DDOT’s Safe Accommodation Rules Are Pretty Good.

Construction blocking the M St Cycletrack

We’ll see less of this sort of thing in the future.
(photo by @mstbiketrack)

Last week, DDOT released its draft regulations for construction projects that block sidewalks and bike infrastructure. The regulations require:

“A safe and convenient route for pedestrians and bicyclists that ensures an accommodation through or around a work zone that is equal to the accommodation that was provided to pedestrians and bicyclists before the blockage of the sidewalk, bicycle lane, or other public bicycle path.”

These new rules are required by the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013, which WABA worked hard to pass.  By and large, they’re quite good.

You can read WABA’s official comments on the rules here, many of which are small but important wording changes, but here’s a short version:

Minimum Design Standards. The rules that apply to blocking car lanes have objective standards for things like lane width. As written, bicycle accommodation is only required to be “equal in level of safety” to the affected bicycle facility. We would like to see explicit, objective standards provided here.

More clarity about how the rules apply to trails.  Trails are technically included in the regulations as a “Public Bicycle Path,” but safely accommodating a blocked bike trail presents different challenges than a blocked bike lane. We’d like to see the language amended to state:

“The method for providing the safe trail accommodation for bicyclists shall require construction of a detour of similar width and character adjacent to the impacted trail, or as a last resort, detouring bicyclists onto the nearest roadway, in which case the detour shall replicate, as closely as practicable, the level of safety found on the bicycle route being blocked.”

Ongoing Maintenance: As written, the rules don’t explicitly require the construction company or whoever is blocking the bike infrastructure to maintain the temporary facility once it is built. We would like to see this requirement made explicit.

If you would like to add your own comments on these rules, you can do so here.

 

Five Reasons To Join the Treasure Hunt

On August 30, our Trail Ranger crew is bringing a treasure hunt to the shores of the Anacostia River. If you’re not swayed by promises of a lighthearted team competition wrapped in a bike adventure with cheeky pirate themes, here are the top five reasons to weigh anchor and pedal down to Diamond Teague Park next weekend.

5. There’s Real Treasure in DC’s Backyard!

OK, so truth be told, you won’t see any rubies or gold pieces, but you may be surprised by what your team digs up.  DC has no shortage of sweeping views, so you can expect plenty of those.  But just as exciting are the places where the trees take over and the city fades away.  Come find your new favorite hideaway.

4. The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is Amazing!

RiverWalk Ride

The eight mile loop is a pleasure to ride.  With sweeping bridges, easy connections to nearby streets and thriving wildlife, the trail is an attraction all on its own.  And it is only getting better!  Construction is underway on a 4.5 mile connection to Maryland’s Anacostia Tributary Trails, so expect a significant bump in trail users by Spring of 2016.  Quit waiting.

3. There are Boats of All Sizes

We hope not to see any naval battles, but there sure are a ton of ships to board like the Navy’s display ship Barry

Display Ship Barry
or this one

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2. Kids will have blast too!

Our younger, bike savvy explorers can expect a shorter, more directed route mapped out on a treasure map of their own.  Along the way, they’ll find some great views, shoeline riding, and a few surprises.

1. Treasure Maps, Clues, Exploration, Bikes and Prizes!

Bike rides with friends are fun.  Bike rides with friends with treasure maps and riddles are better.  Add costumes, prizes, a little bit of bushwhacking and prizes and you’ve got a real adventure!  Come join in the fun.

Weigh Anchor and Sign Up!

Chipotle sponsors WABA for another year!

Our riders love @chipotle! Thanks for the burritos!

WABA is very happy to announce that Chipotle to is our primary food sponsor in 2014! We’re extremely grateful to Chipotle for providing catering services and financial support for so many of our events throughout the year, including BikeFest and the 50 States Ride.

Marvin Gaye Trail Cleanup 7/14

And it’s not just the large-scale events! Chipotle liked the idea of  our Women and Bike meetups so much that they provided food for those too.
Thank You Chipotle!

