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Secure Bike Parking at Union Station

Washington, D.C.'s Bikestation is one of the sleeker and more fully-featured bike parking facilities that Streetfilms has ever seen. Located at Union Station, the Bikestation provides secure parking for more than a hundred bicycles, offers repair, rentals, lockers, and a changing room. Members get 24/7 access.
Have a look and see how D.C. has made their biggest transit hub even more multi-modal with top-notch bike parking.
[music]
Andrea White-Kjoss: [0:04] Bike Station was founded 14 years ago in Long Beach, California. Bike Transfer Center is something that provides services that cyclists need, particularly secure indoor bike parking, as security of bicycles is one of the biggest barriers to bicycling.
Jim Sebastian: [0:20] Here at Union Station, we've found a problem with the bike parking. There wasn't enough of it. Often, bikes got stolen or vandalized. So, we tried to figure out what we could do, and at the same time we heard about this thing called Bike Station on the West Coast. It included the parking, and the retail, and the rentals and everything. [0:34] We thought Union Station would be a perfect spot for that.
Gabe Klein: [0:37] This beautiful structure, this Bike Station, was the first step in providing people really safe, easy to use, inexpensive bike parking. We wanted to do it at our multimodal center here at Union Station, because so many people, so many thousands of people per day come in and out of Union Station from all over the region.
Jim Sebastian: [0:56] You could be someone who takes the train in, or the Metro in and picks up a bike and goes to your job, or you could be someone who rides here, and just parks and works nearby. Or, you could actually bike here from somewhere else a couple miles away, and get on the train, and go to your work in Maryland or Virginia.
Stephen Marks: [1:11] We are always in the tourism end, so we would put people on bikes and have them check out the city. The neat opportunity for us is that being right next to Union Station, people arrive, and then they need to disperse from here.
Speaker: [1:24] All right, let's set me up.
Speaker: [1:25] You want to do a bike rental?
Speaker: [1:26] Yeah. [1:27] I have a couple meetings in DC today, and when I got here, I saw the new bike rental operation. I live in New Jersey, but I work in New York. I try to commute in and out of the city with my bike, so this kind of replicates the experience.
Stephen Marks: [1:44] The other cool thing that we do is that we offer mechanical services, which is not something that we did before.
Speaker: [1:49] I usually bike into work here in NoMa from downtown Silver Spring, and it's really great having the bike station here, because we can bring our bikes in to get service when they have a flat, or need tuned up. We can drop it off during the work day, and come back later that day and just be ready to roll.
Jim Sebastian: [2:04] You can join. You can become a member for about $100 a year. You get a key, and you swipe that on the door, and it lets you in. You can also get a monthly membership, or you can just pay cash by the day. [2:14] Once you get inside, you can put it on one of our double decker racks.
Speaker: [2:17] I come from Northern Maryland, but this is the best part of the day, actually. I have an hour and a half train ride from here. This way, I'm on a bike for 30 minutes. I pass the Capitol, down the Mall, past the river. It's a gorgeous ride.
Stephen Marks: [2:30] So, what we have is basically a bike parking garage. There are 140 spaces for people to use. The goal is for about 300 people to become members. People don't use it all the time. They'll use it a couple days... People will come in, get their bike, ride to work at the same time that someone's riding in and dropping their bike off. And so, there's this kind of dynamic switchover, and ebb and flow. [2:55] You basically are going to grab the handle. You just pull it straight out, and then it will slowly go down. You just push the bike forward and it lifts up. You roll it down...
Jim Sebastian: [3:07] This was a lot of work, and a lot of coordination, and a long time coming. We were lucky enough to get the land essentially for free as part of an agreement with Union Station. Then, it was a matter of planning and designing the facility. It's a pretty tight space, as you can see here. We're right between two large historic buildings, one being Union Station, and one being the Old Post Office. [3:26] We had a great architect on the project, and he came up with this shape.
Don Paine: [3:29] The actual design... We looked at bicycles. A bicycle is an elegant and extremely efficient structure, so we wanted to echo that.
Jim Sebastian: [3:36] It's glass. You can see through it, and you can see around it at either end, so it doesn't detract from the historic buildings on either side.
Gabe Klein: [3:42] This Bike Station was a first. It was about a $4.5 million project because we had to match the architectural beauty of Union Station, we had to build something really, really gorgeous. However, we want to put a lot more of these around the city. We're looking at a modular version of it, that we can place at other Metro stations.
Andrea White-Kjoss: [4:01] What you can expect, hopefully, is that there are going to be hundreds of these facilities that you'll be able to park your bike safely and securely. [music]


Elizabeth Press is a Filmmaker for Streetfilms. She joined Streetfilms in 2007 to focus her video work on advocating for better biking, walking and mass transit.

