By Sasha Lekach, Bay City News Service
With the BART strike leaving many passengers struggling to find ways to get
around the Bay Area, a local innovator is floating a new idea to get commuters
across the Bay.
Designer Judah Schiller from San Francisco-based design firm Aiko Agency launched the BayCycle Project, an effort to build a floatation device that allows people to bike on water.
Schiller tested the hybrid flotation device-bicycle contraption with a 45-minute ride across the bay on Sept. 26.
He called it a "gorgeous ride" and claims he was the first person in history to ride across the Bay on a bicycle.
He said he felt safer on the water than on bustling roadways, and "you have a lot of open space. You are not surrounded by buses and cars and taxis."
He plans to make another ride sometime this weekend while BART trains will likely remain offline.
The invention makes it possible to bike on water, with a yellow flotation device he designed that attaches to a bicycle that can be pedaled along.
"Anyone can do it," he said, adding it helps if riders are in shape and have the right equipment.
He has five of the units assembled and has a $50,000 fundraising goal on the website Indiegogo to create more of the devices and make them sleeker, more modern and sustainable.
Schiller is aiming to build five or 10 more to have ready to sell by next summer. He said the device will be marketed for recreation, sport or commuting purposes.
He said he wants to expose as many people as possible to the benefits of water biking with devices that fit all sizes of bicycles.
The price for the device will be similar to a standup paddleboard, which usually starts at about $300.
Since news of the imminent BART stoppage -- and the ultimate strike effective today -- halting all public transportation through the Transbay Tube, he has received almost hourly inquiries to ride the bikes across the Bay.
He said he has a list of interested people, but does not have the means to safely and formally organize rides.
He urged city leaders in Oakland, San Francisco and other cities to consider investing in alternate commute methods such as his water bike.
"We need to have infrastructure across the Bay," he said.
On his inaugural ride last month, he left from Oakland's Middle Harbor Shoreline Park and landed at San Francisco's Pier 1 and 1/2.
More information about the project is available at www.indiegogo.com/projects/baycycle-project.
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