By spokesman | February 23, 2010
The Washington DC Metro system is the second busiest rail system in the country and is in a state of crisis. There are large budget shortfalls and recent accidents have resulted in several deaths and a significant number of injuries. This past Sunday, the Washington Post had 3 articles focusing on the Metro system including one on the front page.
In addition to the immediate operating problems, I believe that the Metro has done a poor job in providing access for bicyclists. While there are some good features, including the bike racks on Metro buses as shown in the picture above, there is significant room for improvement. Many of the surburban stations are designed to be primarily car accessible and aren’t pedestrian/bicyclist friendly. Often a Metro station in an area leads to increased higher density development. This leads to larger roads and more cars. Many stations don’t have good access for pedestrians and bicyclist from the surrounding neighborhoods. In many cases, even after the bicyclist/pedestrian reaches Metro property, they must still contend with traffic, long routes or crossing through garages/parking lots to access the station.
I believe that each Metro station should have a network of sidewalks and bike lanes that radiate out from the station to the surrounding neighborhoods. In many cases this can be done inexpensively. Painted bike lanes, crosswalks and properly timed crossing signals can help address the problem.
One of the articles in the Washington Post was written by a reporter who rode the Metro for the entire day and traveled to every station in the system. However the train ride is only part of the commute. Getting to and from the station needs to be considered. I challenge the Washington Post to have a reporter bike or walk to several of the surburban Metro stations to see the obstacles first hand and chronicle the difficulties. I would be glad to accompany the reporter.
A Fairfax County supervisor who was recently quoted in an article in the Washington Examiner said “I don’t believe that a bicycle is a transportation device.” The combination of that type of attitude and Metro’s other problems (killing passangers and employees) means that it is unlikely that there will be a focus on addressing the bicycle/pedestrian issues any time soon.