It has been a long road, but finally it appears ground will soon be broken - though not literally - on the Union Station Bicycle Transit Center. For some history:
The $4 million facility next to Union Station should be completed by next spring. It's the latest effort by D.C. leaders to make the car-clogged city more bicycle-friendly.
Officials say parking your bike at the station will likely cost about a dollar a day or $100 for an annual membership.
At the BAC meeting this week Jim Sebastian of DDOT stated that they have a contractor and are working on permits and getting WMATA approval (Based on PEPCO cooperation, I'm worried), since the station is directly above the red line tunnel. They're hoping to open next spring.
This puts them still behind schedule (In February of 2007 it was to be open last March. Last March it was to start work this spring and in May it was to start in June)
I'm less excited about this than I used to be. I still think it will be a good facility, but with a push we could have had something much more functional.
Last weekend I was in Minneapolis/St. Paul and I went to the Freewheel Midtown Bike Center (pictured here - pardon the bad phots). It's awesome. The center is 5500 sq. feet with parking for 150 bikes in a locked room (right). It has showers(below), a bike wash, lockers, water fountains, a full bike shop with mechanics, bicycle rentals, a coffee shop, a "use-our-tools" public shop program and office/meeting space for some bicycle advocacy groups. Their $110 membership gives you parking, 10% discount on products and rentals, an Emergency Ride Home service and 50% discount on tune ups. And it's conveniently located steps off of the Midtown Greenway.
By contrast, DC's will have 1700 sq. feet with parking for 150 secure bike parking spots (and 30 outside). If will have a scaled back bike shop with mechanics. $100 gets you parking.
DC's will cost $4 million and Minneapolis' cost $0.8 million. They can build 4 more for the cost of ours. True, they got some space from a hospital at a reduced rate, but DC got their land for free. Having seen the Freewheel Bike Center, I know we could have done better - especially with all the construction going on along the Met Branch Trail. But, it is what it is and it's too late to turn back now.
Car parking at metro and other transit centers - never easy to start with - has gotten more difficult with rising gas prices so providing more bike parking seems a good idea. Still, someone forgot to tell Metro that. According to a Fox news story, that is unfortunately no longer available, they recently cracked down on cyclists who parked their bikes to things other than bike racks or in lockers. Which is all the worse when you see how they manage their lockers.
For three office colleagues with lockers, here's the tally so far in 2008:
One of us had her locker given to somebody else.
One opened her locker to find a bike in it, and was told by the station manager to toss it out. (Another case of one locker being rented to two different people.)
One arrived at his locker to find the lock had been changed.
Oh Metro. You're the new PEPCO.