Welcome the 2018 Trail Ranger Team!

Welcome to the 2018 Trail Ranger team – Trey, Carly, Tim and Matthew! The Trail Rangers are all about providing a consistent and helpful presence on DC’s mixed-use paved trails. We help trail users, engage with trailside neighborhoods, improve trail conditions, and work with city agencies to keep the trails clean, bright, and clear of obstacles. Keep an eye out for them on the Marvin Gaye, Anacostia River, Suitland Parkway and Metropolitan Branch Trails (Click here to see where these awesome trails are!).

Trey

Carly

Tim

Matthew

What’s your favorite snack?

Milkshakes – Tim

TWIZZLERS! – Trey

A simple trail mix of almonds, dried cranberries and chocolate! – Carly

Cheese and crackers – Matthew

What is your bike story – how did you start and what has the journey been?

“I rode a bike as a kid, but stopped riding as a teenager and adult. Three years ago I decided that I wanted to bike from Arlington, Virginia to Dallas, Texas. I bought a bike, did very little training, and started biking to Texas. During this trip, which took me 28 days, I fell in love with biking again and remembered the joy I had of riding my bike as a kid. Since that time, I have been riding my bike often throughout the Virginia/DC area.” – Tim

“I’ve been biking since my first year of college… because walking to class is boring. I then started riding more and exploring places I could never get to in a car. Biking is now my favorite hobby!” – Trey

“As a child growing up in Gaithersburg, I loved biking on the C&O Canal towpath and on the trails of Seneca Creek State Park. In college in the suburbs of Boston, I took my bike to the roads for the first time; on the weekends, I would pick a new direction, hop on the bike, and ride for a whole day, stopping to talk with people and investigate new places. I regularly biked a few miles to the west to volunteer at an organic farm, and a few miles to the east to attend classes at a different college, and fixed and maintained the bikes at my cooperative house. Thanks to my bike, I connected with and gained an encyclopedic knowledge of quirky locally owned businesses, beautiful parks and preserves, and communities beyond my campus. Now back in my home region, I look forward to connecting similarly with communities across Washington, DC.” – Carly

“I learned to bike a long time ago but I never regularly biked anywhere in the city until I bought my first $40 Flying Pigeon bike while living in Beijing. I loved biking in the city – there were protected bike lanes even before America had them! When I moved back to DC after China, I was determined to continue biking. I’ve since lived without a car, relying on my two legs or my bike to get around DC, and I love it so much! I’ll never go back to driving!” – Matthew

Favorite thing about biking?

“I love being outdoors in nature and being able to exercise at the same time.” -Tim

“My favorite thing about biking is being able to customize my bike so it is one of a kind.” – Trey

“Creating a sense of place – understanding the characteristics that are special to a particular community – has been a favorite activity of mine throughout my life, whether in my own backyard or in a new state or country. For me, a bike is an unparalleled vehicle for discovering and appreciating the unique features of a place, and easily stopping, continuing, and connecting with people along the way. In urban areas, biking provides the speed and convenience of traveling just about anywhere in a reasonable amount of time, while maintaining close contact and a dynamic, spontaneous interaction with one’s surroundings. “ – Carly

“I feel so free! There’s just something about knowing that I can hop onto this machine and go anywhere with my own body. And when I’m on a trail in the middle of a forest, it feels so great to exercise and connect to nature!” – Matthew

What are you excited to do as a Trail Ranger this summer?

“I am excited about contributing to positive biking experiences on trails in the area and building relationships with the biking community.” – Tim

“I am excited to meet other cyclists and encourage more people to ride bikes.” -Trey

“I look forward to helping folks who are new to the trails feel inspired and empowered to get on their bikes and ride, and to developing relationships with the communities of regular trail users.“ – Carly

“I am so excited to give back to my community! I want more people in DC to bike and the only way we can do that is if we protect our investment and by getting out on the trail and showing friendly faces!” – Matthew

Want to join the team?

Be outside on your bike with the DC Trail Ranger team this spring and summer on regular shifts! To help make sure all volunteers are on the same page, we are requiring all volunteers with the DC Trail Ranger program join us for a quick orientation.

