WABA Testifies in Support of Prince George’s Council Bill CB-2-2012

End of the Sidewalk

End of the Sidewalk by M.V. Jantzen, on Flickr

As you’re riding along a side path or walking along a sidewalk of a busy suburban road, the path mysteriously ends. There is nowhere to go except onto the busy street, a grassy shoulder, or a narrow dirt path. Suburban bicyclists and pedestrians know this situation all too well.

WABA testified in support of Prince George’s Co. Council Bill CB-2-2012 titled “Adequate Public Pedestrian and Bikeway Facilities in Centers and Corridors” at the February 15th, 2012 meeting of the Planning, Zoning, Economic and Development Committee. Co-sponsored by Eric Olson (District 3) and Mel Franklin (District 9), CB-2-2012 would require new developments to fill in the missing links in walking and biking facilities from the neighborhoods to the new development.

WABA strongly supports this bill and the leadership of Councilmembers Olson and Franklin in creating safe bicycling and pedestrian connections in Prince George’s Co. During the hearing there was discussion about the proposed financial limits for developers, the maximum required distances of the connection and how “adequate” connections should be measured. We believe these are important points of discussion but should be made in the regulation process and not through legislation. The full text of the bill can be downloaded here.

A Quick, Friday Evening MBT Update

This week, WABA and MoBike met with Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett to discuss the removal of the Metropolitan Branch Trail’s (MBT) funding from the Executive’s proposed CIP budget.  The County Executive stated that the removal was due to disagreements over how to proceed among various interested parties, including the historic preservation community and the bicycling community, and that his removal of the funding was meant to buy time for resolution, not to kill the project.

When asked if his office would be willing to convene a discussion among the stakeholders to facilitate communication and reach a solution, he agreed.  We look forward to that meeting, progress on the trail’s design and construction, and a quality connection from Union Station into Silver Spring.

Of course, it is the Montgomery County Council that will ultimately vote on the CIP.  Yesterday, Deputy Council Staff Director Glenn Orlin’s CIP recommendations to the Council were posted on the County’s website. The entire memorandum is worth reading, but on the MBT:

Council staff recommendation: Retain funds in the CIP to fund the same scope as in the Approved CIP, plus the construction of the path on the west side of Fenton Street from New York Avenue (where the trail adjacent to Montgomery College now ends) north to King Street, completing the design by FY14 and construction of this portion of the trail by FY16.

The report continues, stating that “The Council’s role cannot end merely by programming these funds.  One or more Councilmembers will need to get personally involved–on a regular (perhaps monthly) basis–to make sure this project proceeds.”

There are numerous hearings and hurdles still to be overcome to restore the funding of the trail, but we are grateful for the personal attention of Montgomery County’s executive and legislative leadership. We will continue to push for restoration of design and construction funding as recommended by the Council staff and continue to work, with the support of the County Executive’s office, to reach a resolve to those  issues that led to the Executive’s proposed removal of funding.

We will continue to provide updates on progress.  Montgomery County residents, please be ready to take action and contact your elected in support of bicycling as the capital budget proceeds through Council review and the operating budget recommendations are soon to be released.  This is a critical time for the Metropolitan Branch Trail, the Capital Crescent Trail, and the possible introduction of bikesharing in the County.

WABA & Spokes Etc. (Alexandria) Want to Help You to Bike to Work

WABA’s Workshop Series brings FREE bike education workshops to your neighborhood! You can read more about our Workshop Series here. Want to bring a WABA Workshop to your local bike shop? Just call them and ask them to request one! You can use our list of local bike shops in the region. Questions? Comments? Email daniel@waba.org or call 202-518-0524 x200.

Interested in finding out more about commuting by bicycle? The Washington Area Bicyclist Association and Spokes Etc. Bicycles in Alexandria are teaming up to bring you the Bike Commuter Clinic! This is the perfect opportunity to interest your friends and coworkers in bike commuting. Don’t forget, National Bike to Work Day is right around the corner! Sign up for the Bike Commuter Clinic  here.

