Southern Ave Station Auto Access “Hotspots”

May 13th, 2013

Heat map showing short-distance parking access at Forest Glen station, which will be incorporated into the next rail to bike planning effort (click for full map)

Heat map showing parking access within 1 mile and 3 miles at Southern Ave. station, which may indicate good opportunities for pedestrian and bicycle improvements  (click for full map)

Last December we looked at the Forest Glen station and asked you for insights on why people coming from so close (less than three miles) would drive to the station. In the upcoming weeks we are taking a look at five additional stations that also have a high percent of short-distance parking access and low bicycle use: Southern Ave, Glenmont, Largo Town Center, and Grosvenor-Strathmore. For each, we will explore the station’s local conditions and we ask you to share your insights about what can be done to improve walking and biking access to these stations.

The map on the right (full version) shows auto access “hotspots” around Southern Ave station. The Southern Ave station is located just southeast of the boundary between the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County.

Many residential neighborhoods are located within the three-mile radius of the station, and a large concentration of parking users residing within one mile of the station.

However, many possible barriers could inhibit non-motorized travel to Metro:

  • Southern Ave SE is a fast-moving, four-lane road that is uninviting to pedestrians, despite traffic signals, sidewalks and streetlights.
    • gives the Southern Ave Metrorail station a walk score of 52 out of a possible 100.
  • The station has no direct connectivity to the surrounding residential neighborhoods.  All access to the station must occur via Southern Ave SE.  As such, many neighbors of the station must travel long and circuitous routes to access Metrorail.  See the image below.
  • The station nestled into a corner of Oxon Run Park, further limiting station access routes for nearby residents.


Google driving directions for a residential street near the Southern Ave station, a 3.2 mile trip. Click the image for a larger version.

Do you bike or walk to the station?  Are there any gaps in the infrastructure (crosswalks, curb ramps, sidewalks, lighting, bike lanes etc.) that, if filled would improve your trip? For those of you who drive to the station – what factors influence you to drive instead of walk or bike? Are there improvements that would make you more likely to walk or bike? Are there other conclusions from this analysis that we missed?

We want to hear from you and appreciate any feedback you have that can make our system more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.



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  1. May 13th, 2013 at 14:12 | #1

    Three miles? I don’t know what your rider surveys look like, but in the land of BART, only a few crazy people like me will walk a mile to the station. Three miles is an hour, which is almost unimaginable unless you are walking through an extremely lively place, and straight to your destination, not to a station. With absolutely no sources of street life within 4000 feet of the station, walkability is hopeless here.

  2. Mike B
    May 14th, 2013 at 09:01 | #2

    I drive to the station from Temple Hills from time to time, but I try to catch TheBus 33 whenever I can. It’s only a 15 minute trip from my house to the station on the bus, which isn’t much loner than driving. And certainly a lot cheaper.

    Walking or biking to the station are probably out of the question, crossing both St. Barnabas Road and Iverson Street.

  3. Matt Dickens
    May 14th, 2013 at 09:10 | #3

    @Eric Fischer
    One mile is generally considered the area where people will walk. Three miles is the area where people will access the station via bike.

  4. Michael
    May 14th, 2013 at 10:23 | #4

    @Eric Fischer
    Like Matt Dickens said, 3 miles is the generally acceptable bike radius for trips that don’t involve excessive sweating, changes of clothes, etc. My bike ride to work is just over 3 miles and I do it in a shirt and tie. Takes me 15 minutes.

  5. sbc
    May 14th, 2013 at 12:45 | #5

    I have walked from that metro station to United Medical Center and THEARC on several occasions. A few suggestions to increase walking:

    a) signs at the station pointing to these 2 locations with the distance to each. It’s not easy to figure out which way to walk, but it’s not far once you do.

    b) A light, or at least a crosswalk, on Southern Ave. by the entrance to UMC. If you don’t cross right as you leave the station, you have to either jaywalk to get into UMC (on a hilly road with lots of traffic) or walk to 13th street and backtrack a block or so.

    c) when walking to THEARC, there is a place where people often climb over the road barrier, walk down a hill (they’ve made a trail), and walk through the parking lot rather than turning onto Mississppi Ave. and walking all the way around to the building. You can see this on google street view at and it would be good if this were a real path that didn’t involve climbing a barrier, so folks with kids in strollers, elderly folks, etc. could do it.

  6. May 14th, 2013 at 18:38 | #6

    Rebuilding and completing the bike path along the Suitland Parkway will increase bike access to the southern Green Line. Today’s Greater Greater Washington blog has an article about this:

  7. David
    May 15th, 2013 at 13:55 | #7

    I’ve never been to this station, but my first impression based on the satellite image is that it’s located in the middle of nowhere. Except for the small development right across the street, no one has a direct route to walk or bike there. Everyone else has to take a roundabout way because of some kind of woodland obstacle, travelling at least a quarter mile down a sidewalk bordered only by street and trees.

    Also, why is there so much woodland area immediately surrounding the station in the first place? One feature of all the suburban rail stations I’ve been to in Japan is that they are not isolated by woodlands. Even if they’re not in dense urban areas, at least they have houses and streets surrounding them, which makes for a much more ‘walkable’ atmosphere. I know I feel a lot better walking through a neighborhood, especially at night, than an isolated path.

    Maybe some of that woodland can be opened up for residential development?

  8. Matt S
    May 15th, 2013 at 14:16 | #8

    I lived in the “Villages of Parkland” apartment complex for a little while and even though I was geographically closer to Southern Ave, I always had to walk the further (and more dangerous, crime-wise) distance to Congress Heights because it was so hard to cross Southern Avenue and reach the station on foot. It wasn’t impossible, but it was definately not worth it most of the time. But I always hated walking to Congress Heights because it required walking along Alabama Ave. which I always found unsafe (I was attacked when existing that Metro station once and threatened by people on Alabama Ave several times).

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