Meet James Ploeser, our new DC Bike Ambassador!

Hi. I’m James and I’m new here.

Prior to joining WABA as a part-time Bike Ambassador, I’ve been a lot of things. I’ve been a barista, a community organizer, and a truck driver. Recreationally, I’ve been a gardener, natural builder, and a musician. At present, I’m a yoga teacher, a religious educator working with high school students, and a seminarian training to become a Unitarian Universalist minister.

And all that time, I’ve always been a bike-rider.

I feel very fortunate to have grown up in Madison, WI, one of the best and safest cities for cycling in the country. Its downtown lies between two lakes, so shoreline nature trails are many people’s paths to work. That, plus an extensive network of protected bike lanes made it relatively easy to become comfortable biking most anywhere.

For the last 11 years, DC has been my home. Through prioritizing being a good neighbor in my immediate surroundings in NW, I’ve also been lucky to explore most parts of the city rather extensively- and not only by bike. In addition to cycling, here I’ve spent nearly equal time as a driver and a train- or bus-rider. Coincidentally, a recent part-time job had me driving a vegetable truck for a local food access organization, and my route took me along one of my favorite cycling destinations beyond the beltway, adjacent to the Custis and W&OD trails, into the horse and wine country of Loudoun County, VA.

I see cycling as not only healthy, sustainable and affordable (though it is all those things!), but as a means of empowerment and social change. Learning that you can take yourself great distances on just two wheels, and with just your own two legs, offers an embodied experience that we are more free and more capable than we often think. In 2010, a friend and I rode to the UN Climate Talks in Cancun. Along the way we not only promoted sustainable transportation but also highlighted local efforts to transition to a people-powered global economy.

That and other such experiences are why it’s important for me that safe, enjoyable cycling be available to everyone in the D.C. region. My belief in inclusion aligns with WABA’s vision for the region. In fact, it’s partly why I’ve been invited to join the team. I’m a fluent Spanish speaker, having spent time not only in Latin America where I studied and volunteered with social movement organizations, but also working as an organizer in Spanish-speaking communities back in the midwest and here in the DMV.

If you are also interested in expanding the accessibility of WABA’s program offerings to Spanish-speaking communities, and have the language skills to assist, email me at james.ploeser@waba.org to let me know.

So that’s me. I hope to meet many of you before and during upcoming activities, and that we’ll continue welcoming more new folks into the lovely and growing WABAverse. 🙂

Hop on: let’s go for a ‘wild’ ride!

This guest blog is written by Patty Gentry, a recent WABA in the Wild rider, who shares her experience on the trip this past June. 

Mile zero in Georgetown.

Imagine it.

You’re sitting at the dinner table, covered in dried mud. Your butt is sore from riding over 120 miles without much training. You’re eating a warm bowl of spaghetti and meatballs made (with lots of love) by staff and volunteers, and you have the biggest smile on your face.

This was me on the last night of WABA in the Wild.

I don’t know what it is about “bike people”, but overall they are a special group of people. The riders and staff that participated in the WABA in the Wild ride are no exception—from the moment that we arrived at check-in at the REI in Rockville, I felt taken care of, excited, and a little nervous for the next three days.

The WABA crew stored my bike, tent and bag and all the riders piled into a van for the drive out to Cumberland, MD. We arrived to a smiling crew that welcomed us to our home for the night. After setting up my tent, we spent the evening getting to know each other, and learned more about all the different programs WABA offers. The group consisted of some seasoned riders, new riders, riders who trained, and some who didn’t (*cough…me*).

We all came to this ride for a variety of reasons, but we all had one thing in common—we love to bike and we want more people to be able to bike and bike safely. To me, it doesn’t get better than a night out under the stars with like-minded people. (Plus, access to the sweet YMCA showers didn’t hurt either.)

A little mud never hurt anyone!

Over the course of the next three days, I had an incredible ride. I pushed my physical and mental abilities and proved to myself that I could do it. At the end of each day, I was at ease sitting around the dinner table with the other riders and hearing about everyone’s epic day. And, it was pretty nice having someone else make my food!

