadian Veggie

If you commute by bike or bus, the conflict is familiar: a bus will overtake a person bicycling then arrive at a stop to pick up passengers, and while the bus is momentarily stopped the person bicycling will catch up and overtake the bus.

Vancouver public transit - 01
Buses continuously cross the path bicyclists to pick up and drop off passengers, causing a game of “leap frog” as the two modes alternate overtaking each other. Photo credit:

This effectively creates an unwanted game of “leap frog” in which bicycles and buses are constantly overtaking one another, sometimes causing near collisions since it can be difficult to see a bicycle approaching on the left as the bus driver attempts to re-enter the flow of traffic. As if contending with traffic weren’t stressful enough, this repeated negotiation can be exhausting and tense for both parties.
Thankfully, there is a solution– routing bicycles to the left of bus stops in a separated lane, known as “bike channel” or “bus bypass.”  Here in the Bay Area, San Francisco has pioneered this practice on streets with streetcar stops where it seems to be working just as it should, removing the bus-bike conflict seen on heavily traveled routes throughout the region.
So it comes as good news that the practice will soon expand into the East Bay along AC Transit’s 51 route this summer as part of the “Line 51 Corridor Delay Reduction and Sustainability Project.” Not only is this anticipated to remove the common “leap frogging” conflict between buses and bikes, but this is also expected to help speed up bus times too– a win-win!
While the proposed orientation (which will look similar to the configuration in the lead photo) is unfamiliar in the East Bay, it certainly is not new. In The Netherlands, transportation planners have separated buses and bicycles at bus stops since as early as the 1950’s. To learn more about how this clever design improves conditions for everyone watch the video.

Video credit: markenlei

Partial Insight Into Why The Dutch Cycle

American transportation planners are fixated on getting more people on bikes, and it’s easy to see why. Bicycles offer a number of benefits, so much so that we have a “bike benefits” tag on this blog.

Eureka bike ramp
The Ohlone Greenway offers a speedy and safe connection for bikes between Richmond and Berkeley. Photo credit: TJ Gehling

With the immense popularity of blogs such as Bicycle Dutch and A View From The Cycle Path, which demonstrate what everyday bicycling is like in The Netherlands (where 25% of all trips are by bicycle), there has been a strong focus in recent years on learning from the best, and bringing lessons stateside.
Large credit rightfully goes to the magnificent and safe  bicycle infrastructure present in The Netherlands. However, related to the infrastructure, Dutch cyclists can often also take more direct routes to their destinations as well.
As a result, not only is bicycling safe and pleasant in The Netherlands, it is also fast. In fact, the Dutch Cyclists’ Union recently found that bicycling is about the fastest mode of transportation for distances up to 5km (3 miles). In The Netherlands, the bicycle is competitive in time with cars, which makes it an appealing option given the many other benefits (economic, health, etc…) bikes offer as a mode of travel. The Dutch Cyclists’ Union notes:

People using a bike to travel distances of up to 7.5 km, arrive on average faster than people travelling by a bus, tram, or subway as the main mode of transport. Distances up to 5 km travelled by car take on average 9 minutes, while travellers taking the bus, tram, or subway spend 23 minutes traversing this short distance.

Incredible, and given that most trips in America are under 5 miles, could the same be true in the Bay Area? Have you found bicycling to be a fast way of getting around for small trips here and there? Perhaps the relatively new Bay Area Bike Share (BABS) has helped you make trips during your lunch break that wouldn’t otherwise be possible?
Our commuter survey found that bike commutes average 7.5 miles in distance though we don’t have numbers on commute time. However, consider this, maybe the bicycle is faster – even for longer trips – when you take into account the full cost of driving.
Let us know, share your bicycling experience in the comments! Also, visit the Dutch Cyclists’ Union for a cool graph showing average time spent on travel by mode and distance length.

