Announcing a Trails Advocacy Partnership with REI

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At the end of last year, we offered up a list of things that was our “wish list” of projects we had on our minds for many months. Our most ambitious goal was to raise enough money to start planning for a Regional Trail Summit and Advocacy project And thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we came up with enough seed money to lay the groundwork.

But this is what happens when people start hearing about what WABA wants to do: people get inspired, they get excited and they want to build on what we begin. After hearing about our vision, not just for a trail summit, but for a larger, longer term project, we got another big boost: REI, a nationally recognized leader in outdoor recreation, community involvement and global stewardship,  invited us to apply for one of their grants. In January, we prepared an expanded grant proposal which included a full advocacy campaign, a summit with participants from all over the region, multiple trail tours, a concept plan for a new trail connection, public visioning sessions and online engagement.

Over the summer, we were thrilled to learn that we did indeed receive a grant from REI to cover almost all the costs of this expanded trail advocacy and summit vision. With what WABA will contribute in staff time, we now have the resources to launch a very robust and focused trail advocacy campaign. Thanks to the REI grant, all of the resources that come from this effort will become advocacy tools that we can use to build a case for expanded trails for years to come. Without the REI grant opportunity, we would not have been able to fund such a comprehensive advocacy program. Thank you REI!

To get the ball rolling, we’ve scheduled three tours with our advocacy team on three different trail systems. Please join us as we begin the process to help our trails get to the full potential of a completed and expanded trail circuit.

Contributory What?

Often referred to as the “one percent” rule, the Contributory Negligence doctrine prohibits you from recovering damages (money) from a crash if a court thinks you are in any way responsible for the crash.

A few examples of what this looks like:

  • You slow down and look, but roll through a four-way stop, then a drunk driver runs the sign and crashes into you.
  • You get doored, and a police officer incorrectly tickets you for riding too close to parked cars.
  • The battery on your blinky tail light dies while you’re riding home from work, and a texting driver veers into the bike lane and crashes into you.

In any of these cases, you may not be able to collect any compensation for your smashed up bike, your broken leg, or the days of work you missed while you were healing.

Only four states (Maryland and Virginia among them) and the District of Columbia retain this outdated legal doctrine.

DC Councilmember David Grosso recently introduced the “Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014″ to update DC law to the fairer, more modern Comparative Negligence standard for crashes between drivers and bicyclists or pedestrians.  This means your compensation would be reduced to the extent the you were responsible for the crash, but not eliminated entirely.  Most of the rest of the country has already adopted this more sensible standard.

Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells are also co-introducing the bill. The legislation has been referred to the DC Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, which will hold a public hearing on the bill at the end of the month. If you or other bicyclists you know have been hit and had your insurance claim reduced or denied, please consider testifying.

DC Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety Hearing
September 29th, 2014 at 12:30 pm
Wilson Building, Room 500
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20004
View the hearing notice (PDF)
Please call Nicole at 202-724-7808 to sign up to testify.

We are hosting a conference call on Sept. 23rd at 7pm to answer questions about testifying on this issue. Email advocacy@waba.org if you’d like to join the call.

If you don’t have personal experience with this issue, please sign-up now to receive updates and we will let you know when there is an opportunity to take action in support of the legislation.

Learn more about the “Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014″ our advocacy campaign page. We will be posting additional information the campaign page in the coming weeks, including an FAQ early next week.

Introducing DC Shirt & Print Co., a WABA Business Member

We’ve recently introduced you to our business membership programWe debuted the program in 2012 and are steadily signing up new business members in 2014. As part of the program, we’d like to introduce you to some of our business members. Today, meet DC Shirt & Print Co. 

DC Shirt & Print Co. is a locally owned and operated full service screen print business specializing in high quality printed teeshirts and apparel. DC Shirt & Print is located near the Takoma Park Metro Station in NW D.C. DC Shirt and Print Co. prides itself on having great customer service coupled with awesome t-shirt making!

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DC Shirt & Print Co. facility.

