Monday, January 08, 2007

Bike Cars on the Metro

I was just reading through an article posted on C.I.C.L.E. about bike commuting in Connecticut and how the state as a whole will be increasing the resources available to bike commuters. As I read a line talking about adding bike racks to all busses and bike space on all trains I started to think a little about DC's own metro system. I thought of a couple of things that I think could be done to make bike commuting a little easier in the DC that I personally have not read any where yet (though that's not saying they have not been thought of already).

I think one thing the city could do is instead of not allow bikes on the metro dedicate a half of one car per train to bikes/bike commuters which could be used by people who wish to stand should their not be any bikes on board. I personally think more standing room and less seating on metro cars would b the most effective way to increase capacity on cars anyway and this way bikes could take precedence in a very small section of the trains and not be "in the way" for other commuters. The layout would basically remove what would end up being a total of 8 two person seats and open up space so that when you bring your bike in the car you don't have to constantly move it to get out of peoples' way.

On each end of most of the cars there is a section which has four benches so you'd just take those out and instead near the end "wall" of the car put in some wheel guides on the ground and maybe include a hook on the wall for the tires to be put around so bikes are easier to control. This gets the bikes out of the way of the doors and you could probably fit at least 5 or 6 bikes ad owners across the train at each of the car. The bikers would just need a bar across the ceiling and probably running down the side of the car to hold onto while they hold their bikes.

Another thing Metro could do, though this one would probably be much more controversial is to charge a slightly higher fare to cyclists bringing bikes on the metro. I personally would not mind since the majority of the time I would be biking to my destination anyway and it would be a good way for Metro to bring in a little more cash. This could go for busses nd trains; for trains just add an extra turnstyle for people with bikes that automatically charges the bike rate and for busses have the driver simply push a button after the rider loads the bike on front and comes up to swipe or pay their way. These methods may be a little tougher to enforce, but similar to the current rush hour blocking of bikes and enforcement of the no bikes on the escalator rules it could be done.

I'm sure the fare hike would be fought pretty hard as many people fight hard for their pennies, though I think for the greater good of the cycling community this could be pushed through. The space for bikes on the trains seems like a obvious choice as it would keep cyclists and other passengers much safer and make things so much easier for people on the metro in general. That's just my quick 2 cents of the issue for today.

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