|Bicycle parking area at Wheaton metro station's east exit.|
|Informal bicycle parking area at Wheaton metro station's east exit.|
I recommend that anyone who drives to the metro (especially from a mile or less away) consider riding their bicycle there instead. It is great for your health and happiness, for the environment, and saves you money!
To bike to the metro:
- First, plan your route. Googlemaps has a bicycling directions option so use that to view all of the actual bicycle routes, but don't be afraid to bike directly on side streets and sidewalks of busy roads. We are considered vehicles and can officially go anywhere a car can go except highways. Using a Googlemaps bike map, click on the "A" on the map & drag it to your starting point. Then click on the purple suggested route and drag the line to adjust it to other route options.
- Try to avoid Georgia Avenue, since biking on it (even on the sidewalk) is loud and rather unpleasant. Cars speed and there are a lot of pedestrians on the sidewalks. If Georgia is your quickest route to the metro, consider the small residential roads that run parallel on each side! These streets do things to calm (slow) car traffic and are perfect for bikes. Amherst Ave is on the eastern side to the north and south of the metro. The northwestern side has Grandview Ave and the southwestern side (northern Kensington) has the Mall parking lot. All of these alternatives to Georgia are quieter and calmer. I do bike on the sidewalks along Georgia occasionally and it is certainly do-able, just less scenic.
- Get a bike and a lock (you may already have these) and just do it! There is no need for fancy equipment or clothing. Bike at a moderate pace, go slowly up inclines and coast joyfully down them, and just wear your normal work clothes. I usually carry a small backpack instead of a shoulder bag since having the weight centered makes my balance more stable.
- If you aren't in shape, consider biking one way one day, get picked up/walk/take a bus home that night, leave the bike at the metro overnight, use the same way to get back to the metro the next morning, then bike home the second night. Sufficient rest for your muscles will keep bike commuting fun.
- Also, know that it gets easier as you get more experience. Pretty soon you'll be able to bike your route like it is second nature.
- If the weather is cold wear lots of layers. In the current winter weather I wear long underwear, work clothes, winter boots, a ski jacket, warm hat, & two pairs of gloves.
- Remember to look around as you're riding and breathe in the fresh air on the side streets. Know that you're helping the planet and keeping yourself in shape!
- Those are all the tips I can think of. Any questions?
The next step for me may be biking all the way to work in downtown DC. I haven't done that since moving to Wheaton. Sometime this spring I will do it and report back. I think the best route will be to bike on the Sligo Creek Parkway Trail to either Silver Spring downtown or Takoma Park, then catch the Metropolitan Branch Trail the rest of the way to DC.
A good time to bike all the way to work may be the annual Bike to Work Day, Friday, May 17, 2013. I plan to participate in some way, if not biking the 15 miles from home to work, then I will get off the metro at Catholic University and use Capital Bikeshare to go the rest of the way from there.
BTWD is an awesome experience of group goodwill. I participated several years from my old tiny dwelling place in DC to work. The event includes bike convoys downtown from many starting points around the DC area and "pit stop" events with speakers, snacks, and giveaways. The biggest pit stop is at Freedom Plaza in DC.
With any luck an experienced bike commuter from Wheaton, Glenmont, or Kensington (or even Forest Glen) will lead a BTWD convoy downtown that I can join.