Providing Expanded Bicycle Outreach East of the Anacostia

As the spring riding season approaches, WABA is working to expand its offerings in underserved communities within our region–starting with DC’s Wards 7 and 8.  With major changes coming to the ward, from the South Capitol Street Trail and bridge to St. Elizabeth’s to Poplar Point and countless smaller projects, the developments that will change the face of  DC are being planned and implemented right now.

DC’s Ward 8 is a critical area for cycling, as there is currently no quality, cyclist-friendly connection from the Wilson Bridge Trail to and from the South Capitol Bridge.  In addition to this significant gap in the regional “bicycle beltway,” many neighborhoods in Ward 8 lack safe bicycling, as many of the major roadways encourage high-speed commuter traffic rather than safer, community-focused design elements that favor cyclists and pedestrians.

There are dedicated cyclists east of the river and WABA is committed to helping them, but we also are committed to enabling more residents to commute by bike.  And we need those new cyclists to become advocates for cycling in their community, so that when these major projects are being discussed, they are present to show local, community-based support for bicycling.

Growing cycling (and cycling advocates) in Wards 7 and 8 is the focus of WABA’s ambitious 2011 plan that will require time, dedication, and funding.

Here are the key elements of our plan:

  • WABA will provide a “Learn to Ride” course in east of the Anacostia, taught on bikes provided by WABA;
  • WABA will provide a new, fully functional bike suitable for commuting to 10 selected residents;
  • WABA will provide 20 Capital Bikeshare memberships to Ward residents;
  • WABA will provide a monthly mobile bike shop throughout the riding season;
  • WABA will provide mentoring and encouragement with a dedicated WABA staff member, committed to helping keep these residents on bikes;
  • WABA will provide health benchmarking and comparison of pre- and post- biking season health;
  • WABA will provide three group rides for east of the river residents and the WABA community, intended to help these new cyclists find their place in a supportive cycling community;
  • And WABA will supplement this program with additional efforts dedicated to reaching out to and encouraging cycling in Ward 8 with specific tabling events, outreach materials, and activities.

We believe that this approach will lay the groundwork for more cyclists in this part of the District, which will in turn help us to  improve biking conditions in these wards and the region.

It is an ambitious program, estimated to cost roughly $45,000 to fully staff and fund.   If you are able to contribute to this program, we would appreciate your support.

If everyone who reads our blog and receives our emails gives $1, the program will be fully funded.

For $1, you can do your part while relying on everyone else to do theirs.
For $30, you can fund a helmet for one of our 30 new riders.
For $40, you can fund a lock for one of our new cyclists.
For $75, you can provide a Capital Bikeshare membership.
For $300, you can provide a reliable bicycle to someone committed to trying cycling.
For $1000, you can sponsor a ride for this community of new cyclists to join with WABA members and supporters on the road.
And for $4,000, you can fund an entire month of staff support for this critical outreach program.

We appreciate your continued support of expanded and improved bicycling in the region, and ask you to contribute to this program if you are able. We need your help to get this program off the drawing board and rolling through the streets of Anacostia.

South Cap Trail Safe in St. Elizabeth’s Development

In meetings with GSA and the project team, WABA has been told that the only potential impact to the trail is a single pinch point.  And that pinch point will not be narrower than 7.5 feet.

It’s not ideal, and we have asked the team to continue studying and searching for a better resolution.  But it is far better than we initially feared.

Thanks to the hundreds who responded to our Advocacy Alert and pressured GSA to meet with us to address the trail impacts.

WABA’s comments are below.

St. Elizabeth’s Deis Comments

Rose Park Access Part of Rock Creek Trail Meeting

View Rose Park Access Trail in a larger map

Thanks to commenter Jeremy for pointing out that the future of the Rose Park Trail will be part of Wednesday evening’s discussion of the Rock Creek Trail.  The Rose Park Trail is a significant access point for cyclists in Georgetown and South Dupont Circle, but that access is threatened by the organized efforts of the Friends of Rose Park, the Citizens Association of Georgetown, and ANC 2E.

WABA strongly supports the continued right of cyclists to use this trail, and believes that efforts to prevent cyclists’ access to this important part of the trail network is discriminatory and ill-conceived.  Public space must be shared, and no single user-group has the right to override the access rights of others.

While we hope that this Rose Park Trail access issue does not overtake the entire meeting and unduly distract attention from the primary 3.7 mile Rock Creek Trail project, it is clear that many groups who oppose not only trail widening, but all bicycle access to the Rose Park Trail, will be attendance.

Please come and show your support for not only the improvement of the Rock Creek Trail, but for the broader rights of access for bicyclists.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Open House: 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Open Microphone Session: 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

National Zoological Park Visitor Center Auditorium
3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW

The letters from Friends of Rose Park and the Citizens Association of Georgetown seeking to ban bikes from the park are below.  (Copied from the Friends of Rose Park website).

Friends of Rose Park Letter

Citizen’s Association of George Town Letter

Support Maryland HB 363: Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel–Criminal Negligence

Ghost bike in honor of Natasha Pettigrew.

Ghost bike in honor of Natasha Pettigrew.

Tomorrow, WABA Board Member Jim Titus will join with other Maryland cyclists, pedestrians, and advocates testifying in support of HB 363, which would fill a gap in Maryland’s criminal law that currently operates to allow drivers who kill cyclists to receive little or no punishment.  In short, the bill creates a misdemeanor for causing the death of another while operating a vehicle in a criminally negligent manner.

Maryland residents: Please take a moment to sign the League of American Bicyclists’ petition in support of HB 363.

Below is a preliminary draft of Mr. Titus’s remarks to be delivered tomorrow on behalf of WABA.

