2012 Bicycle Parking Census at Metrorail Stations

August 2nd, 2012

In May and June, Metro staff traveled the region counting parked bicycles at all Metrorail stations. These bike counts help measure our progress in attracting bike-to-rail customers, and are a key piece of data when we plan for bicycle facilities in the future as part of Metro’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Element of 2012-2017 Capital Improvement Program. Here are some results.

Similar to last year’s counts, the objective of the census was to measure the general availability of, and demand for, bike parking around Metrorail stations. Regardless of who owns the racks, we want to know how easy it would be for a passenger to find a place to park a bike near a station at peak times.  So, we counted during a six-week window on sunny, warm days from May 1 to June 15, between 9:30am and 3:00pm.

We excluded bike lockers, the Union Station Bikestation, and the College Park Bike & Ride (we counted the racks at that station shortly before that facility opened).  We counted each U-Rack as space for two bikes, and used our best judgment for other racks.

Download the count data for yourself (.xls)

Overall Findings

  • Bike parking usage in 2012 is up 3% from last year
  • Bike parking capacity is up significantly, thanks to newly-installed bike racks near Metrorail station, including racks with capacity for over 300 installed by Metro staff.
  • Now, 85 of 86 stations (all but Arlington Cemetery) have bike racks available.
  • We now count over 4,000 bike parking spaces near Metrorail stations.
  • Many stations where we recently added new racks saw some uptick in usage (e.g., Braddock Road 19% increase in usage, Takoma 24%, West Hyattsville 13%) over last year, but some did not.Generally, there may be enough year-to-year variability with these  “snapshot” data that it can be difficult to identify detailed trends.
  • Parking near downtown stations may have declined somewhat versus last year.This might be one impact of Capital Bikeshare.
  • We found six stations where total bikes parked exceeded 100% of rack capacity.Metro staff will take action at these stations where we can, but in other situations where we do not own the land or the racks, we will work actively with our station-area partners.
  • Twenty-five stations had at least 3 bikes secured/locked to things other than racks.Securing a bike to a railing can obstruct those who need the railing — or can block an accessible path — and is strongly discouraged or even illegal in some jurisdictions. Securing a bike to a tree can damage or kill it.  At station areas where cyclists are securing bikes to objects other than racks because of inadequate bike parking capacity, Metro staff will take action to increase capacity where it can.

Map of Metro 2012 bike census by station (click for larger)

Comparison to Previous Counts:
2006-7 Count 2011 Count 2012 Count 2011-12 Change
Parked Bicycles 1,248 2,196 2,271 3%
Bike Rack Capacity 2,963 3,544 4,239 20%

Top Five Stations by Total Bikes Parked:

  1. Braddock Road, 92
  2. Takoma, 87
  3. Vienna, 82
  4. Franconia-Springfield, 75
  5. Bethesda, 71
  6. (tie) East Falls Church, 71

Top Five Stations by Greatest Rack Capacity:

  1. Braddock Road, 136
  2. East Falls Church, 132
  3. Vienna, 130
  4. West Hyattsville, 128
  5. Rockville, 124
  6. (tie) College Park, 124

Next Steps

These counts show that we are moving in the right direction, but more work remains.We generally have enough bike parking capacity at nearly all stations, but not all stations see equal usage.One missing piece could be bike-friendly infrastructure around the stations to allow bike-to-rail customers to comfortably and safely access stations.So, we’ll work with our jurisdictions to improve paths, crossings, and other infrastructure outside Metro’s immediate property. But you tell us – what do you see as obstacles to biking to your Metrorail station? 

Additionally, we’ll continue to monitor station entrances to identify those where bike parking is full and where we can easily add new racks and possibly other new bike-to-rail facilities in the future. This fall, the results of the 2012 Metrorail Passenger Survey will provide another measurement of our progress towards our goal of tripling bike-to-rail access in the long-term.

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Categories: Planning Studies Tags: ,
  1. August 2nd, 2012 at 08:26 | #1

    How about the paid bicycle locker program?

    People always ask me about mine, and how they can get one. Maybe stencil a bicycle logo and the webpage onto the side of one of the lockers, especially at stations where the lockers are not well used?

    I think many people think they’re storage boxes for Metro equipment.

  2. Will
    August 2nd, 2012 at 11:00 | #2

    What’s it going to take for DDOT and WMATA to coordinate and connect the existing Suitland trail the last half mile to reach Anacostia Metro?

    This is low hanging fruit!

  3. Erik W
    August 2nd, 2012 at 11:53 | #3

    Did the survey include any attempt to count or identify abandon bikes that may be taking up spaces? Additionally, future counts should also try to count mopeds/motor scooters using bike racks. This is becoming more prevalent throughout the city and I’m sure will start becoming a problem at Metro stations as well. These riders need some type of parking accommodation as well, but bike racks aren’t usually the best place for them, since the spacing means one moped ends up obstructing a bunch of bike parking spaces.

  4. Michael
    August 2nd, 2012 at 13:32 | #4

    Michael Perkins: Good idea!

    Will: I’ll look into this.

    Erik W: I was one of the bike census takers in 2011 and we were definitely collecting data on abandoned bikes as well as mopeds and scooters. I am sure the same data was collected this year as well.


  5. Dana
    August 2nd, 2012 at 15:59 | #5

    As you remove the abandoned bikes, please coordinate with a group like Arlington’s Phoenix Bikes (www.phoenixbikes.org) (703) 575-7762 as they may be able to put the bikes back in use. Reuse is better than trash.

  6. Justin
    August 13th, 2012 at 12:39 | #6

    @Erik W : Yes, we did try to identify abandoned bikes, and recently published the findings so that we can confirm they’re abandoned and free up more spaces.

    And yes, even though it’s not called out in the spreadsheet, we did count 54 scooters on bike racks systemwide. Although they often took up more than one space, for the most part, scooters weren’t at stations where all bike racks were full, so bicyclists could still find an open rack. We will definitely keep an eye on it in the future.

  7. Ritch
    September 28th, 2012 at 13:49 | #7

    Some stations like Virginia Square and Crystal City have way too little bike parking for the existing demand (let alone for growth). What will be done to add parking at those stations and others like them?

    Rosslyn still has the old clamshell style rack that are terrible. I know those will be replaced soon, but all the old style racks should be replaced ASAP.

  8. Avocado
    January 24th, 2013 at 12:23 | #8

    At the Wheaton station eastern exit many people park their bikes downstairs attached to railings because that is very close to the station entrance. The official bike racks are up a long flight of stairs. If additional bike racks are added I’d suggest placing them at the bottom of the stairs near the entrance where people park bikes anyway. I park my bike at the top and walk down but am tempted to park at the bottom to save that effort. Also, on nice days the upper bike rack fills up and the downstairs area is like overflow.

    I also echo the suggestion above that scooters and mopeds be better accommodated in the parking arrangements. The free motorcycle parking spaces are great, but mopeds need to be chained to something like a bike rack when parked. This is because they are more lightweight than real motorcycles and could easily be lifted into a truck and carried away. That is why scooters & mopeds often park at the bike racks instead.

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