You know those awesome 50 States & 13 Colonies Ride shirts? Those are DC Shirt and Print Co. How about the bright green WABA Instructor polos? Also a DC Shirt & Print Co. product. DC Shirt & Print Co. has been WABA’s go-to shirt source for a couple years now and we are so happy to expand our relationship with them. We are proud to call DC Shirt & Print Co. a WABA Business Member.

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

NPS Begins Arlington Memorial Circle Planning

memorial-circle

Navigating the Arlington Memorial Circle is a major obstacle for area bicyclists. The Mount Vernon Trail, Route 110 Trail and Arlington Memorial Bridge (the direct connection to the National Mall) converge at the circle. Trail users are forced to dash across high speed traffic at grade to cross the many highways, parkways and the traffic circle. There were a number of serious crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists in 2010 and 2011, leading NPS to make some short-term safety fixes to trail crossing.

Now, the George Washington Memorial Parkway is starting a Transportation Plan and Environmental Assessment to study the long-term and major fixes need to vastly improve safety and the park experience for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers. The planning process will take almost two years to complete with a final decision document not expected until the summer of 2016.

There are a number of opportunities in September to learn more about the planning process. National Park Service is also accepting comments until September 30th during this initial phase. Visit the National Park Service Park Planning website to learn more about how to get involved.

Hey. Come ride with us!

Take on the fall with WABA’s education ride series!

When it comes to learning about biking, nothing beats real-world experience, so we’re embarking on a series of four rides — each covering a different topic or theme that will help you get around the city.

Our rides are certain to be a good time, but they’re also a safe space to practice riding with people who live and breathe (and teach) this stuff every day. Come to tour DC, come to ride, come to ask any of your deepest, darkest, secret-est bike questions, and come to have fun.

Still not sure? Did we mention that each ride will end at one of DC’s premier taco establishments?

Click on a ride below to register — advance registration costs 10 bucks a person, but you can join us for free on the day of, providing we still have space. Bring a bike, wear your helmet, and read the fine print here.

ch-ch-ch-changes

First up, we have our Ch-ch-ch-changes Ride on Wednesday, Sept. 17th! This ride is all about preparing for what comes next when you’re on your bike. We’ll be riding from trails to roads, from bike lanes to open lanes, and from Northeast to Northwest, all while summer changes to fall around us. Get ready to reinvent yourself and change the way you ride!

Starts at 6:30 p.m. @ M Street NE, between 1st Street NE and 2nd Street NE, in front of the NoMa Metro station

Ends at 8:00 p.m. @ Taqueria Nacional (14th and T Street NW)

Every other Wednesday, we’ll be setting off to explore riding in DC. And these rides are just the beginning. Next year, we’ll have a whole new series!

Check ‘em out:

On Wednesday, October 1st:

gotta get up to get down

And on Wednesday, October 15th:

bike lane blitz

And finally, on Wednesday, October 29th:

round round get around

 

What is an everyday superpower?

If you’ve poked around our educational materials lately, maybe you’ve seen our fall 2014 class campaign, which is about superpowers. Everyday ones, specifically.

everyday superpower heather blog

What does this mean, and what does it have to do with biking?

Traditional superheroes, like one of my favorites, Spiderman, practice more explicit forms of vigilante justice — fighting bad guys that the cops just can’t get to.

But our campaign isn’t about flying around in a cape — it’s about the small ways that we can empower ourselves, and others, by biking in the DMV and doing so responsibly. Everyone has an everyday superpower — it might include one of the little things that you do to make your day special, that get you out of your routine, that improve your quality of life.

You’ll notice that our superheroes are creative, vibrant, and, yes, law-abiding folk. They’re expressing themselves through biking, but they’re also working with existing systems to make things better.

Take a look at our superheroes below. Or collect them all around town. Finally, take a city cycling class and get your own superpower!

Bonus points if you email us your own everyday superpower.