Spokes Etc. logoDate


Spokes Etc. Alexandria
1545 N. Quaker Lane
Alexandria VA 22302

Join Daniel Hoagland, WABA’s DC Bike Ambassador Coordinator as he presents tips, tricks, and essential knowledge for commuting by bicycle in the Washington DC area. Daniel is a League Cycling Instructor, has taught many different cycling classes, and is heavily involved in community cycling resources throughout the area.

The clinic will address safe bicycle commuting techniques and equipment, riding in traffic, safe routes for commuting, preparing for your ride, and more. Plus, we’ll show you a wide variety of bikes and accessories you can use to get you ready to ride. We’ll even have a couple of commuter bikes set up and ready to roll.

Refreshments will be served. Due to space constraints, you must register beforehand here. For more information, call Spokes Etc Alexandria at 703-820-2200 or email Nate Graham, Communications Manager, at ngraham@spokesetc.com Thank you!

WABA Volunteers Light Up DC

WABA’s “Got Lights?” project gives away 1,000 free sets of front and rear lights (provided by DDOT) and will continue all year in various locations throughout the District.  We are committed to giving each and every light set to cyclists who are riding without lights when we find them. If you already have lights on your bike, please consider helping us put these lights on the bikes that need them. Call 202-518-0524 x200 or email bikeambassador@waba.org to help out! This post was written by WABA member and volunteer DC Bike Ambassador Jason Clock.

WABA's branded bike lights for the Got Lights? giveaway

The Dark Ages

Daylight Savings Time ended on November 6th, and since then WABA has been waiting for their bike light sets to be paid for/arrive (as a volunteer, information isn’t always easy to come by). The first few weeks after the time change are statistically some of the worst to be a pedestrian (or a bicyclist), as the number of crashes jumps up.

But for most bicyclists, evening commutes stay dark well into the late winter/early spring, so even though WABA’s lights only arrived last week, the need for lights on bikes hasn’t gone away. This is definitely the time of year when many cyclists are not visible due to lack of lights and reflective clothing.

Bike Lights For the Lightless

WABA’s goal is to target cyclists “riding dark”, i.e. people who don’t have any lights on their bike at all. Whether it’s due to a lack of knowledge about the laws requiring lights, an inability to afford them, not knowing where to buy them, or just plain forgetfulness, these people are the ones who are the most vulnerable.

So when the DC Bike Ambassadors were asked to sign up for the Bike Light Blitz–riding around with a bag of light sets and handing them out with a smile and a “Got Bike? Get WABA” business card, I was happy to help out. Here’s my timeline of the evening.

  • 6:00 PM: I arrived at WABA HQ in Adams Morgan and grabbed a bag of bike lights. 15 white front lights and 15 red rear lights in the “knog” style, single-piece lights with a silicon strap that loops around handlebars, seat posts, or pretty much anything else.
  • 6:10 PM: I decked out my bike with a few light sets to draw attention and designated a pocket each for front lights, rear lights, and WABA cards. Joined by the rest of the Bike Light Blitzers, I headed out. We were allowed to pick our own routes, and I chose to head towards downtown, riding along the 15th street cycle track with an eye out for “stealth riders” to start blitzing. I quickly encountered a few “False IDs”–riders with rear red lights but no front white lights. I told them that a front light is not only good for visibility, but is required by law when riding at night.

  • 6:30 PM: Feeling like a bike messenger, I pushed hard to chase down one stealth rider after another, standing on the pedals and hoping for a red light that would give me a few seconds to pull up alongside and enlighten them. The adrenaline rush helped break the ice, since most riders were a little suspicious at first. “I am just going across the street,” complained one single-speed cyclist–decked out in dark clothing on a black bike. “How much?” asked another rider. “No trick here,” I assured him, “I’m just shedding some light on the stealth riders of the District.” My pun went unnoticed, but the bike lights were appreciated.
  • 6:45 PM: I fully expected that the morning’s rain would keep the number of cyclists low in the evening, but I was shocked to find myself out of light sets in just 35 minutes!  I was surprised by how many cyclists did not have lights.  Many of them also wore dark clothing which certainly did not help visibility. And worst of all, most people didn’t even realize they were putting themselves in unnecessary danger.

