A Day in the life of Trail Ranger

WABA’s Trail Rangers are a near-constant presence on DC’s trails, and they work harder than just about anybody else around here. Here, for the first time, is your chance to experience a day in the life of a Trail Ranger. Enjoy!

Interested in keeping in touch with the team? Sign up here! Yes!




Photo credit: 501pix Photography

Whew! That was quite a ride, wasn’t it? Next time you see a Trail Ranger be sure to give them a wave and a smile. They’re working hard to make the trail better for all of us.

Full photo shoot can be found here.

Sign up for our DC Advocacy Workshop

We know that when we build safe, connected spaces to bike, people come in droves to use them. So, as we aim to triple the number of people who bike in the region, creating quality infrastructure plays a huge role. But actually getting a protected bike lane installed takes time and hard work. It takes a lot of continuous support to push a project through every step.

Over the next few years, the District Department of Transportation plans to build almost 18 miles of protected bike lanes all over the city. But those plans might never be realized unless people like you keep the pressure up and participate actively in every step of the planning process.

On Wednesday, August 30, we are hosting a workshop to help you get in the game. Join us to demystify the process, get looped into opportunities for input, and most effectively support bike projects you care about.

Better Bicycling Advocacy Workshop
Wednesday, August 30 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Shaw Library | 1630 7th St NW
Cost: Free!

Register Here

At this training, we will cover:

  • staying informed: learning about projects before they break ground
  • the process and language of transportation planning
  • best practices for creating safe streets
  • reading and comparing concept plans
  • Opportunities for input, effective comments, and being heard

This training will use examples and projects specific to the District of Columbia, but advocates from other jurisdictions are welcome to attend. Click here for more information and to register.

Meet Rachel, A Sock Loving WABA Member!

Meet Rachel Maisler, a dedicated and enthusiastic WABA member who recently represented the WABA community at the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI)!

Rachel, who has been an member since 2013, loves to show off her passion for WABA, proclaiming: “it’s all about the socks.”

“Just kidding. I love WABA for so many reasons! WABA does a great job of building community among DC area cyclists and advocating for what’s important to its members.”

It was this sense of community that Rachel brought with her to Iowa, where she completed the 411 mile journey for RAGBRAI XLV. Cyclists travel from around the world to Iowa to ride across the state in the world’s longest, largest, and oldest bicycle touring event. Although she was in another state, Rachel still felt like part of the WABA community. “I made sure to bring my WABA jersey and socks with me. Each time I wore them, people were shouting out that they’re from DC (or the suburbs), too. I probably ran into about 10 other WABA members on the ride.”

“When I was trying to figure out how to get my bike to Iowa, I remembered WABA offers a bike box as a member benefit. I was able to pack up my bike and bring it on the plane with me.”

When she is not representing WABA in rural Iowa, Rachel is involved with WABA closer to home. “Bike to Work Day is always fun. This year, my councilmember asked me to plan a route and ride to work with him on Bike to Work Day. It was really cool to ride with him and point out what DC does really well for cyclists and how the city can improve.”

WABA is so happy to have Rachel as a member and a passionate advocate for bicycling wherever she goes! Thank you, Rachel!

PS: Want to get a pair of those pink socks Rachel loves for yourself? You can purchase a pair here.


WABA Member Highlight

Are you a WABA Member ready to share your story? We’d love to hear how you started bicycling, or an inspirational tale of how it has changed your life.

Contact Tara Kelbaugh at membership@waba.org if you would like to share.

Make a difference in your community – teach bicycle education

Are you looking to make a positive impact in your community? Do you ride your bicycle and think, “I’d like to see more people riding their bicycles safely and happily.” Do you have spare time on Saturdays and Sundays that could be better spent making bicycling better in the region? Then, you should consider applying to become a WABA instructor!

In 2016, WABA taught 483 adults how to ride a bicycle for the very first time and 311 adults how to ride more comfortably and confidently throughout the region. None of this could have been accomplished without the help of our amazing team of League Cycling Instructors (LCIs).

