Introducing Foursquare ITP, A WABA 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 sustainable future of our region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today, meet Foursquare ITP.

Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning (Foursquare ITP) is a transportation planning firm specializing in transit planning, regional long-range transportation planning, transportation demand management, bicycle and pedestrian planning, strategic planning, and the nexus between land use, economic development, and transportation. Located out of Rockville, Maryland they focus on station area planning, operations planning, alternatives analysis, bus transit priority studies, and transit development plans.

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Foursquare ITP Staff at their annual retreat

Foursquare ITP has worked with many local municipalities in their transportation planning and design. Foursquare ITP incorporates bicycle and pedestrian access needs into all of their transit planning work. They are currently conducting a mid-range strategic growth plan for bike sharing, the first of its kind in the nation, that incorporates usage of bike sharing and potential for growth based on a variety of factors, including the connection with bike facilities and other forms of transit. Foursquare ITP became a business member after Toole Design Group (another local design firm) became a business member and challenged other firms to support WABA. We are proud to call Foursquare ITP 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.

Bike With Your Children This Fall

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.

Last week we partnered with Kidical Mass DC organizer Megan Odett to host a Family Bike Workshop at the Georgetown Neighborhood Library.

Families from around the region joined us to glean Megan’s expertise on family biking equipment, safety, weather, and the most important: snacking & napping strategies! And conveniently, there were blocks and books galore in the library’s nearby children’s room.

Tuffo Muddy BuddyOf all the tips and skills shared, a salient concern stuck out: how do I keep my children warm and dry?

You can protect your children from wind and moisture using a DIY canopy, or covered trailer, or fancy cargo bike with built-in canopy (click here for ideas).  And obviously, clothing matters. Megan’s rule of thumb? Dress her children as if it’s ten degrees colder then it really is outside.

She raved about the Tuffo Muddy Buddy, a $36 rain/snow/mudpuddle/fountain suit. It ranges in sizes from 12 month olds to 5 year olds and lightweight packability allow you to stow it away in your bag until you need it.

Want to learn more about biking with your children? Come to our City Cycling Class for parents and kids this weekend and click here to join Kidical Mass DC’s mailing list.

There are now FIVE Kidical Mass groups in the region. Join the fun! 

 

 

 

Thank you for riding with WABA

Last weekend, the annual 50 States & 13 Colonies Ride, WABA’s signature community ride event of the year, took place. Hundreds of cyclists braved the threat of rain and joined us for an adventurous (and some would say grueling) tour of all 50 state-named streets within the District or a downtown exploration of the 13 streets named after the original colonies.

Check out the ride in photographs below, and we hope you will join us in 2015 for next year’s 50 States Ride. You can also check out all of our 50 States photos on Flickr and if YOU took any photos yourself, we encourage you to share them with us by adding them to the WABA Flickr pool.

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And a  BIG BICYCLE THANK YOU to all of our sponsors who made the 2014 50 States & 13 Colonies Ride possible:

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Coffee nature logo   PetMAC logo  MellowMushroom

DMWjpeg logo2013 50 states kind snacks logo   GiantTheBikeHousebicyclespace

citybikes_logo_bluegrnd         Progold

District Bicyclist Killed in Weekend Hit-and-Run

As you may have heard over the weekend, local resident Tonya Reeves was killed in a hit-and-run crash while bicycling near 8th and S Streets, Northwest.  This is the first time a bicyclist has been killed by a driver in the District since May of 2013. Police are investigating.

We don’t know what happened yet and will allow the police to continue their work without jumping to conclusions about unknown events. But regardless of the details of this tragedy, two things are known to be true:

  1. Whatever events took place, being involved in a crash that takes someone’s life and simply driving away shows a disregard for human life, rule of law, and public safety that is beyond the pale. Hit-and-run is unacceptable.
  2. This saddening end to a life is a stark reminder that we must recommit to a true, regional Vision Zero policy and program that brings traffic engineering and law enforcement together with tools and training to respond swiftly and appropriately to a tragic incident like this one, as part of an ongoing effort to learn difficult lessons necessary to bring accountability and improve our public safety.

While we have not yet been contacted by friends or family of the deceased, we hold them in our thoughts and offer what support we can as part of the larger community. And we welcome them to be in touch if we can assist more directly.

Tell Fairfax County to Adopt the Bike Master Plan

Fairfax County currently does not have a bike master plan. And that’s not good.