Bay Area Bike-Share– Helping Us Get Around (2013)

Bay Area Bike Share launch in San Jose CA
Will the streets of the Bay Area soon be full with a sea of bike-share commuters cycling that last mile from BART to the workplace? Only time will tell. Photo credit: Richard Masoner
The Bay Area is not new to transportation innovations. Last year, we celebrated four successful decades of the visionary commuter rail known as BART, which stills sees climbing ridership  and continues be seen as a model of sustainable transportation for the rest of the nation. Coincidentally, last year also marked the 75th anniversary of another incredible Bay Area infrastructural transportation monument, the Golden Gate Bridge.
Today, the Bay Area is leading the way in California again*, albeit with a subtler and humbler infrastructural feature, but one that nonetheless has the potential to hugely impact the way we move– Bay Area Bike Share. Bay Area Bike Share just launched Thursday, August 29th, so the system is merely in its infancy, but similar systems have been around Europe for a while in cities such as Paris and London, and  New York City was recently graced with its own iconic bike share earlier this year. Stateside, bike-share programs so far has proven to be surprisingly successful, especially in New York and D.C. Here in the Bay Area, bike share seems to have great potential to compliment our existing excellent regional public transport system, which is perhaps why Bay Area Bike Share is initially launching in Downtown San Francisco and along the Caltrain corridor in Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose.
Here’s how the system works:

  1. Get a Bay Area Bike Share Membership (or pay for a single day use, but longer membership quickly pay off).
  2. Use Annual Member key or enter your Ride Code (provided to 24-Hour and 3-Day Members) to unlock a bicycle from any station.
  3. RIDE – Run errands, ride to and/or from your BART station, commute to work,  or just go for a spin and use it as a gym membership of sorts!
  4. Return the bike to the nearest station.
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 4. Remember, any trip under 30 minutes is free– and yes you can simply dock a bike and check out a new one for another 30 minutes of charge-free cycling.

Bike-share bikes are NOT intended for long trips and the pricing system reflects this. For example, using a Bay Area Bike Share bike for an hour and a half before returning it to a station, will cost you $12 in addition to your membership fee. Any trip under 30 minutes, however, is completely free after membership fee is paid.
So what are bike share bikes good for? Going to meetings or grabbing a bite to eat on your lunch break; cycling from a BART station to your office (at the moment, most downtown San Francisco BART stations have bike share stations nearby); replacing bus trips under three miles with a bike ride; avoiding having to bring your own bike on BART; the infamous last-mile… The possibilities are many, and as long as your journey takes less than 30 minutes (keep in mind, at a “no sweat” pace, one can easily cover at least three miles on a bicycle), using a Bay Area Bike Share bicycle is free. Because of this structuring, getting an annual membership is particularly enticing as it can save you money, especially if you use it to replace short bus trips and cab rides when getting around congested parts of San Francisco.
So what do you think– are you ready to take a Bay Area Bike Share bicycle for a spin?
For additional information, check out Bay Area Bike Share’s Frequently Asked Questions or Contact page. And if you are on social media, feel free to check out Bay Area Bike Share on TwitterFacebook, Tumblr or Instagram.
*While Bay Area Bike Share is not the first bike share system to launch in California, it is by far the largest and is also distinguished in that it is regional and not confined to a single city, integrating the system well with our existing public transportation network and commuter routes.

New Commuting Trend: Bike Trains


Bike commuting– much safer and pleasant when there’s company. Photo credit: Walk Eagle Rock

Los Angeles has been making headlines in recent years because of the region’s willingness to invest in alternatives to the automobile, particularly in bringing back an efficient and convenient train system. However, it now appears that another form of commuter train has been built… bike trains!

What are bike trains? The founders of LA Bike Trains, the organization spearheading the concept, put together this concise explanation:

We provide a rolling party along select routes run by Conductors – experienced urban cyclists – to harness the safety of riding in a group while kicking it up a notch by making the ride a fun social experience.  And it’s totally free!
All you need to do is submit your email, cell phone number and the route that you’re interested in. If you don’t see a route that works for you – suggest one and if you’re interested in leading a Bike Train as a Conductor – let us know.

