Archive for October 4th, 2010
When we first heard of Jon Stewart’s plans for a “Rally to Restore Sanity” in Washington, DC, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek letter to The Daily Show offering a bike valet during the event and re-posted it on Facebook. In addition to a great deal of support for the idea from our friends, we’ve gotten a fair number of questions about valets and about bike parking in general. (What we haven’t gotten is any response from the event organizers–but we’re still hopeful.)
But I wanted to take this opportunity to explain WABA’s bike parking efforts and how they fit into our overall mission:
First and foremost, we want people on bikes. And we do everything we can to eliminate barriers or impediments to cycling. Sometimes that includes advocacy campaigns for better street design. Sometimes it means fighting for stronger enforcement of safety laws. But in some cases, it just means giving people a safe place to put their bikes once they get where they’re going.
For large events expected to draw a substantial number of cyclists to the same space, we host bike valets. Essentially, a bike valet is a cordoned-off area with sturdy, portable racks. You show up, hand the bike to the valet staff or volunteer, sign your name and cell number, and we watch your bike for the duration of the event. You don’t need a lock, you don’t need to compete for rack space, and you know someone is keeping an eye on your bike.
For us, valets are a rather significant logistical undertaking involving moving many racks (usually by bike), setting up fencing, organizing check-in and check-out, and ensuring staff and volunteer coverage for the entire event. (Most folks who try to do it themselves once decide to let us handle it the next time.) But for you, it’s meant to make arriving by bike easier than any other mode of transportation by taking away the parking-related stress entirely.
Our costs for providing valets are generally covered by the event organizer and any profit goes to fund WABA’s advocacy and educational activities. So one way to help WABA as an organization is to ask event organizers to include WABA valets. And where there is a valet, please use it.
More recently, WABA has begun a program, in partnership with DDOT, of installing bike racks in the District. At the outset, we are focused on installing racks in locations where they have already been requested through DDOT. But we soon hope to be able to provide secure rack installation as a fee-for-service program, with all proceeds again going to fund advocacy and education. Our partners at Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling have also submitted an application for grant funds to allow them to install a limited number of racks in Fairfax County, VA. So we are hopeful that our capacity to install permanent racks in response to user demand will grow rapidly with the support of property owners and local jurisdictions.
Bike Parking Expertise:
If you have questions about bike parking, need advice on how to configure your setup, or want feedback from a guy who has researched the options, managed the parking of thousands of bikes, and locked his own bike to nearly every type of rack/sign/and possibly tree in the District, please contact our Bike Parking Program Coordinator, Danny Koniowsky, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Numerous cities, counties, states, and regions throughout the country have taken a stand to state formally that their transportation dollars should be spent in a manner that serves communities as a whole, accounts for the needs of all, and does not advantage one mode of travel to the detriment of others. The District has not.
These Complete Streets policies are varied in their nature and legal authority, but all share the common goal of enabling safe access and operation for all users. That means appropriate accommodation of our children, our elderly, our disabled neighbors, our cyclists and pedestrians, as well as our motorists.
Despite its world-class Metro system, its renowned L’Enfant streetgrid, its forward-thinking transportation leadership, the District of Columbia has no such policy. In the District, there is no law, rule, or even publicly stated commitment to ensuring that our roadways and streetscapes—our most basic public spaces—serve all users.
Maryland has a Complete Streets policy statement. Virginia has a Department of Transportation policy. Yet, the closest thing to such a commitment from the District is the statement from DDOT’s 2010 Action Agenda that the agency would: “Adopt an implementable Complete Streets policy to provide safe accommodation for all modes on all streets.”
To date, this action remains unfulfilled. And as new leadership comes to the District and we continue in our daily travels to see dangerous intersections, near-misses, and disconnected sidewalks and bike lanes, we need to show DDOT and the District’s leadership that while we appreciate the individual projects and upgrades, we believe this holistic change in approach is important and that public space should be serve the entire public—not just motorists or just cyclists or just the able-bodied. Everyone.
That is why we at WABA are launching a campaign for Complete Streets in DC, and we want your support from the outset. Below, you will find a link to a petition supporting Complete Streets in DC. This is an initial petition that we intend to use to show elected officials in DC the level of support for such a policy, as we know that there is some resistance. But, we believe that is because our elected officials have not yet understood the importance of this policy to the 600,000 residents of the District and the many more who travel our streets daily.
If you drive, walk, bike, or use public transit in the District, a robust Complete Streets policy impacts you by ensuring that the various travel modes in competition for space can be tempered with design that accommodates all and encourages systemic cooperation.
Please take a moment to sign the petition, and please help us to circulate it to as many users of District streets as possible. While WABA is willing to start the movement, this is not just a bike issue. We need the support of advocates for transportation improvements, urbanism, public safety, public space, and safety for the young, the old, and the disabled.
Complete Streets benefit all. Join the campaign and help us by signing and circulating the online petition.