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  • http://walkbikejersey.blogspot.com/ Andy B from Jersey

    I love the design of the DC BikeStation but heard that is was majorly expensive for the relatively few number of bikes it can store. Now granted the design should be award winning due to its location between two neoclassical masterpieces but I've heard grumblings about this project being "another example of wasteful liberal government spending" (Yeah, yeah! Go cry me a river).

    Anyway, I'd suggest just going the storefront route with most other bikestations or other like facilities. They can be done much cheaper, are just as effective and can be returned to a storefront if the bikestation fails or needs to be relocated.

  • http://walkbikejersey.blogspot.com/ Andy B from Jersey

    Oh yeah. Nice job Elizabeth! This is by far the best online documentary I've seen of this facility so far.

  • vnm

    I love this thing. I think it is really, really great.  

  • momos

    Gorgeous. Cost be damned. This is a public declaration that bicyclists belong in the city. $4.5 million barely covers the coffee bill for the endless studies and commissions that would involve themselves in a project like this in New York.

    Imagine replacing Penn Station with something like Union Station and having one of these bike parking beauties outside?

    Come on New York, why do we settle for mediocrity? We deserve state of the art infrastructure!

  • taomom

    I'd remind you Andy, everyday there are mega projects for cars that cost millions of dollars that could be better spent. Look at the Big Dig for instance, There is nothing wrong with the occasional high profile bike project getting its due cash, though I agree this should not be the norm.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/Green_Idea_Factory Todd Edelman

    Hooray! This is a nice looking facility. Its transparency is a major virtue.

    Without knowing details, it is hard to know about the cost, but surely this is an efficient use of that small space?

    On the other hand, there are 2,194 parking spaces for cars at Union Station, but I assume none were offered for conversion to bike parking, or this is not desirable (if the place is designed for heavy vehicle egress... and then there is fumes, darkness...).

    Or do people have examples of retrofits of indoor car parking to bike parking? I don't mean the 10-or-15-bikes-in-the-space-of-one-car thing, but something pleasant and accessible which doesn't put cyclists into a nasty cement structure.

    It would be nice to see bike parking information on that Union Station page.

  • http://www.railtec.org Richard Stowe

    Nice design. One wonders why there isn't existing space inside Union Station that couldn't have been used for a bike station.

    Still, the cost is insignificant compared to the unwarranted multi-billion dollar artificially lighted, no-speed rail caves (LIRR's East Side Access to GCT & NJT's Access to the Regions's Core) currently under construction in Manhattan.

    The bike parking at Union Station underscores the reality that there is no bike access on Metro trains at peak hours. Amtrak allows no bikes on any of its trains passing through D.C. Union Station. VRE allows bikes on reverse commute, midday trains and the last three peak hour trains in each directions 5 days per week. Bike access on MARC trains is prohibited 5 days per week.

    Unfortunately MARC & VRE don't even operate on weekends. That in itself is a serious transit deficit in the D.C. region.

    (All train operations in the U.S. permit folding bikes, but folding bikes are an insignificant portion of the bike population.)

  • Ruth Smith

    Terrific facility and perfect location at Union Station subway/rail hub. Kudos to DC for this. Right ear the Congress too. Need to alert their staffsto this. Great vidoe.

    Ruth

  • Pedro

    Hey! i Would like to bring to street-films attention the current presidential election campaign going on in Colombia! Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa joined forces and created a political party. Mockus was elected as the candidate for the party and has become a sensation in the country. I believe this could be a point of interest as these two Geniuses changed Bogota Dramatically and we cant imagine what they can do with the Country. In less than a month Mockus has jumped from 9% to 24% in different polls.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bike-Corrals/198301228279?ref=search&sid=1076105348.438915082..1 Hart

    Anyone idiot who thinks $4 million on bike facilities is a waste of money is almost certainly totally in favor of the trillion dollars we annually flush down the down the toilet via the Pentagon.

  • John Case

    The cost of this Bikestation is about the cost of about 2 feet of a freeway on ramp. This is in the center of Washington. It's is about time bikes got the respect of a beautiful facilitly that airports, subways and trains get.

  • Marin

    Bike parking, new solution http://www.bikepark.auto-mart.hr

  • Willyo617

    Yeah you can't actually really then take your bike on an Amtrak train from the station to NY except for once a day. Total BS.

  • http://www.peciar.info Tomas

    I love more the one in Holland, under the railways http://peciar.info/bike-parking-railway-station/. but this one is much smaller, handy, maybe it can be mobile in future..