I wanted to take a little spin on BART with my bike today and since I needed to run a couple of errands related to my Teach For America interview prep I decided to combine several tasks into one trip. (For some inexplicable reason WIU didn’t include the details of grades from other institutions on my final transcripts so I need official transcripts from all the previous schools I attended, including Merritt College and UC Berkeley.) Rather than mail requests for those transcripts I decided to stop into the Merritt and UC records offices and order them in person. Merritt is at the top of a very steep hill, but, luckily, it’s part of the Peralta College system so I was able to process my request in downtown Oakland at the Laney College campus. I hopped on my bike and pedaled down to Fallon and 9th to order my Merritt transcript. The Laney campus is right across the street from the Lake Merritt BART station, so to speed my trip and test the BART/Bike interface I hopped on a train and rode up to Downtown Berkeley.
BART is happy to accomodate bikes, but taking a bike on the train is still a little awkward. There isn’t really a good spot to place a bike on the train where it’s not in anyone’s way. My bike is a little too long to fit between the door opening and the first forward or rear facing seat, so the front wheel protrudes slightly into the doorway. When we pulled into one station the train jerked a little and a woman, reaching for something to steady herself, grabbed the handlebar of my bike. It’s not as steady as the usual grab bars on the train, and if another passenger hadn’t been standing next to her to provide a shoulder to lean on, she might have tumbled to the floor. She didn’t seem real happy about the bikes on BART policy at that moment.
Getting in and out of the BART station with a bike is not difficult, if you happen to find a wheelchair accessible gate. Not all entrances to the stations have such a gate, so you have to pass through an emergency gate with your bike, then go back out through the emergency gate and process your ticket through a narrow, regular turnstile.
Once I arrived in Berkeley, it was a short hop through the campus from BART to Sproul Hall to request my transcripts. It’s always fun crossing the campus — it recalls so many memories. The route I rode this afternoon took me past the building that used to house the UC Drama Department. (Maybe it still does?) I remember having a meeting in that building with Bob Goldsby when I was deciding whether to return to Berkeley to finish my undergraduate degree or to accept the invitation to attend American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and finish my degree later. (If I recall, his advice was to accept the invitation to ACT.)
After ordering up transcripts I hopped back up on my bike and shot down Dana to Dwight to Telegraph and then a couple miles into Oakland. I turned south on 40th and noticed Subrosa Coffee on the right, just past Webster. My bike pulled up at the front door and we agreed it would be a good time for an afternoon pick-me-up. The Four Barrel Americano was just what I needed. Subrosa is a cute, tiny place. There’s a “patio” next door, which is really a small space between two buildings with a few tiny tables. It’s homey. The tables are about 18 inches square and there are benches along the wall and some stools made of mossy sections of logs. It was a nice sanctuary from the bustle of the city. The cup of coffee was fine. It wasn’t as rich and satisfying as the Americano I drank at Modern Coffee a couple of days ago, but I suspect that the difference could be attributed to the superb barista skills at my downtown cafe-of-choice. I’ll revisit Subrosa sometime soon. It’s a nice, tiny oasis.
After coffee I was steeled for the final leg of my bike journey. A straight shot down Webster to 27th, south on 27th to Grand and on to Perkins. A nice ride. Errands complete. Questions about bikes on BART answered. It was a good afternoon.