The 184.5 miles of the C&O Canal towpath seemed like every mile had something new and fun to offer. Whether it was a paved section right next to the river, a downed tree to hop over, or splashing through mud puddles, it was all pure adventure. I saw so much wildlife, too! I stopped on the trail to move turtles, let a deer and its fawn pass in front of me, glimpsed cardinals, blue jays, and hawks, and said an occasional hello to other humans on the trail. It was truly incredible. I wish I could do it again, and I just might!

If this is sounds up your alley, you definitely don’t want to miss WABA in the Wild this October. The staff and volunteers on this ride helped and supported me through every mile – from finding mile 184.5 alllllll the way to mile 0. I’m sure that you’ll experience even more and I can’t wait to hear all about it. Learn more and register here!

Look at these smiling faces – what’s not to love about WABA in the Wild?

Enough is enough

join the rally

It’s been a tough few weeks for the DC bike community. Two preventable deaths in less than a month have sent a shudder through the city. These deaths were preventable. Let that sink in.

Every single bicyclist has a story of a near miss; a sketchy situation in which a driver almost forced a crash. Every bicyclist knows about the streetcar tracks on H Street (but unfortunately, alternatives only get us so far to avoid the corridor); every bicyclist should feel secure in a protected bike lane.

What is the city doing to prevent these deaths?

Not enough. In 2015, Mayor Bowser committed to Vision Zero, a plan to eliminate all traffic fatalities in DC by 2024. Great start. But it takes hard work and tough choices to make this commitment a reality—engineering, outreach, expenditure of political capital, inter-agency coordination and more. You’d think the situation for all road users would be getting better year after year. It’s not.

join the rally

To be frank: more people are dying, not fewer.

As of this writing, there have been 21 traffic deaths in the District. That means there have been three more deaths in 2018 than there were by this time in 2017. Below are MPD’s numbers on traffic fatalities.

Year ’13 ’14** ’15 ’16*** ’17 ‘18
Fatalities 29 26 26 28 30 21 (+3 YTD)

Source: MPD, July 15, 2018

The numbers are going in the wrong direction, meaning that more people are being killed on our roadways every year. But why?

Well, to start, the government of the District of Columbia is not doing what it said it would do. The Vision Zero Action Plan, finalized in December 2015, laid out 67 strategies and projects to complete by 2017. Only 32 of 67 deadlines have been reported complete. In 2017, the Mayor didn’t even release a progress report. It’s clear why the numbers are going in the wrong direction: the District government just isn’t doing enough.

And that’s just not ok.

This Thursday, July 19th, we’ll be meeting at noon on the steps of the Wilson Building to rally for safer streets.

join the rally

We are rallying because people continue to die because the Mayor won’t act. Because the city prioritizes cars over people. Because failing to protect the lives of citizens of the District is unacceptable.

No more politics. The time is now.

We’ll see you on Thursday.

join the rally

 

MEDIA CONTACT at the rally: Colin Browne, Communications Director. Cell: 802-633-0281. colinbrowne@waba.org

He looks like this but has glasses now:

Bicycle and Scooter Parking Services At The New Audi Field

MEDIA ALERT

D. C. United and Audi Field are proud to announce a partnership with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) to provide bike valet service for Major League Soccer’s D.C. United home matches and other special events. As part of their new stadium at Buzzard Point, D.C. United are committed to creating the most bikefriendly sports venue in the country. Two Wheel Valet, LLC will operate the bike valet service starting two hours prior to kickoff and ending one hour after the game. WABA Bike Ambassadors will be on hand to answer questions and encourage patrons to bike to the stadium. Lime, one of DC’s largest providers for dockless electric scooters and bicycles, is the official bike share and scooter share partner of D.C. United.

The valet will utilize a digital checkin service for cyclists to quickly and efficiently check their bikes in. When dropping off their bikes, cyclists simply provide their phone number, and they will be sent a text that includes a secure claim ID and the time that the valet will close. Helmets, lights, bags, and locks can all stay on the bikes, making bike parking easy, fast, and secure.

Lime will offer a staffed parking area for dockless bikes and scooters. Dockless bikes and scooters will be held at a central location in order to keep sidewalks clear. Capital Bikeshare will have corralling service available at Potomac Ave and Half St to ensure that patrons have a guaranteed spot at their dock.

