Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

WMATA's College Park Bike & Ride officially opens tomorrow morning

May 14, 2012 - 01:09 PM
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(Photo: WMATA)

Tomorrow WMATA will open a new bike parking facility that it calls "a first-of-its-kind" for Metro and that will be instrumental to achieving the transit agency's larger access goals for bicyclists over the next two decades. Say hello to the Bike & Ride, a secure and enclosed storage facility for more than 100 bicycles in a 2,400-square-foot room on the first level of the College Park Metro station garage.

"Initially, we plan to charge users 5 cents/hour for most of the day, and 2 cents/hour during overnight hours," WMATA's Justin Antos of the Office of Planning wrote last fall when construction was underway. "The off-peak discount is designed for customers who want to park their bike overnight as a 'station bike.' This will work out to about 50 cents/day for most commuters."

BikeLink has partnered with WMATA to help run the facility, and you can review the initial details of setting up an account here. Any bicyclist looking to use the Bike & Ride will receive a BikeLink card, and when you first use the facility, WMATA will photograph your ID for verification purposes. This one-time step costs about $5, after which you'll only have to worry about the low amounts listed above: 5 cents an hour from 8 a.m. to midnight, and 2 cents an hour other times. The facility comes with security cameras and allows you to store your bike for up to 10 days. Given D.C.'s many fears about bike thievery, the security element of a Bike & Ride seems like the best incentive.

Chocolate strawberries
(Photo: WMATA)

WMATA's Capital Improvement Program has included a myriad set of pedestrian and bicycling amenities in its plans for the next decade or so. The transit agency has set a goal of increasing its stations' bicyclist mode access to 2.1% by 2020 and 3.5% by 2030, and the Office of Planning has sought to determine the amount of bike parking necessary to accommodate these future bicyclists. The current bike mode share of stations, according to WMATA, is 0.7%, meaning WMATA hopes to triple the amount of bike access to its stations within the next eight years. Last year, the agency mapped how crowded its various bike racks became as well as data on how riders used the 1,700 bike racks at 84 of the 86 Metro stations. WMATA concluded there was space to park about 3,500 bikes at the time.

To reach its future access goals, WMATA hopes to add significant bike parking capacity — 4,308 additional bike parking spaces by 2020 to reach an access goal of 2.1%. WMATA has already identified 400 possible locations and plans to achieve nearly double that capacity, 8,200 bike parking spaces, which would include 30 of these Bike & Ride facilities accounting for 1,508 of the new bike parking spaces. The majority of identified new capacity would come from covered inverted U-racks. "These locations include recommended equipment types, capacity achieved, dimensions of the space to be used and geo-tagged photographs," WMATA's Office of Planning notes. "These features also include cover recommendations, security ratings, convenience ratings, and factors that may impact the cost of installation." WMATA is still struggling to identify how to fund all these initiatives and only is able to fund about a quarter of the Bike & Ride plans as of now. The total cost for these new centers comes to about $1.6 million. WMATA has, meanwhile, sought to increase its access in other ways in 2012. Geoff Hatchard recently observed how the transit agency upped its bike parking at the NoMa Metro station in recent months.

And now here's our first Bike & Ride center. Users tested it out over the past month, and within 24 hours, the facility will be open to the public. Tomorrow WMATA will hold a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. with the mayors of Greenbelt, College Park, WMATA Deputy General Manager Carol Kissal, and Shane Farthing of the Washington Area Bicyclists Assocation. The debut represents a key commitment to multi-modal transportation in the region and hints at broader, longer-term strategies that may prove vital to how we get around the District and beyond.

Update, 2:33 p.m.: Here's a WMATA brochure and, below, a bicyclist's video of the new facility if you want a better sense of the Bike & Ride.

Update, 2:10 p.m., May 15: WMATA has released its own video, starring Antos, to guide people through the Bike & Ride, and announces that such secure bike parking facilities will also be built at the King Street and Vienna Metro stations by next summer.

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