Just Announced: 50 States & 13 Colonies Ride

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The 2014 50 States & 13 Colonies ride, WABA’s signature ride event of the year, will be held on Saturday, September 13th.

Ride registration will open on August 4th and the ride will be open to WABA Members only.

Not yet a WABA member but interested in the ride? No problem!

Join WABA today for the invitation to register for the 50 States Ride. We’ll send out an email to all WABA members on the morning of August 4th inviting them to register for the ride, so you do have to be a WABA member to receive this invitation. Additionally, when registering for the ride, the form requires you to provide your WABA Member ID number. 50 States 2011 - t-shirts for finishers

Ride participants can choose from a long and challenging 65-ish mile route that winds up and down the District on all 50 state-named streets or a shorter 15-mile route that takes you for a ride down all 13 streets named after the original colonies. All riders are invited to the post-ride celebration at Mellow Mushroom to celebrate and get their special edition 50 States & 13 Colonies ride t-shirt. Read more about the 50 States Ride here.

We’re also looking for volunteers! We need help making this event a success. Sign up to volunteer at one of the pit stops here. Or if you’re a confident cyclist and want to help lead the ride, volunteer as a Ride Marshal.

We hope to see you at the 50 States & 13 Colonies Ride!

 

 

Trail Ranger Tuesday: Introductions Part 2

A few weeks ago, we introduced some of the members of our Trail Ranger team, the crew of enthusiastic trail lovers out every day supporting the growing community of trail users in DC.   It has been a busy few weeks with events on the Anacostia Riverwalk and Suitland Parkway Trails, but we have not forgotten about the rest.  If you see us out on trail, give us a wave.

Kristina Byrne

Kristina ByrneOften following curiosity rather than a compass, Kristina Byrne enjoys getting lost, whether it’s in the woods, a story, or a good conversation. A child’s fascination with the tropical rainforest has led Kristina to a lifetime commitment to tree hugging. Her path has led through the Central American rainforest and US Government bureaucracy, restoring urban forests in Seattle and teaching English to underserved youth in Chile. Through her experiences, Kristina has become passionate about both social and environmental issues, the intersection of which has found the sometimes ironically titled field of sustainability. Frustrated at being a sustainability professional within the old boy’s club, Kristina has gotten involved with the DC poetry scene to be a part of the ongoing conversation about social issues within a diverse community of artists. Writing has helped to make her own existence more sustainable as she works on asking the question, what is the future we want to build? In addition to working with WABA, she works with poetryN.O.W. in support of young people critically engaging with the world through poetry and on the staff of Words Beats & Life: The Global Journal of Hip-Hop Culture.

Jason Horowitz

Jason HorowitzThat’s me and my two sons (Jeffrey and Aaron from left to right) on Father’s Day. For many years family and art (I am a photographic artist) have been the two main focal points of my life. Over the past four years cycling has joined them. Warned by my doctor to get in shape (“you’re not 30 anymore”), I went out to the garage, literally dusted the cobwebs off my bike and went for a ride. That first short ride rekindled my childhood love of cycling and more than 5000 miles later my doctor is happy and I am still going strong. In the last couple of years I have been on a cycling trip on the GAP trail, circumnavigated Manhattan on my bike, and ridden the DC area trails over and over. We even got rid of our car.

And now I am thrilled to be working as a WABA Trail Ranger. It’s a chance to share my love of cycling and help make DC a better, more cycle-friendly place to live and work. See you all out on the trails!


Want to meet them in person?  Join us for a community bike ride and cleanup on and around the Marvin Gaye Trail on Sunday, July 27 (Register Here). Or, sign up to keep up with the Trail Ranger team and get updates on trail events this summer.

Safety in numbers? Better believe it. Bike Ambassadors visit the 14th Street Bridge.


If you’ve read this recent journal article (PDF) on accident analysis and prevention, you’re already aware that intersections that see more than 200 bicyclists a day have a substantially lower collision rate per cyclist than intersections that are not as busy.

DC Bike Ambassadors wanted to see this for ourselves so we went down to the DC side of the 14th Street Bridge, a busy spot during commuting hours. Lo and behold, about 125 bicyclist passed us in the 30 minutes we were counting. Although we didn’t technically see 200 bicyclists, we’re fairly confident at least 75 more bicyclists rode past after we left. While we were there, we saw cars slowing down for bicyclists attempting to cross the street, cars yielding to pedestrians and bikes way ahead of time, and even motorists looking over their shoulder for bikes before merging.  It was fantastic. It was glorious.