“We have diligently worked with our partners to make Audi Field highly accessible by walking, biking, and transit,” said Tom Hunt, D.C. United President. “Transportation is a critical part of building an environmentally and socially sustainable stadium, and we’re proud to offer fans high quality alternatives to driving.”

D.C. United join several other teams and stadiums that are promoting active and sustainable transportation modes. Bike valet and bike/scooter sharing have become essential in encouraging more efficient transportation choices.The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has built new separated cycletracks to the stadium that will connect to DC’s bicycling network. Soccer supporters hoping to take advantage of the bike valet need to do only one thing: show up with their bikes at the valet, which is located at 2nd Street SW and T Street SW. No app downloads or prebooking required.

Introducing the Women & Bicycles Steering Committee!

When WABA’s then-Outreach Coordinator and all-star Nelle Pierson started the Women & Bicycles program, it was just her and a group of spectacular women ready to change biking in the DC region. As Women & Bicycles grew, it gained its own dedicated staff-person, and several ranks of volunteers. Now, welcoming Facebook Admins keep the online group humming while skilled mentor Roll Models teach new skills to help newer riders gain confidence.

Today, Women & Bicycles is pleased to introduce to you the Women & Bicycles Steering Committee: eight women who are determined in leading the charge to make the DC region better for biking.

These women represent the entire area served by WABA: a variety of ages, life experiences, backgrounds, household set-ups, and bicycle types. What they have in common is a commitment to Women & Bicycles and a desire to help.

We formed the Steering Committee to guide Women & Bicycles into the next phase of its growth, and to some extent, figure out what that phase is. To start, they are working with the Coordinator (that’s me!) to establish consistent, dedicated funding for the program, build reliable and effective communications, and take on some special projects.

We couldn’t be happier about the Committee, and we hope you’ll join us in welcoming them!

Robin Butler-LeFrancois. Her bike: Jazz Latitude

I’m Robin, a Washingtonian living in Alexandria. In 2015, I decided spin class was not enough—it was time to go outside and ride, but I was terribly afraid of riding in the street. I took a four-day bike trip in the Finger Lakes in August 2015, riding streets, rolling hills, and steep downhills. The riding lovebug bit me! When I got back to town, I bought my sister’s friend’s vintage Jazz Latitude (at least 20 years old!) and just kept riding. Now (three years later), I just bought my fourth bike.

Once I joined WABA, I became educated on bike laws and DC Street. I ride to work about 3x a week from Alexandria and these days, the longer the ride the better. I also ride with Black Women Bike DC. I keep in mind that I’m an ambassador and try to be an example to other cyclists.

Aimee Custis. Her bike: Capital Bikeshare!

I’m Aimee! I’m the Deputy Director (fundraising, advocacy, and strategic communications) at the WABA ally, Coalition for Smarter Growth. (I’m a professional transit advocate.) I don’t own a bike, but I use my CaBi membership weekly and am in love with JUMP. I bike for transportation—I don’t think I’ve ever been on a for-fun bike ride. I’ve been a WABA member for 5 of the 10 years I’ve lived in DC. This is my first time doing more with WABA than just partnering on events through my job, or doing a random advocacy action or petition, or participating in the W&B Facebook page. I’m excited to get more involved!

Sophie Chan-Wood: Her bike: Gary Fisher Hybrid.

I’m Sophie from Rockville. I’ve lived in the Metro area for about 11 years now, and first learned about WABA on a Bike DC ride where the GW Parkway was closed to traffic. On a picnic ride with WABA, I met Nelle and we all talked about starting the Women and Bicycles program. I have a Gary Fisher hybrid that I love riding for transportation and recreation. I’ve even done a half-century on it once or twice! I volunteer on the Rockville BIke Advisory Committee with a goal of getting more butts on bikes and improving biking facilities in our city… and if they were ladies’ butts on bikes, that would even be more awesome! My goal with this steering committee is to build collaboration and support up through Montgomery County, MD.

Katie Giles-Bean. Her bike: CAAD 12.

I am a fitness enthusiast and entered the world of biking through training for my first triathlon in 2016. I had no prior experience riding and quickly found it enjoyable for fitness, transportation, and as a means to travel. I joined a women’s cycling team—Team Sticky Fingers—and have continued riding since then. As a member of the DC deaf community and a Gallaudet alumni, I love the inclusive space that the cycling community has formed. I am also vegan and live with my spouse and two cats, Parrot and Diablo. I look forward to helping WABA continue to work towards greater inclusivity for every person.

