Metrorail Bicycle & Pedestrian Access Improvements Study
Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) ridership is increasing in tandem with population and employment growth in the Washington, DC region. Metro currently operates the second largest rail transit system in the U.S. and its ridership is expected to grow by 42 percent by 2030. This growth in ridership is likely to occur during an era of increasingly constrained finances. And while the share of those who walk and bicycle to Metrorail Stations has been increasing over time, there remain significant opportunities for growth in both these cost-effective modes of access.
This plan identifies strategies to enhance pedestrian and bicycle access and connectivity in and around Metrorail Stations. It provides recommendations for a range of physical infrastructure improvements, as well as policies and programs to encourage multi-modal trips.
Accommodating more walking and bicycling access trips will enable Metro to realize projected increases in ridership in the most cost effective manner possible. It will enable Metro to address existing access-related challenges in the system in order to make it safer and more comfortable for existing and future Metro riders to walk and bike to and from stations.
Planning Process and Goals
This plan included an outreach strategy to engage Metro’s customers and staff, the public, and other stakeholders. Metro riders provided feedback through an interactive public meeting and an online questionnaire. This information was supplemented by interviews with Metro staff and representatives from other transit agencies throughout the U.S. The following project goals were identified through this process:
- Improve safety of the entire trip for all Metro customers.
- Increase the mode share percentages of customers walking and bicycling to and from Metrorail Stations, thereby helping to accommodate Metro’s projected growth in ridership.
- Improve customer satisfaction for people who walk and bike to Metrorail Stations.
- Identify cost effective solutions for improving pedestrian and bicycle access and mobility.
- Support the integration of the user hierarchy in the Station Site and Access Planning Manual, which places pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users as top priorities in planning and designing stations, into Metro’s institutional culture and station designs.
The recommendations in this plan are organized into two sections according to whether they will be led by Metro or through partnerships between Metro and other agencies. The “Metro-Led Elements” are focused on organizational and operational changes within Metro and primarily address facilities on Metro-owned property. The “Partner/Joint-Led Elements” are initiatives that Metro may initiate, but that will require coordination with surrounding property owners and local jurisdictions. The recommendations included in this plan are organized into the topic areas below.
- Multi-Modal Policy: Provide clear policy and design guidance for the planning and design of pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
- Station Assessment Tools: Identify and formalize a set of pedestrian and bicycle analysis techniques that Metro can utilize on an ongoing basis.
- Customer Information and Encouragement: Implement a multifaceted communications and marketing initiative specifically targeted to Metro’s walking and bicycling customers.
- Operations and Maintenance: Ensure that station operations and maintenance procedures are designed to facilitate pedestrian and bicycle travel to and from stations.
- Institutional Capacity: Ensure that pedestrian and bicycle access is considered a priority at all levels of the Metro organization.
- Bicycle Parking: Provide secure and covered bicycle parking at all Metrorail Stations to meet current and future demand.
- Transit Oriented Development (TOD): Implement targeted improvements to the TOD process to ensure that all projects near Metrorail Stations are pedestrian and bicycle friendly and enhance nonmotorized connections to surrounding neighborhoods.
Metro Partner/Joint-Led Elements
- Off-Site Connections and Programs: Continue to coordinate with local government staff, elected officials and private groups to enhance pedestrian and bicycle connectivity and support education and encouragement programs.
- Wayfinding: Establish partnerships with neighboring landowners and local jurisdictions to enhance on and off-site pedestrian and bicycle wayfinding to improve the ability of Metro customers to navigate to/ from Metrorail Stations.
- Adjacent Development: Implement targeted improvements to the adjacent development process to ensure that all projects near Metrorail Stations are pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
This plan identifies a series of “early action” recommendations to be implemented within eighteen months (0-18 months) of the completion of this plan. These actions require relatively modest investments of resources. Key early action recommendations are noted below.
Early Action Recommendations
- Establish a systemwide goal of tripling the bike access mode share by 2020 (from 0.7 percent in 2007 to 2.1 percent in 2020) and quintupling the bike access mode share by 2030 (from 0.7 percent in 2007 to 3.5 percent in 2030).
- Address motor vehicle (including cars, buses, vans, shuttles, etc.) traffic safety issues as they relate to pedestrian and bicycle issues within station sites.
- Develop official guidelines for the design and placement of bicycle parking facilities.
- Develop and implement a formal station-specific pedestrian and bicycle focused assessment process utilizing a range of evaluation tools.
