U-Turns Across Pennsylvania Avenue Lanes Now Cost $100


Yesterday, representatives from DDOT, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the D.C. Taxicab Commission joined up with D.C. bike ambassadors to stop drivers from u-turning across Pennsylvania Avenue. Volunteers distributed literature on the consequences of the illegal maneuver, and MPD officers handed out warnings.

The event got plenty of attention: Area cyclists have been pushing for better enforcement of u-turning drivers in earnest since late last year, and the cycletrack was on prominent display during recent festivities for the presidential inauguration. WJLA reports that, last year, 11 out of 16 crashes on Pennsyvlania Avenue were the result of u-turning drivers. Beginning today, drivers who make a u-turn across the lanes will receive a $100 fine.

A visible awareness campaign, even for one day during an off-peak time, is great news. As Martin DiCaro reports for WAMU, “Bicycle advocates also see the need for the enforcement as a sign of progress. If D.C. hadn’t seen such growth in bicycling, there’d be no issues with cabbies crashing into bicyclists as taxi drivers and others make illegal U-turns. If D.C. weren’t such a big bicycling city, there’d be no bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue in the first place.”

We hope that DDOT, MPD, and DCTC will continue to educate drivers and enforce the illegality of u-turns.

Check out DDOT’s Facebook page for a gallery of photos and additional information on enforcement on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Photo via the DDOT Facebook page


For Sale: WABA Women’s T-Shirts

In addition to our standard black T-shirts, we’ve added something for the ladies: a women’s-specific T-shirt in deep indigo. We’re selling the shirts in our store now. (If you’re in the mood to browse, there’s plenty of other great WABA swag available for purchase.)

Though we did our best to ensure that the shirts would run true to size, they are cut frustratingly small. We recommend sizing up.

Buy one today!
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Contribute to Our Flickr Pool

one dedicated photog

Last week, we announced our new Flickr pool, for any sort of cycling-related photos in the D.C. region. There have been great additions, like the above photo by Flickr user Joe in DC from the 2012 Diamond Derby. Thanks to everyone who’s contributed so far! We hope to grow the Flickr pool into not just a collection of shots from WABA events, but also a visual resource of area cycling infrastructure, activities, and people.

Remember to add your photos to the WABA Flickr pool when you upload them. We appreciate it!

We’ve Got New Business Members!

business-membership-logoRecently, we introduced the businesses that helped WABA launch our Business Membership program. Today, we welcome our newest business members! Here’s a little bit about what they have to offer and what they do to encourage cycling.

Capitol Hill Bikes is a full-service, women-owned bike shop in Capitol Hill. Since 2000, it has been working to provide a warm, welcoming environment for cyclists of all ages and skill levels to shop, learn, and experience the joy of cycling. Committed to educating cyclists, Capitol Hill Bikes offers fix-a-flat classes on the first and third Saturday of the month.

Qualia Coffee is a D.C. coffee shop and home of Fresh Off the Roast, a small-batch coffee roasting company. Qualia is bike-friendly: In 2011, it worked with WABA and DDOT to get bike racks installed out front of its Georgia Avenue location, ensuring that bicycle parking was available for their customers. Qualia also provided the initial home and incubation space for The Bike House, a community-based bike cooperative.

The Strong Law Firm is a Falls Church-based law firm that specializes in mortgage, traffic, personal injury, and bankruptcy clients. It is dedicated to defending the rights of all road users, including bike riders and pedestrians who are often given the short end of the legal stick.

A big welcome and thanks to our newest business members! If you’re interested in becoming a business member, learn more about the program here.

Why We Don’t Support Mandatory Helmet Laws

Last night, we asked you to take action to oppose a mandatory helmet law introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates’ Committee on Environmental Matters. In response, some of you asked for additional information on the “debatable” effects on bicyclists’ safety and the negative impacts on cycling that a mandatory helmet law would have.