Sign up for an orientation slot here!

Meet Robert Gardner, our new Advocacy Director

Hello!

I’m Robert Gardner, the new Advocacy Director here at WABA. I feel so privileged to be able to be back home here in the DMV and work with WABA to make the region a fun, safe and exciting place to bike for everyone!

I’ve spent the past 10 years working on national and international advocacy campaigns based in DC and in Brooklyn, NY. It was during my time doing environmental advocacy, that I was lucky enough to live and work for a time in Amsterdam — it is was there that I really caught the bicycling bug. The culture of biking for everyone really blew me away. Having braved the Georgia Avenue commute between Takoma Park and Gallery Place for years, I always felt like I was competing for space — racing cars to try and stay safe. I’m so happy to have had that education and to see the importance of urban planning in changing the way that people use public space.

I hope to continue the progress WABA has made over the past 46 years, and I’ll work hard with our incredible advocacy team to make our region the safest, most enjoyable place to ride in the country.

As Advocacy Director, I am thrilled to work with our community organizers on the Vision Zero campaign, with the Capital Trails Coalition, our action committees and in partnership with advocates across the region. Looking forward to the road ahead!

Bike trivia about me:

My ideal commute: A leisurely pace on protected bike lanes!

My style of riding: I commute to work, grocery shop, and run errands on my bike, so I am generally in an urban setting. I take safety very seriously, so you’ll always find me stopped at red lights.

That one bike do I wish I still owned: I had a mid-70s Schwinn Le Tour that was canary yellow that I commuted on for a year — someone must have “borrowed” it from a Metro stop because I haven’t seen it in a few years.

I look forward to meeting many of you at Bike to Work Day!

Free bike wash

Boooooo rain

Well the good news is that Friday is looking like it won’t be too hot. The less good news is that it will probably rain. But let’s not let a little H2O dampen the best commute of the year!

Pack a raincoat and don’t miss Bike to Work Day 2018! More pit stops, more bike lanes, more brightly colored t-shirts than ever before, and other great goodies.

sign up today!

Bike to Work Day a big bike party with thousands of your bike friends before work! Plus, it’s the best day of the year to renew your WABA membership! (If you get a head start we won’t be mad.)

We want to celebrate you for choosing to ride. Whether you ride once a year or every day, stop by for a high five.

sign up today!

NOTE: If you’re a regular bike commuter, and you are as excited as we are about making sure all the folks trying it out for the first time have a great experience, consider volunteering!

ALSO: Alas, rain is not a particularly good way to wash your bike.

Bike to Work Day Afterparties!

We can’t wait to see you on Friday morning! If you still haven’t signed up for Bike to Work Day, it’s not too late.

If you’re a morning person or not, the Bike to Work Day party doesn’t stop at 9am. Here are some great stops to consider on your afternoon ride:

Mellow Mushroom

Our friends in Adams Morgan are offering 10% of sales to WABA during happy hour! It’ll be one of your last chances to join or renew at a discounted $30, too!

5-7pm at 2436 18th St NW, Washington, DC.

Bar Roubaix

Join DC’s beloved bicycle bar for their Ride to Roubaix Afterparty for patio grilling, spring weather vibes, and DJ Retrospect spinning records all night starting at 5pm. As an added bonus, Bar Roubaix partnered with Bitburger to give away free beers to participants at select Bike to Work Day Pit stops. *Pro tip: the Columbia Heights pit stop (just a stone’s throw away from the bar) will have extra beer tickets on hand from 4-7pm.

And if you need another reason to join or renew your WABA membership, Bar Roubaix offers 10% off your tab if you’re a card-carrying WABA member, every day.

5-11pm at 1400 Irving St NW, Washington, DC.

New District Brewing Company

Just off the W&OD Trail, join our Bike Arlington friends for a beer and a screening of short films by and about the community.

4:30-6:30pm at 2709 S Oakland Street, Arlington VA

Pop-up protected bike lane coming to Bethesda on Friday

Pop-up bike lane in Winnipeg, Canada. Image courtesy of Bike Winnipeg.

