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.
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 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: