Women & Bicycles Photo Series: Ann DeSanctis, Allison Hasser, Nicole LaFragola

The Women & Bicycles Photo Series (#WBPhotoSeries) is a new project in the program that aims to demonstrate and promote the great and diverse group of women that make up the W&B community.

As well as appearing on the group’s Facebook page and on Instagram, these features – a brief quote and accompanying photograph of the woman participating – will be published in a periodic consolidation of the portraits right here on this blog! For more information about the project, send me an email at emily.janas@waba.org.


 

Ann DeSanctis, Brightwood Park, Washington, D.C.

“Anytime you’re in a city, you’re not necessarily, right away connected to people, even though you’re surrounded by people all the time. so the thing about this group that I think is amazing is knowing that there are other people going through the same thing I’m going through, or something much worse or much better; it equalizes the experience. And it really does seem to be that support is the underlying message and theme, and people have stuck to that even through their differences.”

ann desanctis

 

Allison Corke Hasser, Takoma, Washington, D.C.

“So last summer, I got off work and I was going to bike down to the Mall to meet my friends for Jazz in the Sculpture Garden. I was biking down North Capitol, which is a little bit of a thrill in itself anyway, you know – no bike lanes and it’s crowded and all that. But the weather was perfect and I was going to meet my friends and I knew I didn’t have to find parking or deal with Metro. I just felt like I was a part of the city. You see the Capitol building and you’re on the road – it feels like you’re on to something great. I can go anywhere, I’m not limited. That feels pretty empowering.”

Allison Corke Hasser

 

Nicole LaFragola, Ballston, Arlington, VA

“My love of bicycling is something I really want to share with others, mostly because it was a huge life change for me. Coming from Florida, with always driving and being so isolated from other people and from the outside to where I am now, when it’s regular for me to bike everywhere – it’s just changed who I was.

So especially when I started feeling that rush of ‘this is amazing!’, like once I got over the initial fear of getting on the streets, I started talking with so many friends about it, and I’ve seen it take effect there, too. And that’s it, I want to share that with folks.”

 

 

Nicole LaFragola

 

Women & Bicycles is proudly supported by The Potomac Pedalers Touring Club; hosts of the region’s most robust all-level group ride calendar and bike tailgates, Chipotle our delicious dinner party sponsors, and we’re supported by all our friends who donated through the Hains Point 100 ride.  

   

Mile Markers coming to the Metropolitan Branch Trail

MBT Coffee Hour 12.12.2014Over the past few weeks, a series of troubling incidents on the Metropolitan Branch Trail have again raised questions of user safety on this popular urban trail. Though counter data show an average of 1200 trail users each day since April, recent incidents and the law enforcement response to them have justifiably shaken the confidence of regular trail users.

Two weeks ago, WABA sat down with leadership from District Department of Transportation (DDOT), Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Office of Uniform Communication (OUC), and DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) to address these concerns. As a result, DDOT will install mile markers throughout the trail backed by changes to the 911 computer dispatch system to ensure a timely and direct law enforcement response to 911 calls.

Why is location so difficult?

When someone dials 911 to report an incident, pinpointing an accurate location is one of the first priorities for the dispatcher. For places on the street grid, this is easy. The dispatcher has a vast database of city addresses and landmarks at their fingertips for quick action to an emergency.

Locations on trails are much more difficult to pinpoint because they do not easily map onto the street grid. To send help to the right place, the caller must have some idea of where they are and the dispatcher must have a record of that location. A caller may know they are on the Met Branch Trail, but have few useful landmarks to communicate where. On the other end, the 911 dispatcher’s system requires a valid address or a selection from a limited number of hand coded points along the trail. In an emergency, even half a mile is too large a margin for error.

Shortly after the MBT opened in 2010, DDOT installed street signs along the trail to help trail users orient themselves to the street grid. At the same time, the Office of Unified Communication, which runs the 911 call center and the location database it uses, identified a number of possible landmarks along the trail. Trail access points such as the ramp at M St and the cross streets of R St, T St, and 8th St. were coded into the 911 location database. In theory, a caller could identify any street crossing and the dispatcher would be able to work with that.

What works in theory is failing in practice. Police and emergency responders cannot help if they are sent to the wrong place.

A solution is on the way

Mile markers may resemble this

Mile markers may resemble this

Two weeks ago, WABA helped convene a meeting with the leaders from the OUC, MPD and DDOT to walk through the 911 response issues we have seen and heard about. A quick review of recent cases showed that confusion on location, both by caller and dispatcher, is far too frequent. Trail users have too few reliable landmarks and dispatchers have an incomplete list of street intersections and access points.

The solution: DDOT will install mile markers along the full length of the Met Branch Trail. In addition to giving trail users a clear message on where they are, every marker will be entered into OUC’s location database. No longer will callers and dispatchers have to go back and for on which metro station is in the distance or which street is closest. Mile marker 1.7 on the Met Branch Trail will suffice. Signs are designed for every 1/10 of a mile and should start going up soon.

