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San Diego commuters - bikes on coaster?(12 posts)

San Diego commuters - bikes on coaster?UncleMoe
Nov 12, 2001 11:41 AM
I am missing my bike commuting with the shorter daylight hours. I have a lighting system and have no issue with commuting early in the morning (much less traffic at 6:00 am). However, the thought of commuting in the dark during the evening rush hour scares me, no matter how bright my lights are, some drivers just suck around here.

Anyway, I am thinking about commuting in the AM, and than taking the Coaster home and just biking from the coaster station to my home (about 4 miles).

I know the Coaster has some bike bins inside the cars, but...
1. Are there 4 bike spaces "per car" or "per coaster" (The website doesn't specify).

2. How much use do these get? I'd hate to try it and have to worry about getting a space. (I'd call and ask, but I doubt the customer service people will have any idea of usage.)

3. Have you tried commuting one way, but stopped because it is a pain, or the $4.00 cost of the coaster ticket doesn't justify just spending half of that on gas, even though you do sit in traffic.

Thanks for any first hand knowledge.
Fear is mentalRich Clark
Nov 12, 2001 11:57 AM
I know this isn't the answer you asked for, but I feel compelled to chime in about the fear of riding at night.

With enough lighting and especially reflective material, a bicyclist can easily be more visible and conspicuous at night than in the daytime.

I never feel more vulnerable than when the sun is low on the horizon, such as when I rode to work this morning. Sun glare was horrible, and I know that for drivers it's even worse. *That* is when I fear that drivers won't see me -- they're squinting and shielding their eyes and peering through dirty windshields and actively trying to see as little as possible except other cars and trucks. (These are the same drivers you fear at night, of course; they're still there in the daytime.)

Every close call I've ever had has been under these or similar circumstances. In the "daylight." And having also been a driver for a lot of years, I understand why.

Once it's dark, drivers give me all sorts of room. I'm easy to see -- impossible to miss, with my 24 watts of headlight, three blinkies, my reflective rear triangle, reflective sidewalls, and reflective tape on my shoes and panniers and fenders, etc. I get the respect that another vehicle (or a raving lunatic, but I'll take that too) deserves.

There is a mental hurdle to overcome in order to ride comfortably at night, but IMO it's actually a dose of reality. To demonstrate it for yourself, get your bike prepared for night riding, and have someone else ride it while you follow in a car. If you've done the job right, your biggest fear will become whether you constitute a traffic hazard because you're distracting the other vehicles.

Nov 12, 2001 12:14 PM
I've considered doing the nighttime commute home too. Perhaps I should give it a try at least once to see how it goes.

I guess it isn't so much night riding in the road, it is the context of the type of driver too. I have to ride thru 3-4 fairly congested business parks to get to the Coast Highway. Drivers are simply insane with lane cutting and lack of patience. I understand why, cause I get the same way while sitting in it.

If it was a Sunday night and I was just cruising 5-8 miles thru a residential area, I'd be fine. It is just the thought of the commuter traffic that worries me.

I pledge to give it a try though.
Fear is mentalflybyvine
Nov 12, 2001 8:47 PM
I have to agree coimnpletelly.

When it comes to the commute home I will actually wait until it is dark rather than ride at dusk.

Riding in Singapore you get used to riding in the dark as it is too hot any otehr time of day. Most training is in the dark - only my morning commute and longer Sat rides are during daylight hours.
re: No easy answer.Brewster
Nov 12, 2001 12:46 PM
I don't live in San Diego, but I have the same problem. I work away from the downtown area in one of the most conjested suburbs. The first 10 miles of my commute home is a nitemare with daylight, I wouldn't even want to try it at night. Unfortunately, public transportation is non-existant in the midwest. Driving is the only other alternative.

My only piece of advice would be to look for the route with the least amount of traffic, drive it a few times in the car and then evaluate whether you would feel safe on the bike.
it's the vulnerability, compounded by visibilityDog
Nov 12, 2001 12:52 PM
I'm one of those who is scared to ride after dark, too. No matter how much lighting or reflective stuff, I still feel so vulnerable. Often drivers don't even see other cars on the road, and collisions are common. In a car, at least you have a chance of surviving. Combine lower visibility, lessened expectations of drivers enountering a bike, and then almost certain death if hit, and it gets pretty scary.

Sorry for not answering your question, but I think your fear is well founded.

I only took it once, on a Saturday ...Humma Hah
Nov 12, 2001 5:39 PM
... after the Amtrack Century. The LA riders got on their special train, and I took the Coaster back to Solana Beach. I didn't have any trouble.

What the heck, give it a try. The worst that will happen is maybe you have to hold the bike for a short while. Just remember how lucky you are to have that service. Now that I'm back in Northern Virginia, I'm ticked that the Virginia Railway Express does NOT allow bikes.

The Amtrack California Cars also take bikes. I took one of those up to the start of the Amtrack Century. Worked wonderfully.
re: San Diego commuters - bikes on coaster?dsc
Nov 12, 2001 6:37 PM
Hey Moe,
Sorry, no first-hand knowledge about the coaster (I live close to where I work), but Bicycling San Diego just ran a blurb about bikes on the trolley and the coaster. Perhaps someone there would have the info. that you need? Their email is

BTW, I know what you mean about the traffic around these business parks. Yikes!!

I live in San Diego and I can tell you...Bruno S
Nov 12, 2001 8:22 PM
the following:

-4 bike racks per car.

-I have used it only on Saturdays and there were almost no bikes.

-The company I work for pays for 50% of coaster tickets if I choose to use it. I don't but been thinking about it.

-The are bike boxes that you can rent to store your bike at the stations. My company has a covered secure bike rack and now I'm feeling guilty.

-You can drive to downtown and take the 8:00am train to Irvine (which also has bike racks) and ride back all the 101. Its the Amtrak Century in reverse order. Great ride of about 97 miles.
I live in San Diego and I can tell you...UncleMoe
Nov 12, 2001 8:45 PM
Thanks for the info. I guess with 4 racks per car I should be good to go, but I mghgt try the full 20 mile commute home in the dark just to see how it is. I want to get one extra blinky light in the back to make a total of two, plus have my wife follow me one night around the neighborhood. If I'm not visible enough, she'll tell me. 15w in the front should be good, plus I have an optional 20w high beam.

Especially thanks for the Amtrak, Irvine deal. I've done that once, but I should tkae advantage of it more often!
Watch the burn time on that light ...Humma Hah
Nov 13, 2001 7:39 PM
... 15W will really suck the power. That's not a very fast route, lots of stops and some traffic to slow you down. At least you can sneak up to Del Mar via the closed-to-traffic portion of Sorrento Valley.

Be advised: they closed that stretch of road to be a wildlife corridor between Torrey Pines and Los Penesquitos. Part of that reasoning is to give the mountain lions a path between the two. Try not to look too tasty.

You might want to look at the rules the brevet riders use. They're required to wear an orange vest, and carry two spare bulbs for their light, or two lights each with a spare bulb. 20 miles is a long way to go with a bad light, especially on those dark, undeveloped stretches like that closed road.
Nov 15, 2001 11:38 AM
I feel pretty good about the Marwi's. Its a 15w/20w combo. I usually just run the 15w. With a fully charged battery, it has 3 hour burn. I'd probably use 30 minutes in the AM, and the bike home in daylight is about 1:15 - 1:30. In the dark, I expect slightly longer. I have a 2.5w battery bar light I'd bring for a backup. Plus I ave that god awful ornage vest thing, but necessary really.

Thanks for the info.