The proposed Bike Master Plan contains recommendations for developing a comprehensive bicycle network. It also includes guidelines for bike-friendly programs and policies. The plan vision is “Meeting the safety, access, and mobility needs of bicyclists today, while encouraging more people to bicycle in the future…making Fairfax County bicycle friendly and bicycle safe.” Without a master plan, Fairfax County Department of Transportation has fallen behind in implementing bicycling improvements.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the county’s Bicycle Master Plan (Phase II) on Wednesday, October 1 at 8:15 p.m. There needs to be a strong showing by residents who support the plan. Please consider attending the public hearing to show your support for the plan.

Details about the October 1st hearing can be found online here. You can sign up to testify at the Planning Commission using this form. The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on October 28. Look for another WABA email alert prior to that hearing.

We are also asking cyclists to sign the FABB Bicycle Master Plan petition urging the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to approve the plan.

This petition is from the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling, a sponsored project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Introducing Bikes to Borrow LLC, 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 Bikes to Borrow

Bikes to Borrow started in 2006 when a bike shop employee saw a need for bike rentals in the District. While Capital Bikeshare was and is a great option for many, some riders wanted other bikes to choose from while visiting the area. Bikes to Borrow stocks hybrid, road, children’s models, and even cargo bikes and trailers for families with little children. They also offer rentals of an action camera! They recently started making their deliveries using an electric vehicle as well.

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Bikes to Borrow electric vehicle delivery

Bikes to Borrow is committed to increasing cycling in our area. They have blogged about local and national advocacy and continue to support local bike infrastructure and bike shops. We are proud to call Bikes to Borrow a WABA 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.

10 Questions about Contributory Negligence, answered

The Council of the District of Columbia is considering legislation to exempt bicyclists and pedestrians from the contributory negligence standard. Last week, we wrote about the proposed legislation and the upcoming hearing on September 29th. Since then, we’ve received a number of questions about what the proposed law would do. Below, you’ll find our answers for the most common questions we’ve encountered.

But first, here is a reminder about the upcoming hearing:

DC Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety Hearing
September 29th, 2014 at 12:30 pm
Wilson Building, Room 500
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20004
View the hearing notice (PDF)
Please email Nicole Goines or call 202-724-7808 to sign up to testify.

We are hosting a conference call on Sept. 23rd at 7pm to answer questions about testifying on this issue. Email advocacy@waba.org if you’d like to join the call.

What is being proposed in this bill?

The Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014 (bill and legislative history) exempts physically vulnerable roadways users (bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair users) from the doctrine of contributory negligence, which holds that no one who is deemed at fault in any way for a crash can recover any damages after a crash.

Under current law, what happens after a crash?

Generally, after a crash between a bicyclist and a motorist, there is an injured bicyclist and an uninjured motorist. So the cyclist often will seek compensation for injuries from the motorist and the motorist’s insurer. If everyone involved agrees that the cyclist behaved perfectly and the driver was completely at fault, the cyclist will be able to recover compensation. Unfortunately, such agreement is rare.  If the cyclist was at fault to any degree, or if the insurer or a police officer believes the cyclist was at fault through misunderstanding or misapplying the law, the cyclist will not be able to recover compensation for injuries suffered in the crash. This is true even if the crash was 1% the cyclist’s fault, 99% the motorist’s fault, and all of the injuries were suffered by the cyclist.

How will this change under the proposed bill?

Crashes between motorists and vulnerable road users will be governed by a form of comparative negligence in which each party is able to recover for the other party’s negligence, but not from his or her own.

For example: a motorist exiting her vehicle at night opens her driver’s side door into the bike lane, striking a cyclist who had no light at night. The motorist’s door is not damaged and the motorist is unharmed, but the cyclist suffers a broken arm from the fall and ends up with $1000 in medical bills.

Under the present contributory negligence standard, the cyclist’s failure to have a light would prevent all recovery of damages. even though the motorist broke the law by opening her door into traffic.

Under the new bill, the decision-maker (whether judge, jury, or insurance adjuster) would have to determine the proportionate fault of the parties and determine the damages accordingly. So, if the decision-maker finds that the unlawful opening of the door into the bike lane without looking was 75% responsible for the injury and the failure to have a light was 25% responsible for the injury, the injured cyclists could recover 75% of her damages, or $750–for the portion that was the motorist’s fault.

Contributory negligence applies to all sorts of situations. Does the proposed law change the standard for all cases?

The proposed law creates an exemption from contributory negligence only for vulnerable road users in crashes with motor vehicles.