Trail safety remains a priority

Mile markers and better 911 response are crucial, long needed improvements for the Met Branch Trail. But, signs alone cannot erase the concerns of trail users and neighbors. We are encouraged by more frequent police presence on the trail and greater awareness of the trail’s specific challenges by MPD’s leadership. Law enforcement must be an integral part of ensuring the trail remains a safe place to be.

In the coming weeks, the NoMa BID will be releasing its final report to conclude the Safety and Access study which began earlier this spring. It will include a number of recommendations for the short and medium term which could do a lot to make the MBT an even better, more popular community resource. More activities, more eyes, better neighborhood connections and, of course, more miles will ensure the MBT’s continued success.

The Met Branch Trail Gets a New Coat of Paint

Saturday brought brief rain and thunder but did nothing to dissuade 12 amazing painters from joining the Trail Ranger team in cleaning up the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

We were able to remove graffiti from three long walls on the trail, remove invasive Tree of Heaven from the trail side and tidy up the S St. pocket park. The difference that 6 gallons of paint, many enthusiastic hands and a few roller brushes made in short order was impressive.

Volunteer on MBT

Painting the MBT

Painting on the MBT 2

Painting on the MBT 3

Thank you to everyone who came out and gave the trail some needed attention. See you out on the trails! – The Trail Ranger Team

Group photo on the MBT

Photo Credit: Jason Horowitz/Mirror Ball Studio

Construction Starting on 15th St Bike Lane Northern Extension

15th-st-extension-2

A short but very important extension of the 15th St NW protected bike lane. Photo provided by DDOT.

The 15th Street NW protected bike lane is about get a little longer and a whole lot prettier. Last night, this District Department of Transportation updated the community of their final designs for the intersection of 15th St, New Hampshire Ave, W St and Florida Ave NW. The final plans will extend the two-way protected bike lane from V St. NW to W St NW and will be separated from traffic by granite curbs. The bike lane will also incorporate curbed pedestrian refuge islands between the bike lane and travel lanes to provide a safe place to wait for people walking.

While it may seem like a minor accomplishment to extent of the protected bike lane one block. This extension is critical to extending the lane further north to Euclid St. DDOT refused to reconfigure 15th St NW from W St to Euclid St NW to a two-way protected bike lane from the bizarre double bike lane, until this project was finished. This project is the missing block and will pave the way for a full extension of the bike lanes to Euclid (pun intended).

15th-st-extension-1

Final design for the new 15th St, New Hampshire Ave , Florida Ave and W St NW intersection. Photo provided by DDOT.

Beyond the new protected bike lane, the project will replace the dangerous slip lane from 15th Street to Florida Ave with a new pocket park. The new street will incorporate low impact development (LID) to manage stormwater and shorten all of the crosswalks with curb extensions. The new intersection will be a vast improvement for all.

Construction will start in the next few weeks and it’s expected to be complete by the end of the year. Weather and other delays could push the completion past December, but should not take more than 6 months. Access for bikes will be maintained during construction in the current northbound direction.

Are you our next PAL Ambassador Coordinator?

10730970_10153393462823374_5631399936775476039_n
Are you our next PAL Ambassador coordinator? Want to be a community organizer for a more predictable, alert, and lawful culture on our roads?

Perks of the job:
-Community organizing for for a better Arlington
-Brainstorming, crafting, sign-making
-Biking around with a trailer
-Getting to call everyone PAL
-Let’s  be real, part of this job is getting paid to ride your bike around and be nice to people.

Click here for more information on the PAL Ambassador Coordinator position.

We’ve extended our deadline to Monday, July 20th. Send your cover letter and resume to jobs@waba.org.

How to deal with bike lane blockages and other road obstacles

photo credit:www.nydailynews.com

photo credit:www.nydailynews.com

Riding your bike through the city streets is exhilarating and fun, no doubt. But it can also be filled with the daily obstacles and chaos that unfortunately come along with traffic everywhere…like this:

Photo credit: Greg Billing, Twitter (@gregbilling)

(Photo credit: Greg Billing via Twitter @gregbilling)

or this…

Photo credit: Ursula Sandstrom

(Photo credit: Ursula Sandstrom)

or even this…

In the protected bike lane?! | Photo credit: Ursula Sandstrom

Yes, even in a protected bike lane! (Photo credit: Ursula Sandstrom)

Mayhem, right? Here’s how you as a cyclist can safely and effectively maneuver through blocked bike lanes and other obstacle-filled circumstances on the road!


Passing:

1. Be a PAL, especially when moving out of the bike lane to avoid an obstacle. Make it a point to be Predictable, Alert, and Lawful while you’re riding. This is especially important when passing into a traffic lane from a bike lane to avoid an obstacle, such as a parked car. When you notice the obstacle:

  • Slow down
  • Look over your shoulder and make sure the driver of the car behind you is aware of your attempt to pass, getting eye contact if possible.Image via BikeSense
  • Signal your intent.
  • Pass confidently, merging back into the bike lane once you have passed the obstacle.