In essence, the bike train concept brings you together with those people you see bicycling during your bike commute, the ones you see and think to yourself , “Wouldn’t it be cool if we ride together as a group? It would be safer and more fun to ride with other people!”
At the moment, Los Angeles has ten different bike train routes scattered across the region, all of which have their own “conductor” leading particular routes with specific departure times. LA Bike Trains even offers commuter surveys to gather input to figure out what routes throughout the county are in high demand.
The hopes of the LA Bike Trains founders are that by offering a more comfortable experience, bicycling can be made more accessible by those intimidated by the thought of cycling to work, and so far, the concept has received positive feedback.
For more information on LA Bike Trains, visit their websitecheck them out on twitter (and the hashtag #LABikeTrain) or see their facebook page.

Bikes: Good For Your Health, The Environment…and The Economy?

Cycling scene on York Blvd
Good for business? A former parking space for a single car now easily accommodates 10 times as many bicycles.
Photo credit: Walk Eagle Rock
Here at 511 Contra Costa we tag posts that directly or indirectly feature the benefits of bicycling with our “bike benefits” tag. Of the many benefits we’ve covered, one is increasingly being spotlighted by city officials and advocates alike– the economic benefits of bicycling and bicycle infrastructure. It is perhaps little surprise that the League of American Bicyclists put together a graphic outlining the studies conducted across the nation that have demonstrated bicycling  provides economic benefits.
From coast to coast, bikes mean business! Image via: Co.Exist
Among the studies highlighted in the graphic is one from the Bay Area in San Francisco, which showed 66% of merchants along Valencia Street reporting improved business following the implementation of bike lanes on the street. Intuitively, this finding makes a lot of sense because bike lanes typically lead to an increase in the number of people cycling on the street, and over 300 parked bicycles can fit  in the same amount of space it takes to accommodate 30 parked cars. With space for automobile parking being a concern among retailers, it seems  more efficient and economically sound to have as many customers arrive by bicycle rather than car as possible (And not to mention that by bicycling people save money on gas and parking and therefore have more money to spend at local businesses).
Since the League of American Bicyclists put together this graphic, and the accompanying report on the economic benefits of bicycle infrastructure, additional studies continue to echo these findings. In New York, a study conducted by the Department of Transportation found businesses on 9th Avenue in Manhattan reporting almost a 50% increase in sales after a protected bike lane was installed on the street. Even in Los Angeles, one case-study found that the re-configuring of one commercial street to include bike lanes did not hurt businesses despite fear among merchants that it would.
As more studies emerge be sure to keep an eye on our “bike buck$” tag for more posts on the economic benefits of bicycling.

Caltrans, Amtrak Announce New Bike Reservation Policy to Improve Customer Service and Enhance Safety (2013)

Bike aboard Amtrak. Photo credit: ubrayj02
Looking to take a nice train and bike trip along the coast this summer?
The Source published this news release from Caltrans, which funds some passenger rail service in California, regarding the new bike reservation policy (with our emphasis added) :

Caltrans, Amtrak Announce New Bike Reservation Policy to Improve Customer Service and Enhance Safety
SACRAMENTO – Amtrak California passengers traveling with bicycles can reserve onboard bike rack space free of charge beginning June 1, 2013 when booking travel on Pacific Surfliner trains.
“We heard our customers and we responded,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Caltrans eliminated the $5 bike reservation fee to make it as easy as possible to bring your bike along when riding the Pacific Surfliner trains.”
Previously, without a bike reservation system in place, when bike racks became full, passengers had no choice but to store bikes next to luggage storage areas or walkways.  At times, if bike traffic became too heavy, bike passengers would not be allowed to board at all.
With bike reservations, planning travel is made easier by enabling bike-toting passengers to choose an alternate train should their first choice be fully booked. It’s truly a win-win,” said Caltrans Division of Rail Chief Bill Bronte.
While there is no cost to reserve a bike slot, reservations will be required for each travel segment and must accompany a valid Amtrak ticket. Bike reservations can be made one of several ways: Online when booking tickets at (click “Add Bike to Trip” after selecting the departure and class of service); at Quik-Trak kiosks (visit the Amtrak California Station Directory for kiosk locations); from station ticket agents; or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.
Amtrak Multi-Ride Ticket holders (10-trip or Monthly Pass) can only obtain bike reservations through station ticket agents or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL. Amtrak has issued refunds to passengers who booked and paid for bike reservations in advance.
Most trains can accommodate six bikes. Passengers should reserve space as early as possible, as bike space is limited and may not be available on all trains or departures.  All bike passengers are responsible for securing their own bicycles in provided bike racks.
About Amtrak California:  Under the Amtrak California banner, Caltrans funds three of the five busiest intercity passenger rail routes in the Amtrak system: the Pacific Surfliner(r) corridor (ranked second), the Capitol Corridor(r) (ranked third), and the San Joaquin(r) corridor (ranked fifth). Caltrans manages both the Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin corridors. The Capitol Corridor, although funded by Caltrans, is managed by the Capital Corridor Joint Powers Authority. Visit us at; join us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at

