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Andrew Pollock

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Sunday, 10 August 2008

"San Francisco's Bicycle Program strives to promote safe and secure bicycle parking to complement the growing bicycle network."

One of the things I've wanted to do since I discovered that Caltrain (and the VTA light rail) are well-equipped to take bikes, was go for an outing further afield on our bikes using one of these methods of public transport.

So we finally got around to doing that yesterday, when we threw our bikes on the train, and BART, and went for a ride around Golden Gate Park.

The grand plan was to bike to the Caltrain station, take Caltrain to Milbrae, BART to downtown, then bike from there to the park, and then catch an afternoon showing of The Dark Knight in IMAX at the Metreon, then bike back to the BART station, and reverse the whole thing.

We had a minor hiccup in that Sarah had just gotten her bike back from a friend she'd lent it to, and as we were about to head to the Caltrain station, discovered that it a broken spoke. She managed to extract the spoke and we got to the station with a couple of minutes to spare.

It turned out that Mike's Bikes were fairly close to the BART station, so we stopped in there on way to the park, and they were able to fix the spoke on the spot in 20 minutes for the princely sum of $21.

Unfortunately the weather was pretty typical summer San Francisco weather, and it was quite cold and foggy. It didn't get any better as we got closer to the park (and the coast), so the ride around the park itself wasn't terribly exciting. The hill we had to get over (Hayes Street) was a bit of a slog. On the way back we saw the filming of a Japanese Nissan commercial (complete with right-hand drive car).

I'd done some research into bike parking beforehand, and found that all of the parking garages are required to provide bicycle parking, and there's a pretty comprehensive list.

So we parked our bikes in the Moscone Center garage, which was about a block from the Metreon, and went and caught the movie.

The Dark Knight was really good. Very... dark. I really liked Ledger's portrayal of the Joker, much better than the original. I wonder if they'll just keep re-imagining the Batman movies over and over? There was pretty good continuity from Batman Begins. I thought the voice of Batman was a bit ridiculous though, at least initially. You kind of got used to it after a while.

Anyway, we got back to the parking garage, and some lowlife had cut through the cable lock that we'd used to lock our bikes to each other and the rack, and stolen Sarah's bike! Annoyed does not begin to describe it.

We trundled off the seven or eight blocks to the Hall of Justice to file a report. The SFPD weren't the least bit interested, really. The somewhat astounding thing was the bike racks were right behind the cashier's office, and there was video surveillance, and someone still managed to just walk right in, cut the cable, and walk out with the bike. We checked with the duty manager, and he reviewed the video footage and said they have footage of him walking in and then walking out with the bike. So hopefully the police will get hold that.

We have to see if we can dredge up the purchase documentation for the bike and see if the serial number is recorded. I have no idea if we'll ever see the bike again. Our renter's insurance may cover it, but I suspect the deductible won't make it worth our while to make a claim.

I have to say (and it's not like it's a recent discovery or anything) that the Bay Area's public transportation is a joke. It cost us $32 to go from Mountain View to Downtown San Francisco, via Caltrain and then BART. Our Prius takes about 11 gallons at worst, and with gas prices being at say $4.30 a gallon, that's about $47 a tank. We get about 400 miles out of a tank usually, and it's vaguely 40 miles from home to the guts of Golden Gate Park. So it's cheaper, and faster to drive to San Francisco than it is to use a bicycle and public transport. Particularly when you factor in the risk of theft of your bicycle.

Our next bike lock will be one of those fancy Kevlar ones.

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