Friday, November 20, 2015

Free Access to Metro Bike & Ride Parking

Photo: Washington Post
As reported in the Post recently, Metro introduces free, covered and secured bike parking. The Bike &  Ride parking at College Park will now be free with use of a SmartTrip card. Planned Bike & Ride facilities at East Falls Church and Vienna will also be free.

Like the Wiehe-Reston East bike room, the fees to use the secure room were very affordable. Nevertheless, the fees and application process were a barrier to use of the room. Making the rooms more accessible should encourage more people to bike to the stations.

At the Wiehle station, the free, covered bike parking just outside the secure room is usually filled to capacity. The bike room, while heavily used, has considerable room for additional bikes to be parked. We think the county will now face some pressure to follow WMATA's lead and make the Wiehle room more accessibly as well. It would no longer be a "secure" room since anyone with a SmartTrip card could enter, but most people lock their bikes in the room anyway. Cameras are located in the room which add a level of security if access is opened up.

The Wiehle bike room isn't exactly secure now. Not long ago, on two occasions we were filming a segment on bike parking in the covered area outside the bike room. Within a few minutes security guards approached and asked what we were doing. They told us that several unlocked bikes had been stolen from the bike room recently. It's reassuring that they were keeping watch to ensure it didn't happen again. That was the first we had heard of the problem. We've been told by the county that they are working to make the room more secure.

Police do report bike thefts. We have tried to get geo-referenced bike theft data but have not been successful, although we haven't pressed the issue. We know the data is available in The Daily Blotter published by Fairfax Co police.

When we asked for a digital file we were told that the "police blotter is a report put together manually with the creator looking at the exact address and changing it in the Word document to a block number. This is not a field that is readily available." Sounds like the process could be relatively easily automated. If you'd like to volunteer to extract the bicycle theft data for the blotter, please let us know. The goal would be production of a map showing bike thefts in the county. Wouldn't you want to know where thefts are occurring?

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  Bike to Work Day 2015 at Wiehle Station

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