March 19, 2004
Bike-on-Rail Guide to Washington DC
After years of really terrible bicycle policies, Metrorail has finally started providing useful service for bicycles. Today, anyone can now bring their bike on a Metro train without having to first go through the inconvenient process of obtaining a permit. However, there are several important regulations which bikers need to be aware of before planning a trip.
Before entering the Metro system, your bike must be free of excess dirt and grease. Bikes must be walked whenever inside the station. Do not take bikes on stairs or escalators; elevators must be used instead. Adult supervision is required for children under 16. Also, note that bikes exceeding 80" L x 48" H x 22" W are not permitted.
Since 2001, bike are have been permitted in any car. Each Metro car has three sets of doors. Bicyclist are not permitted to use the center doors. Instead, board the train using the doors at either end of the car.
Once on board, move your bike to either end of the car so that it does not block the doors or the middle of the car. While the train is in motion, you must always keep one hand on your bike. Kick stand use is not permitted. Also, always keep both wheels on the floor.
The following table shows the restrictions throughout a "normal" week. As shown, bikes are not permitted during peak rush hour periods. Bikes are also not permitted during "special" events (like the Fourth of July) when large crowds are expected to use the system. At other times, you must count the number of bikes on a car before boarding. If the car is "full" (i.e. 2 or 4 bikes already on board), then you must board a different car. If all cars are full, then you must wait for the next train.
Metro trains are typically composed of either 4 or 6 cars. This means that a single train may be able to carry as many as 8 to 12 bikes on weekdays, and 16 to 24 on weekends. (FYI: Metro is considering using 8 cars trains in the near future).
Great Bike Stops on the Metro System
Here is a sample of Metro Stops which have nearby biking facilities.
Rosslyn is a fantastic stop for cyclists. The station is located very near the to the Mount Vernon and Custis Trailheads. It is also located just across the river from Washington DC's main Tourist Areas and Georgetown. The stop is located on Lynn Street, between Wilson and 19th. The Custis Trail begins two blocks north of the station elevator (just after the I-66 off-ramp). To reach the Mount Vernon Trail, hang a right on the Custis Trail, which will take you over the George Washington Parkway to the Roosevelt Island Parking Area. The Mount Vernon Trail begins here, crossing under the Roosevelt Bridge (do not follow the trail over the bridge, unless you wish to cross over to DC).
The next stop down from Rossyln, Arlington Cemetery is also a great access point to the Mount Vernon Trail. This secluded station also provides great access to Washington DC's National Mall area, using Memorial Bridge. However, this station always closes early (10pm Summer, 7pm Winter).
This stop is located on Connecticut Ave, near the intersection with 24th Street, NW. The Rock Creek Trail is easily accessed by following 24th Street / Shoreham Drive. To reach the station from the trail, look for tunnel near the zoo. The trail crosses Shoreham Drive just south of the tunnel, underneath the Taft Bridge. Follow Shoreham up the hill, which becomes 24th Street.
Just two block north of the very popular Capital Crescent and Georgetown Branch Trails. Bethesda is also known for its variety of restaurants (a great benefit after a long ride!).
This station is located right next to the Anacostia Branch Trail Network. This includes easy access to the Sligo Creek Trail, which makes a great autumn ride.
Located right next to the very popular W&OD Trail.