A Brighter Future

I have to say I had a blast helping out with the Bike Light Blitz, and I plan to grab a few more bike light sets to keep on hand for when I come across stealth riders on my normal commute.  And, after counting dark cyclists while walking my dog, I might stash a few sets in my coat pockets for those times when I’m on foot, too.

You Can Help Too

Become a volunteer Bike Ambassador and help spread the word about bikes to your community, workplace and friends. We educate cyclists and motorists about safe cycling and have a good time doing it. You can contact Daniel Hoagland, WABA’s Bike Ambassador Coordinator by emailing bikeambassador@waba.org

Thank you to WABA & DDOT for making free bike lights possible!

Strong Showing in Support of the MBT and Bicycling in Montgomery County Budget

Last night WABA, MoBike, and other advocates testified in support of restoring funding for the Metropolitan Branch Trail in the County’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget.  WABA’s testimony is below.  MoBike’s is available HERE.

Thank you to the hundreds who emailed in support of the MBT.  If you have not yet emailed the Montgomery County Council you can still do so HERE in advance of next week’s Transportation & Environment Committee hearing on the CIP.

2012 MBT CIP Testimony, Montgomery County Council

Help Make BikeFest 2012 an Event to Remember

BikeFest 2012

Once again we’re hosting the biggest bike-themed party in the DC-metro region – and all the proceeds make their way back to you in the form of stronger advocacy and, ultimately, better bicycling.  We’re planning now to make this year’s BikeFest our most lively and successful fundraiser to date.

In order to celebrate a year as great for biking as 2011 and keep the advocacy strong through 2012 and beyond, we need your support.

Supporting BikeFest 2012

Will you help WABA by connecting us to individuals or groups who may be able and willing to participate in this year’s BikeFest? We are in need of potential venues, sponsors, and in-kind donors.

All it takes is a connection. Here’s how you can help:  if you think your neighborhood baker, sports club, or  favorite bike mechanic is  able to help out, or maybe your company is interested in sponsorship opportunities, let us know.

It only takes a minute. Just send me a quick email at nelle@waba.org or give me a call at 202-518-0524 x202.  And be sure to use the buttons at the bottom of this page to share this with your networks on Facebook or Twitter.

We’re on the lookout for:

A venue: An approximately 5,000 square feet space to accommodate the event.

Sponsors: Title sponsor and lead sponsors for financial support.

Silent Auction Items: Components of experiential bike-related silent auction packages.

Raffle Items: Desirable items for our raffle contests.

BikeBuild Participants: Four local bike shops to build and auction-off handcrafted bicycles.

Food and Drink: Local restaurants/caterers and liquor distributors to keep us happily satiated.

How and why your support matters

BikeFest is an opportunity to the region’s bicycling community to come together to celebrate the progress we’ve made in making the area more bike-friendly.  It is also an opportunity for WABA to raise funds to be used in areas in which funding is hard to come by.  Those parts of our region with the greatest need for better bicycling facilities and programming also tend to be the areas in which we have the fewest members and the least financial support.  Thus, we need to raise funds at events like BikeFest to fund our overall mission and continue to work in underserved communities to get our message to those outside our core audience.

We’re already looking forward to BikeFest 2012, and we have some big ideas in mind.  But we need you to help us fill in the details with the types of people and things you want to see.  Love that bike shop?  Ask them to enter the bike build contest.  Favorite restaurant? We’d love to feature their food.  We just need your help to bring the right partners together.

Action Needed to Restore Funding for the MBT

As our members and supporters know, WABA has worked for decades to help bring about a high-quality trail connection between Silver Spring and downtown DC.  The Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) can provide this connection, but its progress is threatened.

This year, the budget proposed by the Montgomery County Executive cuts design and construction funding for the county’s portion of the MBT for the next six years. We need the County Council to ensure that these years of effort are not wasted and that the County’s commitments to prioritize the completion of the trail are kept.

Priorities are determined not in empty words, but in budgetary commitments. In this budget the promises to build this trail are broken.