Have other states changed their negligence standard?

Forty-five states, and the federal court system have adopted comparative negligence as a basis for apportioning fault between parties in tort suits.

How many states still retain the contributory negligence standard?

Currently, just four states (including both Maryland and Virginia) and the District of Columbia continue to use contributory negligence as a bar to recovery and access to courts.

Is there any precedent in current law for an exemption such as the one being proposed?

Yes, current District of Columbia law extends additional legal protection of comparative negligence to railroad workers.

If I’m following traffic laws to the best of my abilities and I am involved in a crash, could I still have my medical bills and damages reduced or totally denied?

Yes. Poor descriptions in accident reports, wrongly issued tickets, and misunderstandings or misapplication of bicycling laws can result in insurance companies denying claims for medical expenses.

Who benefits from this bill becoming law?

Vulnerable road users and motorists alike benefit from the equitable distribution of damages resulting from a collision. Comparative negligence facilitates the recovery of medical expenses or repair costs without long and costly litigation or arbitration. The apportionment of damages creates a limit on the amount of damages which can be recovered. The amount of recovery is ascertainable by looking at the extent of the damage and the percentage of each party’s fault. This is more predictable than jury awards and less harsh than the all or nothing system under contributory negligence.

So who loses if this bill becomes law?

Insurance companies, who presently are not required to pay for the negligence of their insured if the other party is negligent (to any degree). Contributory negligence is not an economically efficient or fair method for determining compensation after crashes because it leaves injured parties who were not primarily responsible for their injuries uncompensated and allows the insurers of the primarily negligent party to avoid compensating the injured.

 

If you have further questions about this proposed legislation and its effects, please email advocacy@waba.org

 

Tour the Unbuilt Met Branch Trail’s 2nd Phase

Next Saturday, September 20th, come take a walk with WABA’s trail advocates on the planned but unbuilt route of the Metropolitan Branch Trail in NE DC.  The existing and interim 8.5 mile trail from Union Station to Silver Spring Is already a hub for neighborhood recreation and a major commuter route, drawing bicyclists from Silver Spring and beyond.  But the unbuilt second phase, between Fort Totten and Takoma, remains a significant gap in the trail network.  Join us Saturday at 1 pm to see where the trail will go, what it will look like, and what stands between the interim route we have today and the seamless trail of tomorrow.

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Met Branch Trail Phase two in blue. Click for a larger map.

One of the most common questions we get these days is “When will the Met Branch Trail be finished?”  The simplest answer is that while projects of this magnitude take time, progress is being made.

The Met Branch Trail that we have today is the result of over twenty five years of steadfast effort from committed residents, advocates, and planners through a lengthy public process.  Construction, too, spread for over a decade with early segments opening as early as 2004 (Michigan Ave to Ft. Totten Drive) and as recently as August of 2013 (Monroe St. to the Brookland Metro).

Today the trail boasts 4.2 off-street miles stretching from Union Station to Fort Totten Park and a short span in Montgomery County.  This spring, the District added a half a mile protected bike lane through NoMa as an additional southern option, and in the coming fall and winter, a connection to Florida Ave NE and a bridge to the the Rhode Island Metro are expected to open.

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Breakdown of what is built, under construction, in design, and yet to come

While there is plenty of progress to celebrate and enjoy (thousands of MBT users do each month), there remains a substantial gap in the trail between Fort Totten and the District line.  And though the interim on street route offers mostly quiet streets, it is no substitute for a fully separated trail.  In July, we received the exciting news of small steps toward design of this large missing link.  This Saturday, we invite you to join us for a block by block tour of the trail’s proposed route, design challenges, and next steps.

Sign up here


This tour is the first of three trail tours this fall.  Join us in October for a look at two other crucial trail priorities and a glimpse of what the region’s trail network could become.  This tour series is made possible thanks to REI.

September 20 – Unbuilt Met Branch Trail Walking Tour

October 4 – Southeast DC’s Unbuilt Trails Bike Tour

October 11 – Washington Annapolis & Baltimore Trail Bike Tour

Meet the 2014 class of WABA instructors

We’re fortunate to have 16 excellent instructor candidates in our 2014 certification class. This weekend we had them all in one place for the first part of their training — a Traffic Skills 101 class.

Meet them in the photos below, and wish them luck in the next phase of the program, a three day seminar in October. Once they are fully trained, they’ll be teaching WABA classes and leading rides in the spring!

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