WABA is growing our instructor team and looking for people to teach with WABA to get more cyclists on the road in our region. WABA is hosting a LCI seminar in November. This seminar will be an intensive, fun and engaging course taught by experts and it will be free! Click here to learn more and apply.

Recently, I asked one of WABA’s Lead Instructors, Liz, why she applied to become a LCI four years ago. Not only does Liz teach for WABA, she also provides one-on-one instruction to many members of her community. Liz shared some very compelling reasons to to become an instructor:

I applied for the LCI seminar because I’ve always been enthusiastic about preaching the gospel of bike commuting, but now I could be paid to do so! Seriously, it seemed like a brilliant way to make some extra money doing something I was doing anyway. But once I started going through the process, I discovered that becoming an LCI is so much more.

The LCI seminar is, hands down, the hardest I’ve ever worked to get through a training program but is also the single most valuable professional development course I’ve ever attended. The things I learned there helped me communicate not only to bicyclists but also helped me communicate better and get more done in my day job. Knowing about how people learn and how to cater to more than one learning style makes every communication more powerful.

I keep teaching because it is joyful to see someone master a new handling skill or pedal away for the very first time. The WABA classes are a blast, but I also give private lessons and help friends improve their bicycling. I’ve found that many of my private clients are women who didn’t grow up in the U.S. who now want to learn to ride bikes to keep up with their children or get back into shape now that their kids are more independent. As a new mom, I can relate to this line of thinking now!!

I especially love the students who are nervous or scared or think they are too old to learn. How brave it is to try new things as we age! I admire every single person who reaches out to me or shows up at an Adult Learn to Ride class and takes a big step out of their comfort zone. They remind me to keep trying new things, and they are SO GRATEFUL for the few short hours of time I devote to them. And, somehow, I’m paid very well for this time that I’m lucky to spend with them. It’s a dream job.

If you’re interested in teaching for WABA or know someone who would be a great asset to our instructor pool, join us in bicycling better in the region.

Let’s Talk about E-Bikes

 

Caption: So much better than driving to school!

You’ve probably noticed that there are more electric bikes (e-bikes) around than there used to be. Once the domain of DIY tinkerers, bikes with an electric motor to make pedaling easier are now available off the shelf. For folks who are accustomed to bicycling without the help of a battery, this trend can inspire skepticism and uncertainty. Today we’re going to talk about that.

Before we dive in, it’s helpful to clarify what we mean by e-bike. E-bikes basically fall into to two categories:

Pedal Assist bikes use a motor to add power while you’re pedaling. If you stop pedaling, the motor stops. A limiter built into the motor stops adding power when the bike reaches a specific speed, usually 20mph.

Throttle On Demand bikes use a hand operated throttle, rather than pedaling action, to determine whether or not the motor is adding power. It’s possible to use the motor on a throttle-on-demand bike to propel the bike without pedaling. As with pedal assist e-bikes, a limiter built into the motor stops adding power when the bike reaches a specific speed, usually 20mph. Generally a user needs to use a mix of pedaling and electric assist to achieve a reasonable range.

Several states and national advocacy organizations have worked with the bike manufacturing industry to develop the following classification system for e-bikes.

 Can be pedaled without motor assistanceCan propelled by motor without pedalingMaximum assisted speed
Class 1 - Pedal AssisYesNo20 mph
Class 2 - Throttle on DemandYesYes20 mph
Class 3YesSometimes28 mph
MopedNoYesOver 28 mph

In most circumstances, WABA supports treating speed limited Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes as regular bikes. These low speed e-bikes make bicycling a viable transportation option for more people. They reduce barriers for folks who have longer distances to travel, heavier loads or passengers to carry, or other challenges that might otherwise preclude using a bicycle to make a trip. More people on bikes is an unequivocally good thing.

Some common questions:

Don’t e-bikes go too fast for trails?