The Bike Ambassadors set out this morning intending to cheer on bicyclists who were riding safely through a pretty busy intersection, but by the end of our pop up outreach, we were celebrating everyone who was being courteous on the road.

 

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Tip of the day: Don’t forget your helmet at home! Even when using Capital Bikeshare. Click here to find out more about proper bike helmet fitting.

Meet DC’s newest and safest bicyclists

It’s summer camp season. More specifically, for us, bike camp season. For the past two weeks, we’ve collaborated with Marie Reed Elementary School to incorporate bike education into their summer enrichment camp.

We’ve been honored to teach a bright group of first through fourth graders this July — meet the gang in the photos below.

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Balance bikes!

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Getting ready to ride.

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WABA education coordinator Daniel Hoagland leads a group of fourth graders on a ride in Adams Morgan.

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Working together to patch a flat tube.

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“My dream bike”

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“My dream bike has a rainbow that shoots out of the back wheel.”

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Introducing The Strong Law Firm, a WABA Business Member

We’ve recently introduced you to our business membership programWe debuted the program in 2012 and are steadily signing up new business members in 2014. As part of the program, we’d like to introduce you to some of our business members. Today, meet The Strong Law Firm

The Strong Law Firm is a law firm located in Falls Church, Virginia specializing in all types of personal injury law, safety violations, and bankruptcy law. The Strong Law Firm is headed by Michael Strong, a long time WABA Member and supporter. The firm also offers representation for bicyclists who have been injured in accidents.

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Michael Strong, Principal attorney at The Strong Law Firm

The Strong Law Firm was one of our first business members when we started the program over a year ago and they were quick to renew their membership this year! We are happy to count The Strong Law Firm as a business member.

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can 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.

DC Dept. of Public Works Testing Side Underrun Guards

DPW Side Underrun Guard Pilot

DC DPW is piloting side underrun guards on a few vehicles. Photo credit: DC DPW

The District Department of Public Works (DPW) is piloting a few designs of side underrun guards on a some of their large vehicles. Underrun guards are installed to limit the likelihood a bicyclist or pedestrian would be pulled underneath a vehicle when a crash occurs. DPW is testing a few different prototype designs and will be evaluating them over the coming months. There is no immediate schedule for when all vehicles would be outfitted.

The Bicycle Safety Enhancement Act of 2008 requires the Mayor to “equip all District-owned, heavy-duty vehicles side-underrun guards to prevent bicyclists, other vehicles, or pedestrians from sliding under rear wheels” (full legislation on DC Council website). WABA advocated for this law after the tragic death of Alice Swanson in Dupont Circle who was killed by a turning privately owned truck. The mandate was unfunded for a few years until 2012 at the urging of DC Council. We would like to thank DPW for working through all of the challenges to implement this element of the 2008 law and we would like to express our encouragement for full implementation.

Tiny Steps Toward Reality for Met Branch North

Image Credit: mvjantzen

Preliminary engineering and design of the northern section of the Met Branch Trail between the Fort Totten transfer station to the Tacoma Metro Station (technically called Phase 2) kicked off this month. DDOT provided this juicy news during their update at July meeting of the DC Bicycle Advisory Council (DC-BAC).  The preliminary engineering and design phase will bring the plans to 30% of complete. It’s a small but important step forward. For a sense of where this fits into the whole project, here’s a handy chart:

The engineering firm RK&K is the primary contractor on this project with the Toole Design Group as a subcontractor for trail design. A timeline of when this phase will be complete is not finalized yet.  After this work, the trail design needs to be 100% complete before a construction contract could be awarded and actual trail building to begin. All of these dates are unknown.

This is definite forward progress on the MBT. But, still no answer to Councilmember Mary Cheh famous question: “Will I be alive [when the trail is finished]?

6 ways to be more confident on your bike

At City Cycling class we teach skills to build confidence and be ready for anything the road can throw at you. We don’t have any classes scheduled during the hottest part of the summer season (the month of July and early August), but we’ll return in full force mid-way through August. In the meantime, here are six ways to build confidence on your own — and to get ready for a city cycling class in the fall.

