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DC helps out area commuters with new Bike Station

100_8726 Originally uploaded by BeyondDC and appeared in this post

Washington D.C. took another great stride towards making bicycling easier and more attractive with the grand opening of Union Station’s BikeStation almost two weeks ago. With the opening of the stunning facility at Union Station, Washington’s most visited destination and travel hub can now connect commuters using trains, buses, cars, subway, or bikes.

(As Ray LaHood said, it’ll help address that “last mile” problem of commuting.)

The BikeStation offers a brand new option for commuting.  A train or metro rider can now leave their bike at Union Station without it being stolen, stripped for parts, or damaged by weather.  Thus, any commuter who can get to Union Station can now pick up their own, well-maintained bicycle and use it for commuting around Washington.

In New York City, the DOT found out that a safe and secure place to lock up bikes was the number one obstacle preventing more people from biking to work.

A joint project funded by Federal Highway Administration and District of Columbia transportation dollars, the project was built by the D.C. Department of Transportation. Bikestation, which operates 6 other facilities like this one, and Bike and Roll, which rents bikes and leads bike tours for tourists, share responsibility for operating the station.

It is a first for DC, and a totally unique structure designed by Donald Paine of KGP Design Studio to evoke both a bike wheel and helmet. The glass covered arching spine is a striking contrast to the classical Beaux Arts style of Union Station behind it.

The cost per year is $96 as an intro rate, a sum easily covered by the Bicycle Commuter Benefit (available from participating employers).  According to Andrea White-Kjoss of BikeStation, they had already sold 40 annual memberships before the station opened. In the days since it opened, the station has already sold 30 annual memberships and Bike and Roll has been renting as many as 20 bicycles a day. Both figures far exceeded initial estimates.

Combined with the existing SmartBike bike sharing system, BikeStation effectively extends the radius in the region from which a citizen can commute within the region without needing to drive. A bike commuter can bike to Union Station, leave their bike, hop on a Metro train or a commuter train, and head out for points beyond without having to drive.

It’s all about increasing transportation options, and BikeStation is a great one for the city.