Not really. Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are technologically limited to 20mph, and research shows that on trails, e-bike riders are generally a bit slower than unassisted bicyclists. People riding e-bikes are also subject to the same speed limits and trail safety rules as everyone else.

Biking too fast is a behavior problem, not an equipment problem. You don’t need an electric motor to be a 25mph jerk on a bike. We’ve all had the experience of being buzzed on a trail by someone riding far too fast.

By making it easier for more people to ride faster, e-bikes could democratize the capacity for bad behavior. This does not mean we should ban e-bikes any more than we should ban people with strong legs. It means we need to have systems in place to ensure that everyone is using our trails safely—infrastructure, rules, education, and social norms.

Aren’t e-bikes cheating?

E-bikes are only cheating if you’re competing.

Bike lanes and multi-use trails are not competitive spaces, they’re part of our region’s transportation and recreation network.

At WABA we’re pretty clear on this: the joy and convenience of bicycling should not be limited to the physically privileged. Everyone should be able to get where they’re going on a bike, period.

Why can’t e-bikes just ride on the street?

Since many of our region’s trails don’t have low-stress, on-street alternatives, forcing people on e-bikes to use “parallel routes” isn’t feasible or equitable. Riding a low-speed e-bike feels mostly just like riding an unassisted bike, except it’s a little easier to pedal. They’re not motorcycles, and they certainly aren’t any less stressful than an unassisted bike on busy, high-speed roads full of tired, distracted, or angry drivers.

Isn’t this a “slippery slope” toward letting electric motorcycles on trails?

No. There’s a clear framework for distinguishing between e-bikes, mopeds, and motorcycles. No one is arguing that a Tesla-Harley Davidson collaboration should be allowed on the Mount Vernon Trail.

The conversation about e-bikes highlights an important reality: Lots of different kinds of people bike for lots of different reasons.

For some folks, biking is a purely recreational. For others, it’s about fitness or competition. And for many, it’s transportation. The needs of bicyclists aren’t always going to align. This isn’t a problem—it’s a testament to the versatility of the bicycle.

More people are biking in our region than ever. That’s a good thing. But that means some of the places we bike are getting crowded, and it means that you’re more likely to be sharing space with folks who are riding for different reasons than you are.

This is where we point out, because it’s what we do, that our region needs lots more bike infrastructure. But new trails take years to plan and build. (We’re working on it!)

In the meantime, the best way to keep our trails as pleasant places is not by excluding different kinds of riders, it’s by practicing courtesy and common sense. Here are a few of our recommendations:

  1. Follow the rules of each trail, including speed limits. Call your passes and give plenty of space when passing. Remember, it’s your responsibility to negotiate space in a way that is comfortable and safe, both for you and for everyone else on the trail.
  2. Have reasonable expectations. We live in a major metropolitan region, and our trails are some of our greatest public spaces. Expect to share them with other people biking and walking. Expect to accommodate people who are moving at different speeds than you.
  3. Don’t judge other people’s reasons for riding. All bikes are cool bikes! It’s much more fun to celebrate the shared experience of bicycling than it is to be grumpy at people for riding differently.

Get in touch!

We know WABA members and supporters have strong opinions about e-bikes from many different perspectives and that’s okay. Please feel welcome to share your thoughts by dropping us a line at advocacy@waba.org.

Disclosure: The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is an independent membership 501(c)3 non-profit organization. WABA receives no direct funding from the electric bicycle manufacturing industry.

Kales and Trails

The DC Trail Ranger team will be out and about at Farmers Markets across the city this month. Check out our outreach schedule below. Come by and say hi!

Trail Ranger Coffee Hour
August 11th, 7:30 am – 9:30 am
4th St NE on the Metropolitan Branch Trail
Say hi to fellow trail users at our monthly free coffee hour!

Capitol Riverfront Farmers Market
August 13th, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
200 M St SE

SW Farmers Market
August 19th, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
4th and M St SW

Gallaudet New Student Orientation
August 23rd, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Starting at Gallaudet this fall? Come by and learn about the trails near campus.

