there were several people presenting but they appeared to be mostly answering questions. and the questions being asked appeared to mostly come from people who were interested in managing this facility. many of the questions dealt with costs, overhead, ownership, subsidies, real estate, and regulations.
i think that some money to build something has come through. this money is (federal?) pollution abatement money and someone has decided that a bike parking facility is the best way to spend it. the money will be spent. and it's very, very probable that it will be spent on this product.
the stated purpose of the meeting was to get input. but they already have plans, technicals, scale art models, traffic flow ideas and what not. it looks like most of the decisions are made. what i find troubling is that i think this particular idea is a solution in search of a problem. when general interest questions were asked, there were really no answers. what happens if this thing fills up? there will be more street parking nearby. what will happen to the existing bike parking? unclear, it will probably be lost or moved. is this supposed to be a service for existing commuters or is it meant to be something to convince non-cycling commuters to give it a try? no answer. with the prohibition of bikes on marc and metro during rush hour, is union station the best place for this? no answer. will there be showers and changing places in the facility? no, there will be no running water. so there will be no toilets? correct. what happens when the "attendant" needs to go the bathroom? does she/he just lock the place up and go into union station. awkward silence. no answer. giggles from bikers.
To a large extent the commenter is right. The meeting was very slanted toward possible operators. It's also true that this money and this land came through and now the city is going to build it. If you ask almost anyone they'll tell you this is not the ideal spot for it, but it is the spot that DDOT got for free.
The facility is not really a "solution in search of a problem." I think bike parking of this type will have a positive long-term impact. We're not the only city working on this either.
My first thought was that renting a store front made more sense than building an odd-shaped facility from scratch next to a historical building. DDOT admitted that the space was "unfortunate and limiting" but that this is what they were offered. This may be a case of satisficing, but sometimes you have to compromise. The location also makes it impossible to provide water. Which means no showers, no bathroom and no water fountain. It would be nice to have showers but only one bike station in the U.S. does so it can probably be a success without it. Still, a bathroom and water fountain would be useful.
Due to its proximity, this project is dependent on the redevelopment of Columbus Circle which will close 1st Street down to one lane. The access ramp will go away but the bike station will still sit on an island with bus lanes (only occasionally used) on either side - in the picture above, buses will pass between Union Station and the bollards in the center.
The facility will cost $2 million. $407K will be for the plaza itself. Construction should begin in August, complete next February and open in March 2008. The Met Branch should be open to Brookland (we were told) by the end of this year.
The station will have 150 spaces inside and 30 outside. An additional 30 can be added in on a third level if needed. They'll be a changing room and 40 storage lockers for which you'll need your own lock. The bike storage part will not be climate controlled (although passive control will be used), but the store portion (1/3 of the facility) will be. The facility will have solar panels to provide power and micro-louvered glass to keep out sun in the summer time. DDOT hopes to sell about 300-450 memberships. Members will have preferential parking rights (parking over night, special RFID keys, etc..) This will be the 3rd largest bike station in the U.S. and the largest run by BikeStation.
The facility has approval from Fine Arts, Historical Preservation and NCPA.
The store will sell accessories and give free air and information. Prices will be something like $1/day, $96/year with a $20 membership fee. Open 7-7 M-F and 9-5 on weekends. In the winter it can close on the weekend. These are the minimum hours. The operator is free to open longer.
I suppose I'm more excited about this than worried - though there is the potential that this could be a failure. If the Met Branch opens it will help immensely.
Someone asked Jim Sebastian to put the presentation up on DDOT's site, but I couldn't find it. I was directed to this article by Richard Layman though.
“People don’t park there because they’re worried about security,” Sebastian said of Union Station’s current bicycle racks, which hold the chained remains of bicycles that have been vandalized, ripped up for parts and abandoned.
“It looks like a graveyard of bicycle parts,” said Southeast Capitol Hill advisory neighborhood commissioner Neil Glick. “We think [the Bike Center is] a great idea.” Glick heads Shaw Eco Village, a sustainability-focused organization with a bicycle-refurbishing program.
The Bike Center will hold 150 bicycles inside and 30 outside, Sebastian said. Currently, Union Station’s racks can accommodate 50 bicycles. Security cameras will watch over the garage.