Megan Jones. Her favorite bike: an early 1960s Raleigh 3-speed. Has a Brooks saddle, a wooden rack on the back, and a basket for flowers, library books, and groceries.

Photo Courtesy of Ben Kristy.

I am Megan. Yup, Hains Point 100 Megan. I’ve been involved with W&B since before it was even official. I have four bikes plus I use CaBi. I have lived in Arlington for 20+ years. I race for Team Sticky Fingers, am Vice Chair of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, and a newly appointed board member for Phoenix Bikes. I need to find other hobbies beside bicycling, eh? I am Head of Strategic Product and Sales Analytics for a medical malpractice insurance company and have to travel a lot for work. I have no kids but I have a fish who likes having other fish for dinner…but they don’t stay long. I love racing, and getting more women riding comfortably and happily.

Laurie Lemieux. Her bike: Jamis Renegade Elite

I’m Laurie, a no-longer-practicing women’s health Nurse Practitioner, former nursing professor, current majority co-owner of Proteus Bicycles in College Park, MD, and (very proud to say) I was one of the first 10 Roll Models for W&B. I have about five bikes—it’s hard to find time to ride them all! I am an LCI (League Cycling Instructor) and I teach both for WABA and privately. I also do bike fittings which is so important for women. I have a doggy bike trailer for Ezzie the lab who will never graduate from Shop-Dog-In-Training. She has jackknifed me and my husband several times…she is on a trailer hiatus right now while we work on her trailer training! I have two kids, 32 (Paul – who is a mechanic at Proteus), and 27 (Annie, a trumpet player living in NYC). I’m especially passionate about helping women get on the right bike for them and their goals. As a Steering Committee member, I plan to help develop women’s partnerships for workshops in Prince George County.

Becky Puritz. Her favorite bike: Brompton S6L

I am a seven-year bicycle industry insider who lives in Alexandria and loves using my favorite Brompton S6L bike to commute to DC! I’m also a certified fitter, helping people of all shapes and sizes feel more comfortable on bikes. I’m excited to be working with the Steering Committee to find more ways to help more people be more comfortable riding a bike. I’m especially interested in the Women & Bicycles branding and communication strategies to help get a clear, concise message out to the many new riders we have yet to meet.

Elisabeth Sherwood. Her favorite bike: Pashley Princess

I have lived in Washington, DC since 1995, when I began riding my bike for recreation. When I began riding my bike to commute to the World Bank and errands in 2000, I discovered and joined WABA, thrilled to know there was an organization advocating for cyclists and safe cycling. WABA and all its staff appreciate the amazing power of the bicycle—for community, for the environment, for physical and mental health, and for all the other benefits people riding bicycles bring! I was one of the first people to join the Women & Bicycles program, so I’ve been here to watch this tiny program grow from a few dozen women to the thousands that now participate.

One final push for MoCo’s Bike Plan

July 11 Update: The record will remain open until August 24th for comments on the Bicycle Master Plan. The Council’s Transportation & Environment Committee will review the plan and comments in depth at a worksession on September 17.

Montgomery County is one step away from adopting the most innovative and rigorous bicycle master plan in the country. But we need you to help us push it over the line!

On Tuesday, July 10, the County Council will hold the final hearing on the plan. And based on what they hear, the Council will make final changes and vote to adopt it. This plan will guide the next 25 years of bicycle planning and construction in Montgomery County, so this is a pivotal moment for biking in the county.

Take Action

With your help, we can show our Councilmembers that the Bicycle Master Plan sets the bold vision that Montgomery County needs for a bikeable, healthy, accessible, and sustainable future.

That vision is as ambitious as it is thorough. It lays out:

  • an extensive, 1,000 mile, low-stress bicycle network of new protected bike lanes, trails, and quiet neighborhood streets, which will comfortably connect bicyclists of all ages and abilities to the places they need to go;
  • a network of high-capacity “breezeways” between activity centers that allows people on bikes to travel with fewer delays, where all users – including slower moving bicyclists and pedestrians – can safely and comfortably coexist.
  • new design standards for safe and accessible protected bike lanes, trails and intersections;
  • new programs to build out the network, support people who bike and encourage more people to give it a try;
  • Abundant and secure, long-term bicycle parking facilities near Metro and MARC stations;
  • And rigorous metrics to evaluate the county’s progress in carrying out the plan.

