- Bikin' to WMATA. (Photo: flickr/brownpau)
Metro is busy with a lot today. The organization has released unfortunate news about four employees who stole money as well as the fact that a whole portion of a Metro line will temporarily be down this weekend.
But another set of data also appeared today from Metro's Office of Long Range Planning (it does exist! And it has a neat, if sporadically updated blog!). Today the office released data from a recent study of how bike commuting and Metro riding intersect, looking specifically at the availability and density of the bike racks at 84 of the 86 Metro stations (Union Station lockers were excluded). The Metro website says there are about 1,700 bike racks at the stations total. First, let's look at this nifty chart that the planners compiled from six weeks of peak-usage time, May 1 to June 15. The legend tells us that blue means bikes on racks, yellow refers to bikes present but not on the racks, and red means empty spaces on the racks. The size of the pie is the total rack capacity plus bikes not on the racks.
- (Photo: WMATA)
See a bigger version of the chart here.
The greatest amount of rack parking seems to fall near the ends of lines, at stations like East Falls Church and College Park, which both hold 124, or at the 103 of the Rockville station.
The last bike count of this sort was apparently done in 2006-2007 and the comparison between the amount of bike parking available then and now is hardly insignificant.
In the four to five interim years, bike rack capacity increased by 20% (2,963 to 3,544) and the number of observed bikes increased by an astounding 76% (1,248 to 2,196). The divide between the rack capacity numbers and the observed bike numbers is also interesting to me. The overall capacity seems more than accommodating for the bikes, but the distribution doesn't, it seems, shake out appropriately station by station. Some racks become full in bike-heavy areas fast, forcing cyclists to leave their bikes elsewhere, while some racks seem to rarely be used. The planners pointed to Vienna as the station with the most overflow (completely full bike racks with 31 additional bikes parked nearby).
I wish there'd been some talk and consideration of theft in the study. The Wash Cycle mentioned this concern about Metro station bike racks this past spring. Another question I have: Do some cyclists willingly choose to not leave their bikes on the station racks even when there's space available? I don't know.
Metro says they'll be using this data to help plan future expansions and upgrades to different Metro stations' bike racks and they've already expanded the offerings at King Street, Medical Center, Grosvenor, Georgia Ave/Petworth, and College Park since the counts here were conducted earlier this summer. The data strikes me as valuable from a planning perspective, and I'm curious to know how the presence of the Capital Bikeshare affected the amount of people who have taken up the bike commuting lifestyle in the District.
How do you feel about the bike racks at the Metro stations? Which stations get overcrowded? I'm curious about what the average D.C. cyclist feels about their capacity and value.