Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Problem of @WMATA Elevators - @arlingtonva @wabadc #bikedc

Rosslyn's new elevators open in two months. Is this good news or bad news for cyclists?

Photo by BOSSI (cc)
Unfortunately, based on experiences at other metro stations - its probably bad news.  When elevators are more convenient than escalators, able-bodied pedestrians choose to take the elevator, choking out the room and leaving cyclists with no ability to actually exit the station (cyclists are not allowed to use the escallators).  This is a huge problem in stations like Ballston, where pedestrians regularly use the elevators because they are a little bit more convenient (and the pedestrians are lazy).  Its not uncommon at Ballston to stand at train level, the elevator will come down from the main platform and will filled with pedestrians who got on early so they could go to street level.  Fun times.

Under current rules, subway riders should
Give senior citizens and riders with disabilities priority when using the elevators.
 Great.  Those people should have priority.  The problem is the next rule
Cyclists are required to use elevators to access mezzanines and platforms. Escalators and stairs may not be used except when special requests (for emergency reasons) have been granted by Metro Station Managers, Metro Transit Police or city/county police or fire officials. Cyclists must allow other passengers to exit before placing bicycles in or taking bicycles out of the elevators. When it appears that a bicycle will cause an inconvenience or possible injury to other passengers, cyclists must wait for the next elevator. At all times in the Metrorail system, both wheels of any bicycle must be placed on the ground/floor and cyclists must not use Metro property such as, but not limited, to poles, seats, and doors to support their bicycles.
Okay, great.  That basically means cyclists are THIRD priority when it comes to elevators, and we have no other legal way out of the system.   This is a huge problem, especially when elevators are more convenient than escalators - the elevators will always have other passengers on them and we are blocked out.

The solution is simple.  Make cyclists second priority on the elevators.  Tell other passengers that they must yield to cyclists, allowing cyclists to use the elevators as cyclists have no other legal way to exit and enter the system.  Otherwise stations like Rosslyn will become unusable to cyclists (much like Ballston has become a difficult station).

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