DC’s Union Station Bike Facility

Here is rendering–it’s rather hard to find pictures online–you can see the whole plan at the DC DOT’s’ Bicycle Advisory page. My friend Scott brought it up at breakfast this morning, my last day in my beloved DC. The work was done by KGP Design Studio. Don Paine was the lead architect who is quoted in an NPR story as saying “the system to Washington is part of a larger shift toward “dispelling the notion that the car is an essential part of our daily lifestyle.”

The system will require a subscription, and it will be nice: it will have bike parking, lockers, and a repair shop. But it’s meant for 130 bikes at a go. Now, dangit, it’s nice and I’m happy they are putting these out and putting money into high-quality design, but 130 bikes is a 130 people, or a few more with child seats. I don’t mean to be difficult, but that’s a pretty marginal service for the money that went into this thing. The architect then says: ” This is a monumental paradigm shift for the typical American”. But a previous report on bike station users suggests that 30 percent of those users were previously drivers. I can’t find that original report, but at 130 people in DC’s case, that’s 40 people, versus the other 90 who are already bicyclists and receiving a new service. So we shifted 40 people, maybe. Is the planet really going to get cooler at this pace? Or should we be honest about what we are doing: making places nicer for multiple modes for select users? Is that particularly wrong?