Looking for a fun ride? Try the Marvin Gaye Trail

Marvin Gaye Trail Ride

Live anywhere long enough, and sticky habits will develop.  We end up at the same grocery stores, weekend hangouts, and parks.  One morning’s commute can look just like the rest, and even a fun bike ride can look a little too familiar.  We all need to branch out once in a while, so this weekend, our Trail Rangers lead a small community bike ride along the Watts Branch creek on the Marvin Gaye Trail.Hard at work

Starting in Lady Bird Johnson Meadow, near the Minnesota Ave. Metro, we took a relaxed ride along the trail and through the nearby neighborhoods of Deanwood, Lincoln Heights, and Hillbrook towards DC’s Eastern corner.  Along the way, we passed a few historical landmarks just blocks from the trail, enjoyed a few hilltop views, and even found the easternmost boundary stone where Eastern Ave. meets Southern Ave just two blocks from the end of the trail.

Some of the Marvin Gaye trail’s most enticing features are the tree canopy, restored creek beds, and green space it pases through.  Around every corner we found perfect spots for a picnic.  It takes constant work, though, to keep all that green in check, so  we put on some gloves and grabbed our tools following the ride.  With some sweeping here and trimming there, the trail is looking great!

Relaxed riding and trail work are even better when followed by Chipotle!  Thanks Chipotle!

Relaxed riding and trail work are even better when followed by Chipotle! Thanks Chipotle!

Every bike ride is better when followed by a hearty lunch, and thanks to our friends at Chipotle Mexican Grill,  everyone who came on the ride and helped out with the cleanup enjoyed a burrito when we finished.  Thanks Chipotle!

If you missed out on Sunday’s ride, but want to try it yourself, here is a map of some of the spots of current and historical significance.  We’ll be back for another community ride in a few weeks too!  Need convincing, check out some photos.

Two (more) ways to be confident on your bike

A couple of weeks ago, we brought you a few bike tips to practice on your own, straight from our City Cycling class curriculum.

This is part two – skills you can practice to get out of a dangerous situation if you ever need to. We teach them at the advanced section of our City Cycling class, called Confident City Cycling.

Come to a class to get tips from our instructors. In the meantime practice these moves on your way  to work, en route to the grocery store, heading to the block party, etc.

They’re fun and simple once you get the hang of them, but if they don’t come naturally at first – hang in there! Some of these maneuvers are counter intuitive, and they take time to get used to.

1. The quick stop. 

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This maneuver involves shifting your weight backward, which will make you stop faster. When we press both brake levers to stop, our weight naturally shifts forward. However, the more weight we apply to the rear wheel, the faster it will come to a controlled stop without skidding.

So, you’re coming to a stop sign.

A. Make sure your pedals are level:

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B. Take your butt off your seat and shift backward, toward the rear wheel (this is the part that might feel dangerous or destabilizing at first). Once you get more comfortable with parting ways with the seat, you can even try to shift your weight far enough back so that your stomach is resting on your seat.

At first it might feel like this:

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Scary, strange, but empowering, no? (Image via)

But it should look something like this:

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No speed suit required.

More importantly, see how our model’s stomach is resting on his seat, and his weight is shifted toward the rear wheel?

This will give you more stability and stopping power, whether you’re on your way to an important job interview or heading out with friends.

Best place to practice the quick stop: I like to try my hand at the weight shift on streets with lots of stop signs. For instance, 11th Street in Northwest DC is a good road to try superwoman moves on the fly.

2. The Rock Dodge

The rock dodge is exactly what it sounds like: a technique to dodge small objects that could jolt you unpleasantly, or even cause a flat tire or a crash.

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Practice quickly flicking your handlebars to the left, which will cause your body to lean to the right and bring your front wheel safely around the dangerous object. Your rear wheel should snake around the other side of the object, avoiding it entirely.

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Rock: Dodged. You: Not going to be late for an important date.

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Best place to practice the rock dodge: Plenty of streets in the DC region have lots of potholes worthy of a dodge – let us know if you find one that’s worthy of an award.

Look for more tips to be confident on your bike in this series, or come to a City Cycling class to get our take on these techniques. We’ll return with a full slate of fall classes in late August.

 

Introducing VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative, 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 VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative

VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative is a do-it-yourself bicycle workshop and educational space in Alexandria, VA. Their mission is to educate, encourage, and empower a vibrant and inclusive cycling community through learning. They provide a non-profit, volunteer-run, educational do-it-yourself workshop offering training, rides, and events to empower all levels of cyclists in building, maintaining, and embracing the fun of bicycles. There are community rides and courses to help every level of cyclist learn more.

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Christian Meyers of VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative.

VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative depends on a large group of volunteers who spend time helping customers repairing their own bikes. The shop also sells used bikes, parts, and clothing. The shop has hosted Women & Bicycles workshops at the shop in the past. We are happy to count VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative 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.

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

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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]?