Downtown Bethesda is getting a special surprise on Bike to Work Day!

To support the thousands of people biking to work through Bethesda this Friday, Montgomery County is creating a pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Avenue. Early Friday morning, crews will set up cones and signage to transform parking and travel lanes into eight blocks of blissfully, low-stress bikeway for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you are coming from North Bethesda on the Trolley Trail or Silver Spring on the interim Georgetown Branch Trail, this pop-up protected bike lane is for you. It will start at the traffic circle at Cheltenham Drive, going west to cross Wisconsin Avenue and then south on Woodmont Avenue to the Bethesda pitstop near the Capital Crescent Trail. It will be open from 6am to 8pm. Come experience it with us!

For Bike to Work Day, Bethesda will get its own pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Ave. Image courtesy of MCDOT.

Help make the most of this awesome day!

  1. Ride the lane – biking in Bethesda has never felt like this. Don’t miss it.
  2. Take photos and share them with us!
  3. Get businesses on board – help us show that protected bike lanes are great for business. The lane is open until 8pm, so stop, shop, and share your excitement about the lane.
  4. Register for Bike to Work Day at waba.org/biketoworkday and say hi to WABA at the pitstop!

Read more about Friday’s pop-up protected bike lane in the Montgomery County press release.

PS: Did you know that a permanent protected bike lane and more are coming to Bethesda? Learn more and show your support at waba.org/bethesda.

We’re Hiring: Bike Camp! 2018 Camp Counselors

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association seeks two Camp Counselors and one Lead Camp Counselor with a love of riding bikes, experience with youth, and exuberance to spare for our 2018 summer Bike Camp!

Positions Overview

WABA’s Bike Camp! consists of four one-week sessions for kids to ride, explore, build, and have fun! Our Bike Camp! Counselor team will keep things running smoothly, help the campers ride and work together as a team, build rapport and community, and make this summer one to remember.

During training, Counselors will be taken through a thorough ride-safety course to learn the ins-and-outs of leading and supporting youths on bikes. Further training will include: security and safety procedures, emergency planning and management, behavior management, food and health safety, team training, and more.

The Counselor team will be the primary staff responsible for the day-to-day operations of Bike Camp! and will report to our Camp Director, Jeff Wetzel.

These are temporary, seasonal, full-time positions (40 hours/week). The season runs from Wednesday, June 13th to Monday, July 16th. There will be no camp on the 4th of July.

Hourly rate: $15 per hour for Camp Counselor positions, $17 per hour for the Lead Counselor position

Responsibilities

Camp Counselors:

  • Ensure the safety, well-being and health of Bike Campers (ages 8-14).
  • Lead and/or support bike rides ranging from 1 mile to 15 miles in length in summer weather.
  • Organize group activities and team-building exercises.
  • Provide engagement, humor, and positive spirits as a role model for the Campers.
  • Evaluate and provide feedback on Bike Camp! afterwords.

Lead Counselor:

  • All of the above, plus:
  • With the Camp Director, plan safe routes for bike rides and adapt to changing on-road conditions.
  • Provide detailed daily reports of Camp Activities with input from the Camp Counselors, including incident/injury reports.
  • Act as the primary point of contact on-site for activity/program partners.

Qualifications

Camp Counselors:

  • 0-2 years experience working with youth, preferably in a summer camp environment or similar.
  • Must be able to provide a working bike and helmet.
  • Must be able to ride a bike in city traffic with competence and confidence enough to pay attention to the actions and well-being of other riders.
  • Understanding of and ability to communicate safe biking practices.
  • Must be able to pass a criminal background check.
  • High school diploma or equivalent strongly preferred.

Lead Counselor:

  • All of the above, plus:
  • Group bike riding and/or ride leader experience preferred.
  • Staff supervision experience preferred.
  • Must be CPR and First Aid certified, or willing to obtain a certification prior to camp.

About WABA

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is working to create a healthy, more livable region by promoting bicycling for fun, fitness, and affordable transportation; advocating for better bicycling conditions and transportation choices for a healthier environment; and educating children, adults, and motorists about safe bicycling.

