Archive for June, 2011
For those wishing to avoid the Metro lines and the cab fares this 4th of July, The National Park Service is providing two self-park bike stations. The two locations will be on Independence Ave between 14th St and 15th St and Daniel French Drive and 23rd St. Don’t forget your locks and lights!
View July 4th Self-Park Bike Parking in a larger map
Recently you started noticing some of your co-workers arriving in the morning with bicycle helmets, bike racks seemed to be magically appearing in front of all the restaurants and stores you frequent, and you started asking yourself “what’s up with all those red bikes?” So one day you decided to start riding a bike again. You couldn’t even remember the last time you had considered bicycling. After all, that’s kids’ stuff, right?
So you pulled your old bike out of storage, pumped up the tires, and took to the streets. You started thinking back to when you first learned how to ride and the advice mom and dad gave you, but then you realized that after they taught you how to ride without training wheels they didn’t say too much else except for “stay on the sidewalk,” and “wear a helmet.” Not dwelling too long on this thought, you decided that the best way to learn was to just get out there and start riding and you were right…….well, mostly right.
For whatever reason, even though you had been through drivers education and have a stellar driving record, you decided that the way you would ride your bike on the streets would be drastically different than the way you drove a car. You started getting a lot of dirty looks on the road and it wasn’t just coming from automobile drivers.
By this point, you have learned to ignore all the honking horns and shaking fists. What you still can’t get used to is the consistent embarrassment that comes with getting in minor bike accidents when you do things like pass other cyclists on the right, ride the wrong way down a bike lane, forget to use hand signals when riding with groups of your friends, and failing to check behind you before changing lanes. It’s getting to the point where saying “I’m sorry” is starting to feel a little empty.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If honking horns and shaking fists from both pedestrians and cyclists is part of your daily bike ride, then you just might not be doing it right. Never fear, WABA is here! We’ve got some upcoming classes that will not only help you get around by bike, but change the tone in peoples voices next time they say “Where did you learn to ride that way?”
Confident City Cycling 1 (CCC1): This class is great for beginners. Still trying to figure out what size/type of bike might be best for you? We’ll help you find the answer. Need some feedback on what to wear while riding a bike? No problem, WABA’s instructors are great bicycle wardrobe consultants (we are not exclusively sponsored by spandex). Most importantly, you will have time to practice some very important parking lot drills like starting/stopping, scanning, and signaling. Finally, we will even show you how to fix a flat tire.
Confident City Cycling 2 (CCC2): You’re pretty good at this whole bike riding thing. You may even think that you don’t need a class at all, but let’s be real for a moment. Did you really feel prepared that last time a car failed to yield the right of way and turned in front of you? Here in the bike education world we like to call that the “left hook.” WABA can help you with that too. CCC2 is where you will truly understand the meaning of vehicular cycling. There’s a lot of on-bike stuff happening in this class that will keep you engaged. You will master avoidance maneuvers like the rock dodge, quick turn, avoidance weave, and quick stop. There’s also a short group ride at the end that will help you practice lane positioning, speed positioning, and some of the stuff you learned in CCC1 like scanning and signaling.
It’s never to late or to early to sign up for a class so be sure to visit our online course calendar for a full schedule of our summer classes.
Bike ridership is growing in DC’s Wards 7 & 8 and the Washington Informer has caught on to the story. In their article “Residents East of the River Turn to Bikes”, the Informer outlines our East of the River campaign. Writer Elton Hayes was on hand for our Mobile Bike Shop on June 19th at Skyland Shopping Center which sits on the border of Wards 7 & 8.
The article describes the campaign and the purpose of the mobile bike shop, “With WABA’s grassroots efforts, bike ridership numbers across the Anacostia River will likely continue to increase. As these numbers grow, a larger collective voice will resound in Wards 7 and 8 as residents demand more bike lanes, increased bike trails and cycling amenities afforded to residents in other areas of the city.”
This was captured best by one of mobile bike shop attendees, Tyra Blake, mother of a 10-year-old son from the Fairfax Village neighborhood, “there are hardly any bike lanes. We need them. We need them badly.”
Thanks to the many cyclists and cycling supporters who have emailed Mayor Gray, Director Bellamy, and Councilmember Wells in support of the L & M Street cycletracks. We have gathered well over 1,000 signatures.
These proposed cycletracks will fall entirely within the District’s Ward 2, so we are grateful for the support of Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, who today stated:
I continue to support alternative transportation options in Ward 2, including the expansion of cycletracks to L & M Streets. A solid bicycle infrastructure is key to getting cars off of the road and meeting the needs of the ever-growing number of cyclists across the Ward and city.
If you have not yet signed/emailed in support of the completion of the L & M Street, NW cycletracks, you can do so HERE.
Our WABA education team spends a lot of time teaching people how not to be involved in a crash. In fact, they would love to have you join them for a class on Confident (and competent) City Cycling.
But sometimes, despite their and your best efforts, crashes do occur. Frequently, WABA hears from cyclists seeking to understand the post-crash process. This can be an intimidating process for anyone, and especially for those with limited familiarity with the police, insurance, and legal systems.
We are available to answer your questions to the best of our abilities, and to provide referrals to attorneys when your questions become too specific or difficult for us to address in a phone call or email.
But now we are going one step further. On July 19th, WABA is offering a discussion of “What to Do After a Crash.” Executive Director Shane Farthing and three of the regions top lawyers in representing cyclists in DC, Maryland, and Virginia–Tom Witkop, Bruce Deming, and Peter Baskin–will be available both to assist with the group discussion and to talk one-on-one with cyclists at the end of the program.
We want you to know what to do if you are involved in a crash. But additionally, we want you to know how you can help if you’ve witnessed a crash. The information you capture could be instrumental in helping a fellow cyclist.
