Archive for August, 2012
Have you recently spotted a bicycle enthusiast in a red DC Bike Ambassador T-shirt on your commute to or from work?
That’s because the Bike Ambassadors have kicked off a series of outreach events at some of the prime bicycling locations around town. We started last week at two locations, 16th & U St NW and 14th St & Clifton St NW, and were out on the Metropolitan Branch Trail yesterday morning. We have a few more locations picked out, but we would love to hear your suggestions for additional sites.
Upcoming Outreach Locations (Dates TBD):
- Rock Creek Park/Trail & Virginia Ave NW
- Capitol Hill
- 14th St and Park Rd NW
- You tell us!
The goal of our pop-up outreach is to become mobile information booths about all things bicycling. Stop by one of our upcoming outreach locations and grab a snack, a bike map, chat about WABA, bikes, and/or the Bike Ambassador Program. We can help you find a safe route to get you where you need to go or answer other biking-related questions you might have.
We will announce where the Bike Ambassadors will be via the WABA Facebook page as the dates are scheduled, so be sure to “Like” us to find out and stay informed! In the meantime, e-mail your questions or suggestions to Megan or Katie at BikeAmbassador@waba.org.
Thought about joining WABA but haven’t yet? Need to renew your membership? Stop by one of our outreach locations, learn more about the benefits of WABA membership, and join at the discounted rate of $30.
Hope to see you soon!
This summer, the historic campus of St. Elizabeths was opened to the public for a summer-long series of community events. On August 25th, WABA hosted the St. Elizabeths bike carnival, an event to promote cycling East of the Anacostia River and beyond.
Attendees from across the street and across the region took advantage of the rare opportunity to tour St. E’s by bike. Over 300 guests attended, and this was clear when seeing people all across the serene, historic locale. The closed streets provided groups of families and friends a chance to explore the over 180-acre grounds of the idyllic campus at a comfortable and leisurely pace.
Participants explored bucolic knolls, shady alcoves, and historic buildings all by bike. The day culminated in a family parade around the “maple quad” where kids at the event sped off turning the event into a high-speed race. In addition to self-guided tours, City Bikes provided bicycle maintenance free of charge on rusty chains, flat tires, untuned cables, and more.
While families waited for their bikes to be repaired many played bike-themed carnival games that included pin the tail on the bicycle, water bottle knockover, ball in the bike basket shootout, bike pump races, and a ring toss that required WABA staff to drink soda around the clock the week in advance! The more games guests played the more raffle tickets they earned to enter into the running for 4 new bicycles and accessories provided by City Bikes. One lucky family actually won 2 new bicycles! A bike decoration station allowed more artistically inclined guests to spruce up their 2 and 3 wheelers.To add to the carnival atmosphere, talented make-up artists painted faces.
Youngsters got a chance to hone their cycling skills on the Bike Rodeo course where they performed maneuvers to improve their abilities, a program WABA brings to area elementary schools. WABA asked residents where their bike destinations were and respondents placed stickers on a huge map of the Washington region.
Attendees also rubbed elbows with Public Health Advocate and Miss District of Columbia, Sarah Hillware as they answered the reasons why they liked to bike. This carnival helps to redefine the iconic destination of St. Elizabeths and the relationship with Ward 8 and the DC region at large.
It was a great day, and in the two years since WABA has returned regularly to the trail for organized rides, Bike Ambassador outreach events, safety patrols, and all sorts of activities. A lot has happened on the trail, both positive and negative.
But one thing hasn’t happened in those two years: Extension of the trail.
There have been beautification projects and races, bike rides and community events. But not another inch of asphalt has been laid to move the trail toward completing its connection between Silver Spring and Union Station.
Both the District and Montgomery County need to be held accountable for this delay. Certainly, there are challenging segments that will take more time and effort than others. But there are also less challenging ones, and those haven’t progressed either. There have been numerous funding and operational battles going on in the background to ensure that the trail continues, from getting police in the District to protect trail users to saving funding for the trail in the Montgomery County budget. And by and large, trail supporters have won those battles. But we must judge based on results. The District and Montgomery County have failed to make reasonable progress in the construction of this trail. Beyond the section that opened in June 2010, we still ride the same “interim” route as years ago.
It is time to renew our focus on the trail and to push local leaders to demand more than conversations in the conference rooms of DDOT and MCDOT. We want to see the trail grow and provide that long-awaited connection from Silver Spring to Union Station.
In the District, no one has provided a solid reason why work cannot begin immediately on the northern segment of the trail from Riggs Rd. to the Montgomery County line. Everyone understands that the center segment, with various issues to be resolved around Ft. Totten and the connector spur to the Anacostia Tributary Trail System, includes a number of land usage and management challenges that the various parties (DDOT, NPS, WMATA) need to resolve. But we find no such issues on the northern segment. It needs to be done. Idleness is unacceptable.