Kenilworth-Parkside Farmers Market
August 26th, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
750 Parkside Place NE

H St Festival
September 16th, 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
H St NE corridor

DC State Fair
September 24th, 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
425 M St SW

 

 

Summer Advocacy Roundup

Hey there! Welcome to our semi-monthly advocacy Roundup. WABA’s most ambitious advocacy campaigns are directly funded by our members. Your support gives us the freedom and flexibility to work on the issues that matter most, and to expand the limits of what is possible. If you appreciate the improvements you see for biking around the region and the value of having your voice heard, please chip in.

Donate

Click here for upcoming trainings and workshops.

Community honors a Metropolitan Branch Trail advocate

WABA and the Capital Trails Coalition recently honored Paul Meijer with a dedication of the tulip garden near the Rhode Island metro station. Paul was one of the Met Branch Trail’s “super-advocates,” who worked since the mid 1980s to get the trail built. Read more.

 

New Bethesda Downtown Master Plan has big improvements for bikes 

The County Council has officially adopted the Bethesda Downtown Master Plan. It includes a massive improvement to the reach and quality of the Bethesda bicycle network, to be built out over the next 20 years. Big improvements to the plan include more proposed bikeways, great specificity, and some good news for Arlington Road!  You can read the full list of approved changes here. A final complete version of the plan should be available soon.

I-66 Trail design needs fixing

As part of the I-66 highway expansion, the Virginia Department of Transportation is building a new trail from Dunn Loring to Centreville. This is an amazing opportunity to create trail access to the W&OD, the Cross County trail, the Custis Trail and others, creating one of the longest trails in the region. Unfortunately, in many sections, the trail is squeezed between the highway and the sound barrier, which limits access, exposes users to pollution, and makes for an extremely unpleasant trail experience. VA residents may take action here. Read more about the Transform I-66 project here, at Greater Greater Washington here, and on the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling blog, here.

 

Bad news, then good news for the Purple Line and Capital Crescent Trail

WABA has supported the Purple Line for many years because it will improve the trail connections between Bethesda and Silver Spring and along much of the transit corridor in Prince George’s County. In early July, a federal appeals court ruling allowed the Maryland Transit Administration to restart construction activities on the 16 mile transit and trail project.  Read more.

Fixing Maryland State Highway 198

MD-198 is in desperate need of major safety fixes. It is an important connection between neighborhoods and activity centers, but its design is unsafe for everyone who uses it; impassable for walkers, and too stressful for people on bike. To address some of these problems, the State Highway Administration (SHA) is making plans to improve MD-198. On June 19, SHA hosted a public meeting to present their plans for the corridor and to get feedback from residents. Read more about the project here.

Rock Creek Park Trail construction update

We’re eight months into the reconstruction of Beach Drive and the Rock Creek Park Trail. In total, this will be a 3.7 mile trail reconstruction, but it’s broken into four segments. Let’s take a look at the status of the project, and what’s on the horizon for this summer and fall. Read more.

Virginia’s $44 billion transportation spending plan

Virginia residents submitted comments asking the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to fully fund the bicycle projects included in the “TransAction” plan, which will guide transportation funding decisions in Northern Virginia through 2040. The plan includes some great bicycle projects, including extending and improving the Custis Trail, building dedicated bike facilities in Arlington to connect major east-west corridors, and improved bicycle connections and Bikeshare stations at East Falls Church metro. You can see the full list of projects here.

Protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave west of the White House to Washington Circle

Great news! The preferred design to improve the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue west of the White House includes protected bike lanes on both sides of the street, and wider sidewalks. View the project documents here.

DDOT hosts training for contractors and utility companies about how to work around bike infrastructure.

After three years of work, The District Department of Transportation has released guidelines that advise Public Space Permit applicants how to properly accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians during construction or other road closures. Read more.

But if they get it wrong:

We built this complaint form to report construction blocking a bike lane or sidewalk. Details. The form notifies DDOT’s permitting office and our advocacy team.

