Biking at the lab

Congratulations on your new bike! Before you can enjoy the pleasures of riding down the hill at the end of the day and avoid the hassle of parking spot hunting, here’s a few advice and rules to follow, for your safety and the safety of others.

Moderate your speed and respect traffic signs

While riding down the hill can be an exhilarating experience, make sure you obey speed limits (15 mph on site) and traffic regulations such as stop signs. You are subject to the same traffic rules as cars and failure to comply with the traffic rules can lead to hefty tickets. Above all, it is for your own safety, and keep in mind there is never a good reason to put pedestrians and other road users in danger.

Wear a helmet at the lab

A bike helmet is to be worn at all times when riding your bike at Berkeley Lab. It is here to protect you in case of an incident (bike failure, a slippery track, or irregularities on the road) which can happen no matter your riding skills – even Nobel prize laureates do it.

Lights at night

Make sure you have lights in the front and in the back, especially at night. Bikes are not very visible to other road users, and mistakes can lead to accidents. Some removable lights can be stolen, so it is generally a good idea to remove them when you park outside the lab. It is also good practice to wear bright clothes (with reflective surfaces)

Safety on the road

When riding your bike on the road, always stay alert. Dooring (i.e., hitting the door of a stopped car when a passenger gets out) can happen when you expect it the least. Headphones should be avoided.

Getting to the lab by bike

You can take your bike on the lab shuttle. You can learn how to load and unload your bike online. If you’re commuting from the East Bay, there are often safer routes than the main streets (bike boulevard), sometimes just a block down, which makes the commute nicer and safer. Bikes are allowed in the BART, but restrictions apply at peak hours.

Climbing up the hill is a good workout, and there are showers available across the hill to freshen up. To enter the lab, make sure you get a bike sticker beforehand (you can register your bike in building 65.)

Locking your bike

Though bikes are usually safe. Always make sure that the frame of your bike is locked to a fixed point (e.g a bike rack, a parking paystation or a street sign), ideally locking the frame and the back wheel together. Do not lock the front wheel only, as they’re easy to unscrew or pry open. The best locks are the so-called U-locks. They tend to be expensive, but it’s possible to find decent ones for $20 at some big box shops.

If your front or rear wheel has a quick release, make sure to use a cable in addition to your U-lock. Parking in crowded streets is better, but avoid leaving your bike overnight (e.g., at BART stations.)

When parking your bike at the lab, please use the bike racks, as guardrails need to stay clear in case of emergency.

Maintaining your bike

It is recommended to regularly check and maintain your bike to ensure safety on the road. This is particularly true for tire inflation, which naturally decays (every month), and brake pads which tend to wear out quickly on the hill (every three months.) Low tire pressure will make your ride slower, and increases the chances of “pinching”, where the tire hits the inner side of the wheel, leading to inner tube puncture and a flat, but may also deform your wheel.

There are repair stations on the hill, with bike pumps and tools, and shops in Berkeley where they can offer assistance and provide tools free to use.

Donated bikes

If the bike has been donated, it is expected that you recirculate the bike within the lab community if you happened to leave the lab or do not need it anymore (e.g. if you buy a new bike.) You may contact the LBNL bike coalition to do so.

Recommended routes
(easy to difficult)

  • Berkeley Marina

  • Around Lake Merritt

  • Bay Bridge

  • Inspiration point

  • Grizzly peak through Spruce

  • Marin headlands

  • Three Bears

  • Mt Tamalpais, through Richmond bridge

  • Mt Diablo, through Iron Horse trail