WABA’s programs, from youth education to grassroots community organizing, engage residents in Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, and Washington, DC. Six thousand dues-paying members and thousands more generous supporters have helped WABA transform bicycling in the region again and again over its 46 year history.

WABA is building a region where, in 2020, we’ll see three times the number of people riding bikes. And, by 2035, every single person will live within one mile of a dedicated safe place to bike. We envision a region in which biking is joyful, safe, popular, and liberating; supported by the necessary infrastructure, laws, activities, and investments; and where bicycle ridership mirrors the incredible diversity of our communities.

Employment

WABA is committed to providing equal employment opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, arrest record or criminal convictions, political affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, sex, or age.

How to Apply

Please submit a one-page resume and briefly answer the following questions:

  • How you meet the qualifications listed above
  • What makes you a great Bike Camp! Counselor
  • A positive experience you had while working with youth

Send application materials to jobs@waba.org and include “Bike Camp Counselor” in the subject line. No phone calls, please.

DDOT Breaking Promises on C Street NE

Image from Google Street View

At a public meeting late last month, District Department of Transportation (DDOT) staff announced an alarming change of plans for their C St. NE rehabilitation project that cuts critical safety improvements for people walking and biking to speed more cars through the neighborhood. We are baffled by the changes and what they mean for DDOT’s commitment to its Vision Zero principles and ending all traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the city by 2024.

Demand That DDOT Reverse Course

C St. NE is a relic of DC’s long-past highway building days. At five lanes wide, it was designed to funnel rush hour commuters through the neighborhood into downtown DC. But highways make terrible neighborhood streets during rush hour. When uncongested the rest of time, empty lanes tempt drivers to step on the gas. In 2013, when the 11th St. bridge was completed, drivers found different routes, leaving C St. NE empty even more of the time. Today, C St. NE is overbuilt for cars and underbuilt for the people who live, work, play, bike and walk along it.

The critical long-term solution has been in the works since 2006 when Rosedale residents started organizing to demand solutions to chronic speeding, unsafe crossings and stressful biking. DDOT responded with over a decade of studies — the Capitol Hill Transportation Study, C St. Traffic Calming Study, C St. Multimodal Corridor Study, and MoveDC Plan — which helped create a vision for a calm, multimodal street with fewer travel lanes, more frequent, shorter crossings, green space, and protected bike lanes where moving cars is not the priority.

C St. NE 65% plans presented in February

In 2017, DDOT started work on plans which promised to deliver on that vision. In February 2018, staff presented 65% design plans that would:

  • Remove a travel lane from each direction to help reduce speeding
  • Add curb extensions at nine intersections for shorter pedestrian crossings
  • Add new crosswalks at 17th Pl and 20th St
  • Create 11 raised crosswalks at cross-streets to encourage slow-speed turns
  • Add curb-protected bike lanes on C St. and North Carolina Ave NE
  • Create five “floating” bus stops that keep buses and people on bikes separated
  • Add dozens of new trees, green space, and improved river-friendly stormwater management
  • Preserve full-time parking on every block

These plans reflect a decade of study, community discussion, and consensus building around the safety concerns on C St. NE. Residents and experts in traffic safety have been engaged and actively participating in support at every step. Indeed, this project promised to deliver a safe, complete street that would have set a new bar for Vision Zero projects (view the full plans here).

But in April, DDOT announced drastic design changes, striking many of the most critical safety features of the plan. See the new plans here. The changes would:

  • Remove seven of the nine curb extensions at 16th St, 17th St, 17th Pl, 18th St, 18th Pl, 19th St, and 21st St, making pedestrian crossings longer and more risky especially for children and seniors
  • Add back the third travel lane planned for removal on six blocks. More travel lanes encourage speeding, especially in off-peak hours, in exchange for less driver delay at rush hour. Ironically, DDOT staff are now considering adding traffic signals at two crosswalks because the new proposed design makes these crossings less safe
  • Eliminate full-time parking on six blocks either during rush hour or at all times to make room for turn lanes. Residents will lose access to as many as 50 parking spaces for the convenience of moving cars quickly
  • Eliminate some raised crosswalks
  • Reduce the size of bus stops to move buses out of the travel lane

All of these changes are required, DDOT staff claim, because traffic models show that removing a lane in each direction will create unacceptable delay for drivers by 2040. But traffic models only tell the driving part of the story and they are notorious for overestimating future driving habits. We should not compromise safety today to avoid theoretical delay in 20 years.