Maryland HB 363 Testimony

3 Year Bike Commuting Streak

Washington Area Bike Forum member Brett Hack of Herndon, VA has been making the 36-mile commute to his office in McLean everyday for the last three years.  WTOP’s Kate Ryan highlighted Hack’s achievement over the weekend in her article “The power of the office pool: Cyclist on three year commuting streak“.   Included in Hack’s lists of benefits for commuting to work by bike is the time to relax and leave work at work:

“I’ve got my ride to look forward to. Even when it’s 11 degrees outside or windy or snowy – I know I’ve got that time to myself,” he says. Hack adds that he’s getting a workout that leaves him refreshed.

“I don’t care about work – it’s gone, out of my mind. I come home and I’m home.”

As a frequent user of the wonderful bike trail network in Virginia including the W&OD Trail, Hack had one request of all pedestrians (and might we add cyclists too):

Wear reflective gear.

Keep the good work Brett!

Reminder: Rock Creek Trail Meeting Wednesday

After some delay, the Environmental Assessment of the improvements to the Rock Creek Trail in DC is set to resume.  A public meeting, including renderings of the proposal concepts, will be held next Wednesday, February 23 at 6pm at the National Zoological Park Visitor Center Auditorium.

The National Park Service, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration and the District Department of Transportation, proposes to rehabilitate a 3.7 mile section of the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail from Broad Branch Road, NW to M Street, including a 3,000 foot segment of the Rose Park Trail, and a spur along Piney Branch Parkway from Beach Drive to Arkansas Avenue.

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and other laws, regulations, and policies, an Environmental Assessment and Assessment of Effects will be prepared to analyze the potential impacts of a range of alternatives on the natural, cultural, and human environment.

Public comments will be accepted until February 28 and can be submitted electronically at the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website:

We encourage the many trail users in the region to attend this public meeting and submit comments supporting the resurfacing, widening, and improvement of the trail.

WABA will finalize its comments following the presentations at this public meeting, and will provide a follow-up Advocacy Alert with an option to submit comments through the WABA Action Center.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Open House: 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Open Microphone Session: 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

National Zoological Park Visitor Center Auditorium
3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20008

Scores Celebrate Lincoln’s Birthday with Ride

Group shot with Abe

Over 60 people braved the February winds this weekend to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday with us. Everyone was in good spirits as the group made a tour of Lincoln-inspired DC landmarks. Our meeting point, the Lincoln Memorial, was abuzz with activity early on a Saturday morning, and a large group of cyclists made for a perfect photo opportunity for one group of excited foreign tourists. The group headed into Northwest to visit the recently-opened-to-the-public Lincoln’s Cottage at Soldier Home, where he drafted the Emancipation Proclamation. The ride then continued into Northeast (and over several thigh-burning hills) to visit Fort Lincoln, a site once used during the Civil War to defend the nation’s capital. The last pit stop at Lincoln Park (see group photo to the right) turned into a longer wait than some had anticipated due to one cyclist’s flat tire, but if one flat is the biggest issue on an urban group ride like this, let’s call it a success!

Overall, we received a positive sentiment from the people who saw the ride go by: “Are you doing a bike marathon?” “It’s too early to be out on your bikes!” “Bike on!” Many in the group also commented on how they visited parts of the District that they had never before been on by bike, and hopefully many will go back by bike.

Thanks to the Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation for their support of our cycling efforts, as well as to the marshals who volunteered their time to make sure everyone got back to the White House safely. Look for future rides like this from us, and let us know if you have any suggestions.

Bike/Ped Enforcement Hearing Recap

Thanks to everyone who came out on Friday to testify in support of safer streets for cyclists.  The barrage of stories from cyclists was often heartbreaking, but also clearly impactful in a setting where impact was a primary goal.

For those who weren’t there, watching the video, or following #pedbike on Twitter, here are links to the hearing video, as well as articles from  the Examiner, WTOP, and TBD.

WABA’s testimony focused on three main points:

1.  Non-enforcement: the failure to enforce laws protecting bicyclists and bicycle facilities, such as broadly allowing cars to park in bike lanes.

Time, data, and experience will tell whether MPD improves its enforcement to protect bicycle facilities.  One key indicator of how seriously the issue is taken will come at the MPD oversight hearing.  Will Councilmember Mendelson prioritize the issue and question the Chief on strategies to improve?

2.  Improper enforcement: after a crash, wrongly citing the cyclist when the motorist was at fault.  Failing to understand the law as applied to cyclists and the proper use of bicycle facilities.  Taking the statement of only the motorist because the injured cyclist is removed from the scene by ambulance.

MPD Asst. Chief Burke testified to his willingness to provide the WABA guide to bicycle laws to all officers.  Will he follow through with this commitment?  We are certainly willing to provide the files for MPD to produce in bulk.  Chief Burke also testified that an online training module for bicyclist and pedestrian safety is in development.  Will WABA and cycling advocates have the opportunity to vet the product and make suggestions?  Will it be updated along with new bicycle facilities to explain their operation to enforcement officers.  (And for that matter, can it be publicly available for non-officer cyclists and motorists.)

3.  Contributory negligence: the outdated “blame the victim” liability standard that makes any minor mistake by a cyclist—or an enforcement officer—capable of fully preventing compensation for injuries, even if the other party was 99% at fault.

The “blame the victim” liability standard for vulnerable roadway users must be overturned by legislation.  WABA will continue to push for a form of comparative negligence, which takes into account the respective fault between the parties in a collision, rather than the victim-blaming contributory negligence standard.

And a bonus: Idaho Stop

Councilmember Mendelson is clearly interested in learning more about the Idaho Stop law and considering the impacts in the District.  WABA is preparing a full briefing for the Council.

WABA’s full testimony from the hearing can be found below.
Bike-ped Enforcement Hearing Testimony (WABA)