1. Confidence = Knowledge + Experience

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She’s confident that you can be confident too! Image via pedallove.org

The more you know about riding (knowledge) and the more time you spend on a bike (experience), the better you’ll be able to handle yourself. You can find knowledge all over the internet or you can come to one of WABA’s City Cycling classes. Other options might include asking your friends or that one coworker of yours who rides everyday (you know who I’m talking about). Have a situation you’re curious about? Ask for advice on the forum or email us, we’re happy to help!

What’s more, you already have more knowledge than you think. Your experiences as a driver and a pedestrian will help you build confidence as a bicyclist. Remember the last time you drove a car or walked in the city? What did you see that made you nervous? Were you confident driving? Walking? Where did that confidence come from? And all of your biking experience is valuable, whether you were on streets, sidewalks, or trails.

Confidence gained:
Knowing that there are resources and people out there who can help. Your experience moving around the city has prepared you for biking.

2. Get ready the right way

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On the left: confident standing. On the right: wibbly-wobbly. Images via MSU Bike Fit.

Stand over your bike. No, don’t sit on the seat, just stand over the top with the seat behind you. Good. Now use a foot (whichever one you prefer) to lift a pedal up and forward until it rests at a 45-degree angle upwards. This is called the Power Pedal Position. Go ahead, put your foot up on the pedal. With your other foot flat on the ground, you should feel pretty stable (you can squeeze a brake, if that helps). This is your new ready position, remember it!

From now on, every time you come to a stop on your bike, your first priority is to put yourself back into this position so you can get moving when you need to. Move the bike between your legs and notice that you don’t move with it. You’re independently stable (and that’s a good thing)!

Confidence gained:
Knowing that if the bike wobbles, you won’t. When it’s time to go, you can simply go without fumbling for the pedal since it’s already under your foot.

3. Start with power

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This is a good start. You can even go a bit higher. Image via Fyxation.

If you’re in Power Pedal Position (see #2 above), we can jump right in. If not, go back a step and read instead of skipping ahead. All set? Good. From here, starting with confidence is easy! All you need to do is step down on the Power Pedal, using your momentum to sit up on the bike seat at the same time. But what about the other foot? Glad you asked! Since your Power Pedal foot is now at the bottom of its arc, the other pedal will be sitting right on top. You don’t even have to look for it, it’s right there. Seriously, don’t look. Trust us. Here’s a video. (via Sheldon Brown)

Confidence gained:
No more worrying about starting your bike in traffic. You can start with total confidence that you aren’t going to fall, wobble, or bump into anything.
Bonus confidence!
You look more in control and that projects confidence even when you’re not feeling it. Fake it ’til you make it!

4. Stop smart

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Stopping with both brakes together, together. Image via conflicttango.com

Your bike has two brakes, one on the front wheel and one on the back (if your bike has fewer than two brakes, don’t freak out). They’re designed to work together, so from now on use both of your brakes when you want to stop. Squeeze them gently but firmly at the same time. How firmly? Imagine you’re squeezing a ketchup bottle but you don’t want your plate covered in red. When you are almost stopped, you can slide forward off of your saddle and place a foot (either one, but not your Power Pedal foot) flat on the ground. Then reset to Power Pedal Position.

Confidence gained:
Stopping with authority gives you authority. No wibbles and wobbles means no worries.

5. Get to know your bike

Finely tuned and well-cared for. The bike's not too bad, either. Image via Business Insider.

Finely tuned and well-cared for. The bike’s not too bad, either. Image via Business Insider.

How can you be confident in your bike if you don’t know what to expect? Get to know your bike when it’s working well–immediately after a tune-up at the local bike shop would be nice. Learn how it looks, sounds and feels when it’s ship-shape: tires full of air, brakes aligned and squeal-free, chain lubricated and quiet. That way, as soon as something starts to look dirty, feel squishy or sound scrape-y, you know it’s worth paying attention to.

Confidence gained:
Knowing you can trust in your bike to get you where you need to be. Knowing which sounds/sights/feels are okay and which are warning signs.
Bonus confidence!
Being able to explain at least a little better what’s wrong at the bike shop.

6. Take a City Cycling class!

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Just a few of the folks who have gained confidence at a WABA class.

Confidence levels still a bit low? Come on out and join us at a City Cycling class! We’ll take you from zero to hero (or at least as far as you want to go in one 3-hour class). Every City Cycling class is divided into two tracks. The Intro track is for folks who want to practice the basics and bike handling, while the Confident track is for folks who want to dive into the thick of things on city streets. Both tracks will help you feel better about your riding and get the most out of your time on a bike.

