Serving Atherton, East Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Portola Valley, Stanford, Sunnyvale, Woodside

May 22, 2007

Feb 23, 2007

Victor Maccharoli / Daily News

Jeff Selzer, general manager of Palo Alto Bicycles, puts a bicycle in one of the new racks at the Palo Alto Bikestation at the Palo Alto Caltrain station. The 24-hour bicycle storage facility, will reopen at the Palo Alto transit center on Tuesday.

A safe place for bikes

Bicycle storage facility reopens at train station

Some people visit art museums or ancient ruins while traveling abroad, but not the members of the nonprofit Bikestation Coalition, who prefer to seek out foreign bike racks while on vacation.

When the revamped Palo Alto Bikestation hosts its grand opening Tuesday in the Palo Alto train station's former baggage building, local cyclists will be able to securely store their bikes in "Josta" racks - the fruit of one such trip to Germany.

"We take a lot of tours around the world," said Steve Mathis, facilities manager of the Long Beach-based nonprofit. "We like to look at other bike facilities."

On Thursday afternoon, Jeff Selzer, general manager of Palo Alto Bicycles, which operates the bicycle storage facility in partnership with the nonprofit, demonstrated how to place a bike in the top tier of racks. He pulled down a metal rack, wheeled the bike past a catch mechanism and released his hands.

"You don't have to be a He-Man to get it in," he said.

Easy-loading bike racks are one of the improvements Selzer and the coalition are hoping will lure commuters back to the Bikestation, which offers 24-hour secure bicycle parking at the transit center serving Caltrain and VTA buses. The original Palo Alto Bikestation opened in 1999 and used a valet-style method to store between 800 and 1,000 bikes per month, until Caltrain renovations forced it to close in November 2004.

The new facility does not require staff members to park bikes in designated spots.

"That was incredibly labor-intensive," Selzer said.

Instead, customers now sign up for the service online and use a key fob to enter the facility, which is outfitted with security cameras and can store up to 96 bicycles per day.

"We hope to fill it up so that we need more space," Selzer said. The storage area was constructed out of modular walls, which are designed to be moved, he said.

Mathis said that Palo Alto was chosen long ago to host a Bikestation because of its strong cycling and commuter-friendly community.

"If you take a look, just within several blocks of the train station, there are several different bike shops," Mathis said.

"We are very excited about it," said Paul Goldstein, a member of the Palo Alto Bicycle Coalition. He said the large commuter force of residents, Stanford students and staff and local companies' employees all stand to benefit from the reopening.

"If you have bags or lights or pumps (on your bike), you feel very vulnerable. If you can just put your bike in a place where it's safe, where you know it'll be there when you get back, with 24/7 access - that's just great," Goldstein said.

Selzer said the partnership works to combine business with a climate change agenda.

"Our goal is to get people out of cars and onto bikes," he said.

More information on the facility is available at http://www.bikestation.org.

E-mail Kristina Peterson at kpeterson@dailynewsgroup.com.

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