We vocally and overwhelmingly approve of helmets here at WABA. All of our staff and volunteers wear them, we require participants to wear them at all WABA events, and we teach how to wear them properly in all WABA education classes. Helmets provide an important last line of defense in the safety equation during a crash. When everything else has gone wrong, helmets have saved many bicyclists from more serious injuries or even death. We don’t get on our bikes without our helmets and we strongly encourage every cyclist out there to wear one.

However, mandatory helmet laws requiring all bicyclists to wear helmets are not effective at increasing helmet usage without significantly affecting ridership. There are many studies that show helmet usage increases when laws are passed—but critically, not without a negative effect on overall bicycle ridership. In Australia, ridership dropped 37.5 percent between 1985 and 2011 after such a law was passed. During the same time, population growth was three times higher than the growth of cycling, meaning following the passage of a mandatory helmet law, there was a net decrease in bicycling.

These laws negatively impact bicycle ridership by throwing up one more barrier (financially and behaviorally) to bike riding. Therefore, a potential bicyclist will be driven to choose another mode of transportation. Additionally, a recent New York Times article quoted Piet de Jong, a professor in the department of applied finance and actuarial studies at Macquarie University in Sydney: “Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn’t justified—in fact, cycling has many health benefits.” Jong has studied the public health impacts of bicycling and has concluded that the positive health benefits outweigh risks of helmetless riding 20 to 1. In a country in the midst of an obesity epidemic, encouraging a few miles of bicycling everyday could lead to a considerable reduction in overall healthcare costs. And as jurisdictions like Montgomery County consider bikesharing programs, it’s important that those programs are accessible. Mandatory helmet laws in Maryland could potentially kill the momentum for bikesharing, as the law would promote a sense of danger for cycling, ignoring the obvious overall health benefits.

And finally, these laws are merely an easy “fix” for legislators that distract from larger safety issues—such as the lack of safe, separate and comfortable places to ride. Adults and kids need safe spaces to ride on our roads that are separate from cars. We at WABA believe there are better legislative ways to keep bicyclists safe, such as better and more targeted enforcement of current traffic laws (especially distracted driving), increased bicyclist education, and, most importantly, the construction of separated bicycling facilities.

Helmets are an important part of keeping bicyclists safe and WABA enthusiastically supports their promotion and use, but mandatory helmet laws do more harm than good.

The Maryland House of Delegates is considering removing the “under 16″ age requirement of its current mandatory helmet law in HB 339 to require all bicycle riders to wear a helmet. Please take a minute and contact the members of the Committee on Environmental Matters and ask them to oppose HB 339.

Converse With Roger Berliner Tonight

Tonight, Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner will host a “conversation” for residents of the county’s District 1. If you live in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac, Kensington, or Poolesville, you’re encouraged to attend and discuss issues that matter to you.

If you’d like to personally thank Councilmember Berliner for his support of a Montgomery County bikesharing system and commitment to better bicycling, we suggest you stop by. This forum is also a good opportunity to ask for continued improvements for area cyclists.

The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda.

Oppose Maryland’s Proposed Mandatory Helmet Law

Attention Maryland voters! Please take one moment to send an email to the members of the Environmental Matters Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates opposing the passage of a mandatory helmet law for all bicyclists on every road, trail, or sidewalk in the state of Maryland.

At WABA, we encourage and teach safe and responsible cycling practices, including helmet use. But we do not believe that mandatory helmet laws are the proper approach. While their impact on safety is debatable, their impact on cycling rates (especially in jurisdictions implementing or seriously studying bikesharing) is clearly negative.

Please CLICK HERE to let the Environmental Matters Committee know that you are a responsible cyclist and a responsible adult capable of making your own decision regarding safety equipment, and that you OPPOSE HB 339 and its imposition of a mandatory helmet requirement.


New Campaign to Stop U-Turns on Penn Tomorrow

The following press release comes from the District Department of Transportation. Representatives from DDOT, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the D.C. Taxicab Commission will be present to inform and cite motorists who illegally turn across the lanes. D.C. bike ambassadors will also make an appearance.