The plan represents more than two years of tireless work analyzing data, researching best practices from around the world, and thorough community input at dozens of public workshops and stakeholder meetings. It is the gold standard of data-driven and community-involved planning and will guide Montgomery County to being a world-class community for bicycling.

Here’s how you can help:

Email the Council:

Click here to send your councilmembers an email asking that they support the plan without major changes. The plan was created through more than two years of rigorous data analysis and exhaustive community input. It is the gold standard of data-driven and community-involved planning and will guide Montgomery County to being a world-class community for bicycling.Together, we can push it over the finish line.

Take Action

Share your story at Tuesday’s Hearing:

Sending a letter is a quick way of showing your support, but showing up in person shows that you mean it. Hearings are the perfect place to tell your bicycling story. Will you join us at the hearing to speak up for this visionary plan?

Bike Master Plan Council Hearing
Tuesday, July 10 at 7:30 pm
Council Office Building (Third-floor hearing room)
100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD, 20850

Sign up to testify by July 10 at 10 am and reply to let us know that you will be there. If possible, email a written copy of your testimony in advance of the hearing by email to County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Read the full plan here and the proposed network here.

Try It By Bike!: A Guide to Riding Around Red Line Metro Closures

For all of us who can’t take off a leisurely July 21st to Sept 3rd vacation and avoid some very humid days, the Metro closure of the Brookland and Rhode Island Ave Red Line stations are going to affect many travel patterns. There will be bus shuttles between stations and a temporary bus lane on Rhode Island Ave (!). But it can also be a easy bike ride—there is a trail that parallels the Red Line!

Want to avoid crowded roadways and train platforms while Metro undertakes maintenance? The Metropolitan Branch Trail follows the Red Line from just south of Fort Totten past Brookland, Rhode Island, NoMa to Union Station with some great connections to downtown and points east & west.

Metropolitan Branch Trail signage.

The Metropolitan Branch Trail runs along the Red Line in D.C., and you can pick it up just south of Fort Totten! An easy alternative route to use while Brookland and Rhode Island Ave. are closed.


How to Prepare

Check your brakes, pump up your tires, and give biking a try! A few things we’ve seen that are useful for beginning to bike for transportation:

  • No need to start with the Big Ride. Maybe test out a daily commute on a weekend when there isn’t a 9am important meeting. Where are you going to park your bike?
  • Options are your friend. You can drive a car to a park-and-ride, and ride your bike from there. Take bikeshare downhill and bus home. Try out a bikeshare bike for a week and see how getting around feels.
    • A Capital Bikeshare corral with unlimited parking will be available at 3rdSt. NE and M St. NE from 8am-1pm, on Monday – Friday from 7/23 – 8/31, so you can easily drop off your bike.
  • You do need a working bicycle, a u-lock and some way to carry your things. A helmet is encouraged. But, like so many things, no need to go all in on all the fancy gear to start with! Are bike specific bags nice? Sure! But you can also use the random Aldi’s reusable bag you got free that one time. If you’re going to be biking when it is dark, a front light is legally required and you should have a rear light too.
  • It’s hot! Sunscreen, a water bottle and sun protection are probably a good idea. I like wearing casual clothes on my ride and changing at work to avoid sweaty clothes. But for folks with shorter rides or who aren’t perennially biking fast to avoid being late for meetings, a slower pace should help minimize sweat.
  • Trails are kind of like roads, but better. Ride to the right and pass folks on your left. Let people know that you’re passing them and give them space. Don’t do anything sudden. And above all, be courteous about the shared space.
  • We’ve got maps, events, classes, and all sorts of other resources below to make your bike commute comfortable, safe and fun.

We’ve also got tools for employers looking to make life a little easier for their staff.


What’s WABA Doing?

  • Pushing local transportation officials to create space and infrastructure for biking during the surges.
  • Steering our existing programs and resources to help and support people impacted.
  • Leading the bike community to help by providing resources, programming and events.