DDOT considering a road diet and bike lanes on Alabama Ave SE

Alabama Avenue is a key east-west corridor for Wards 7 and 8, providing connections to neighborhoods, commercial areas and the Metro. But crash and speed data show that it is a hazardous road for anyone who uses it. Read more.

Sherman and Grant circles will get bike lanes

DDOT has been considering safety changes to Sherman and Grant circles for years. Reducing speeds and reducing lanes are among the best options for increasing safety and decreasing crashes. Unfortunately, citing concerns about traffic congestion, DDOT has determined it’s not feasible to remove a traffic lane from Grant circle. However, Sherman circle will go to one lane and get a protected lane and Grant circle will get buffered bike lanes. View the slides from the last public meeting here.

Visiting dangerous intersections across DC

Over the past year, our Vision Zero team has been holding neighborhood workshops in each of the District’s eight Wards. We meet up with neighbors, commuters and community advocates to visit a dangerous intersection or two, then talk about what might make it safer. Out of those conversations, we put together a report card for each intersection. Here are our report cards so far.

Families for Safe Streets chapter forming in Alexandria to push Vision Zero

If you or a close relative have been harmed in a traffic crash, your story can be a compelling part of the public discourse that moves decision makers to action. Alexandria residents who have been personally harmed, or have a close family member who has been harmed or killed in a traffic crash, are coming together to form a local chapter of Families for Safe Streets a group first formed in New York City that has become a powerful voice for ending traffic deaths and serious injuries. Read more.

Wanted: Videos of the good, the bad and the ugly on Washington’s Roads. 

Have you captured photos or video of road behavior that makes you cringe? Help make the experience of bicyclists and pedestrians easier to see and understand by posting it to our social media: #streetsforpeopleDC and tag @wabadc

Read more.

Upcoming Trainings and Workshops

Workshop: Ward 7 mobile traffic safety

The Marvin Gaye Trail is one of the best-kept secrets of Washington DC. This 2-mile trail is quiet and beautiful but it crosses some intersections which have had some crashes. And we’d like to see these intersections be less dangerous for those who bike and walk along this trail.  August 5, 10am-12pm, Minnesota Avenue NE and along the Marvin Gaye Trail

Sign up

Workshop: What to do after a bike crash

Cory Bilton from the Bilton Law Firm will discuss bike laws in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, and how to take care of yourself—physically and legally—if you are in a crash. August 10, 6:30-8:30, Takoma Park Library

Sign up

Training: Be a better bicycling advocate

Every city transportation project has opportunities to make bicycling safer and more convenient. Come learn how to effectively engage in this process. August 30, 6-8pm, Shaw Library

Sign up

Are you on your local WABA Action Committee?

All across the region great people are working to fix our streets to make biking safe and popular. They meet each month to share ideas and work together for better places to bike. Whether you’re looking for a fun group, a new cause, or a wonky policy discussion, our Action Committees have it covered.

See what we’re doing in your community and join us for the next meeting.

WABA in the news

Cyclists are told to use crosswalks, but Maryland law left them unprotected  – Washington Post, June 10

What was once a ghost road becomes DC’s newest trail – WTOP, June 24

Biking advocates worry I-66 expansion project puts a bike trail too close to traffic – Washington Post, July 9

The Trolley Trail gap – a half mile can make a difference – Hyattsville Life & Times, July 15

Free repair clinic in bike-shop desert gets Anacostia cyclists back on their wheels – Washington Post, July 15

As DC Bike Party Turns Five, Cyclists Are Feeling Optimistic About the Future – DCist, July 18

A Bike Trail on a Highway? Cycling Advocates Ask Virginia To Reconsider Plan For I-66 Widening – WAMU, July 21

Montgomery County Used to Have the Stupidest Bike Lane in America. Now It’s Leading the DC Area in Cycling Infrastructure – Washingtonian, July 27

Thanks for reading! Your membership dollars directly fund our advocacy work.

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