Please join us on the 19th at 6pm. We look forward to a frank, informative discussion that will touch on traffic safety, enforcement, and law that will empower you to protect yourself or your fellow cyclist in the event of a crash.
The event is free, but we do ask that you RSVP here so that we can plan for the appropriate number.
DC Citywide Conference Center – Room 1114
441 4th St. NW
Washington DC, 20001
Congress Heights residents of all ages and all cycling experience joined us at our mobile bike shop this past Sunday. A total of 40 bikes were repaired and an impromptu fix-a-flat class was taught to a group of children by a gentleman who came to get work done on his own bike!
In addition to providing accessible services and the chance to learn the basics of bike maintenance, these shops serve as an opportunity to find out how WABA can better serve the car-centric neighborhoods in Ward 7 and Ward 8 and encourage new voices to enter the conversation.
After years of careful research and debate, the federal Department of Transportation has approved signs that say “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” for lanes that are too narrow for a car to safely pass a bicycle. Experienced cyclists know that it is safer to use the full lane on these roadways, but motorists often don’t. These signs would both give notice to motorists to be aware of the potential presence of cyclists taking the lane, and would provide greater clarity than the common, but ambiguous “Share the Road” sign. These signs make the roadways safer for cyclists.
But the Maryland State Highway Administration wants to block the use of the signs in Maryland, so that most cyclists will continue to ride on the extreme right side of the roadway–even on roads where doing so is more dangerous than using the full lane. And drivers will continue to be surprised—and sometimes angry—when cyclists do use the full lane. Maryland law explicitly allows cyclists to use the full lane when doing so is safer than keeping right, but some state officials do not seem to agree with the law. And they are expressing their disagreement by disapproving a sign that makes us safer.
Sadly, this decision is coming at the end of the distinguished career of SHA Director Neil Pederson, who retires this week. A cyclist himself, Mr. Pederson has often pushed his agency to accommodate cyclists. Because the decision seems to have been made at a lower level, we do not know whether Mr. Pederson has been fully informed or not. We also do not know whether Governor O’Malley, who has been actively promoting Cycle Maryland in recent weeks, is aware of or supports this anti-cyclist decision by his Highway Administration.
1. Asking them to reverse SHA’s staff decision, and approve the use of the R4-11 “Bicycles may use full lane” sign so that cyclists and drivers alike will realize which roads are most safely ridden using the full lane, and
2. Thanking Neil Pederson for his years of service and asking the Secretary and Governor to ensure that he is replaced by someone with a commitment to making Maryland’s roads safe for all road users.
Much of last week’s confirmation hearing for DDOT Director Terry Bellamy went smoothly. He said the right things, including stating support for improved bicycling. But when asked about specific projects, things went less smoothly.
Specifically, Director Bellamy said that the L and M Street cycletracks were “on hold” and that “we may not do them” due to concerns over parking removal.
In recent months, we have seen little progress in improving the District’s cycling infrastructure. This is especially disappointing given the success, obvious even to the most casual rush-hour observer, of the 15th Street cycletrack and the Pennsylvania Avenue lanes (which are frequently characterized as a cycletrack as well).
The L & M Street cycletracks are crucial to providing a much-needed east-west connection through downtown that is safe and accessible–not only to experienced cyclists but also to the many novices who cycle downtown, encouraged by the success of Capital Bikeshare and other infrastructure improvements.
For many, these cycletracks are seen as a litmus test for the Gray administration’s support of cycling. While District cyclists have been consistently reassured that Mayor Gray supports cycling and shares our vision of a bike friendly District, we have seen extremely limited improvement in bicycle infrastructure or enforcement during his tenure to-date. This project provides the Mayor and DDOT Director Bellamy the opportunity to continue the progress in improving the District’s downtown for cyclists.
Please take a moment to email Mayor Gray, DDOT Director Bellamy, DDOT Bike & Pedestrian Coordinator Jim Sebastian, and Councilmember Tommy Wells stating your support for the L and M Street cycletracks.
More Bike to Work Day follow-up news, on Thursday, June 24, 2011, the D.C. Lottery congratulated Joseph Tobing of Silver Spring, Maryland as the winner of its customized performance hybrid cycle and accompanying gear. The total value of the prize package was worth over $700. Tobing, an avid cyclist who bikes to work regularly and is a Computer Science professor at Washington Adventist University, was on summer vacation when he received notice of his win. “This was quite a surprise,” he said, “This bike is nicer than the one I have now!”
Today’s confirmation hearing included a great deal of conversation about bikes generally, including trails, trail maintenance. Bust most notably, Bellamy stated that the L & M cycletracks were “on hold.”
This is the first time (to our knowledge) DDOT has publicly admitted that these long-planned and long-promised bicycle facilities are delayed over the amount of on-street parking that would need to be removed.
Previously, DDOT’s stated rationale had been a need to further study the impacts of the existing cycletracks before continuing.
Now that we know the real reason, there is more we need to know:
- Who is objecting to the parking removal?
- How many parkers per day will be inconvenienced, compared to the projected cyclists served?
- Is DDOT committed to resolving this as a question of rational public space usage, or is it defaulting to “existing condition” that favors automobile storage over cyclist mobility?
- Will the public be invited to participate in an honest discussion of the progress and evaluation of this project?
- When considering the benefits, as Director Bellamy states, will health and environmental benefits be included?
WABA is committed to seeing these vital east-west connections through downtown completed as planned and holding DDOT and the District government to its commitment to cyclists.
We appreciate many of the priorities Director Bellamy stated today and look forward to working with him to improve the District for cyclists. However, we cannot accept “we may not do it” as DDOT’s update on a promised piece of critical infrastructure.
To see the hearing, CLICK HERE. The majority of the detailed bicycling discussion begins at 2:28.