- Require multimodal circulation and access studies (including existing and potential on and off-site connections) as part of adjacent/ joint development.
- Improve and enhance the metroopensdoors.com website to better communicate pedestrian and bicycle-related customer relations and social marketing efforts.
- Provide secure and covered bicycle parking at all Metrorail Stations.
- Continue to replace “Rally Rack III” bicycle racks with “Inverted U” bicycle racks.
- Add shelters over existing bicycle racks and/or move bicycle parking to existing covered areas.
- Study the feasibility of locating bicycle parking within the unpaid portion of station interiors and, where safe, comfortable, and secure, in existing motor vehicle parking garages. Identify and implement pilot locations for each improvement.
- Establish a system wide goal of providing bike parking at a level consistent with Metro’s bike access mode share goal (e.g. provide bike parking for 2.1 percent of the projected AM peak ridership by 2020 and for 3.5 percent of the projected AM peak ridership by 2030).
- Identify and implement a pilot location to install a secure standalone bicycle parking structure with key/card access.
- Ensure that joint developments are providing appropriate amounts of bicycle parking in safe, convenient, and accessible locations.
- Develop a long-term strategy for secure bicycle parking that acknowledges new advances in bicycle parking technologies.
- Require on and off-site pedestrian and bicycle circulation and access studies for new developments adjacent to Metrorail Stations.
- Require pedestrian and bicycle facilities on Metro properties as part of TOD development and as part of ongoing station enhancements.
- Ensure that safe and convenient bicycle and pedestrian access is maintained during construction of projects on Metro properties.
- Review pedestrian and bicycle improvements in Metro’s 10-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and local jurisdictions’ CIP’s on a regular basis to ensure that capital improvement plans are coordinated and mutually supportive.
- Evaluate traffic signals in the vicinity of Metrorail Stations to improve crossing conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Actively participate in local Transportation Demand Management (TDM) initiatives that impact Metro to ensure that solutions facilitate pedestrian and bicycle travel.
This plan highlights short-term recommendations that should be initiated within the first three years (0-3 years) after the completion of this plan. These recommendations may require more time and resources than the early action recommendations; however, they can still be addressed within a short time horizon and are critical to meeting the established goals. Key short-term recommendations are noted below.
- Fully utilize Metro’s marketing, communications and public affairs offices to expand public knowledge of pedestrian and bicycle opportunities and programs.
- Provide pedestrian and bicycle-related planning and design training to a variety of staff including those working in station area planning, joint development, adjacent construction, and real estate.
- Create a Bike Program Manager position as part of Metro’s broader parking function that will be responsible for coordinating all bicycle-related initiatives throughout the Metro organization. • Develop a sign protocol that utilizes the sign and symbol system in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) to ensure consistency amongst all Metrorail Stations and with the areas surrounding them.
- Support jurisdictional policies that require inter-parcel access to facilitate non-motorized travel to and from Metrorail Stations.
- Improve coordination with local jurisdictions to ensure that proffer improvements enhance pedestrian and bicycle access to Metrorail Stations.
Medium and Long-Term Recommendations
This plan also highlights medium and long-term recommendations to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to Metro. These recommendations are very important to fully achieve the goals set out in this plan. However, by their nature these improvements will likely require an ongoing commitment. While implementation will take longer, opportunities for implementation may occur sooner. Metro and other stakeholders should take advantage of these opportunities as they arise. Key medium and long-term recommendations include:
- Provide direct access to stations along pedestrian and bicycle desire lines.
- Update maintenance policies and reporting procedures and develop procedural clarifications to improve maintenance of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
- Ensure that funding for pedestrian and bicycle facility maintenance is included in the budgeting process.
- Develop clear procedures for accepting jurisdiction-funded bike access projects at Metro facilities for which Metro accepts full operating responsibility, as it does for new entrances, new parking structures, and other jurisdiction-funded access improvements.
- Coordinate with jurisdictions to provide consistently designed wayfinding directing travelers to off-site destinations such as trails, parks, and schools.
Though the growth rate for pedestrian and bicycle access has exceeded the growth rate for the system as a whole and a large number of Metro’s customers currently access transit on foot, there remains significant room for growth in the bicycle access mode share.
This plan identifies specific strategies to meet Metro’s projected growth in ridership in the most cost effective manner possible. By setting new mode share and bike parking goals, improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and implementing targeted outreach and encouragement efforts, Metro can improve the safety and comfort of existing customers that access stations on foot and by bike, while encouraging more customers to choose to walk and bike to Metrorail Stations in the years ahead.