Thank you Chipotle!

What’s a Bike Ambassador, and Should You Be One?

A Bike Ambassador helps pull a trailer down in SE DC

A Bike Ambassador helps pull a trailer down in SE DC

The Bike Ambassadors are a group of volunteers who ride around the city in bright red shirts and serve as a bicycling resource for the community. We tow around that bright green trailer emblazoned with helpful reminders, table at events to promote responsible cycling in the city, and spread positive messages about bicycling out on the city’s roads and trails.  Outreach is fun on its own, but we also get together for social gatherings from happy hours to coffee clubs and even book clubs.

Count me in!

If you want to make DC bicycling happier (and you like bright red t-shirts),  join the Bike Ambassador team!

The next orientation is tomorrow evening from 6:00-7:30 pm. No experience required! All you need is a love for biking.

Visiting the Anacostia River Walk during a recently sunny day in SE DC.

Visiting the Anacostia River Walk during a recently sunny day in SE DC.

Bike Ambassador social bike ride to Union Market.

Bike Ambassador social bike ride to Union Market.

Bike Ambassadors flag down an ice cream truck after a long ride.

Bike Ambassadors flag down an ice cream truck after a long ride.

Bike Ambassadors tackle the Pennsylvania Ave. Cycletrack.

Bike Ambassadors tackle the Pennsylvania Ave. Cycletrack.

An evening enjoying food from Indigo on K St. NE and discussing the book Triumph of the City.

An evening enjoying food from Indigo on K St. NE and discussing the book Triumph of the City.

Bike organization to watch: iCan Bike

In July I ventured to Arlington to see the iCan Bike camp, a program of iCan Shine, Inc., designed to teach students with disabilities a skill that Executive Director Lisa Ruby believes they’ll use for life: how to ride a two-wheeled bike.

In a gym, among volunteers running along students as they pedaled, Ruby told me a bit about the program.

Ruby’s team works with a total of 3,000 students with disabilities nationally. Camp participants are aged eight and up, and although 42 percent of them are on the autism spectrum and 26 percent have downs syndrome, the rest come with a wide range of disabilities.

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The camp uses adaptive bikes developed by University of Illinois mechanical engineer Richard Klein, who designed a set of rollers that attach to adapted bikes, facilitating balance while students gain confidence with pedaling and steering. As students progress, volunteers and site facilitators switch out the rollers for narrower and narrower versions, until the students are balancing on a roller the same width of a bike tire.

Klein's rollers, in order of decreasing size.

Klein’s rollers, in order of decreasing size.

Though iCan Shine’s bike camps are finished for the summer, volunteers are needed for next spring and summer’s programs. Want to get involved? Email Lisa Ruby at lisa@icanshine.org.

Ruby answered a few of my questions, below.

WABA: What happens after the students start balancing on two wheels in the gym?

Lisa Ruby: At that point we like to transition them to [biking outside], because there are more distractions and things going on — cars and wind blowing and birds singing and all of that stuff, and that’s where they’re going to be, so making that transition in a safe way is important.

WABA: Can you talk about what the kids who go through this program get out of it?

LR: For this population that we serve, if they’re not riding a bike, then their family is usually not riding a bike, because they can’t all go together. Somebody has to stay home, so [our program] really gets everybody active.

Especially for a child with a disability who has younger siblings who are riding bikes and they’re not, it blows their self-esteem. It’s just crushing. So when [our kids] learn to ride a bike and they can be just like everybody else, it changes everything for them. It’s not just, “I can ride a bike now.” It’s, “I can do anything I want to do.” It makes them so self-confident.

You know how it feels to ride a bike. It’s awesome – it’s just like, “I’m free, and I’m doing this. It’s me and only me.” And that’s awesome for someone with a disability.

WABA: There’s no maximum age limit on the program, right? What brings the older students to class?

LR: A lot of our teens and young adults come because they want independent transportation. They can’t get a driver’s license, but they want wheels, right? They have a job; they want to be able to get there and go see their friends and get around, and that’s important.

