Biking Natitude

[Note: This is the first of two posts on bike modeshare to Nationals Park during the NLDS. A second round of counting, collected on 10/11/12, is summarized and discussed here]

In a futile bid to feel the buzz of playoff excitement occuring two short blocks from my office (well, besides feeling the buzz of that pregame jet flyover rattle my building), I broke away from my cubicle just before 2PM, pulled a CaBi bike, and did a rough count of about how many folks rode a bicycle to Nats Park today.

Bikeshare — We know that just over 100 folks made use of the Capital Bikeshare corral at the stadium around first pitch time. When I biked by, not much was going on, so we’ll assume that was about it. I checked the O’Brien map in the leadup to the game, and it looked like all three nearby bikeshare stations filled with game patrons, so that’s another 55 or so riders. In all, that’s about 160 bikeshare whips, or about 9-10% of the deployed fleet.

Nats Park Bike Valet— I wish I could find a citation, but I am quite sure the Nats Park bike valet holds 100 bikes. As seen below, they were not only filled, but had 20 bikes propped along the walls.

Nats Park Racks – DCist says that there are over 250 rack spaces. Most were filled:

…Though scooters gobbled up a few extra slots…

…And that one lonely predictably sparse rack at the corner of South Capitol and Potomac Ave SE.

So, let’s call the whole thing a wash and say 250 bikes in racks, OK?

The People’s DOT Racks — There was a bunch of unofficial parking.  I counted 25 or so locked to the N St fence…

…Another 15 or so lashed to treeboxes…

…And at least 50 lashed to signposts…

…and 8 sadly locked to trees.

Total — By my count, that’s a total of 628 bikes. Only 530 (or 84%) were accomodated by official parking/storage, including the 26% of all riders who used Capital Bikeshare (above my estimate of CaBi comprising 11% of all ridership in DC/Arlington, it should be noted). Rides/riders I did not or could not account for:

  • Pedicab riders – there were a ton of pedicabs around, and I have no idea how many folks they carried.
  • Plural Bikes – there were a few bikeseats on bikes, I think I spotted a tandem and a cargo bike, and I have no idea how many of those passenger seats were occupied.
  • Off-site parkers – a few riders may have parked in adjacent garages at their offices, or maybe parked a few blocks away for easy escape, I only rode the perimeter of the stadium, and the route to/from New Jersey Ave.

In all, those missing rides are likely negligable, but it makes sense to note them.

Bottom-Line It For Me – With a stadium capacity of around 41,000 45,017, that’s about 1.5% 1.4% of people biking to the game. Following an odd DC trend, this is far lower than our commute-to-work share of 3.3%, and right on par with Washington DC’s estimated bike modeshare for all trips of 1.5%.  Given the unfathomably awesome weather, the fact that transit is beginning the rush-hour meltdown everyone knew was coming even as I type this, and the fact that Nats Park lies right in the heart of Livable Walkable Ward 6, I would have expected more (acknowledging that looking solely at the one transportation mode I obsess about is a distortion). What’s missing?

More than usual appeared to take Capital Bikeshare, and perhaps the promise of a guaranteed “dock” influenced that choice. Some additional bike parking, even as a temporary measure, would at the very least save folks from the slightly shameful act of having to lock up to a tree or fence. Some sheltered bike facilities anywhere in the SE/SW quadrants would boost ridership for everyone. And on and on.

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12 Responses to Biking Natitude

  1. Lauren says:

    I wonder how many people were influenced by “safe” parking. I hate leaving my bike in areas that don’t have a lot of foot traffic, regardless of rack availability. I spend the whole time away from my bike thinking about the opportunities/unobserved time a thief has to mess with my lock. Around Nats stadium gets pretty empty when everyone is inside (especially that sad lonely rack at Potomac/S. Cap). Also, I wonder how many people chose not to bike because they were planning on drinking during or after the game.

    • bikepedantic says:

      Both great points! re the “BWI” concern, that might help account for the disproportionate CaBi ridership (bike there, WMATA home). re the security issue, i know i’d think twice. hope the Nats think about an expansion of the valet space.

  2. MG says:

    So glad you went over there! I was hoping someone would have the bike report.

    • bikepedantic says:

      spur-of-the-moment thing, and a good excuse to get out of the office. hopefully, i’ll have a few more opportunities to do some counts this year…

  3. Rootchopper says:

    Okay, by percentage it seems a little disappointing. I still think over 600 people riding to the ballpark is impressive. Too bad the Nats got clobbered.

    • bikepedantic says:

      It is a bit of a letdown %. I’m kind of eager to do some more counts during next year’s regular season, see how it compares.

  4. Chris M says:

    Great Job! Here in NYC, when I go to a Mets games (by bike of course) I don’t see many bikes. Maybe 10 or 20 on racks near the left field entrance where I park. I think it’s because the stadium is located far away from where most fans live. Sounds like your park is right in the city.

    • bikepedantic says:

      it’s not right downtown (like our basketball/hockey venue), but pretty close to everything. I think it’s helped somewhat by the lack of large-scale parking, and that it’s only directly served by one subway line, which means the postgame transit experience is not for the claustrophobic with an appointment to keep

  5. Jim Moore says:

    This story was picked up by Streetsblog. I read a quote that people choose their mode of travel by whether they can park at their destination. Obvious really, which is what your blogpost implies. My city in Australia is upgrading its sports arena and the government has pledged that 70% of the 50,000 capacity crowd will arrive by transit, which will be a huge logistical exercise for every event, and car parking will be provided for the rest bar 256 bike parks. This upgaded arena is right next to the only grade-separated, off-road bike path and at the confluence of several others under construction. When I asked Ajax Amsterdam how much bike parking they had for their 50,000 seater stadium the first response was “enough”. I had to explain that what the Dutch considered enough may differ from the rest of the world. Oh, they said – enough means about 15,000.

  6. Corey says:

    For an anecdotal point, I bikeshared last night instead of taking my personal bike because the lack of bike parking. I was getting there close to first pitch and after seeing the parking available then, I’m happy about my decision.

    Also, there are a lot more than 100 bikes in the Valet when it’s full. They just pack the bikes in to any open floor space, whether there’s something to lock it to or not.

    And, finally, last night there were plenty of Bikeshare bikes available well after the game compared to Wednesday when they were all gone within minutes. In fact, the station never emptied. My theory is that many potential customers are not comfortable riding at night and/or were more willing to drink at an afternoon game.

  7. Andrew says:

    Bike Valet attendant told me they had 420 bikes parked Wednesday. Thursday was just as packed.

  8. Pingback: Changes in Natitude, Changes in Rackitude | bikepedantic

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