Note: Folding bicycles may be brought aboard certain passenger cars as carry-on baggage. Only true folding bicycles (bicycles specifically designed to fold up into a compact assembly) are acceptable. Generally, these bikes have frame latches allowing the frame to be collapsed, and small wheels. Regular bikes of any size, with or without wheels, are not considered folding bikes, and may not be stored as folding bikes aboard trains.
You must fold up your folding bicycle before boarding the train. You may store the bike only in luggage storage areas at the end of the car (or, in Superliners, on the lower level). You may not store bikes in overhead racks.

Getting around the Bay Area during the BART Strike (2013)

Commuters wait in traffic near the Bay Bridge during the first day of the 2013 BART Strike

Image credit: Lorraine Blanco

The last BART strike occurred in 1997 and lasted 6 days. Here is a list of transportation resources during a continued BART strike.

Getting Around

  • KQED put together a great post of transportation alternatives listed by agency. Options ranging from carpooling, biking, taking the bus, ferries and trains are all covered.
  • If you are driving, visit for traffic information.
  • Visit for information getting to and from SFO and OAK.
  • Check out Avego’s busses and vans traveling to SF.
  • Consider using these carsharing services in the Bay Area, including Zipcar and RelayRides.
  • Consider using peer-to-peer taxi services such as Sidecar, Lyft and uberX (some services are SF and/or East Bay only).
  • Consider working from home.

Stay Informed


San Francisco Bike Share Is On The Way! (2013)

Melbourne Bike Share - first day
A bike-share dock in Melbourne, Australia. Photo credit: Gavin Anderson
This past month you may have heard about New York City’s historic bike-share launch. New York’s bike-share program continues to incite enthusiasm and excitement, not just for the locals using the system, but for other cities interested in similar bike-share schemes. Here in California one can’t help but to wonder– when will the bike-friendly Bay Area get to enjoy bike-sharing? After all, the Southern Californian city of Anaheim already has bike-sharing (though currently on a very small scale).  Well, worry not, bike-sharing could be coming to San Francisco and the Bay Area as early as this summer! The Huffington Post reports:

San Francisco is already one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, but it’s about to get even more pedal power when the city’s bike sharing program rolls out this August.
Run by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, in conjunction with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and other local government groups, the $7 million bike sharing program will be a one- to two-year pilot effort to determine how effective bike sharing is as a method of reducing private automobile traffic and the pollution that comes with it.

The SF bike sharing pilot will be studied for its effectiveness in shifting people out of their cars.  It is easy to imagine bike-share being helpful as a means to compliment BART trips and generally help foster multi-modal travel  and the replacement for single-occupant vehicle commute trips.  The system will start with 700 bikes and 70 bike-share stations but if successful, the pilo could expand to as many as 10,000 bikes throughout the Bay Area (which would make it tied for the largest bike-share system in America).
To get an idea of how bike-share generally operates in North America, check out this video produced for D.C.’s Capital Bike-Share program

Video credit: NACTOfilms

For more details about the Bay Area’s approaching bike-share program, head over to SF.Streetsblog.

