Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bike parking counts at Wiehle station

We live near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station and ride by the station most days. We've been stopping by the three bike parking locations at the station and counting bikes since the station opened, usually around 10am.

There are 10 U racks at the south station entrance, with a capacity of 20 bikes. On the north side there are 16 U racks outside the bike room that hold 32 bikes. Those racks are free and under cover. And then there is the secure bike room that can hold over 200 bikes.

Over time the number of bikes has gradually increased from a low of 61 on the second count to a high today of 107. If you compare the high number with the 2013 Metrorail bike parking census conducted by WMATA, the Wiehle station would rank 3rd in the category "Top Stations for Total Bikes Parked".

Here's a chart of the counts from July 31 to August 28:

The free bike room racks were over capacity 6 of the 10 days, at capacity 1 day, and under capacity 3 days. The south racks usually were in the 12-14 bike range (of 20 capacity), so there was usually place to park there. The bike room was at about 1/4 capacity with plenty of room for more bikes.

While it's great that people are using the existing racks and there is plenty of capacity in the bike room, the free bike parking at the Wiehle station needs to be expanded soon, especially on the north side nearest the W&OD Trail. We think many commuters are using the W&OD Trail to reach the station, many going to/from the Reston Town Center and other locations on the north side of the station. Ultimately there will be bike racks on the plaza outside the station entrance; those racks should be installed as soon as possible.

Information about the bike parking is located in several places online. If you visit the WMATA Wiehle-Reston East station page there are 10 lockers listed. Those are located on the south side of the station, next to the 10 U racks that are not listed. The bike parking on the north side is not listed either. If you visit the Silverline Metro Wiehle-Reston East page it incorrectly lists 15 racks on both the north and south sides. It also lists the 200 spaces in the bike room.

To rent the lockers you need to contact WMATA. To rent space in the bike room you need to contact Fairfax DOT. We were contacted recently by someone who tried to park their bike in the free racks outside the bike room but the racks were full. He checked the WMATA Bikes & Metro leaflet and there was no contact info about the bike room. He asked staff at the station but they didn't know how the system worked. Metro police told him to call the WMATA bike locker number, 202 962 1116, but they don't control the bike room. Not wanting to lock his bike to the fencing around the racks he gave up.

There is a sign next to the bike room that lists the Fairfax County DOT phone number (Information and  Lost & Found, 703-877-5600). There is also a sign on the door to the bike room with the county logo with the text County of Fairfax Virginia, Wiehle-Reston East Bike & Ride, not to be confused with WMATA's Bike & Ride, a completely different system.

People don't care who controls what at the stations; they just need clear information about how to use the facilities. Ideally there would be one point of contact for all bike facilities at the stations, but that will likely not happen for a while.

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