MPD, DDOT and DCTC to Conduct Pennsylvania Avenue U-Turn Enforcement and Education Campaign
Coordinated Effort Aims to Promote Bicycle Safety

WHAT/WHO: Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), traffic control officers from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and taxicab inspectors from the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission will team up in a joint campaign to educate drivers about the dangers of making U-turns across the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes. Officers will hand out informational flyers and write citations to motorists who make the illegal turns. Officials from MPD, DDOT and DCTC will also be on hand for interviews.

WHEN: Wed., Jan. 30, 2013, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

WHERE: Pennsylvania Avenue and 13½  Street, NW

BACKGROUND: The bike lanes run down the center of Pennsylvania Avenue from 3rd to 15th streets NW. In 2010 and 2011, 11 out of 14 bicycle crashes on Pennsylvania Avenue NW involved U-turns. The incidents continued in 2012, prompting Mayor Gray to order emergency rulemaking to clarify that the prohibition on U-turns across bicycle lanes can be enforced even when cyclists are not present. The violation–for an improper turn–carries a $100 fine.

Welcome New Bike Ambassadors!


Our first bike ambassador orientation session of 2013 started out with a bang: We brought 17 new ambassadors on board! We’d like to welcome all of them to the team.

Bike ambassadors reach out to and educate cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers about what it means to ride a bike in the D.C. area. These enthusiastic volunteers are dedicated to promoting safe cycling for fun, fitness, and transportation and work to make bicycling more accessible to everyone in D.C.

This spring, you can expect to see the ambassadors out on the streets acting as mobile information booths, passing out D.C. bike maps, and attending community events, health fairs, and farmers markets. We are focused on being “roll” models throughout the community and hope to break down the barriers that prevent people from biking. Look for us in your neighborhood!

Orientation for bike ambassadors is held on the third Tuesday of the month from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the WABA office at 2599 Ontario Road NW. Upcoming trainings will be held on:

  • Tues., Feb. 19, 2013
  • Tues., March 19, 2013
  • Tues., April 16, 2013

Use the sign-up page to reserve your spot. Each session is limited to the first 10 people to register.

To learn more about what bike ambassadors do and how the program spreads the good word of bicycling in D.C., click here. Please contact Megan McCarty at megan.mccarty@waba.org or by calling (202) 518-0524 x200 with any questions.

Confidential to existing bike ambassadors (if you’ve gone through a training, that’s you!): We’re throwing you a party tomorrow night. Come to our office from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for free pizza and socializing in appreciation of your efforts to spread the word about better bicycling. If you missed the link to RSVP in the email we sent out last week, you can sign up here. Remember, this is for current ambassadors only; if you’re interested in becoming one, follow the instructions above.

Free the McDonough Ten (Speed)

We would applaud McDonough being allowed to bike to work.

This post is by Andy Clarke, the president of the League of American Bicyclists. It’s crossposted on the League’s blog.

News has been filtering in for days about the appointment of Denis McDonough to be President Obama’s new chief of staff.

We’ve been paying particular attention because he lives not far from the League’s own Scott Williams in Takoma Park. In fact, they are passing acquaintances…i.e., McDonough usually passes Scott on his bike ride to work.

McDonough’s appointment was made official late last week, along with the shocking news that the new chief of staff may not be able to continue riding his bike to work. That, according to President Obama, “probably isn’t allowed.”

The League’s office is only a couple of blocks from the White House and we haven’t banned Scott from riding to work—so we don’t think it’s the distance or lack of a decent route that’s the issue. And I am sure Scott would offer to ride along with Denis in their own little bike train, if that would make the difference; we can be flexible with Scott’s hours, Mr. President.

Along with our colleagues at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, we’re sure the cycling community can come up with the top ten reasons why Denis should be allowed to ride his bike to work, including:

  • The fitness of his security detail will set a new standard for the entire White House
  • He’ll never get stuck in traffic in times of emergency
  • There’s always plenty of bike parking space on the White House railings
  • He’ll never have to leave a critical security briefing “because my carpool is leaving now”
  • Didn’t you sign an Executive Order on Sustainability that encourages this sort of thing?

Help us round out the top ten by posting in the comments below or sharing your ideas on Twitter using the hashtag #letdenisride.

Photo via the White House blog