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County’s new on-demand bike lockers will secure more bikes, more of the time

Map of King County BikeLink lockers
Map of King County BikeLink lockers
King County’s new bike lockers have one key difference separating them from previous lockers installed in the region: The BikeLink lockers are available reservation-free and on-demand.

You can get a card online here. The $20 card comes preloaded with $20 in parking money, and using the lockers costs $0.05/hour.

Bike lockers are a convenient way for people to combine biking and transit for super fast, affordable and efficient trips around the region. Skip the slow, local bus (if one even exists where you live) by biking to a transit center and securely storing your bike before hopping on an express route. Since bikes left at transit centers are easy targets for theft, secure storage options (even ones that cost money to use) are important for this bike/transit combo to work.

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The trip is even faster if you bring your bike on transit with you. In fact, odds are good that a bike/bus commute like this will be the fastest way to get where you’re going. But putting your bike on a bus has a serious problem of scale: Only two or three bikes can fit at a time, and many King County Metro bus routes already have full bike racks often enough to make it unreliable way of getting around (this is also a great, underutilized selling point for folding bikes, which you can bring on board with you).

But the true need for secure bike parking at transit centers will come when bike share launches. Imagine this commute to downtown: Bike from home to the nearest express transit station, secure your bike (at $0.05/hour, that’s just over $2/week assuming a standard 9-5 work schedule), hop on an express bus or train to downtown, then finish the journey with a short jaunt on a bike share bike to your workplace.

With a strong focus on building safe bicycle routes connecting homes to transit centers and improved transit speed, capacity and reliability, Seattle’s bike/transit/bike share combination could easily revolutionize regional transportation. And secure bike paring is one admittedly boring but vital part of the equation.

Here’s a King 5 report on the new lockers:

Here’s an instructional video on how to use the lockers (Note: Ignore the second half of the video about group lockers):

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6 responses to “County’s new on-demand bike lockers will secure more bikes, more of the time”

  1. One place these lockers are really needed is at the well-used but high-theft bike parking area near the Montlake Flyer Stop. Sadly the Montlake Flyer Stop is going away (insert litany of stupid reasons here; it’s everyone’s fault and we’re getting the stupidity we deserve I guess). Hopefully we’ll get them up on the lid if that ever gets built.

    1. In general, it sort of irks me that these are only being placed in the suburbs… almost exclusively at park-and-rides in auto-oriented suburbs with service mostly to downtown Seattle. The closest thing to an exception is Northgate, but even Northgate really only has transit worth biking to to the south.

      There are lots of Seattle neighborhoods whose access to fast, frequent transit is a bike ride away, but lack secure bike parking at transit nodes. West Seattle, Ballard, and Magnolia, for example, have lots of housing within a short walk of slow, infrequent buses but a quick bike ride from relatively fast, frequent ones serving a wider variety of destinations. Many neighborhoods with good cycling access to the U District lack the regional transit it has. Central Link runs on the western fringe of the Rainier Valley, at biking distance from the population centers.

      The Montlake Flyer Stop is a popular bike parking location because it’s close to bikeable neighborhoods and offers fast transit to eastside job centers like Bellevue and Redmond. I-5/45th isn’t quite as good (can’t go downtown during peak; the Lynnwood and Everett stations aren’t near so many jobs) but it has a similar function, and won’t be replaced by North Link for some time yet. Central Link stations are obvious locations for this sort of parking. At least three RapidRide C/D stops (one in Ballard, one in Interbay, one in West Seattle) ought to be considered. Bellevue TC (and future East Link) isn’t super bikeable, but it’s surrounded by density and slower, more attentive traffic than much of the eastside, and it has lots of frequent transit to a variety of locations.

      1. Lisa

        I plan on keeping my crappy old bike around just for this occasion, biking to express bus in Seattle during commuting hours. It would suck if someone steals it, but it would probably fall apart on them after a couple miles anyway. I agree about more lockers at Link, I think those are managed by ST instead of Metro though.

  2. Van

    This is AWESOME!!! Obviously we need more lockers and not just at transit stations, but getting them out and people using them is a huge step. And as someone who has had two bikes stolen in the past two years, this is a dream come true.

  3. Barbara

    These are so desperately needed but there placement doesn’t address my needs at all. I often want to be able to park my bike in a secure and dry place and leave it for lengthy periods. I find this need when I go to the airport, to the train station (when there are no spots left on the train for me to take my bike with me) downtown for appointments, meetings or a show, or to the hospital for care or visiting someone. I would love to see them in every neighborhood too (sweet to go to a restaurant and show at night and not be worrying about my bike) and particularly at major bus stops (I often ride to a bus stop at the base of Queen Anne, Capitol Hill or Phinney Ridge and take the bus with my bike, but would go without it if I had a place to leave it parked securely). I would be very happy to pay a fee to know my bike is secure and dry and in a location that is convenient, well lit and safe to access.

  4. […] County is also experimenting with on-demand bike lockers, a huge step forward from the reservation-only bike lockers at many Sound Transit stations. […]

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