13 July 2010

Parking is a mess at the New York Avenue Metro station

The bicycle parking at the New York Avenue Metro station is substandard, and every day automobiles are spread all around the pedestrian areas.

I take the Red Line to and from work every day, entering the system at the New York Avenue Metro station. I bike there from our house in Trinidad, parking my bicycle at the racks near the northern entrance to the station. Those racks, as well as the small plaza they are located on, should be a safe place to park a bicycle, but in my experience, they've proven to be anything but.

The area around the station is currently a massive construction zone. Constitution Square, an enormous mixed-use building with over 2.5 million square feet of office, retail, and residential space is nearing completion on the block bordered by M, N, and 1st Streets NE and the Metro station. The angle of the Metro tracks in relation to the city's street grid creates the equivalent of a pocket park here. You can see it on this map. This plaza contains a sculpture of a leaf of the state tree of DC, the scarlet oak. Once all the surrounding construction is complete, it has the potential of being a nice little gathering place.

Currently, though, that's not possible. Why? Because construction crews park their personal vehicles in the plaza, WMATA employees (including station managers) use it as a private parking lot, and workers at the ATF building across the street park their motorcycles there.

Motorcycles blocking bicycle parking.

More motorcycles blocking bicycles (as you can see, it's often the same ones).

A minivan block the bike racks on Monday morning.

Turns out that minivan belongs to station manager Dana Buckner.

Ms. Buckner had moved her van away from the bikes, but still on the plaza, by Monday evening.

Aside from the inability to safely get to the bicycle racks in the morning, there is the problem of the location of the racks themselves. They were installed too close to the wall to properly lock a bicycle.

The pertinent code is located here:
2119.5     An aisle five feet (5 ft.) in width shall be provided between rows of bicycle parking spaces and the perimeter of the area devoted to bicycle parking.
As you can see in the photo below, the racks are just over one foot from the wall. There isn't enough room to properly lock up a bicycle without turning the front wheel to the side.

Example of a bicycle with enough space to park properly (Photo: Greg Nissen).

When the construction next to the station is complete, some of these parking issues should resolve themselves. There's still no reason that a plan couldn't have been in place already to ensure that people like WMATA employees (who will continue to be here every day once the construction is complete) don't park their cars where cars don't belong.

The bicycle parking is another issue that could be solved easily, but it would likely involve finding the right contact within WMATA's vast bureaucracy, and I don't know who that person would be.

Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.


  1. You know, there truly are fewer completely metro accessible jobs in DC than, you know, working at a Metro station! Ugh.

  2. How do you get to the Metro Station for the start of your shift if the Metrorail doesn't open until after your shift starts?

  3. Whoops. I guess I should have thought a little more deeply about that one...

  4. Metro hours are not an excuse for parking in a pedestrian plaza though. There are numerous parking lots in the neighborhood and even a few blocks nearby that are unzoned.

  5. Well I park my bike here every day m-f. I get there about 9:30 which I figure is well after most people. I always find a bike rack open and these racks are covered from the rain and sun unlike say Union station. I use two locks, a U lock and a cord lock and have no problems with space, or size. My bike is pretty nice, but it's never been stolen or vandalized, probably because there is a cop car right there all day long.
    They also have plenty of those bike pods that you can pay for and more bike locks on the south entrance.

    And the motorcycles aren't really blocking anything.

    So- I just don't get this post. It seems unfounded.


You can be curmudgeonly too, but let's try to be civil and constructive here, ok?