Commuting by bike in Washington DC

Reagan does have flights but direct options tend to be far less frequent and a fair bit more expensive than out of Dulles. If I leave my wife and kids out here during my Pentagon tour (she is enrolled in a school program that can’t be transferred), then the extra flexibility of being able to leave the West Coast later on a Sunday and still get back on a direct flight without wasting time connecting through somewhere given the 3 hr time difference will make the weekend commuting aspect so much easier I think. I am hoping that when the world gets back on its axis after CV-19 that more direct options open up again and Reagan can be my regular airport. When I’ve visited DC before it’s orders of magnitude easier than using Dulles!


If you have kids I would really look into Leesburg county
Many teachers who made Fairfax county one of the best schools districts moved out of the area because it became SO MUCH EXPENSIVE…

Now Leesburg is becoming stupid expensive… with the new metro, people are moving in droves. The TH i used to live I sold for 365k (1800sqf) in 2016. Now the same TH (according to Zillow) can be sold for 450+.

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Welcome to DC!
FWIW: Consider Montgomery County, MD near the Capital Crescent Trail. The CCT is a 10 mile rails-to-trail paved route from downtown Bethesda to the DC waterfront. Those riders working in VA continue on the Arlington Bridge into VA. The Potomac Pedalers is a cycling enthusiasts club offering over 1,000 rides for all class of riders (A-D) throughout the DMV. They might have good ideas on commuting, too.

BTW, find time to ride Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah NP. I try and ride it once a year. It’s a sacred experience for me. Also, the Garrett County Gran Fondo will kick your butt!


Counterpoint: Nuh-uh.


I hated both…
And Dulles used to offer direct flight to PR, so with that, it was the clear winner!

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Yeah, I think mostly it’s a location thing. I’ve lived in Adams-Morgan a long time ago, and then Capitol Hill more recently, and it was a 15min $15 cab/uber ride to National versus an endless trek to Dulles, parking in the satelite lots, daily parking fees. If you’re out in the far western suburbs, I’d imagine trying to get to National would be hellish, though… Or nearly as hellish as trying to make a flight out of BWI if you live in DC. :slight_smile:

OH! absolutely!
And i did a few trips back home from BWI!
What a nightmare!
I lived in Ashburn (intersection of 28 and 7)… So i was about 10 minutes from IAD. So i would park at work for free and a friend would drop us at the airport… SUPER convenient!

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Oh Skyline Drive…

was always on my list to do, but sadly never got to do it!

Have a few friend who have done the trip one way (100 miles) and other who have done out AND back!

Thanks @oldguyrider, I hadn’t really thought about the neighborhoods North of the river due to my thoughts about being closer to the airports but I’ll take a look. And Skyline Drive looks fantastic!

The Silver Line Metro to Dulles probably wont open until late 2022 - Update: Metro Says Silver Line Extension Won't Open Until Early 2022 | DCist

I live out close to the airport and the metro still stops at Reston. However, you can take a Dulles flyer bus to the airport and/or the 5A metro bus. Airport and Rail Access | WMATA

I have a friend who commutes from Arlington, down the WO&D and across the Key Bridge into DC.
I’ve also taken the Mount Vernon Trail and crossed the Theodor Roosevelt Bridge and entered DC by the Kennedy Center.

DC has made some very good improvements on the surface streets, adding protected bike lanes

On the weekends, early, it’s pretty easy to ride in DC. We did a ride to hit the streets that are named after the first 13 colonies, it was surprisingly chill. I’ve also lived in DC (first job out of college) and used a bike as my main transportation in combo with the buses and metro and IMHO, it wasn’t that bad.

Weather wise, I have a friend who commutes by bike further out in Northern VA on the WO&D through the winter. It may get somewhat chilly but we don’t get all that much snow. With the right base layer, jacket, and some barmitts, you should be good to go. I did Freezing Saddles this year and managed about 500 miles outdoors since January (which is pretty good for me since I’m not a fan of the cold), but the top riders in the competition had something like 2000-3000 miles riding over the winter.

The swamp heat of summer with high humidity and high temperatures are another story, as you will need that shower at work.

FWIW - If you lived in Falls Church, which is roughly 10 miles from DC, you’re still 20 miles out from Dulles Airport. If you lived in Rockville, Maryland - that trip to Dulles airport is 30 miles (though you would have to come around the beltway) - Just saying Being close to Dulles is relative since it’s pretty far west of the City.

Some Good Resources:

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The fun one is 50 states which is about a metric century. After you cross the river is less stop and go. Last few years the price was high though

Those people are also crazy… Friends with one guy and see his posts. Oh you couldn’t sleep so did a century at night?

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Uhm… wow… that’s a whole new level of insanity…

The retired folks and commuters on that competition crush as I know one person who just rides every day. Another guy lives out on gravel roads and rides every morning. Honestly, if I had to do a TR workout, odds were low I was getting outside on the bike.

Haven’t done 50 states. 13 colonies was fun, we had to get creative with all the fencing around capital hill. How long did 50 states take between stop and go, stop signs and traffic?

8.5 hours, but I’m slow an like the breaks:

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I never knew how much I’d miss the W&OD until I moved away from it. The gateway to Western Loudoun country roads.


OVERRATED. I never want to see that road again. ridded it waaaaay too much. I have much more fun riding around in MD or LoCo

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I live in Arlington and work in the neighborhood, so not much direct commute experience, but many of my friends commute to DC year-round and it’s very doable with the right kit.
The W&OD / Custis combo is very popular. Arlington is fantastic is you want to keep the commute short; if you value easy post-COVID access to restaurants, theater, etc; and if it’s in your budget. Parts of Alexandria could also work well, if they have good access to the Mt Vernon Trail. Falls Church is another great option, and Vienna is roughly halfway to Dulles and has the W&OD running through it. For areas that are farther away from the trail system in the western suburbs, some might be safe and comfortable to bike-commute from during dark winters or rush hour, while others will be dicey. If you really prioritize the bike commute, I would opt to live near a trail until you know the area better.
There is great cycling here; you’ll enjoy it. And if you will have a car here and will stay in the area some weekends, Skyline Drive is a great ride that I do several times per year. And plenty of good weekend rides near Great Falls, Potomac, and Prince George’s County that you could easily access without a car. Oh, and the amazing C&O Canal gravel towpath that goes as far as you want (all the way to Pittsburgh if you are into bike-packing or ultra-distance rides).