It is no more acceptable in Montgomery County, where WABA fought to have funding for the trail restored to the budget after it was removed from County Executive Ike Leggett’s original proposal. The restoration of funding has come with no commensurate sense of urgency to put it to use, however. Despite the existence of funding and the inclusion of the trail in approved master plans, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has not even begun the design of the critical crossing of Georgia Avenue, much less initiated any form of construction. Instead, they continue to tiptoe around and negotiate with owners of the historic Silver Spring B&O Train Station, who do not want bicyclists able to travel along the master planned route, which includes an area the group currently rents as event space.
Four months after a meeting facilitated by representatives of the County Executive, we have seen no further action.
In the District and in Montgomery County, we need to renew our push for the completion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail. To do that, we need to once again bolster our support and grow our coalition of individuals, groups, and businesses who believe in the importance of our trails in general, and this trail in particular.
To add your voice to the effort by contacting your local officials in support of the trail:
- CLICK HERE to contact Montgomery County leaders.
- CLICK HERE to contact District of Columbia leaders.
Over the past year, WABA has operated a program aimed at understanding and addressing the gender imbalance in cycling in the region. Last year’s Women’s Bicycling Forum and a number of follow-up events, including the Tour de Bells Ride capping the Spring season, were successful. However, this program was largely operated without a dedicated source of funding by volunteers and interns, and with very limited resources. We are grateful for the work of those volunteers and interns who have helped the program grow to this point, but in order to grow the program to size appropriate to addressing the issue at hand, we are seeking institutional support to fund a grassroots, peer-to-peer outreach program with the goal of growing the number of women on bikes in the Washington area.
Please help us to spread the word about this proposed program to anyone who might be interested in addressing the gender gap in regional cycling by helping WABA to fund such a program. An abbreviated proposal and program description is below:
KIDICAL MASS RIDE
If you are riding with kids, ride with Kidical Mass at any of these locations to ride along with parents and kids. It’s a great chance to not only convoy to the carnival, but also to share tips on biking with children in the city.
You can catch up with the group in:
- Edgewood at 10:45am (8th St. NE & Franklin St. NE near Chocolate City Brewing Company)
- Eckington, 11:00am (R Street NE @ Met Branch Trail)
- NoMa, 11:15am (M Street NE @ Met Branch Trail)
- Capitol Hill 11:30pm (Stanton Park @ 4th Street NE)
- Estimated arrival at St. Elizabeths: 12:00pm
Our friends at BicycleSPACE are also leading a ride, starting at the WABA office in Adams Morgan. We promise a good time, they’re a fun-loving group of like-minded bike people!
You can catch up with the group in:
- Adams Morgan Leaving at 11am, WABA Office, 2599 Ontario Rd., NW
- Mt. Vernon Triangle 11:30am, BicycleSPACE, 1019 7th St., NW
- Southwest Waterfront Leaving at Noon, Yards Park (the pavilion with the sail awnings)
- Estimated arrival at St. Elizabeths: 12:30
And for those who want to come by Metro, the event is a very short and safe walk from the Congress Heights Metro stop, and signage will direct you from the Metro to the festivities.
Yes, there is parking at theFriendship School, but it is limited, and Metro is likely an easier option.
When you get there, you’ll find open streets to bike on; bike-themed carnival games for prizes or raffle tickets; the Ward 8 Farmer’s Market; the East of the River Drum band; a kids’ bike skills challenge; bike decoration station; City Bikes providing free minor bike repairs on a first-come, first-served basis; and much more.
At 1:45 we’ll gather for the raffling of four brand new bikes–two adult bikes and two youth bikes. Everyone who comes and plays the free games will have a chance to win–but you must be present to win, so don’t leave too soon.
And finally, at 2pm, we will start the St. Elizabeths Bike Parade, in which everyone–including those who have visited the bike decoration station–can show off their bikes as we parade around a 0.3 mile loop perfect for picture-taking and fun.
Thanks to BicycleSPACE and Kidical Mass for leading the convoys, and to City Bikes for providing the repair station. Come see us, have fun, and say thank you to them tomorrow at St. Elizabeths East.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of our Instructor program, and the limited number of scholarships we are able to provide to September’s League Cycling Instructor Seminar, we are closing our scholarship applications early. The last day to submit an application will be this Friday, August 24th.
If you have already submitted an application, or are planning to before Friday, we should be able to announce the scholarship recipients sometime in early September.
For more info on the WABA Instructors, and a detailed description of the process, read this earlier blog post.
Remember, the new deadline for scholarship applications is this Friday, August 24th.