For press inquiries, please contact Colin Browne.


Already a Bike Commuter? Help your neighbors and your coworkers!

Metro maintenance is huge and we need your help to make sure that nobody on a bike is left behind. How can you help?

  • Be a resource for their questions.
  • Can you go on a ride with them? Collaborate on route route planning?
  • Connect them with other resources – any WABA events that they should join?

New to Bike Commuting?

Join us at a City Cycling class! This class is the right fit for you and will give you three things you can’t get anywhere else:

  • A safe and supportive environment to practice riding and build confidence
  • Access to the best bike teachers in the region to answer all your questions
  • Riding techniques, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your ride

View the schedule and register for classes here.

And check out our extensive resources for new riders!

Ask our Trail Ranger team questions! We’ll be at a few more outreach events this summer with free bike maps, resources and answers. Can’t make it to a market? Email us at trailranger@waba.org or give us a call at (202) 518-0524 x208 and we’re happy to help.

Takoma Farmers Market
July 8th, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Laurel Ave, Takoma MD

Met Branch Coffee Hour
July 13th, 7:30 am – 9:30 am
4th and S St NE

MBT Meander Ride
July 15th, 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Silver Spring Metro
Details and registration here.

NoMa Farmers Market
July 22nd, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
First and Pierce St NE

Oh, and here’s what you need to know about bikes on Metrorail and bikes on Metrobus.


Help Your Employees Bike to Work!

Make commuting the best part of their day by hosting an Everyday Bicycling Seminar with WABA.

Our bike experts will solve bike mysteries and bust bike myths in a relaxed and engaging “brown bag” format.

Complete the form here and our coordinator will be in touch.

A step in the right direction for Long Bridge!

The current proposal (red line) crosses the Potomac River and George Washington Parkway, but not I-395. Done right, the Long Bridge Trail would cross both highways, connecting Crystal City to Maine Ave., and L’Enfant Plaza (green line).

Opportunities for great leaps in transportation options here in the Washington region don’t happen everyday. So, that’s why we are so excited about the Long Bridge Project.

A little background:

The Long Bridge, the railroad bridge that spans the Potomac River south of the 14th St. Bridge, is getting an upgrade from two tracks to four. Currently, there is no way to get across the bridge on a bike or by walking. However, as part of the proposed bridge upgrade, we asked people to take action in January to tell DDOT that any upgrades to this crucial Potomac crossing should include options for biking and walking.

Of the 1639 comments DDOT received on the Long Bridge project, 1605 were regarding bicycle and pedestrian access — that’s just amazing. You couldn’t have been more clear: any upgrades to this crucial Potomac crossing must include options for biking and walking.

That says a lot about the need for this critical pedestrian and bicycle connections between the Commonwealth and the District. Our voices have been heard, but we still have more work to do!

In a report released in mid-June, DDOT noted the tremendous amount of public support as one of the reasons that a biking and walking trail will continue to be included in the alternatives moving forward.

And as great as that is (and it is great!), the plan still falls short. We need a trail bridge running the entire length of the bridge (from Long Bridge Park to L’Enfant Plaza). And while the team at DDOT will study western connections, to Long Bridge Park and the Mount Vernon Trail, the report says nothing of improving the east side of the bridge. So, the trail bridge would end at Ohio Drive, on Hains Point, leaving trail users many barriers to getting to the Wharf and further downtown.

Any option that does not contain a safe connection on the East side of the bridge is not just bad design — it’s dangerous and someone will be hurt by this engineering omission.

Here’s where you can help. Will you email info@longbridgeproject.com and thank them for including the trail connection to Long Bridge Park in Arlington in further studies, but also, can you make sure to demand that the project also include the eastern extension to L’Enfant Plaza?

If you’d like to read the full Environmental Impact Assessment Alternatives Development Report for the Long Bridge Project, you can find it here.

We’vre got more work to do, but this is a great mini-win along the way and, with a project of this magnitude, we’ve got to celebrate the fine work YOU do every day to make your voices heard.

PS….If you like the work that we’re doing, support our advocacy work by joining or renewing your membership.

I’d Like to Bike, But…

People have their reasons for not biking. We’re here to change some perspectives!