The Value of Street Smarts Diablo

In Fall 2012, 511 Contra Costa deployed Street Smarts Diablo Region, a traffic safety program, with federal Safe Routes to School funding. Street Smarts Diablo Region intends to educate pedestrians, cyclists and drivers through programs delivered at all public elementary, middle and high schools. In the City of Pittsburg, Martin Luther King Jr Junior High School recently received a three day bicycle and safety pedestrian safety training program and teacher Mr. Knight shared with us this positive testimonial demonstrating the value of providing such a program for school children:

Just wanted to let you know that the recent bicycle safety program really helped one of my students. Just yesterday he was riding his bike when his front tire popped and he went flying over the handle bars. He was wearing his new blue bicycle helmet that was given to him at the Bike Safety Program the day prior to the incident.
The fact that he was wearing his new blue helmet really saved him from serious Injury because he told me this morning that he hit his head on the pavement and the helmet he received Tuesday from the Bicycle Safety Program saved him from serious head injury.   Please pass this along to the Bicycle Safety Program and let them know how much we appreciate their service to our students!!
Thanks, Mr. Knight
Martin Luther King Jr Junior High School

Let’s hear it for Streets Smarts!

More Incredible Dutch Innovations in Cycling

When a quarter of all trips within the entire country are done by bicycle it’s difficult to imagine much could be done to make cycling more attractive in the Netherlands. Then the municipality of Eindhoven unveiled it’s spectacular aerial roundabout for bikes that lets cyclists fly over motorized traffic.
More recently the city of Groningen – where almost 60% of all trips are by bicycle – yet another innovation has come about to make cycling even more attractive and convenient. It’s just a test at the moment, but the city is installing sensors at certain intersections that will change to give cyclists on bike paths green lights faster if it is snowing or raining. In a country infamous for its rain, cyclists may find themselves getting priority quite often! Also, by getting shorter wait times during inclement weather, cyclists are probably less likely to run red lights– thus this test is likely to improve safety as well.
Another attempt to make cycling more pleasant in times of harsh weather has been the idea to heat bike paths when it’s snowing. The purpose of this  is to reduce the need to salt and clear popular bike routes of snow as well as reduce the risk of people slipping and getting injured if a bike path is slick from being partially frozen.
Will The Bay Area Ever Be That Bike Friendly?
It may seem like cycling conditions could never be as good here as they are in The Netherlands, but keep in mind the Dutch haven’t always been bike friendly, they oriented their cities towards the automobile for a while too. Also, currently city officials from major San Jose and San Francisco are actually getting help from Dutch planners to make cycling more appealing. San Francisco in particular has seen great leaps in the levels of cycling in just the past five years despite its hilly topography. San Francisco has also pioneered the concept of the “green wave,” which synchronizes traffic lights to the speed of the bicycle rather than the automobile, on popular bike corridors to make cycling effortless. With Bay Area cities leading in bike commute rates nationally, it seems like we may well be on our way to someday see the levels of cycling that exist in The Netherlands; perhaps we should view this as a sign of encouragement to maximize the potential for cycling to be a viable form of transportation and help address our climate and traffic problems.

Is It A Bike Day? Check Your Bicycle Barometer!

Have you ever been unsure whether you should bike or take public transit to work? You’re not alone! Richard Pope of London recently blogged about his most recent invention, the bicycle barometer, which tells him if he’s better off cycling, or taking the Tube to work. Richard Pope describes it like this:

“The bicycle barometer takes data about the weather, the status of the tube lines I use to get to work, and whether my local station is open or shut.
It then reduces all that data down to a single value and displays it on a dial with a bike sign at one end and a tube sign at the other.
For example, if it is raining a bit the dial will move a bit towards the tube sign, but if the tube is suffering delays, it will move a bit back in the other direction.
Different data points get different weightings. E.g. snow is more important than a bit of drizzle; the tube station being shut trumps everything.”

Here’s a short video of the bicycle barometer in action:

How Do You Lock Up?