Also, a lot of our parents recognize when their children are young that they won’t be able to drive a car. So they know the value of learning to ride a bike early.

Founder and Executive Director Lisa Ruby stands with one of the bikes used for programming.

Founder and Executive Director Lisa Ruby stands with one of the bikes used for programming.

WABA: How did you get into this field?

LR: Very interesting. I spent years in corporate America, and I owned a business in Seattle for six years, and it allowed me to take some time off and volunteer. I was volunteering at a transitional school for homeless children, and I had this epiphany that I needed to be working for and with children and no one should be excluded.

I thought that meant United Nations, or Save the Children, and all those types of organizations were in Boston, New York City, or Washington, DC. I decided DC was going to be it for whatever reason, and my first week here I went to a neighborhood recreation center  looking for a place to work out. There was a big sign that said if you volunteer for adaptive aquatics you get to use the facility for free. So I did, and I was assigned a three year old boy with autism who had so many sensory issues he couldn’t even focus on me.  After working with him I was hooked — I did swimming, I did adaptive gymnastics, I worked for Fairfax County Parks and Rec for a while, and then I found this.

WABA: Why was starting a bike program more appealing than focusing on other sports?

LR: I had never seen anything, any sort of program where in less than six and a half hours somebody can learn a lifetime skill. Never even imagined something like this existed. So I quit my job and we started a non-profit and built the infrastructure, and now I have 28 staff in the summer and 82 camps, and we’re all across North America.

WABA: If I want to help out at iCan Shine, what can I do? 

LR: This is a good volunteering opportunity. We do have local camps for next summer — four in Maryland and three in Virginia DC area, and a spring break camp as well.  I think awareness is huge, just to let people know about it and get involved and help out.

 

 

 

Connect the 7th NW St Bike Lanes

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This guest post is written by Lauren Hayes, a WABA Member from Washington, DC. Have an advocacy issue you’d like to write about for our blog? Contact us at advocacy@waba.org.

One of my favorite parts of the day is my commute. Like many DC residents I save money, stay fit, and see the beauty of DC by riding my bike to work.

After years of riding in DC, I love seeing bike lanes expand across the city. As the bike network grows, though, the places where the connectivity fails begin to stand out. If you ride daily like me, then you can probably think of a few such spots. For me, it’s the bike lanes on 7th Street NW.

If you ride on 7th st NW (perhaps en route to Dacha for an outdoor beer or to the bike shop) then you are familiar with this odd stretch of lanes. The bike lanes start at Florida Ave and extend south to N St NW. At N St, despite no obvious change in the width of the road, the bike lanes end. Cyclists have to mix into car traffic to continue south.

Sign the Petition to Extend the 7th St. Bike Lanes

This gap in bike lane connectivity, just as 7th street intersects with two major diagonal streets (Massachusetts and New York) at Mt Vernon Square, makes for a nerve-wracking five blocks. And then, despite the ostensible bike/bus lane south of I St , the ride through Chinatown can feel pretty hairy too—that section is of often congested with out-of-towners and traffic between the National Mall, the Verizon Center and 395. Fortunately for me, at this point I arrive at work and can safely tuck my bike away until the evening commute back along this challenging route.

The frustrating part is that 7th Street (and many others around the city) should have bike lanes by now. According to the 2005 DC Bicycle Master Plan, these bike lanes lanes were supposed to be built between 2010 and 2015. We’ve got 4 months left until 2015 and there’s no sign of a  bike lane.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) should prioritize filling the gap on the 7th St bike lanes from N Street NW to Mount Vernon Square immediately. Currently, there are two northbound lanes and only one southbound. To install the lanes, DDOT will need to remove extra northbound lane and re-purpose the space. This project would not effect on-street parking.