Revised April plans. Pink shows curb extensions cut from the plan. Blue cars indicate parking restrictions.

DDOT’s new plan to preserve the C St. NE speedway is simply indefensible. It dismisses a decade of work towards an inclusive design that meets community needs. It contradicts four studies that show lane reductions are needed. It trades away critical safety features for greater risk to vulnerable road users. And it cuts residential parking used today to speed more cars through the neighborhood.

But worst of all, the plan is a glaring contradiction to Mayor Bowser’s commitment to end traffic fatalities by 2024. In December 2015, Mayor Bowser released her Vision Zero Action Plan, and pledged that her administration “will do everything in our power to eliminate transportation fatalities and serious injuries, because no loss of life is acceptable.” To achieve this, the action plan promises that “streets should be designed for all users and need to be built to account for inevitable human errors.” It declares that “streets must be engineered to self-enforce a safe speed,” and that “design speed limit and posted speed limit must both prevent serious injury.”

In March 2018, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen worked with MPD to put a targeted focus on traffic enforcement along the C Street NE corridor near Eliot-Hine Middle School and Maury Elementary. After about an hour each day for three weeks, MPD issued 76 speeding tickets to people driving 11-30+ mph over the speed limit.

Drivers ticketed going 11-15 mph over the speed limit: 25
Drivers tickets going 16-20 mph over the speed limit: 6
Drivers ticketed going 16-20 mph over the speed limit: 7
Drivers ticketed going 21-25 mph over the speed limit: 10
Drivers ticketed going 26-30+ mph over the speed limit: 34

Read that again! 34 people going 50+ mph in a residential neighborhood with not one, but two schools where the posted speed limit is 25 mph. For seven blocks, DDOT’s plan would do little to curb this speeding.

DDOT has a moral imperative to do everything in its power to reduce speeds to safe levels. The February version of the plan does exactly this. The April plan is a mockery of Mayor Bowser’s Vision Zero commitment.

We call on DDOT to drop these indefensible changes and instead return to the inspiring, community supported vision presented in February. Last week, ANC 7D voted unanimously to urge DDOT to do the same (read ANC 7D’s letter here). As this plan moves towards construction next year, it must prioritize safety for people walking and biking and actively slow drivers down. While staff have indicated revisions may already be in the works, it is imperative that safe design, not driver delay, is guiding the plan. Please join us in taking a stand for Vision Zero by sending a letter to DDOT.

Take Action

Get a Grip (Unlimited): Meet WABA’s newest business member

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach, and education. Our business members are committed to a creating a healthy, more livable region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today, meet Grip Unlimited.

WABA is thrilled to announce that Grip Unlimited is joining our network of bike-friendly businesses as a Local Leader business member. The DC-based Grip Unlimited makes expertly crafted ride and wear gear for the urban bicyclist.

Grip is the brainchild of CEO Paul Challan, who considers himself one of the least likely people to start a gear company centered around cycling—just a few years ago he couldn’t ride a bike!

In 2009, Challan signed up for Capital Bikeshare and taught himself how to ride (we’re just sorry he didn’t know about WABA’s Learn to Ride classes) in the back alleys of DC. Soon after, a friend offered to help Challan build his first bike: a sweet single speed made for the city streets.

When Challan’s u-lock holder broke, he couldn’t find anything that would hold his lock AND his essentials. Thoughtful, multi-functional design were at the top of his mind when Challan created the Grip Unlimited Frame Bag and tested his concept with a Kickstarter campaign. It was a success, and in April 2016, Challan launched Grip’s online store to offer an array of innovative bags that lighten your load.