With great power comes great responsibility,

The WABA Education Team

everyday superpower anica + tiffany blog

everyday superpower anna blog

everyday superpower edgar blog

everyday superpower liz blog

everyday superpower will blog

everyday superpower lesly blog

everyday superpower mike blog

everyday superpower eileen blog

everyday superpower wt blog

everyday superpower sarah blog

everyday superpower delores blog

Thanks to Anna Bavier, Elizabeth Willis, Eileen Matos, WT Chen, Mike Decker, Heather Vetting, Sarah Rice Scott, Lesly Jones, Tiffany Lam, Anica Allen, Edgar Gil Rico, Will Stowe, Delores Simmons, Ben Strahs, Chelsey Pas, and Elizabeth Lyttleton for making these photos happen.

Treasures Abound And Good Times Found!

Over 70 brave explorers came out to join in WABA’s Anacostia Riverwalk Treasure Hunt this past Saturday. Sporting costumes, colorful headwear, impressive team branding, and almost giddy excitement, the 25 teams came prepared for some serious riddle sleuthing and river wandering.
Anacostia Riverwalk Treasure Hunt

Once out on the trail, teams fanned out in all directions to unravel a list of riddles and uncover the trail’s hidden bounty. Some of these “Trail Treasures” –landmarks, sweeping views, riverside hideaways, and unexpected attractions– proved quite tricky, but well worth the trip.

Anacostia Riverwalk Treasure Hunt

Since the mark of a modern privateer is the right balance of braggery, skill, and tech savvy, teams collected points by tweeting and instagramming photos of their team at each trail treasure.  With a little encouragement and so many sights and props for inspiration, teams dove headfirst into the competition with some great results.

Anacostia Riverwalk Treasure Hunt

For many riders, this adventure was a first time down on the river. We hope that the cheerful trail, wildlife for company, and so many activities, keep them coming back!  If you missed it, check out the photos on our flickr page and consider setting sail for the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail for a voyage of your own!

For the big extra spark of motivation and boatloads of prizes, we owe a rousing Thank You to our Prize Sponsors: Capitol Hill Bikes, Bluejacket, Ice Cream Jubilee, and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

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chipotle-logo   BluejacketHiRes

 

More Details About DDOT’s Streetcar Regulations

Not a perfect setup, but a bike ban is not the solution.

Not a perfect setup, but a bike ban is not the solution.

Based on a day of answering questions from members and reporters about yesterday’s blog post, here are a few details and clarifications about the proposed regulation that would ban bicyclists from using the streetcar guideway:

  1. WABA does not oppose the streetcar. We do oppose an overly broad regulation that singles out bicycles as the only vehicles prohibited from a portion of public roadways.  We aren’t asking to delay the streetcar or make major changes to the already-built project. We are insisting that this proposed guideway bike ban not be included in the final regulations.
  2. This is the first time we’ve seen DDOT intentionally and directly proposed a rule violating its own complete streets policy by telling a mode of transportation user that parts of the public roadway network is off-limits. We believe in Complete Streets and will hold DDOT accountable for following its policy.
  3. That said, this is not merely a “slippery slope” argument. This regulation won’t just apply to H Street, NE. Once it’s on the books, it will apply to all future streetcar projects —presently planned to be a 37 mile network—unless the regulation is actively changed. That’s 37 miles of street lane that cyclists will be banned from using.
  4. The contraflow bike lanes on G and I Streets are a great way to avoid riding on H St (WABA proposed them!),  but their presence does not make riding on H unnecessary.
  5. Not every future streetcar route will have such easy alternative routes. Unless DDOT is going to promise to provide them. In which case, let’s put that in the regulations.
  6. The regulation applies to the guideway, not necessarily the whole road. DDOT helpfully clarified their intent on Facebook yesterday, but in the regulations the guideway is not as clearly defined as it should be, and a Facebook post is not helpful as a regulatory document.  Additionally, along the H St-Benning Road corridor the guideway shifts from the outer lane to the inner lane, which translates to a requirement that bicyclists switch lanes mid-block across tracks. This isn’t really any better.