Your opportunity to tell the County Council to return the MBT to the county’s budget is this Tuesday, February 7th at 7pm.  Please come and show your support for the trail.  If you are unable to attend in person, CLICK HERE to email the County Council to state your support for the trail and to request that funding be restored.

What a 12-Year-Old Can Teach us About the Importance of Bike Lights

WABA will be hitting the streets tonight to begin our “Got Lights?” program for 2012, giving away 1,000 free sets of front and rear lights (provided by DDOT). The program is designed to target bicyclists riding after dark without lights. This post is a personal story from Gina Arlotto, who handles WABA’s Planning and Organizational Development, about teaching her kids about bike safety and the importance of having lights (and other safety equipment) on bikes.

WABA's branded bike lights for the Got Lights? giveaway

One Parent’s Perspective

It will come as no surprise to you to learn that kids really don’t like being told what to do. And they dislike it even more when they hit adolescence. Trust me, having to repeat the same lessons (pick your battles!) a million times gets old from a parent’s perspective, too.

Happily, teaching and practicing safe bicycling habits is one of those battles that we pick. It’s how I combat the anxiety I feel about them riding to school alone every day. I know they have the skills to control what they can–by following the rules of the road, by signaling, by stopping at stop signs and red lights–and the proper safety equipment. And I hope they can handle what they can’t control, especially the drivers commuting through our neighborhood without regard for bicyclists.  My kids know that following the rules of the road and having the proper bike safety equipment is not only the law, it’s also the safest way to ride.

My son (15) has taken many of my lessons to heart, but he takes the Metro to school (and as a teenage boy, will be a safety work-in-progress for some time regardless). I usually ride with my daughter (9) to school before I head into work, so I am able to observe her bike behavior closely.

A Bike Safety Prodigy

But for my 12-year-old daughter MaryGrace, it is imperative that she follow our safe cycling rules as she rides the 10 blocks to Stuart Hobson Middle School alongside car commuters. If you’re at all familiar with middle schoolers, you know they especially don’t like being told what to do, and my daughter is no exception. For a long time, I couldn’t be sure if all our lessons on bike safety were sinking in.

Thankfully, I periodically get reports from neighbors complimenting her for stopping at red lights and riding safely around the neighborhood. And if I needed any more reassurance, I only have to think of her response when I praised her on a long ride about how well she was doing. “Mom, I’m a bike safety prodigy,” she said with all the attitude of a typical 7th grade girl. Nevertheless, I could tell she was proud of herself.

Bike lights as critical bike safety equipment is a common theme in our house. We installed lights on the kids’ bikes before they rode them for the first time, so the conversation mostly consists of reminding the kids to turn the lights on, even during the daylight hours. When we’re out and about on Capitol Hill we see a lot of bicyclists riding around without lights, and my kids are often the first to point them out.  “Wow. That’s not safe,” they say, “You can’t even see them!”

Needless to say, I was thrilled when, a few weeks ago, I came home to find MaryGrace out on the sidewalk installing a set of lights on her friend’s new bike. When MaryGrace saw the bike, she said the first thing she told her friend was that she needed a set of lights.  After school let out they rode to our house and, after rummaging around in my husband’s basement work bench, fortunately located a spare set.  Not content to just give the lights to her friend to mount on the bike later, MaryGrace had grabbed a screwdriver and they worked together to get everything attached for the now-dark ride home. A “bike safety prodigy” indeed!

Visibility is Your First Priority

All of this is to say that if a slightly stubborn (but always adorable) 12-year-old middle school girl can recognize the importance of a set of bike lights, then you probably should too. And to any other parents out there, sometimes you really do have to repeat an important lesson a million times before it sticks. If you’re very lucky, you’ll be there when it does.

WABA’s “Got Lights?” project begins today and will continue in various locations throughout the District until we’ve given away all 1000 sets.  We are committed to giving each and every light set to cyclists who are riding without lights when we find them. If you already have lights on your bike, please consider helping us put these lights on the bikes that need them. Call 202-518-0524 or email advocacy@waba.org to help out!