 

2. Be careful with buses! Sarah Goodyear of The Atlantic‘s “City Lab”explains the complicated relationship that bicycles and buses share on the road:

“It’s one of the most disconcerting interactions on urban and suburban streets: the uncomfortable, out-of-sync dance between bicycles and buses traveling in the same direction. Often, the person riding a bike will have to leave the bike lane and go out into car traffic to pass a bus that has pulled into a stop—only to be quickly passed again by the bus driver, who then has to pull in for the next stop just as the cyclist is coming up from the rear again.” (Full article here.)

As the cyclists, you can make this dance a little smoother by making yourself as  visible to the person driving the bus as you can by making eye contact,  staying out of their blind spots, and not trying to pass too closely or dangerously.

Image via trimet.org

Image via TriMet

You should also follow the same signaling and predictable behavior as mentioned  above. Be patient and don’t try to rush by with risky or dangerous moves.


Reporting:

Reporting parked cars, debris, or other obstacles in the bike lane is important! For one, it helps get things fixed – the city cannot do anything about a road problem if they don’t know it exists, and they certainly cannot have eyes and ears everywhere, all the time. Reporting issues also helps add to data that can help track the frequency and scale of problems, again, helping them to be noticed and (eventually, we hope) get fixed!

 

1. Debris: If there is debris – like glass, litter, branches or whatever else – in your path, immediately call 311 to report it. Additionally, f it is possible and safe to do so, you can take action yourself by removing the branches or picking up the litter.

Image via Flickr user Mr.TinDC

Image via Flickr user Mr.TinDC

2. Parked cars: If driver of the car is present, kindly inform them that they are blocking the bike lane and ask them to park somewhere else. While it is frustrating when a car is parked in the bike lane, it’s best when confronting the issue with a driver not to be aggressive or disrespectful.

(Photo credit: Ursula Sandstrom)

(Photo credit: Ursula Sandstrom)

*In fact, many people are not even aware that it’s illegal to park in the bike lane!

If the driver isn’t present or you do not feel comfortable confronting them, call 311 to report it.


Indeed, riding in the city can be difficult and full of obstacles, but knowing how to deal with the mayhem safely and effectively will help you continue to enjoy your rides and make the streets better for everyone!

 

wandblogoThis blog post is part of a weekly Women & Bicycles series of tips and helpful information that will answer frequently asked questions, provide helpful advice to common problems, and make bicycling a more accessible, widely-chosen means of transportation, exercise, and fun! To learn more about WABA’s Women & Bicycles program, click here to learn more and get involved.

Women & Bicycles is proudly supported by The Potomac Pedalers Touring Club; hosts of the region’s most robust all-level group ride calendar and bike tailgates, Chipotle our delicious dinner party sponsors, and we’re supported by all our friends who donated through the Hains Point 100 ride.  

sponsor pic

Women & Bicycles Photo Series: Barbara Bitondo, Renu Singh, Harum Helmy

The Women & Bicycles Photo Series (#WBPhotoSeries) is a new project in the program that aims to demonstrate and promote the great and diverse group of women that make up the W&B community.

As well as appearing on the group’s Facebook page and on Instagram, these features – a brief quote and accompanying photograph of the woman participating – will be published in a periodic consolidation of the portraits right here on this blog! For more information about the project, send me an email at emily.janas@waba.org.


 

Barbara Bitondo, Washington, D.C:

“W&B supports empowerment and emancipation of women specifically, which is why I participate. Learning any new skill gives a woman freedom and independence, and, if the skill is cycling, well, in gets her where she is going faster!”


Renu Singh, Glover Park, Washington, D.C:

“So, I was thinking about this the other day. I am a minority, a woman, and I was an immigrant for a while while I was living in London. All of these things coming together. And I feel like weirdly, bicyclists are treated as a minority similarly in that people have these stereotypes about them. When you don’t know something, you tend to misunderstand it. So for us especially in this group, I just feel like it’s important to stick together and get the word out there. The more people you reach, the less there’s going to be an ‘us them’ situation. There just shouldn’t be an ‘us, them’ situation.”

Harum Helmy, Takoma Park, MD:

“Biking is definitely empowering for me, and it’s such a good feeling. I have these moments sometimes, where I’d be going really fast, or actually trying to go fast, and I’d look down and see my thighs going and I’d think – I’m propelling myself forward. Me, my body. It’s kind of neat, you know? And being that happy and feeling so powerful in your body and all is awesome, and it’d be great if more people – more women, really – could feel that, too.” 

Women & Bicycles is proudly supported by The Potomac Pedalers Touring Club; hosts of the region’s most robust all-level group ride calendar and bike tailgates, Chipotle our delicious dinner party sponsors, and we’re supported by all our friends who donated through the Hains Point 100 ride.