Archive for October, 2010
A few months ago, one of our favorite bike-themed t-shirt makers–Pedal Pushers Club–announced they were making the move down to DC, and somewhere in the back of our collective mind a light bulb went off. “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship” we thought to ourselves. And lo and behold, today Brett from PPC waltzed into WABA HQ with an armful of these fantastic new Ride DC shirts.
These things are gorgeous! And if you’re anything like us, you’ve got to get your hands on one. Well, here’s the kicker: 20% of every Ride DC shirt sold from the Pedal Pushers website goes straight to WABA. This is big. A partnership of this magnitude doesn’t happen every day, and here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor, and the best part is, you can even look good doing it!
So what are you waiting for? Click on over and get one for yourself.
With CaBies continually moving throughout the District and Arlington, the Capital Bikeshare system is generating loads of information. Developers at Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis is a (CASA) at University College London have programmed a website which streams live data from the last 48 hours of CaBi use. The site displays where bikes are docked, how many bike are currently in use, each station’s usage over the last 48 hours and much more. In addition, the site allows you to switch to other cities such as Paris, Montral, Denver, Minneapolis and others. Enjoy watching the bikes move around — or better yet — go ride one!
View the site: http://oobrien.com/vis/bikes/?city=washingtondc
Whether you get caught in a sudden downpour or you put on your waterproof gear with a smile, eventually we all end up riding in the rain. It’s not all bad, a pleasant summer shower can be quite refreshing after all, but a few practical riding tips will make sure that you end up at your destination damp but happy.
If you’ve driven a car in the rain, you know that the roads are very different when they’re wet, and with bicycles, the situation is pretty similar. Here’s what to do when you’re riding in the rain:
- Go slow – Wet tires + wet pavement + wet brakes = much less stopping power. The slower you’re moving, the faster you’ll stop when you have to.
- Feather your brakes – When you know you’ll be stopping soon (at all red lights and stop signs, of course), take a moment to tap your brakes lightly a few times to dry off the surface of your brake pads.
- Light it up – Visibility is reduced in the rain, so use extra lights, reflective material and bright clothing. Cars can only avoid you if they can see you.
- Take the lane – When you control the lane, you make sure that you are visible and like we just said, visibility should be one of your priorities.
- Traction control – Road paint and metal are very slippery when wet, so try to keep clear of manhole covers, grates and crosswalk paint, especially while braking and/or turning.
- Wait it out – If you’re at all unsure of riding in the rain, find a cozy cafe somewhere and wait it out. You can always put your bike on the bus or metro, too. (See Metro’s rules about bikes here)
- Be prepared – A small investment in the right gear now can save you some rain-soaked misery later. Check out the gear tips below.
First, of all, whenever you suspect that your future may be wet, pack along a good waterproof rain shell just in case. This one, from REI, is designed to fold up extra small so you can stow it in a backpack, purse or saddle bag.
Next, think about investing in a set of fenders. Not only will the rear fender prevent the dreaded “skunk stripe” of dirty water up your back, but the front fender will help keep your shoes dry. Which brings us to…
Good, waterproof cycling shoes. They do exist, but for most people who don’t ride in the rain regularly, they’re on the expensive side. Instead, you can do what our Bike Ambassador does: pack a pair of light shoes and some warm socks in a waterproof bag and just let your feet get wet, then change when you arrive.
Tip-within-a-tip: After you remove those wet shoes, stuff them with crumpled up newspaper and stick ‘em near a radiator. By the time the workday is over, the newspaper will have sucked the moisture out of them and they’ll be dry and ready to get soaked all over again.
With a little bit of thought and preparation, riding in the rain can actually be fun! Enjoy the ride out there.
We’re always telling cyclists — even experienced ones — how much they can benefit from one of WABA’s Confident City Cycling (CCC) classes. Here’s a quick recap of a class from someone who took the CCC1 and she agrees.
The class worked. I do feel more confident! I rode home after the class, in the dark, up a long a** hill and it feel great once I made it up and home.