Cycling scene on York Blvd

(Five bicycles locked to bike racks, one bike rack locked to a sign post. Photo credit: Walk Eagle Rock)

Whether you’re going to your favorite restaurant for lunch or to the local grocery store to pick up a few items, bicycling is a great way to get there– especially as the days are getting longer  it’s a perfect time to take advantage of the gorgeous weather to hop on a bike. Of course, once you get to your destination it’s always a good idea to lock your bike properly to a designated bike rack if possible. Even if you’ll “just be a minute,” remember, it takes less time than that to steal an unlocked bike.
So, to help keep you and your bike together, here’s a round-up of helpful bike locking tips and types of locks to consider.
Tips of Locking
Los Angeles’ Department of Transportation Bicycle Blog has a handy three part series about why you should lock your bike, where to lock your bike and how to properly lock your bike. Here’s an excerpt from the series:

Try to park in a location where your bike can be seen.  A good rule of thumb is: are other bikes parked there? Bike thieves don’t want to be seen, so park in areas with a lot of pedestrian traffic.  The more people around your bike, the better.  If you’re parking at night, try to park in a location that provides good, safe lighting.  If you can’t find anywhere you’re comfortable with, you can always ask store owners if you can bring in your bike.  The worst thing they can say is “no”, and piece of mind is worth the trouble of asking.

The LADOT even offers this concise list of bike parking tips.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has additional details about proper locking technique to ensure your bike doesn’t get stolen.
locking: relaxed

 (The “Sheldon Brown” Lock Technique, note the lock is around the rear wheel inside the rear ‘triangle’ of the frame. Photo credit:Kaptain Amerika)

The ‘Sheldon Brown (RIP)‘ Lock Technique: By locking your back wheel inside the rear triangle, you protect your wheel and the frame. It’s nearly impossible to cut the rim of a wheel. Just make sure your lock is around the rim and through the triangle. Hint: Front wheels are less expensive than back wheels – back wheels have gears and cost about twice as much, so if you can only protect one wheel, make it the back one!

Types of Locks


(The common u-lock and it’s qualities– click for more details. Screen grab via: REI)

 Also useful to know are the different kinds of locks to consider for your bike. REI offers simple descriptions and pictures of different kinds of locks and their respective qualities.
 Additional Notes

  • If there is no bike rack available at your destination, find a sturdy post or object to lock your bike to. If locking to a post, be sure it is tall enough so that a thief can’t simply lift the bike up over the top of the post and walk away with your bike. Also, ask at your destination if they can provide safe bike parking– sometimes business owners aren’t aware of the need and demand for safe, convenient bike parking.
  • Never lock your bike with just the front or rear wheel. Whether you have quick release or not, wheels are relatively easy to remove so if you just lock your bike to either front or rear wheel someone could detach the frame from the locked wheel and walk away with your bike frame.
  • Related to the above bullet– if you can only lock one portion of your bike, lock your frame. Typically a bike is safe as long as the frame is securely locked. While this leaves your wheels vulnerable there is a smaller market for stolen wheels than for stolen frames.
  • Do NOT buy a chain and lock from a hardware store to use as a bike lock. Rarely are chains and locks from hardware stores good for securely parking a bike. Also avoid purchasing bike locks from major retail department stores if possible, the quality of their locks are always inferior to locks available at bike shops.
  • A bike lock, no matter how expensive, is still cheaper than buying a new bike. If a bike lock costing $50 or more keeps your bike safe for a life time it’s a worthy investment.
  • Don’t forget to check out 511 Contra Costa’s public bike locker map of Contra Costa County
  • Find out if your city has a “request a bike rack program.” San Francisco and Oakland  both websites with easy instructions that let the public request bike racks where desired. Your city may have one too, especially if your city has an approved bike plan that calls for additional bike parking– try contacting your local officials and find out how you can get convenient and secure bike parking where you need it.
  • Lastly, if you want to see comical demonstrations of good and bad locking jobs, check out this video “Hal Ruzal Grades Your Bike Locking”