Since becoming the Outreach Coordinator at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), I have attended a lot of expos, wellness events and festivals. I love meeting new people and talking with them about what we do at WABA. I also like hearing from people about why they do or don’t bike in the city.

So I decided to create two boards to take with me to my events. One of the boards says, “I bike because…” and the other says, “ I’d like to bike but…”. Although I love reading the responses about why people bike, I am even more intrigued by why people don’t. I read each one as people write them and use those responses as a way to jump-start a conversation about what we do and how we can help them. Here are the top reasons I see and hear about why people don’t bike and how WABA can make you a little less apprehensive to biking.

#1 – “I don’t know how to ride a bike.”

I learned to ride as an adult (as did one of my co-workers), so I completely understand how that hinders someone from riding a bike. And as you get older, you realize that you are further from the ground so falling off a bike becomes pretty scary. If you or someone you know is in this situation, we can help.

WABA offers adult Learn to Ride classes throughout the year. We have certified instructors who will spend time with each student getting them comfortable on a bicycle and learning to ride in under 3 hours. And you are never to old to learn. Last season, we had a 76 year old woman learn to ride so you have no excuse! You can learn more about our Adult Learn to Ride Classes here.

#2 – “I’m scared of being hit by cars.”

I must admit, I always find this answer funny. These are drivers who are afraid to bike because of…drivers? But I also get it because I was in their shoes. After I learned to ride, I always rode on trails. I was terrified of being hit by a car, or more specifically, by a taxi cab.

I overcame that by taking a City Cycling class with WABA! I learned to not ride in the gutter, how to signal for turns and how to confidently take the lane when biking to make sure I’m seen by cars. Amazingly, these and other simple steps really do make you feel so much more confident on the road. You can learn how to ride confidently in the city too by taking our City Cycling class.

#3 – “I live too far away.”

This is a legitimate reason to not bike the entire way to work. However, you may be able to do multi-modal riding. For example, maybe you can take the Metro part of the way and take bikeshare the rest of the way. Or perhaps you bike rather than drive to the store or to run errands near where you live. Thinking of biking in these small ways can help build your confidence and get you biking more often.

#4 – “I’m out of shape.”

Biking is great exercise and helps to get you in shape. I often suggest just biking a mile or around the block. Or join one of our community rides so you can be social and ride with others. Often people don’t even realize they have biked 10 miles when they bike in a social ride. And it’s a great way to build up your endurance!

And #5? – “Hills!”

Hills are no joke. I grew up in Anacostia and it is HILLY. It can definitely prevent people from wanting to ride. But there are a couple of ways to conquer hills. One way is to bike down the hill and take Metro or the bus up the hilly part. The other way is to buy or rent an e-bike. These incredible bikes make hills seem flat by giving you the boost you need to roll up any hill with ease.

Now you know the most common objections I hear about why people aren’t biking. But we all have to start somewhere – consider this a step in the bike direction!

Newsflash: WABA in the Wild is amazing!

Last week, we finished WABA in the Wild, a peer-to-peer fundraiser and supported bicycle tour of the C&O Canal towpath. Riders cheerfully wheeled through 184.5 muddy, dusty, gravel-y, and sweaty miles, from Cumberland, MD to Georgetown, DC over three-and-a-half days. They marked the end of the trip with one rider’s toothy family tradition: a WABA in the Wild “power smile”.

All smiles at mile zero!

Donations are still coming in, but so far 11 riders have raised a whopping $15,197 for WABA. Their efforts are helping to make bicycling better for everyone in the region—we owe them a huge thank you!

Here is one rider’s take on their ride:

“I enjoy riding long distances, so riding the towpath was right up my alley and having WABA with me was the best idea ever. WABA has been educating me for several years on riding safely in the region, so I trusted them to guide me on this ride down the towpath. It was much harder than I imagined, but when I was tired and couldn’t go another step there was a staffer cheering me on that I could do this.

I would do the WABA in Wild ride again just to be out with nature, going through the Paw Paw Tunnel, seeing Great Falls and Harpers Ferry. But being with other like-minded riders and the WABA staff made this a truly memorable experience. I loved every minute of it!”

We’ll let the pictures below tell rest of the story of our trip, but, if you’re interested in joining us for WABA in the Wild, we are running the trip again in October! Put your name on the interest list for early access to registration.