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Thread: ISO Bike to/from DCA

  1. #1
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    Default ISO Bike to/from DCA

    Bike DC:

    As part of a BAC working group to improve the bikeability of our closest-to-downtown airport I am collecting anecdotal examples to set a baseline of what people do now. So:

    Have you ever biked to/from DCA?
    For what reason?
    If for air travel, how you did solve any luggage challenges? (pics welcome)

    Would like replies by June 30, 2021, but will take them after, too.

    Henry

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  3. #2
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    Have not done it for travel, though have always been intrigued by the idea.

    Most recently, my wife had to change travel plans at the last minute and be at the airport very early so Metro wasn't an option and she left our car in the garage. I biked down to pick it up later that day. Wayfinding is improved from the MVT but still lacking once you get close, and they definitely do NOT want you going into the garage with your bike.

    Previously I returned a rental car there and biked home. It took me literally 20 minutes to find the trail and that was after asking someone at the Metro station.

    I'm coming from NW DC - about 7.5 miles one way. That's a hike on CaBi, especially with any kind of luggage, and I'd be hesitant to leave my bike locked up at the airport for multiple days.

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  5. #3
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    Iíve biked for flights twice. One was a short trip so I just brought a backpack. The other was a two week trip. I used a backpack and strapped a carry on suitcase on the back rack.

    No covered bike parking and Iíve heard of a bike being stolen there so I used a crummy bike.

    The first time it took me a really long time to find my bike in the return flight. I still have a hard time finding the rack.

    Iíve used CaBi home after returning rental cars. When picking up I usually ride my bike on the roads to the front door of the place where the rental desks are. Iíd prefer to use the bike rack and access from the trail but biking through the garage doesnít feel comfortable.


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  7. #4
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    Iíve biked to DCA for one trip to Kansas and two to Massachusetts.

    Each time, Iíve had early morning flights which meant riding to the airport in the dark. Twice my returns were late at night. The entry and exit from the airport have felt spooky.

    Parking amidst the skeletons of other bikes, and my own prior bad experiences elsewhere, have taught me to be supremely careful (and nervous) about DCA parking. I donít have multiple bikes to choose from. But I use wheel-locks on front and back, two U-locks, and two cables when parking there.

    Each time Iíve packed in my knapsack and tied a small extra bag to it (like a cloth grocery bag). My trips were all in the 3-to-6 day range.

  8. #5
    Steve O's Avatar
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    I believe I have biked to DCA at least 3 times for travel.
    Most recently, I used the Capital Bikeshare bikes and thus did not need to concern myself with parking my bike.
    It was a 16-day trip, and I schlepped a decent sized duffel bag over my shoulder and carried my backpack in the CaBi front rack. (https://www.strava.com/activities/5507685589)

    Several years ago, probably 2016, I took a day trip and parked my bike at the south end of the B terminal, where there used to be racks (are they still there?)

    In September 2018 I carried a smaller duffel on my rack for a 4-day weekend trip to Indianapolis. Pics here of the duffel on the bike and parked at the airport: https://www.strava.com/activities/1856080425

    I have also biked to the airport on several occasions to pick up or drop off a rental car. In those cases I do not need to park my bike or carry any luggage.
    Last edited by Steve O; 06-21-2021 at 10:46 PM.

  9. #6
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    I've done this only once, perhaps about five years ago. I don't even remember my travel destination. It was a 1-2 day trip and I only carried a backpack, using the front rack. The most challenging part was navigating the walk between the CaBi station in Crystal City and the airport terminal.

  10. #7
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    Haven't biked there (yet) to fly anywhere, but I have biked there several times to pick up and/or drop-off a rental car (usually then packing the bike in the car to drive home to get the rest of the family and whatever stuff we're taking wherever we're going). It's about a 9 mile ride for me from NE DC. I did make the trip once on my single-speed folding bike, which approximates the level of energy/effort that a CaBi would be.

    When I've been there, I've been fine biking/walking my bike through the garage to get to the rental car area, and getting from the MVT is relatively OK. I have struggled a bit more with the wayfinding getting from the rental car location back to the MVT and figuring out where I need to be in the garage (both the level and how far down I need to be).

  11. #8
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    I've biked to/from DCA maybe 3 times for personal travel: once I locked up my beater bike at the racks for a 3-4 days without issue, once (prior to the new CaBi station) I used the dockless option on an e-CaBi one way and took Metro back, and I've used the new CaBi station for one round-trip. From Mt Pleasant it takes 25-40 mins to reach the airport depending on time of day and choice of bike. Exercise is a great way to start a day of travel and the bone-dry cabin air takes care of any sweat very quickly!

    Last time I did this, I wore my 40 liter backpack duffel and strapped a small backpack to the front of the e-CaBi. Worked fine, though the straps on the bike always seem too tight or too loose.

    Not quite related, but my CaBi membership has made my beater bike mostly obsolete. I usually take CaBi for trips to/from Union Station, nights out on the town, etc, and the electric option is great when I'm tired or just want to sweat a little less before a train ride.

  12. #9
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    I've biked many times to DCA to pick up rental cars or after dropping them off. When I use my bike, I get to the rental location by taking the trail past the south entrance and getting on the parking lot access road, taking it to Thomas Avenue and up to Smith Blvd. Why isn't there a better connection to that access road from the trail?

    I have ridden to the airport for a flight a few times, taking CaBi instead of my own bike. I would only have a backpack and a small duffel, which fit into the small rack fairly easily. Before the station was installed at the airport, I had to use a Crystal City dock and walk back along the connector trail.

    I do wish there was a better way of getting to the terminals from the new dock, since it's unsigned with no marked walkway. Are there any plans to reopen the sidewalk at the north end of the airport once the construction is done? This would be a great location for another dock.

  13. #10
    Steve O's Avatar
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    One can always pull a roller bag, I suppose

    Click image for larger version. 

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    (This actually worked. I pulled this a little more than a mile, but on relatively smooth pavement, one could go farther.)

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