Because of  growing pressure regionally to maintain car capacity, DDOT has slowed the pace of bike projects that re-purpose travel lanes.  DDOT planners are forced to jump over additional bureaucratic hurdles to move lane/road diet projects forward. Meanwhile, as excess car capacity is protected, local residents lose the ability to bike short trips on dedicated bike infrastructure.

After addressing this immediate gap, DDOT must address the dysfunctional bus/bike lanes in Chinatown. As currently configured, they do not work. Drivers use the lanes with impunity, causing bus delays leaving no dedicated space for people riding bikes.

You can get involved to help extend our bike lanes by signing the petition requesting DDOT to address the gap in the 7th Street bike lanes. Please share the link to the petition with your friends, co-workers and other fellow bike commuters. If you live in ANC 6E, please speak with your ANC Commissioner and express your support for extending the bike lanes.

Thank you for your help. I look forward to seeing you during the daily commute!

Sign the Petition to Extend the 7th St. Bike Lanes

Don’t Let MCDoT Eliminate Part of the Capital Crescent Trail


Updated 4:15pm.
We received the following email from Bruce Johnston at MCDOT informing us that the agency has suspended its request to MTA:

Good afternoon Shane,

As directed by Director Holmes, MCDOT staff has contacted MTA to suspend the previous orders to MTA to make changes to the Capital Crescent Trail configuration at Jones Mill Road.

Subsequent to the aforementioned order, additional engineering information has been provided to our staff, which is currently being reviewed by MCDOT engineers.

After our evaluation is complete, and before any further decision is made, the results of our evaluation will be vetted with the Capital Crescent Trail stakeholders, including the bicycling community.

Be assured that Washington Area Bicyclist Association will be involved.

I hope this information is helpful.

Bruce Johnston

 

Thank you to everyone who contacted the County Executive, T&E Committee, and MCDOT about this matter. And thank you to Bruce, Director Holmes, and MCDOT for reconsidering this decision.  We look forward to continuing to push for a safe, well-designed Capital Crescent Trail with grade separated crossings, as promised.


 

Original action alert below

After years of public input and agreement on the design for the future Capital Crescent trail, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) just moved unilaterally to eliminate the long-promised grade-separated crossing of busy Jones Mill Rd.

jonesMillwait

The grade separation makes the trail safer, and safety is vital to ensuring this heavily travelled trail remains a viable transportation option. Through thousands of hours of meetings on the future of the Capital Crescent Trail, County officials have promised safe crossings of major roadways that don’t leave bicyclists competing with cars or pressing “Walk” buttons and waiting for minutes.

But the County’s own transportation officials just sent a letter to the Maryland Transit Agency (MTA), requesting that the separation be removed from the request for proposals (RFP). Despite years of working together on this project, MCDOT did not notify the public. They did not hold a meeting. They did not mention this at a Council hearing. They did not send a note to representatives of the bicycling community. It is unclear whether they even communicated their intentions to the County Executive.

Frankly, they tried to sneak this past without any of us noticing.

We noticed. We noticed that at the first opportunity to save money by sacrificing trail safety, they attempted to do so in a manner that evades public scrutiny and reneges on years of promises.

We need you to take action today to tell the County Executive that we will not stand for such a downgrade to our prized trail, or for such misleading actions from our local transportation officials.

Our hope is that the County Executive’s office was as misled as we were, and that they will immediately, clearly, and unambiguously tell MTA that the County is NOT seeking an amendment to the Purple Line RFP to eliminate the grade-separated crossing at Jones Mill Road.

With years of work still ahead to complete the trail as promised, we cannot stand for a precedent of closed-door decisions that remove, or compromise, long-promised trail improvements.

For an in-depth engineering perspective on why a grade separated crossing is both doable and the best option. check out this post at Silver Spring Trails

For WABA’s position on the Purple Line project, have a look at this post.

200 Bikes Repaired at Anacostia Library: Thanks DCPL, The Bike House

It’s been a busy summer, but on the final Saturday of July the Anacostia Library hosted the final mobile bike repair clinic of the season, and we’re pleased to report over fifty bikes were repaired. That brings our season total to over 200  bikes repaired through this season’s partnership among DCPL, The Bike House, and WABA.

