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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Baseball and bicycling shouldn't be strangers

Image of bike parking at San Francisco GiantsOnly one Major League Baseball franchise offers secure bike parking for its pedaling fans: the San Francisco Giants. Sadly, the Giants' cross bay rivals, the Oakland A's, seem not to be interested in offering more diverse transportation options for their patrons.

According to today's San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics' are pursuing a new stadium in the nearby city of Fremont. The team has longed for a new facility for many years, and is apparently frustrated by the failure of Oakland city government to offer any assistance. The attraction of Fremont? Easy freeway access. As the Chronicle reports: "For many Bay Area residents, Fremont remains elusive--just another low-lying community straddling Interstate 880 between Oakland and San Jose."

Cursed by ancestry to be a Red Sox fan, I've made the annual pilgrimage to the dreary Oakland Mausoleum to view the Boston team lose to the locals on their yearly visit. One of the things in the A's favor (beyond great young talent and smart management) is the stadium's proximity to BART and now the new AMTRAK Capitol Corridor Oakland Coliseum station.

I was heartened somewhat by sportswriter Ray Ratto's almost "New Urbanist" column, which flatly dismissed the Fremont ballpark idea:
"The history of ballpark construction in the last 15 years has been about big-city downtowns. It is the nexus of traffic and social-activity patterns, there are businesses and restaurants and nightclubs and lots of pregame and postgame entertainment, and it has the capacity to take crowds and make the most of them. Suburban stadiums have been all but abandoned for the perfectly good reason that people drive to a park, and if they can't walk to anything afterward, they drive back home again."

Boy, it will be a sad day in Oakland if the A's leave. Especially if it creates a greater challenge for non-driving baseball fans.

Image: Valet bike parking at AT&T Park in San Francisco, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
See: "Bike Me Out to the Ballgame", San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

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