Bike parking is in short supply at the McLean Metro station.
By contrast, on a typical day, the temporary lot at the McLean Metro is wide open with parking spots. (Martin Di Caro/WAMU)
Six weeks after the Silver Line started hauling Metro commuters, a parking shortage is developing at one of the four stations in Tysons Corner, but not the kind of shortage that was widely expected.
There is plenty of room for cars at the temporary commuter lot built along Rt. 123 near the convergence of I-495 and the Dulles Toll Road. On a typical weekday fewer than 100 of the more than 700 spots are filled.
The Metro station could use more bicycle parking.
“The county believed there would be a much larger demand for car parking than there actually was, and they didn't really pay as much attention to the bike parking as they actually should have,” said Navid Roshan-Afshar, who runs the blog TheTysonsCorner.com, in an interview outside the McLean station during the middle of morning rush hour.
Roshan-Afshar never accepted the pre-Silver Line concern about the lack of permanent parking lots at the four Tysons Corner stations. McLean has the only temporary lot.
“I think a lot of the anger about the lack of parking was probably coming from people who weren’t going to use the Silver Line anyways,” he said. “Those who are actually using the Silver Line are finding other ways to get here either by bus, bike, or foot.”
Meanwhile, most of the 72 available bike spaces (a combination of bike racks and lockers) are filled by 9 a.m. each weekday. The popularity of bicycling to the Silver Line is not surprising to bike advocates, even though they concede Tysons Corner is not very bike-friendly in this early stage of its urbanization.
“It was difficult to advocate for a lot of bike parking in Tysons. Not many people were biking in Tysons. Now that the station is in, we are seeing a ton of people wanting to bike to the station,” said Bruce Wright, the chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling.
Wright said there is plenty of available space to build more bicycle parking outside McLean station, while across Rt. 123 the car lot sits mostly empty all day long.
“Most people in Fairfax think about driving when they are going anywhere. And it is going to take a while for that mindset to change,” he added.
The car lot was built by the property’s owner and developer Cityline Partners, which plans to redevelop the site into residential and commercial office space in the coming years. Cityline has applied for its zoning approval in early 2015, but company representatives said the market will dictate the pace of redevelopment around McLean’s Silver Line stop.
In the meantime, Cityline Partners hopes more commuters will flock to the plane of asphalt it built amid the concerns of residents and county officials about a potential lack of Silver Line parking, a shortage that has yet to materialize.
“We are optimistic about increased usage of the lot as more and more people become aware of its convenience,” said Eric Maggio, Cityline’s chief financial officer in a statement.
Maggio said as redevelopment begins, the number of available parking spaces could incrementally shrink. As it stands now, roughly 600 empty spaces await commuters on a daily basis.
It was reasonable to assume higher demand for car parking at McLean, in the view of county transportation officials.
“Given past experience with Metro parking in Northern Virginia and the repeated community requests for parking, that probably wasn't an unreasonable assumption,” said Tom Biesiadny, the director of Fairfax County’s Department of Transportation.
“I would caution that just because the parking lot isn't full now, doesn't mean that it won't eventually fill. 1,500 new park-and-ride spaces were added in the corridor, not including the Cityline lot, so it will probably take a while for the market to absorb those spaces.”