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A visit to Bikestation DC (Slideshow)

Posted by on March 9th, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Bikestation DC-5

Bikestation DC has a location
that’s impossible to miss.
– Slideshow below-
(Photos © J. Maus)

Today I took a peek at the latest and most conspicuous addition to Washington D.C.’s transportation infrastructure — Bikestation DC.

Opened for business only since last October (it was under construction last time I was here), the facility is striking in stature and has a location that any bike planner would drool over. The modern, curved glass structure sits just a few yards from the main entrance of Union Station, a historic landmark and tourist attraction visited by 32 million people each year. The dynamic lines of the Bikestation create an interesting juxtaposition to the Classical-era inspired architecture of Union Station.

Bikestation DC-14

Zach Petry pulls a few rental
bikes from the racks.

With so much foot traffic passing by, shop manager Zachary Petry said about three out of five people that stop in are simply curious. Petry works the facility along with one other employee. Both staffers are with a local bike rental and tour company called Bike and Roll (formerly known as Bike the Sites).

Petry said most of the members of the secure parking facility are people who commute for work into downtown D.C. and want a bike for getting around the city. Another big chunk of customers comes from people doing the reverse-commute. They ride to the Bikestation and then hop on a Metro or Amtrak train to get work. A few members, Petry says, are just weekend warriors who need a secure place to park their bikes in between recreational jaunts.

Bikestation DC-9

With so much foot traffic nearby,
there’s a distinctly non-motorized
feel to the entire area.

Bikestation DC was built for about $4 million, 80% of which came from federal taxpayer revenue. The 1,600 square foot facility can store up to 100 bikes (it was about 70% full when I was in there today) and it also offers a changing room, lockers, and 24/7 access via a secure key fob. Membership costs $12 a month or $96 a year. Members also get discounts at the full-service repair and retail shop.

Petry said the winter season was tough. The modern structure didn’t insulate very well and it leaked, but business has been brisk of late with the onset of Spring. “Now we’ve just got to figure out how to serve all the people coming through — in this really small space.”

Watch the slideshow below:

Bike Summit coverage sponsored by Planet Bike. More stories on our special coverage page.

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Todd BoulangerTonyaPaul TayBikeRbh Recent comment authors
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cool. we need to remind tri-met when they build leak-free bikestations here…


Is it just me or does it seem like 4 millions dollars is a lot for something of this size. Not that I have anything to base that on, it just seems excessive.


From what I remember about DC housing and real estate, no, $4 million sounds about right …


The $4 million price tag may be one of the the reasons there is not a Bikestation in Portland. I can’t see our local government agencies supporting a bill of this size. Balancing budgets is just such a pain.

In Chicago, the Millenium Cycle Center, now known as the McDonald’s Cycle Center cost $3.2 Million. It is 16,000 sf and provides quite a bit more than the D.C. Bikestation. ( To finance this project Chicago also bellied up to the Federal teet, and received grants from the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for projects that lessen traffic congestion and improve air quality. Hey Portland wants to to lessen traffic congestion and improve air quality.

Paul Tay
Paul Tay

I LOVE pork.


I assume operations cost is also subsidized? $12/month seems like a steal for a staffed facility. Or is the sponsoring bike shop making enough to cover the staffing cost?

Todd Boulanger

Jonathan thanks for visiting the DC Bikestation.

The DC site was a challenging location…from what I understand (this was a District DOT managed and lead project) $1m was necessary for the site development costs since the bikestation structure was built on top of the active underground rail yards for the Union Station – necessitating reinforcing the vault ceiling of the ~100 year old underground structure, relocating utilities, etc.

I have no doubt that Portland Bikestation(s) would be both larger and more in line with Portland budgets. Bikestation designs and manages facilities and at locations that our local partners choose to develop and fund for purposes of bike parking services. Our new $100,000 bikestation module (36 parking spaces for up to 80 shared users) is the only facility we have near total cost and design control over.