To commemorate the life and history of civil rights advocate Frederick Douglass, WABA partnered with local community members and organizations to co-host the first “Lion Ride” through historic Anacostia and Anacostia Park. The heat and humidity of early August Washington weather didn’t deter the hundreds of attendees who roamed the grounds of the Frederick Douglass Historic Sitebeing treated to free ice cream and popcorn, dancing, music, games, tours, and family bicycle portraits with none other than Frederick Douglass himself. Local cyclists had the opportunity to comment on cycling infrastructure and where improvements might be made in their neighborhoods on an enlarged DC Bicycle map. ”The Lion Ride” was a new component of the National Parks Service’s 5th annual Frederick Douglas Family Day.
With help from local community members Kellie Armstead and Adrienne McCray who inspired and sparked this event, WABA helped to bring Capital Bikeshare and Bike and Roll bicycles to the community of Anacostia. Nearly 100 cyclists cruised down the majestic streets, homes and businesses of MLK Ave to the breezy banks of the Anacostia Riverwalk trail. Metropolitan Police officers helped escort the caravan to and from the Anacostia Skating Pavilion. Over a dozen riders from Artemis Bicycle Racing Team provided integral support to help riders navigate the route as well as lend a hand in the intense summer heat. Volunteers from the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative helped our bike check out run smoothly and efficiently. Residents got a chance to see just how close natural outdoor amenities are to their homes via bicycle. Older residents remarked on how this event helped them get back on a bicycle for the first time in years. Younger residents remarked on how this event helped them to get on a bicycle for the first time in their lives.
The Lion Ride, named after Frederick Douglass’ moniker, the Lion of Anacostia, marks a tremendous achievement of advocacy and community support for cycling East of the River as a safe, viable, affordable and sustainable form of transportation. To echo the sentiments of Mr. Douglass’ thoughts on reading, “Once you learn how to [cycle], you will forever be free.”
Please join WABA August 25th at St. Elizabeths East for a day of cycling, education, repairs and more.
After several years of advocacy and numerous hearings on the subject, the DC Metropolitan Police Department is adding to its training a segment on proper application of laws to cyclists, including a segment on the problems caused by wrongful citations. If you have been wrongly cited by MPD for a violation involving a bicycle and would be willing to tell your story as part of a training to improve police training and overall enforcement in the District, please CLICK HERE and complete this short form.
Please note that all information will be provided directly to an MPD officer for review, and you may be contacted directly by MPD regarding this project. Also note that no contact information previously provided through the WABA Crash Tracker is being provided for this purpose. Thus, if you are interested in participating and have already completed the crash tracker, you still must complete this form.
We are incredibly excited about this event, as it combines two rare happenings.
First, the public is invited to tour the long-closed, historic St. Elizabeths campus. For years, security restrictions have made it nearly impossible to visit and see this amazing campus. When occasional exceptions were made for tours they filled immediately (and of course they weren’t for biking).
Second, we almost never get the opportunity to use closed streets for a free event, in which we can invite kids, parents, and novice cyclists to come and enjoy their bikes in a car-free setting.
When WABA was invited to use these car-free streets for biking our reaction was immediate: Yes!
So we have mapped out two self-guided tour routes that are safe and family-friendly, and that will allow you to see as much of the historic campus is possible. We will be marking those routes, so all you have to do is show up, pedal, and enjoy the views. We’ll have staff members and volunteers riding the routes as well to help with any issues and make sure things go smoothly.
Meanwhile, at the main gate, we will have an assortment of bike-themed carnival games with prizes, a bike decoration station, a kids’ bicycle skills course, plenty of giveaways, answers to all your questions about biking in the city, and much more.
At 2pm we will raffle off a number of new bikes–both adult and youth models–to be given away to those in attendance, then we will kick off the first ever St. Elizabeths Bike Parade. So be sure to get to the event in time to visit the bike decoration station to get your ride ready for the show. I want to see hundreds of people, smiling and safe, riding car-free streets on decorated bikes, enjoying the opening of this space and the fun of being on a bike.
Whether you live across the street from the campus or across the region, this is a unique event in a truly unique place. Please mark your calendars, RSVP on the Facebook page so we know how many people to expect, and come join us at the carnival. Bring your kids. Bring your friends. Especially bring your friends who are thinking about biking and need a safe place and a good reason to give it a try.
Hope to see you there!
(If you have a bike, please bring it. Remember, Metro allows bikes at all times on Saturdays. We will have a rather limited number of bikes available for use on a first-come, first-served basis. But there won’t be enough for everyone.)
We are frequently asked for tips on buying a new bike. It was a major topic of conversation at our new member open house on Tuesday, and we’re increasingly asked by people ready to move from Capital Bikeshare to a personal bike how to go about it.
This morning, I saw this guide posted by Lesly J. of Black Women Bike DC, to provide advice to their new members on the same question. (Unfortunately, the smiley faces in the original won’t show up properly on our blog. So if you think something might have been said in humor, assume it was.)
