My excuse for not participating in Bike to Work Day today is pretty good — I thought. From my apartment in Baltimore to downtown D.C., I’d be looking at a 50-mile ride, which would take me way past quitting time. And probably well into Saturday.
But when I use this line of reasoning on bike advocates, they explain that participation requires only that you bike for a portion of your journey. So MARC commuters like me count if we pedal to or from our stop. Biking to a bus also qualifies, as does driving over to a trail you use to get to the office. Think of it more as Bike at Least a Little to Work Day.
If you can manage to bike to a Metro station, that’s something WMATA would like to see you celebrate more than once a year. It’s expensive to build more car parking, and it’s not even remotely feasible in most places. So how can more passengers find their way to the trains? By arriving on foot or by bike. A study WMATA released in 2010 set an ambitious goal: to increase the number of riders who get to the station by bike from the 1,600 it counted (that’s about 0.7 percent of Metro riders) to 12,000 people in 2030.
We’re starting to see changes at stations reflecting this bike boosterism. Over the past few months, WMATA has installed new racks for 140 bikes. And on Tuesday, the first Bike & Ride facility was unveiled at the College Park station. It’s a 2,400-square- foot enclosed space with room for more than 100 bikes. You can’t enter unless you have an access card (which costs a one-time fee of $5) that serves as both your ID and payment method — parking costs 5 cents an hour between 8 a.m. and midnight, and 2 cents an hour the rest of the time.
That means most folks storing their two-wheelers while they’re at work will have to pony up an extra 50 cents a day for the service, but they won’t need to worry about returning from the office only to find that their bike’s been filched. (And it sure beats paying bus fare.)
The Vienna and King Street stations are scheduled to get similar facilities in 2013, and more Bike & Rides are on the way in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, WMATA promises.
So before too long, no one will have a good excuse for not participating in Bike to Work Day. At least a little.