WABA teaches classes for all levels, from basic “Learn to Ride” classes to lunchtime commuter seminars to a full series of Confident City Cycling and advanced skills courses. You can find a listing of all our educational offerings online here.
We hope to see you soon.
Together with WABA’s bicycle parking program coordinator, District Dept. of Transportation crews installed new on-street bike parking corrals in five locations in northwest Washington, DC. On-street bicycle parking is new to the DC region–the first corral was placed in front of the WABA office last Spring. We worked closely with Georgetown BID to install three of the five in that neighborhood, where relatively narrow sidewalks combine with lots of pedestrians to make parking a bike on the sidewalk difficult at best. Now, at M St and Thomas Jefferson, Prospect St and Potomac St, and on K St right in front of the movie theater, cyclists can park safely out of the way on the street. For local business owners, on-street bike parking makes sense too. They can fit 8 potential customers into the space previously reserved for one car, while their business becomes known as one that supports bicycles as effective transportation.
Two more on street bike parking corrals were installed at the bike-friendly corner of 11th St. and Park Rd NW, one in front of Redrocks Pizzeria, and the other in front of Meridian Pint. Given the number of bikes we used to see locked to the fences nearby, we’re sure these two new racks will be filled up in no time!
Tomorrow, October 6th, is International Walk and Bike to School Day. Thousands of schoolchildren in Maryland, DC and Virginia will be gathering in parks, school yards and cul-de-sacs and then walking or biking to school. In the District of Columbia, 13 schools are hosting events. They include: Payne Elementary, Tyler Elementary, Watkins Elementary, Whittier Elementary, Peabody Early Learning Center, Maury Elementary, EL Haynes PCS, Brent Elementary, Janney Elementary, Eaton Elementary, Kimball Elementary, Leckie Elementary, Stuart Hobson Middle School and the Lowell School. WABA has supported all of these schools with Safe Walking and Biking classes and bike rodeos to encourage more children to walk or bike to school.
In an era where childhood obesity has become a national epidemic, WABA has embraced and promoted the Safe Routes to School Program as a very effective tool in what should be an arsenal to combat this troubling trend. DDOT has won federal funds to repair or install sidewalks, install traffic calming measures, paint crosswalks, and make many other hardscape improvements to make the roads and sidewalks around schools much safer for children to walk. WABA’s role includes the encouragement and education portion of Safe Routes and we’ve been a proud partner with DDOT since the inception of the Safe Routes to School program. With Safe Routes to School in place, WABA hopes that children and adults will view walking and biking as a lifelong healthy habit.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Along with our website overhaul and creation of the WABA Forums, WABA has created a forum just for women’s cycling issues. This is not to suggest that women are unwelcome on any other part of the forum. But I do think there are certain issues that female cyclists deal with that male cyclists do not necessarily face in the same manner, and female cyclists should have a place to discuss these issues. Admittedly, I’m generalizing here (having only experienced the male side of that equation). But I do know from being married to a female cyclist that there are differences. From certain types of harassment while riding to equipment design and clothing, there are some challenges of biking that are gender-specific, and we wanted to provide a place for those. So if you’re interested in the age-old question “Why do they put a seat with a man’s-anatomy-placed-cutout on a step-through bike marketed to women?” you now have a place to ask it.
We want to make cycling accessible to everyone, and we’re not the only ones working to ensure that women are welcomed in the cycling community. We want to make this forum a place for our local bike shops to tout their offerings for women as well.
And if you’re wondering, our most recent numbers show that roughly 30% of our members and 40% of our Facebook users are female. So we know that there are committed, experienced female cyclists among our ranks with knowledge to share.
So please take a minute to visit the Woman’s Forum, introduce yourself, and let your fellow users know what resources you have to offer, or what questions you’d like addressed.
(To get things started, the first topic is from WABA’s own Chantal Buchser. The next topic includes information from Angela at Revolution Cycles and from Erik from BicycleSPACE. I know that they are both focused on engaging more female cyclists and providing the programming and merchandising to do so, so I emailed each of them asking what they were working on. Rather than trying to fold their responses into the blog, I’ve posted them directly into the forum.)