D.C.’s Metro Sees Cycling as an Opportunity to Grow Ridership

Washington D.C.’s Metro is looking to boost ridership by boosting cycling.

Officials at the transit authority have noted that, while Metro’s ridership is growing, there isn’t enough room around most of its stations to expand parking. More bicycle-to-train trips will mean more commuters can board at those stations while reducing Metro’s vehicle storage costs. And compared to a system where driving and walking are the only options, a system that encourages biking to the train will improve overall access for commuters to Metro stations.

A recently completed study of pedestrian and bicycle access [PDF] at Metro stations outlined strategies for increasing the percentage of passengers who arrive by bicycle, with the goal of doubling the rate over 10 years and quintupling it over 20. David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington pulls out some juicy details:

DC's Metro plans to improve bike parking facilities as part of a campaign to boost overall ridership. Photo: Palmetto Cycling Coalition

While walking almost entirely depends on the number of housing units or jobs within a short distance of the station, bicycling has the potential to replace a number of short auto trips to Metro parking lots, freeing up spaces for other people to drive to the station without having to build more parking.

Parking garages cost Metro $30,000 per space to build, while a secure bike cage costs only $1,000 per space, and bike racks cost far less. Therefore, increasing bicycling for riders who live 1-3 miles from stations is the cheapest and best way to improve access for those riders.

In a survey, 67% of riders said they would consider bicycling and 55% would consider walking. The distance from home to the station was the top factor barring walking or biking, but #2 was “uncomfortable crossing conditions at intersections” and #3 was “high traffic volume and speed.” 25% of the respondents said they drive instead of walking or biking because they “do not know a safe walking or biking route.”

As part of its campaign to woo cyclists, Metro is planning to improve and expand bike parking facilities at its stations.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Complete Streets policies are gaining adherents in rural communities in upstate New York, according to Mobilizing the Region. Biking in L.A. ponders the legal environment that allows a motorist who kills a cyclist to walk away without so much as a ticket. And Extraordinary Observations argues that urbanism doesn’t fit nicely into either the liberal or conservative ideological framework.