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BIKES! San Francisco to South Peninsula --> 1.Continuous Bike Path 2.Better Accomodation for Bicycles on Public Transit 3.Charge laptops, bike lights and cell phones on the way to work.

The weather in the Bay Area is wonderful. Perfect for biking. How can we reduce the daily carbon footprint by cutting down the number of people commuting by car and shuttle? It's upwards of 35 miles to Silicon Valley but that's a reasonable and enjoyable bike ride IF the support infrastructure is in place. Build a continuous bike path between San Francisco and Silicon Valley so that commuters can bike the 35 miles easily. Install space-saving and more secure bike harnasses in public transportation so that it's less awkward to travel with your bike on the Caltrain/BART!

Photo of Lacy Clark

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Thousands and thousands of people commute by public transportation or car/shuttle between San Francisco and Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Santa Clara.

Conventional estimates have the average person traveling uninterruped at 12 MPH over flat ground by bicycle.  It is 35 miles from SF to Palo Alto and mostly flat. Google maps estimates that biking from SF to Palo Alto would take 3 Hours and 30 Minutes. There are approximately 70 turns you have to make to navigate your way and the longest stretch of uninterrupted path is 2 miles! Frustrating.
  1. A continuous, dedicated bikepath from San Francisco to points in the South Bay would facilitate and encourage exponentially more commuters to ride their bikes because it would be faster, safer and less stressful.
  2. Easing the process of loading and unloading a bike from public transit will contribute to the number of people willing to bike at least 1-way. 
From SF to Palo Alto by car/shuttle it takes 40 minutes -- without traffic
From SF to Palo Alto by public transportation it takes 100 minutes. 
From SF to Palo Alto by bike could take 175 minutes

175 minutes of biking is a lot for the average person and so the 2nd part of this idea is to make it easier to get home by public transportation with a bicycle.  

Biking will never be faster than by car but it does have its benefits:
  • Save money. Gas & Caltrain tickets add up day after day. 
  • Exercise and fresh air. Skip the gym! 
  • Help the environment.  
  • Less congestion on highways. More bikers = fewer cars.

I was excited to see that an electric wheel that can be installed onto your regular bike and can speed you along up to 20 MPH is coming to market soon!  

UPDATE 1/22/15: 
A friend of mine from the Bay Area passed along a picture he took when he was invited to ride on a new prototype car for BART. As you can see, they've gotten more serious about the way that bikes are stored during travel. I do wonder if they're anticipating the demand for bringing bikes on board accurately.  It looks like there's only room for a few bikes per car. It's exciting to see how this evolves!

What community does this idea benefit and who are the main players?

The South Peninsula has become the home of technology giants like Google, Apple, Facebook, etc. San Francisco has begun to make room for big tech companies too like Twitter. These huge companies invest millions of dollars in hiring top talent from around the world. Unsurprisingly, these talented, new employees often want to live in the city and work in the suburbs. Or vice versa. Also, these employees are generally 25-50 years old and prime candidates to do a 35 mile bike ride at a pace faster than 12 MPH reducing the commute to under 3 hours. They are highly educated individuals who are super dedicated to their work but still want to maintain high quality of life. In the end, this benefits the entire Bay Area community by reducing congestion on the highways and shrinking the daily carbon foot print.

How does your idea specifically help your community rapidly transition to renewables?

This idea doesn't rely on any new technology but it does require a significant effort in acquiring a continuous strip of land to dedicate as a bike path. I believe that by offering an easier and more enjoyable way to bike to work it will significantly reduce the areas reliance on gas. Harness the energy generated from the ~150 minutes of pedaling to charge the commuter's laptop, cell phone, etc.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

1. There's a dedicated group of rugged cyclists who do this already. They are SF2G and this is how they describe themselves, "[we] make it fun & practical to ride your bike to work from San Francisco to points down the peninsula, often as far as Google, Apple, Facebook, nVidia, etc. Commutes are typically 20-50 miles. Riding that far in the morning is a lot more enjoyable with a posse, so SF2G was created to facilitate that.] 2. The Bay Area has a "Bike to Work Day" every year. This organization releases a survey to everyone who participated in "Bike to Work Day" about biking habits. It would be great data.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

I am SURE there is a better design for loading a massive amount of bikes into a small area. I would be so excited to explore the design and engineering of a smarter public transit bike storage system. After a vigorous bike ride in the morning and a full day of work -- the last thing a commuter wants is to awkwardly shove their bike onto a pile and then stress about whether they can get their bike out in time for their stop.

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This idea emerged from:

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Photo of Joey Chy

I like this idea because it taps into the theme of connecting communities outside of atypical urban environments that have just as much of a stake in creating renewable communities.

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