Commuters will be able to bring bikes and scooters onto Metro’s rail system at any time of service, including rush hour, as of next Monday, Jan. 7. The transit authority is expanding a policy of allowing them on trains in response to feedback from bike advocates, it announced this week. Since 2001, bikes have been banned on the rail system during rush hour—from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays—even as bike use in D.C. has surged.
“We believe this change supports ridership growth by Metro and a commuting option for those who want to have a bike with them,” said Joe Leader, Metro’s chief operating officer, in a statement. The transit agency says it seeks to increase the share of its customers who arrive at its rail stations via bike to more than 2 percent by 2020, from less than 1 percent in 2016.
Metro adds that it reviewed its most recent policy and concluded that it could end the rush-hour ban “without significant negative effects,” in part because its new 7000-series trains have more open space than their predecessors and most of its rush-hour trains are currently eight cars long. Metro says it expects the change to benefit reverse commuters in particular.
Metro has not always allowed bikes on its rail system. They were completely banned when Metrorail first opened, in 1976, but were subsequently allowed, starting in 1982, under paid permits on weekends and holidays. The permits were done away with in 1998, notes Metro.
The fine print of the new policy is that “standard-size bikes will be allowed at all times, on any car of any train, provided that space is available.” Metro is also reserving the “ability to restrict bicycles on the rail system during major events drawing high ridership, such as July 4 fireworks and Inauguration Day.” It says it will track how riders adapt to the new policy and discourages them from boarding with their bikes through center doors and blocking passage.
Asked whether electric scooters and electric bikes would be allowed under the change, a Metro spokesman says nothing in the policy precludes them. “Same guidelines apply: give priority to seniors/people with disabilities, use the end doors (not the center doors), don’t carry them on escalators, and be courteous to your fellow riders,” he explains in an email. Metro’s buses can also carry two full-size bikes at a time, on existing racks on their fronts.
Under this new policy, will you be more likely to bring a bike or scooter on Metro than before?
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