All Grip Unlimited bags are designed in DC and made in the USA. They have a lifetime warranty and are made from premium, durable materials. Each bag is designed to quickly attach to the frame of your bike with no need for a rear bike rack or a basket.

Last year, Grip Unlimited was a sponsor of WABA in the Wild, and awarded its most popular commuter bag to one of last year’s top fundraisers who raised over $2,000 for WABA!

Grip Unlimited is proud to invest in WABA’s mission to make biking safer and more accessible to everyone. Challan hopes to amplify this message and get as many people biking as possible.

To learn more about Grip Unlimited, check out their story here and follow Grip on Instagram: @gripunlimitedbags.

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? Help show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Bikeshare Bingo: Six Years of Biking to School

Read the other entries in our Bike to School Day series here and here.

We are still working on the tandem selfie.

Getting Ready for the Big (New Bike) Day

When my wife, Jodi, informed me that she was pregnant, I went through all of the emotions you’d expect. One thing I didn’t really get caught up in was the excitement of acquiring all of the baby “stuff”, with one exception: bikes. But babies can’t ride bikes, you’re thinking, and you’re right. But I found a way to share my  enthusiasm with my future child: a bike trailer. It would allow me to take the newest member of our family out on runs and rides (and maybe even ski trips). Normally a hard sell when it comes to new bike gear, Jodi actually wanted to join me on the trip to the store because she was so happy to see me so excited.

It’s important to note that a bike trailer worked best for our family. It fit our needs and served the purposes we wanted it to. There are so many different options for carrying kids on bikes, I encourage to look around and ask parents when you see something you like. Our tips for buying a bike trailer:

  • Consider what you want to do with it, is it just for biking or other activities too
  • What size do you need, do you anticipate more than one child in the trailer
  • How many bikes will you attach it to – some trailers are easier to attach to multiple bikes than others

Trailers and Trails

On the guidance of our pediatrician, I waited until my son Noah’s neck was strong enough to support a helmet before our first ride. In an effort to understand how the biking is different when pulling extra weight I first pulled a sack of flour around the neighborhood. Turning and braking was really different and something I constantly had to be conscious of.

I also worried about visibility. First, I wasn’t convinced that drivers would be able to recognize that this is a trailer. There is hi-visibility piping built in to the trailer, but I added lights. I also utilized a tall orange flag to grab driver’s attention.

We started out slow and kept the distance short. He was 11 months old for his first ride and he “chattered” away the whole time, taking in all the sights and sounds in Rock Creek Park. After that, we rode together nearly every weekend Often he would sleep. But sometimes he would “talk,” “sing” or “read.” When he got a bit older we would stop to explore the woods or have a snack. The luxury of the trailer is that there was tons of space to carry everything we needed and more.

After he started daycare ( just under 2 miles from our house), I rode with him almost every day (we only missed 3 days in that year). The trailer provided a covered space to keep him dry in the rain and add layers when it was cold (on the really cold days, I put in a few of those chemical hand warmers to keep the space even more toasty).

Tips for riding with an infant/toddler in a trailer:

  • Don’t start until your child’s neck is strong enough
  • Practice pulling the trailer with some weight in a parking lot
  • Make your trailer as visible as possible
  • Take advantage of all the space a trailer provides and pack extra layers, food, and activities/distractions

A Bicycle Built for Two

Eventually we outgrew the trailer and it was time to look for another way to ride together. A family friend had an old “trail-a-bike” attachment that they were looking to get rid of and we were happy to take. The first time we rode with this, we took it slow and rode around the neighborhood. I wasn’t prepared for how much the attachment leaning to each side would affect my handling. Starting out slow and getting comfortable was key before I started riding on the roads with Noah. He loved being free and on his own bike. He could see more of what was happening and be in more control, especially since he had pedals and his own bell. Frequently, when I was looking behind me to make sure it was clear for us to make a turn, I would see his outstretched arm signaling to drivers that we were turning, just like I was doing a few moments before. This setup worked for us, I was able to carry his school stuff in my panniers and he loved riding to school. The biggest challenge I always had to consider was the weather and Noah’s comfort. Since he wasn’t working as hard as I was he would get colder faster. Choosing appropriate layers and clothing is key. For more tips on layering and youth, click here.