And thanks to Lesly for allowing us to share.
So you’ve decided to buy a bike and have no idea where to start.
We suggest that you start by answering these questions:
1) What type of riding will I participate in (i.e., commuting, transportation, recreation, racing, etc.)?
2) How often will I ride (i.e., daily, 3x week, 1x week, monthly, etc.)?
3) What do I consider an average ride (time and/or distance)?
4) Know your terrain (i.e., flat, hilly, paved, unpaved, etc.)?
5) Budget – Whatever you think a bike cost, multiply it by 3 (or 4 or even 5)
Once you have the answers to these basic questions, LET THE SEARCH BEGIN:
Step 1. Find an Expert
We always encourage new cyclist to find a local bike specialty shop. Big box stores are great for toilet paper but NOT bicycles. Bicycles are very unique and in order to have a positive experience, you need to have a good fit. Your local bike shop can help you with this. If you are armed with the answers to the above questions, you can give them a head start in finding exactly what you need. Even better, visit two or three shops as they may carry different brands at different price ranges and ask questions everywhere you go. You’ll find some of our favorite shops at the end of this document.
Step 2. Test Ride and Fit
When choosing a bike, it’s very important to make sure the equipment will match your riding style. You also want to ensure that the bike is set up to maintain comfort over the long haul. And no, those big fat saddles –yes, bike seats are called saddles- are NOT as comfortable as they look! You do this by test riding and test riding and test riding again. Don’t buy the first bike you see, don’t buy the first bike you ride, don’t buy any bike that you haven’t been on at least as long as your answer to #3. Also, note that the best bike for you may not be women specific, so don’t get caught up in a name.
Step 3. Test Ride the Cadillac (or even better the Ferrari) Model
Once you find something that you like, you’ve ridden the bike on more than one occasion and it fits your budget, ask the experts to provide you with a lighter more expensive version of the same style bike. This bike may be well above your budget but it’s very important to understand what you are and are not buying. Unlike most sports equipment (no matter how expensive a golf club is, it won’t improve your score), a better bike can mean a much better experience. It won’t improve your endurance or make you faster (that takes practice), but less weight makes for more efficient cycling. Gearing can also change your riding experience. Knowledge is powerful, so make sure that you fully understand what spending a few more dollars will or will not get you.
Step 4. Bike TLC (tender loving care)
Once you have purchased your bike, treat it as you would a high-end sports car. Regular maintenance including tune-ups is very important to ensure you are getting the best from your investment. Then get out and RIDE!
Here are a few terms you may find helpful:
- Road bike – Best for pavement. Generally lighter in weight, road bikes are good for multiple pavement uses including fitness riding, commuting, long-distance/event rides, touring and racing.
- Mountain bike – Best for dirt or rocky trails and gravel roads; OK for pavement too especially with a different tire. Designed to be strong, with shock absorbing features and better braking systems. Mountain bikes can handle rocks, roots, bumps and steeper off road terrain.
- Hybrid bike – Best for pavement or gravel/dirt roads. They take features from both road and mountain bikes. These bikes are great for general riding and casual bike outings.
- Cyclocross/Cross bike – Designed specifically for cyclocross bike racing but are very versatile. Similar to road racing bikes, cyclocross bikes are lightweight yet tough enough to deal with dirt trails and grass.
- Lifestyle bike – Pretty much everything else that is not listed. Urban and commuting bikes, beach cruisers, single speeds, fixed gears, folding bikes, even retro bikes with banana seats. This is where it get’s personal and fun!
- Flat pedals – Basic bike pedal designed more for comfort than power transfer. (Be very leery of a bike that has preinstalled pedals!)
- Toe clips – Metal or plastic cage attached to a pedal. Usually has a strap. Allows more effective transfer of power.
- Clipless pedals – (also known as clip-in or step-in) Requires a special shoe and cleat. This type of pedal provides the most efficient transfer of power.
- Saddle – bike seat – they are designed for support; they are not a lounge chair!
- Cyclometer/Cyclocomputer – An electronic accessory that allows you to track speed, distance, time, cadence, etc. Nice to have, but not a requirement.
- Seatbag – A small storage accessory that hangs from the back of the saddle. Very nice for ensuring you always have supplies.
- Helmet – If you buy no other bike accessory, make sure you have this one and ensure that it fits properly.
- Bottle cages – Designed to hold water bottles that are easily accessible while cycling.
- Lights – If you expect to ride early mornings, dusk or at night, these are a must have – white light in front/red blinking light in rear.
Here are a few reference books/websites that we’ve found useful:
- Every Woman’s Guide to Cycling – Selene Yeager
- The Female Cyclist – Gale Bernhardt
- The Big Book of Bicycling – Emily Furia
- TheNBC.org (National Brotherhood of Cyclists)