It has been a great season of outreach and wrenching, and we want to again express our appreciation to The Bike House for providing mechanical support and DCPL for hosting and assisting with the cost of supplies.

Throughout the season we were also joined by representatives of Capitol Hill Bikes, the Metropolitan Police Department, and numerous community groups.  We appreciate the support of the community as we try to provide programming of this sort to encourage ridership in a part of the city lacking easy access to local bike shops and the supplies and expertise we rely on to keep rolling.

Thanks to everyone who came out this season to volunteer, wrench, flyer, celebrate, and have your bike repaired.

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Monday Morning Outreach—Changing Bike Behavior One Intersection At A Time

Sharply dressed man respectfully rides down the sidewalk of 16th Street NW

Sharply dressed man respectfully rides down the sidewalk of 16th Street NW

16th Street is one of the scarier roads to bike down in the city. Regardless, it doesn’t stop hundreds of commuters from taking the popular route to downtown. It warms my heart to see a steady stream of bicyclists riding down the street with helmets that fit, stopping for red lights, and yielding to pedestrians. On the other hand, it is perfectly legal to ride on the sidewalk anywhere in the city (excluding the Central Business District). Bike Ambassadors were out on Monday morning asking bicyclists who using the sidewalk to bike politely and respectively. Guess what, bicyclists were respectful! The jury is still out on whether our signs and encouragement did the trick, but lets just say it didn’t hurt!

Upcoming Events

  • Thursday August 14 6 pm at the WABA Headquarter 2599 Ontario Rd – Kitty Litter Pannier Workshop. Learn how to make your own Kitty Litter Pannier to haul large amounts of groceries by bike. Sign up here.
  • Saturday August 16 Bike Ambassadors visit the Ward 8 Farmers Market. We will be promoting a Kitty Litter Pannier give away while passing out handy bike maps and law guides.

Calling All Treasure Hunters!

Do you have an affinity for nautical themes, bicycles, and vague maps of geographical forms? Do you like exploration, friendly competition and prizes? If so, grab a friend, a bicycle and strap on your skull and crossbones helmet for the first ever Anacostia River Treasure Hunt!

At 10: am on Saturday, August 30th, set sail for the shores of the Anacostia River at Diamond Teague Park for a spirited hunt for all the treasures our city’s other great river has to offer. in days of olde, treasure hunters crossed the seas and beat back jungles in search of precious metals and plunder. Today, we’ll compete for points, earned by following clues, discovering lesser known attractions, and clearing some jungles too! Armed with a treasure map, a sense of adventure and a Twitter handle, your team will take on the competition for points, prizes, and glory.

Hunt Details

Each team will receive a treasure map and a broad list of clues to “Trail Treasures” and challenges scattered up and down the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Since the mark of a true privateer is the right balance of braggery, skill, and wit, teams will collect points by tweeting and instagramming photos featuring their team’s  hunting talents.  With limited time, will your team seek out the large payoffs of tricky and distant treasures or aim for the easy return on simpler clues? Good treasure hunters always have a keen mind for strategy!

Teams that collect the most points or show great creativity will be showered with prizes and glory. The rest will walk away with an album full of reasons to come back for more adventure by bike, kayak, roller skate, or picnic blanket.

Registration is free and open to all. Teams including bike savvy kids are welcome too! We’ll have a shorter, kid friendly map and clue sheet so aspiring treasure hunters can join in the fun.

Treasures Worth Hunting

While the Anacostia has never been a place for precious metals, it is littered with treasures of another kind! These are the sweeping views, riverside hideaways, feats of engineering and pieces of history that make the Anacostia impressive. They are those uplifting scenes of a river alive with wildlife and abuzz with people. They are boathouses, roller rinks and aquariums right in DC’s back yard!  We hope you’ll join us!

Weigh Anchor, Register Now!