Noah is now in second grade and our commute is just under 4 miles. Our route is a mix of roads and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. We’re not the only ones riding to our school. The community is welcoming and when I have questions for other parents bicycling with kids, they’re happy to answer. We have a different bike set-up now. Noah loves it because he gets to ride in the front and see everything instead of my back. I love it because I get to hear him better and we have a lot of really fun conversations. One of the most recent games we started playing on our ride to school is “Bikeshare Bingo.” We try to spot every type of bikeshare available in the city before we get to school. What’s more fun is that Noah has my loud voice and Jodi’s ability to be super direct. Since he’s on the front of the bike and sees everything happening around him, he’s turned in to a mighty advocate for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Tips on choosing a route:

  • The roads you use to drive to school may not be the best roads to bicycle on
  • Plan your route based off of traffic flow and bike lanes available
  • Ride your route on the weekend first when there’s no stress about getting to school on time
  • Talk with other parents at the school that ride and ask them about their route, see if there’s an opportunity to ride together

Time for his own bike commute

Eventually, Noah will be ready to ride his own bike to school. He keeps asking if today is the day he can ride his own bike. We’ve done a few “trial runs” on the weekends when there’s less traffic. Personally, I’m not ready for him to ride on his yet so I keep putting it off. If we had a protected space for the majority of our ride I’d be more comfortable to let him go. Additionally, I’m just not emotionally ready to no longer have him on the bike with me – we’ve been doing it for more than six years! He thinks he’s ready and wants to do it before the end

of second grade, we’ll see.

On days that we don’t ride to school, Noah will state at least once, while sitting in traffic, “I wish we rode.” My response is always the same, me too Noah, me too.

Closer to Nature and Community

This guest post is by WABA Member Inez Steigerwald, who teaches 3rd and 4th grades in College Park. Read the other entries in our Bike to School Day series here and here.

When you think of Bike to School Day you think of kids on the backs of cargo bikes, kids on trail-a-bikes, kids on their own small bikes riding along with their parents to get to and from school. But this is DC, and riding a bike is often the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to get around the city. Getting some exercise is just icing on the cake. That’s why, as a teacher, I ride my bike to work.

My favorite school year commute was the year that my co-teacher and I commuted together. We lived in the same neighborhood and often left work at the same time. We could debrief the day or use the time as a rare opportunity to talk about something other than our students and what we were going to do for math the next day. Having somebody I liked both in and out of the classroom made the three and and half miles across town on busy streets pass quickly, and I often came home feeling simultaneously relaxed and invigorated.

When my school moved a few years later, I got to do half of my ride on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Tulips in the spring, raspberries in early summer, an incredible view of the sunrise over the Red Line tracks, and a lot less honking. I used to pass the same mom walking her young son to school most mornings. Sometimes I ran into a coworker on my way to work, or a neighbor on my way home. Did you know that they plow the MBT when it snows?

This year I’ve moved to a new school, and my new commute has been my least stressful ride yet — two of my seven miles each way are on residential streets, and the rest is on the Northeast Branch Trail. Have you ever seen the morning mist on the Anacostia? In the mornings I see hardly anyone else — a few people getting in an early morning run, a few dog walkers. In the afternoons the playgrounds and soccer fields I pass are full of people.

It’s not all peachy, of course. Crossing Florida Ave on my bike was nerve wracking every single day—I never thought I’d have such strong feelings about turning right on red. Wintry mix is unpleasant no matter how you commute. But when the choice was 25 minutes of exercise, for free, on my bike or 45 minutes in rush hour traffic on a bus, the choice was clear. Now my commute is longer—45 minutes each way through woods, along running water, checking in with the cranes and the foxes.

I bike to school mostly because it’s affordable and convenient and I like the time outside, but also because it keeps me learning. When I ride, I learn new things every day about the city, about our environment, and about my community, and I think that helps me as a teacher.