The District's department of transportation is installing 100 bicycle lockers at five Metro subway stations here and expects to attach 100 special bike racks to downtown Washington parking meters to encourage bicycle commuting.
Both the steel lockers and bike racks, used extensively in California, will give cyclists increased security for their bikes. Safe storage space and more bikeways are considered crucial if bicycle use is to grow in the Washington area, according to a survey now being completed for Metro and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
The District now has about 8,000 bike commuters and will have an estimted 15,000 persons bicycling to work regularly in good weather by 1985, the study says. There are about 30,000 bike commuters in the entire. Washington area, and the study predicts this will grow slowly to abotu 53,000 within the next eight years.
An estimated 590,000 bike trips are made here now on a normal, sunny weekday, and this is expected to increase to about 890,000 daily bike trips by 1985. Most of these "trips" are by children.
The number of bicycle commuters by 1985 could be three times this, however, if Washington and its suburbs would create additional protected bikeways and provides safer places for bicyclists to park their bikes, the study concluded. Many jurisdictions, instead of increasing funds for bikeways are now actually cutting back on bikeway plans they had already announced, the study found.
The lockers, which will completely enclose the bike, have been used for several years in San Francisco's BART subway system, where demand far exceeds the supply of lockers. They probably will be rented here on a monthly basis, at the same $5 a month rate that BART charges, says Eileen Kadesh, bicycle coordinator for the D.C. Transportation Department. The lockers cost between $150 and $175 each and the parking-meter bike racks, which will lock the bicycle frame and both wheels, cost about $60 each.
It is not clear yet whether Metro or commuters will supply the locks for the lockers although the 100 individual parking-meter bike racks will be coin-key operated, similar to airport and train station lockers. The racks probably will cost 25 cents a day to use and would be attached to meters between 14th and 22d Streets NW between the White House and DuPont Circle, where bicyclists now regularly chain hundreds of bikes to lamp and sign posts and trees. Offiicials say the bike meters do not interfere with parked cars or pedestrian traffic.
Metro also is studying BART's system of allowing bikes on subway trains during non-rush hours, but Metro's senior transportation planner Mark Akins says it appears unlikely Metro will allow it because so many subway stations have long escalators where he feels he would be dangerous to carry bikes.
The two-year, $35,000 regional bicycle study found that bike commuters currently account for only about 3 per cent of the daily commuting in the Washington area, in good weather, and this is predicted to grow only to about 4 per cent by 1985.
Based on interviews with area homeowners, office workers and current bike commuters, the study concludes that bicycle ridership here is not high and will not get much higher unless additional "protected bikeways and safe storage facilities" are built throughout the Washington area.
Up to three times as many area residents would commute to work by bicycle - many to Metro stations - if "cycling conditions were improved," the study concluded. Potential cyclists cited auto traffic danger as the major deterrent to their commuting by bicycle.