Keep your eyes on our calendar; fall 2014 classes are coming soon. Or you can sign up here to be notified when new classes are available.

Confidence gained:
All of the above, and then some!

 

Women & Bicycles Tip: Your Helmet May Not Be Protecting You

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIThis is part of our Women & Bicycles blog series,  part of WABA’s initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes.  These posts aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming.
Click here to learn more and get involved.

We recommend and teach responsible, predictable, confident biking. We teach you to bike where you are most visible,  bike in visible clothing, and bike so that other road users can predict your behaviors.

We also teach that helmets are really your last line of defense on the road. So we definitely recommend them. But there’s a good chance your helmet isn’t protecting you at all, because so many people don’t know how to fit them properly.

If your helmet is not fit to your head properly, it’s not doing you any good.

 

Six Common Helmet-Fit Problems:

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Problem 1.)  You forget to buckle your helmet!
If it’s not buckled, it’s the same as wearing no
helmet at all.


Problem 2.) You have not adjusted the helmet clasps
(the plastic piece that joins the two straps on one side)
to fit below your ears. This woman’s helmet clasps are
nearly below her chin.


Problem 3.)You have not shortened the helmet straps
to sit snug around your face so that the buckle
sits securely below your chin. The straps should
be tight enough such that you can only fit two fingers
between your chin and the buckle.


Helmet 3Problem 4.) You’ve adjusted your helmet properly,
but you put it on backwards, a mistake countless
bicyclists in the D.C. area make every day.


Problem 5.) Your helmet straps are too loose,
so the brim of your helmet isn’t sitting level across
the top of your eyebrows.


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Problem 6.) Your helmet straps and clasps are too loose,
so the brim of  your helmet is not just above your eyebrows.
This woman’s helmet is sitting at the top of her forehead instead
of just above her eyebrows.  Her forehead would not be protected in a crash.


Perfect Helmet Fit Looks Like This:


The helmet is facing forward and buckled
The helmet clasps sit right below her ears
The helmet buckle is snug below her chin
The helmet brim is level and  just above her eyebrows

 

To make sure your helmet fits properly, click here to watch a tutorial by the League of American Bicyclists.

And please remember, just because you’ve strapped a helmet, doesn’t mean you’re any more safe on our roads. Fit your helmet properly and attend a WABA class to practice visible, predictable, and confident biking (classes are $10 and hosted throughout the region).

 

 

 

The Suitland Parkway, Now With 15% More Enjoyment!

Sometimes the best way to get to know a place is to roll up your sleeves, take a look around, and set to work making a small part of it better.  This weekend, an intrepid crew of volunteers joined our Trail Ranger team to do just that on the Suitland Parkway Trail. The aging trail –  stretching from the Maryland line to near the Anacostia Metro – certainly has its share of difficulties, but after Saturday’s efforts it has a little more spring in its step.

Beginning with a short ride from Yards Park near National’s Stadium to the trailhead, the group saw firsthand the somewhat odd route from the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to the trail alongside the Suitland  Parkway. Seeing it on a map is one thing.  Experiencing it from the ground level helps explain why the trail is underutilized.  The fact is, it can be hard to find.  The recently announced future trail connection will be a huge step forward for mobility on and around the parkway.

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A few super volunteers reclaiming pavement like pros

Once at the trailhead, our focus turned to improving the trail that we have today.  Armed with rakes and shovels, loppers and saws, our team dug back over 100 feet of trail edge from an eroding trailside, removed a quarter mile of overgrown branches, and cleared another quarter mile of trail debris, gravel, and trash.  Thanks to our volunteers the Suitland Parkway Trail is in better shape than it has been in months!

Next up: Come Celebrate the Marvin Gaye Trail!

On Sunday, July 27, join us for a community ride and trail cleanup on the Marvin Gaye Trail in NE DC.  Beginning with a relaxed ride through the quiet streets of Deanwood, Hillbrook and Lincoln Heights, we will take a spin through the Marvin Gaye Trail’s creekside greenery and playgrounds.  After a short break for lunch, we will finish the morning with a little trail work to keep the trail looking its best.  We hope you can join us!

Click here to sign up. and learn more.