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Mariner
01-31-2011, 09:32 AM
VRE has proposed a change to their carry-on bicycle policy in response to increased ridership.

Currently, non-folding bikes are allowed on the last three trains in each direction on each line for each rush hour; that is, the last three inbound trains in the morning from Manassas, the last three inbound trains in the morning from Fredericksburg, and the evening reverse.

VRE stipulates that the bikes be stowed in a specific part of the train (front car, bench seating area opposite wheelchair seating area). This effectively limits carriage to two bikes max per train. Presence of the bikes (whether one or two) removes three, and sometimes four, seats from service.

VRE proposes changing the policy back to folding bikes only. I don't ride a folding bike and do not plan to buy one in the near future, or any other future I can imagine. (I like my ride just fine) VRE's stated goal is to alleviate overcrowding on the trains, which I grant is becoming epic. However, the policy change would result in the net gain of 48 seats daily (4 per train, 3 trains, 2 lines, 2 commuting flows), which is far from what VRE needs to address seating and overcrowding.

My belief is that VRE is responding to criticism for its bike policy from riders who dislike the bikes. VRE has not managed the bike policy well, as there are very few people that seem to be aware of the policy, judging from my conversations on the train when I carry my bike aboard.

I'd like to hear from this community regarding any thoughts on this, especially from fellow VRE riders. There is a public comment phase to this proposal, with a series of public hearings through the month of February.

Allen Muchnick
02-05-2011, 10:42 AM
Hopefully, any reduction in bike-on-VRE access will only be temporary; i.e., once VRE can expand its passenger capacity to better accommodate greater ridership, VRE will restore and even expand bike-on-VRE access. However, Capital Bikeshare is now available to VRE customers at Crystal City, L'Enfant Plaza, and Union Station, so bike-on-VRE access is less vital for those customers.

VRE also needs to provide much better bike parking accommodations at most stations. At least several stations lack even rudimentary bike racks and none provide bike lockers, except for the nearby WMATA bike lockers at Franconia-Springfield and King St. Thanks to funding from Fairfax County, VRE is finally considering installing bike lockers at some VRE stations in Fairfax County, but secure and weather-protected bicycle parking is needed at every VRE station. The current VRE comment period is a good time to raise bike parking issues.