We recognize that DDOT is trying to balance interests in the safety of bicyclists and the functionality of streetcars. We have raised concerns about bicyclist safety near streetcar tracks at every stage of this project, and DDOT has consistently punted on making design changes to address the problem. Now, they’ve come to the end of the design without addressing it and have no more engineering options available, so they’ve moved on to regulatory options.

We know that H Street is not a great place to bike. But its present configuration wasn’t handed down by the gods. DDOT built it like it is, knowing it wouldn’t be good for bikes, and should be held accountable for making what improvements are possible and for ensuring that future streetcar routes are built in a way that makes safe space for bikes. Allowing the agency to set the default position to “eliminating bicyclists from roadways” rather than “accommodating bicyclists on roadways” will allow DDOT to continue with unsafe designs that ignore their responsibility to make DC’s streets safe for all.

DDOT is accepting public comments on the proposed regulations until September 27th. You can submit comments here.

DDOT Proposes Bike Ban Wherever Streetcars Operate

“Bike Prohibited” could be the next version of this sign. Photo source: mvjantzen

DDOT’s proposed streetcar regulations, released last week, prohibit “riding a bicycle within a streetcar guideway, except to cross the street.” On H St Northeast, that guideway is the entire street, effective banning biking on this popular corridor. This is a problem.

For years, WABA and others have raised concerns about the interaction of streetcars and bicycles and suggested a range of both equipment and communication best practices to improve the situation. Rather than seriously pursing these solutions, DDOT is proposing to ban bikes.

Tell DDOT Not to Ban Bikes

Streetcar tracks can pose a legitimate hazard to bicyclists, but banning bikes is not an acceptable solution. Please contact DDOT immediately, and demand that this bike ban be removed from the regulations before they are made final.

This restriction is not just a bad idea, it contradicts DDOT’s own Complete Streets Policy, which explicitly requires:

“All transportation and other public space projects shall accommodate and balance the choice, safety, and convenience of all users of the transportation system including pedestrians, users with disabilities, bicyclists, transit users, motorized vehicles and freight carriers, and users with unique situations that limit their ability to use specific motorized or non-motorized modes to ensure that all users, especially the most vulnerable can travel safely, conveniently and efficiently within the right of way.”

Bicycles and streetcars share space in cities across the world. There are a variety of technical and design solutions to this problem. It is past time for DDOT to commit to learning about and using these sorts of solutions rather than banning an entire mode of transportation from the road.

Introducing Mesirow & Associates, PLLC, a WABA Business Leader Member

We’ve recently introduced you to our business membership programWe debuted the program in 2012 and are steadily signing up new business members in 2014. As part of the program, we’d like to introduce you to some of our business members. Today, meet Mesirow & Associates, PLLC

Mesirow & Associates, PLLC is a small firm that focuses on  personal injury cases due to bicycle accidents, car accidents and pedestrian accidents in Washington, DC, Maryland, ,and Virginia. John Mesirow has been commuting by bicycle for 12 years from Chevy Chase, Maryland. John says, “When I started commuting, people would honk at me or yell…But I’ve noticed that, over the years, this has steadily decreased. As more and more cyclists hit the roads and trails…and groups like WABA advocate for cyclists, I have been pleasantly surprised that motorists have become more aware of, and considerate of, cyclists.” As a personal injury lawyer, John has dealt with many bike cases, and seen a gradual change in police understanding of bicycle cases and he and members of his firm are working to make that trend continue.

photo Washington Lawyer

John Mesirow and his bike. Photo from Washington Lawyer

John has been a WABA Member for many years, his firm was one of our first business members, and they were the first business to join at our new Business Leader Level. John says, “Our firm is and will continue to be a WABA “Business Leader” because we believe that the best way to protect cyclists is to educate the public (and to make sure cyclists know the rules of the road too).” We are proud to call Mesirow & Associates a WABA Business Leader Member!

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.