The Bike Depot at the Bay Street NJ Transit train station celebrated one year of service on October 15, 2015. A few days before, on October 12, the Depot reached a significant milestone: its 1,000th trip was taken by Matt Salvatore of Montclair, who used the Depot to store his bike while he headed to work.
The Depot is a secure, safe, weather protected place to store bicycles at the Bay Street train station. Montclair Township, in partnership with the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, unveiled the Bike Depot on October 16, 2014 to provide safe, secure, weather-protected storage for bikes, helmets and personal items. The Bike Depot, which also has a 24/7 security camera, is used by commuters who pay a small membership fee and then store their bike while they are at work. Members use an access card to gain entry. Memberships range from 24/7 monthly and annual, to weekend-only access. All members are guaranteed a space.
Most bike racks at NJ Transit stations are out in the open, leaving bikes subject to being vandalized or stolen. Because commuters can store a bike securely in the Bike Depot, a safer, higher quality bike can be ridden to the train station, providing an additional transportation option to commuters from a greater distance, from surrounding towns that do not have train stations.
According to Matt, whose wife Elizabeth is also a member, “The Bike Depot has been a great addition to the Bay Street Train Station. Biking instead of driving has proven to be a much more efficient and cost effective way for my wife and me to get to the train station every day. It’s also made our commute less stressful, since we don’t have to worry about missing trains due to a full parking deck or dealing with broken ticket machines anymore. Knowing our bikes are safe from vandals and protected from the weather is a huge plus too. I’m very excited to be a part of this milestone and hope to see Bike Depots opening at the other Montclair stations soon!”
NJBWC conducted a survey of Bike Depot members in August 2015. The average distance that members live from the Depot is 1.75 miles, with the furthest, West Orange resident Bill Launder, commuting almost 6 miles each way to reach the Depot. “I … again must say how much [the Bike Depot] has revolutionized my commute. …I also didn’t commute via bike before. I live just far enough that commuting on a non-performance bike that I would feel ok locking up on the street wasn’t an attractive option.”
Another member, Steve Machnowski, lives in Verona, slightly more than three miles away. “I wasn’t commuting by bike until the Depot opened because the closest station, Walnut Street didn’t have the security I prefer for my bike.” Other members, who are Montclairites and therefore live closer to the station, also expressed security concerns as the reason they use the Bike Depot. Half of those who responded commented that they were not commuting by bike before the Bike Depot was installed. One user likes the flexibility of being able to leave his bike at the Bike Depot when he uses a car service late at night. Another member told NJBWC that she likes the security the Depot provides her while getting ready for her ride home after dark.
Membership has slowly grown throughout the year, so that at this time, the Depot’s 29 available memberships are 70% sold out. The 21 individuals use the Bike Depot in varying amounts. Several use it almost every day, others use it occasionally, and a very few don’t use it at all. One member uses the Depot as permanent storage for his bike, as he does not have storage where he lives. Only six membership cancellations occurred during the year. One found that he lived too close for it to be a time savings over walking. Another said that she did not want to get sweaty riding her bike before work in the morning, an argument for showers at workplaces, and for gyms to provide “locker room only” memberships. A third member was a stalwart Bike Depot commuter until early July, when someone broke into his garage and stole all three of his bikes. Three others cancelled their memberships very soon after enrolling without giving a reason.
The Bike Depot was made possible through grants from Partners for Health, the Sustainable Jersey small grants program (funded by PSE&G), the NJ Bike & Walk Coalition, and in-kind support from The Pinnacle Companies, a local real estate developer with a focus on sustainable projects. Anyone interested in purchasing a membership can enroll here.
A Bike Depot for the Glenwood Avenue parking deck in Bloomfield is currently in development and is scheduled to open in Spring 2016. That Depot is also being funded in part through a grant from Partners for Health.
Advertising space is available on the panels at the Bay Street Depot; proceeds benefit the NJ Bike & Walk Coalition. For information on rates, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Cyndi Steiner, Executive Director, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition