Closer to Nature and Community

This guest post is by WABA Member Inez Steigerwald, who teaches 3rd and 4th grades in College Park. Read the other entries in our Bike to School Day series here and here.

When you think of Bike to School Day you think of kids on the backs of cargo bikes, kids on trail-a-bikes, kids on their own small bikes riding along with their parents to get to and from school. But this is DC, and riding a bike is often the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to get around the city. Getting some exercise is just icing on the cake. That’s why, as a teacher, I ride my bike to work.

My favorite school year commute was the year that my co-teacher and I commuted together. We lived in the same neighborhood and often left work at the same time. We could debrief the day or use the time as a rare opportunity to talk about something other than our students and what we were going to do for math the next day. Having somebody I liked both in and out of the classroom made the three and and half miles across town on busy streets pass quickly, and I often came home feeling simultaneously relaxed and invigorated.

When my school moved a few years later, I got to do half of my ride on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Tulips in the spring, raspberries in early summer, an incredible view of the sunrise over the Red Line tracks, and a lot less honking. I used to pass the same mom walking her young son to school most mornings. Sometimes I ran into a coworker on my way to work, or a neighbor on my way home. Did you know that they plow the MBT when it snows?

This year I’ve moved to a new school, and my new commute has been my least stressful ride yet — two of my seven miles each way are on residential streets, and the rest is on the Northeast Branch Trail. Have you ever seen the morning mist on the Anacostia? In the mornings I see hardly anyone else — a few people getting in an early morning run, a few dog walkers. In the afternoons the playgrounds and soccer fields I pass are full of people.

It’s not all peachy, of course. Crossing Florida Ave on my bike was nerve wracking every single day—I never thought I’d have such strong feelings about turning right on red. Wintry mix is unpleasant no matter how you commute. But when the choice was 25 minutes of exercise, for free, on my bike or 45 minutes in rush hour traffic on a bus, the choice was clear. Now my commute is longer—45 minutes each way through woods, along running water, checking in with the cranes and the foxes.

I bike to school mostly because it’s affordable and convenient and I like the time outside, but also because it keeps me learning. When I ride, I learn new things every day about the city, about our environment, and about my community, and I think that helps me as a teacher.

The Role of a Closed Road Bike Ride

From our partners at DC Bike Ride:

We hope you will join us on May 19 for DC Bike Ride, an incredible fundraising opportunity for WABA that supports their advocacy work on Vision Zero and street safety for all.

DC Bike Ride is very special. It is the region’s only closed-road, car-free, recreational ride. No other event like this exists.

A closed-road ride serves a critical purpose in the bicycling community by reaching those “interested but concerned” bicyclists and invites them to try bicycling.

WABA is a founding partner and the non-profit beneficiary of this event. The event inherently promotes bicycling and brings down barriers to biking, thus attracting new people to bike regularly and for transportation.

If you’ve been a WABA supporter for a while, you may remember Bike DC. WABA was also a non-profit beneficiary of that event, but it was cancelled in 2013 due to permitting challenges, leaving DC without a recreational, closed-road bike event.

We are fortunate that, along with WABA’s help, we were able to keep a closed-road, recreational ride in the DMV area alive.

Join us. Register today for DC’s only closed-road bike ride.

More about DC Bike Ride: The event features a 20-mile scenic route with absolutely no cars; you can also opt for a 6-mile short cut course. The event is not a race – it is completely recreational and allows participants to go at their own pace. For more information about the event visit www.dcbikeride.com.

Registration is filling up and the price will increase on May 1. WABA Members and supporters can register using the promo code WABALOVE to receive $10 off standard registration.

Please join us on May 19 for DC’s only closed-road bike ride.

Bike Your Heart Out at DC Bike Ride

From our partners at DC Bike Ride:

We’re so excited to announce the headliner of the DC Bike Ride Finish Festival: get ready to gear up for some go-go music with DC’s own legendary Trouble Funk and DJ Little Bacon Bear!

 

 

DC Bike Ride is DC’s only closed-road, car-free, recreational bike ride. Join us in celebrating what makes DC, DC: the people, the culture, the music, and the joy of biking around a beautiful city.

The third annual DC Bike Ride will take place on Saturday, May 19 and feature a 20-mile scenic route with absolutely no cars (or you can opt for the 6-mile short cut course). Registration is filling up fast and the price increases on April 1.

WABA Members and supporters can register now using the promo code WABALOVE to receive $5 off standard registration until April 1.

register now!

Why join DC Bike Ride? Because it’s going to be really fun, it’s your only chance to bike the streets of DC on completely car-free roads, it’s family-friendly and for all biking abilities, and it raises support for WABA’s street safety work around Vision Zero.

Register now!

Serve on the WABA Board of Directors

The WABA Board of Directors at the 2017 Annual Meeting.

A message from Paul d’Eustachio, President of the WABA Board of Directors.

WABA’s Board of Directors is looking for people with a passion to help make communities in Washington DC, Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland safer and more welcoming environment for people using bikes. To this end, the WABA Board Nominating Committee is searching for board of director candidates with strong leadership skills and experience in helping non-profit organizations execute strategy and development plans.

WABA continues to enjoy a growing base of loyal members and a diversifying funding base as bicycling options becoming increasingly popular across various demographics. We have a particular interest in candidates who can help us further expand our partnerships with a broader pool of private organizations and individuals who share and are willing support WABA’s goal of making the Washington area the most bicycle friendly in the world. The ability to connect WABA to the broader Washington area network of donors is a plus. We are also looking for a candidate who can help us ensure that our financial monitoring and oversight mechanisms are robust and efficient.

WABA continues to seek board members and partners who can help us ensure that our mission and programming serves the needs of bicyclists in low-income or underserved communities. The WABA board’s commitment to diversity is real, and weight will be given to candidates who broaden the board’s views and experience.

WABA board members are volunteers who serve two-year terms. They are expected to participate in regularly scheduled board meetings (7 per year and the annual meeting), serve on board committees as needed, provide counsel to WABA staff in their areas of expertise, and make WABA a significant part of their individual philanthropy.

WABA’s board members participate in standing and ad-hoc committees that focus on areas critical to WABA’s success. They include advocacy, administration and finance, development, and programs committees. Board appointment is not required for membership on these committees, and some candidates may find service on committees may be better suited to their time and interests. If you think that you might be interested in participating (i.e., non-board member appointment) on these committees, please email boardofdirectors@waba.org.

Candidates who are interested in exploring whether their skills and interests align with WABA’s are invited to make an initial expression of interest in board membership by filling out the form here. If you have previously filled out an expression of interest, and remain interested, please email boardofdirectors@waba.org. While the search for director candidates is an ongoing one, the board expects to present a slate of candidates at the February 8th, 2018 annual members’ meeting.

Silver Spring Celebrates its First Protected Bike Lane

On Saturday, October 14, more than 70 bike advocates and neighbors gathered with county officials in Woodside Urban Park to celebrate the completion of Silver Spring’s first protected bike lanes on Spring Street and Cedar Street. After schmoozing with stakeholders and excited conversations, councilmembers Roger Berliner, Tom Hucker and Hans Riemer, Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Al Roshdieh, Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and WABA Board Member Peter Gray spoke about the event’s significance and enjoyed many well-deserved rounds of applause. After cutting the ribbon on the new lanes, we all embarked on the maiden voyage, joyfully riding the length of the protected bike lanes and returning along Wayne Ave and Second Ave, the future home of Silver Spring’s 2nd protected bike lane.

Events like this capture advocacy at its finest. Government officials experienced firsthand the passion of their constituents and the delight, and new connections, such projects generate.  About 55 bicyclists safely and comfortably traveled along a main Silver Spring corridor, showcasing the potential for smart road design to promote safe and active transportation for all age groups. Along the way, curious residents inquired about the event, and a few stray cyclists joined the ride!  Thank you to all who made this event possible.  We look forward to working with you as we harness this positive energy and momentum for a more bikeable, walkable and livable Silver Spring!

This post comes from Zachary Weinstein, a leading member of WABA’s Action Committee for Montgomery County and a resident of Silver Spring. To get involved, sign our petition to support our campaign to Create the Silver Spring Circle for a more bikeable Silver Spring, come to our next meeting (4th Monday of the month, 7pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center) and join the Bike Silver Spring Facebook group.

Tour de Fat cancelled due to dangerous weather

Live from the waterfront

As you might have seen on social media, Tour de Fat has been cancelled due to some dangerous weather.

We’re bummed we don’t get to party with you today.

Tour de Fat is a big goofy party, but the work it funds is serious and important—safer bike lanes, better bike laws, a more connected trail network, and better education programming for everyone who uses our roads.

Can you chip in a some of that weekend beer money and help us keep working to make your bike ride better?

$10 $25 $100

We really appreciate it. Stay safe in this crazy weather!

Let’s go for a ride soon,

—Your friends at WABA.

PS: If you purchased tickets, keep an eye out for an email from New Belgium Brewing about next steps.

Further Delays for the Purple Line and Capital Crescent Trail

Purple Line and trail bridge over rock creek (Image by Maryland Transit Administration)

In May, Maryland’s Purple Line project received some bad news which further delays construction of the 16-mile light rail project and jeopardizes major improvements for bicycling in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

On May 22, 2017, US Federal Judge Richard Leon ruled that the State of Maryland and the Federal Transit Administration must complete a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before proceeding with construction of the Purple Line light rail transit project. The SEIS would address the issues the Judge found with regards to the future projected ridership on the Purple Line. The plaintiffs argued that future ridership would not be as large as modeled and thus not support building the transit project because its ridership depends in part on people transferring to or Metrorail. Metrorail ridership has declined in recent years from delayed maintenance and extended system closures for repairs. The Judge ruled the State of Maryland needs to reevaluate the ridership projections before the transit project can move forward. The Judge also ruled on May 30 that the other environmental issues raised by the lawsuit seeking to block the project were without merit.

The ruling means major construction on the 16-mile line connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s counties remains on hold until the lawsuit filed by Purple Line opponents is resolved. The State of Maryland has already appealed the ruling and there is still hope that a timely ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals could reverse Judge Leon and allow the project to proceed.

The Purple Line is Great for Trails

WABA has enthusiastically supported the Purple Line for many years because it will vastly improve the trail connections between Bethesda and Silver Spring and along much of the transit corridor in Prince George’s County. The Georgetown Branch Trail, upon which the Purple Line will be built,  is an unpaved and incomplete trail that runs from the Bethesda central business district across Rock Creek to Stewart Avenue, still 1.5 miles outside of downtown Silver Spring. The trail crosses major roads, like Connecticut Ave and Jones Mill Rd, at grade which creates difficult and hazardous crossings for trail users. As part of the Purple Line project, the trail will see some major improvements.

The Purple Line project will finally complete the vision of a Capital Crescent Trail directly linking downtown Silver Spring to Bethesda to Georgetown. Alongside the rail line, the trail will be upgraded from a rutted gravel path to a paved 12 foot wide asphalt path with lighting and new neighborhood connections. New bridges and underpasses will take the trail across Connecticut Avenue, Jones Mill Road, and Colesville Rd to avoid cars on busy streets altogether.  At the Silver Spring Transit Center, the trail will connect directly to the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which will soon extend south 8 miles to Union Station in DC.

Without the Purple Line, the Georgetown Branch Trail will remain unimproved, disconnected from the regional trail network, and most useful only to the its immediate neighbors. WABA will continue to follow developments relating to this vital transportation project in Maryland. To help when it counts most, sign up for WABA advocacy alerts here and read Purple Line Now’s blog coverage of this ongoing legal process here.

UPDATE!

In early July, a federal appeals court reinstated the Purple Line’s environmental approval while the appeal is decided. This decision allows the Maryland Transit Administration to restart construction activities on the 16 mile transit and trail project. The final hurdle is securing a full funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration for $900 million in federal funds. For more, read the Washington Post’s coverage.

 

Help with this Research: How safe is this street?

To get more people biking in the region and connect area residents with a safe and low-stress bicycle network, governments need to invest more in building safe streets and trails, but we also need new tools to understand the network and set priorities. We are proud to share this guest post from the Urban Computing Lab at the University of Maryland about their research into bicyclist safety. We hope you’ll contribute to the project.

Over the past two decades, cities across the country have experienced a tremendous growth in cycling. As cities expand and improve their bicycle networks, local governments and bicycle associations are looking into ways of making cycling in urban areas safer. However, one obstacle to decreasing the number of bicycle crashes is the lack of information regarding cycling safety at the street level.

With a cycling safety map, we can select our cycling route wisely. Historically, Bicycle Level of Service (BLOS) models have been used to measure street safety. Unfortunately, these models require extensive information about each particular roadway section, which often times is not available. Instead, this project will provide innovative tools to automatically estimate street safety levels from crowdsourced citizens’ complaints as well as to shed some light into the traffic-related reasons behind such safety values.

Our goal is to build a cycling safety map that fits your perception of cycling safety. We assume that such perception is captured by crowdsourced complaints and concerns raised by citizens regarding bicycle and road-related issues. If this assumption holds true, we can use artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to build cycling safety maps with minimum human labor using crowdsourced citizens’ complaints. Our project uses citizens’ complaints extracted from platforms such as 311 or Vision Zero Input Maps. These platforms contain citizen-generated complaints and comments regarding cycling issues including but not limited to, traffic (e.g., speeding, missing road signs), cycling (e.g., street obstructions, lights) or infrastructure (e.g., pavement or curb conditions) at very detailed spatio-temporal scales.

But first, we need to teach our AI techniques about cycling safety levels per road segment, so that the AI techniques can determine how to make good use of the crowdsourced data. And this is where we need help from cyclists like you! Our AI techniques need to know the cycling safety levels to assess how well we can predict them. So, we are asking cyclists to watch and label as many videos as they can. These labels will be used to train our AI techniques and to develop models that will allow decision makers to automatically draw cycling safety maps exclusively using already existing public complaints (e.g, 311); as well as to understand the reasons behind why certain streets might be safer than others.

Ultimately, bicycle associations might also use these insights to support specific street re-designs based on the evidence from the models.  For this project, we are focusing on cycling safety in D.C as a case study, but we hope to expand to other cities in the near future!

Thank you for helping us and happy rating!

Rate Some Videos!

P.S. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us at umdcyclingsafety@gmail.com

 

Work for WABA: Events Coordinator Job Opening

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) seeks a full-time Events Coordinator to plan, implement, promote, and manage WABA special events, as well as provide support for new events and programs.

About WABA

WABA works to create a healthy, more livable region by promoting bicycling for fun, fitness, and affordable transportation; advocating for better bicycling conditions and transportation choices for a healthier environment; and educating children, adults, and motorists about safe bicycling.

Job Description

The Events Coordinator position will work to achieve the following objectives: successfully lead WABA’s existing events in order to create a safe and welcoming space for WABA Members and supporters to be part of a community that celebrates and promotes bicycling; engage with and help expand other WABA programs, ensuring that events promote membership, grow volunteers, and advance our advocacy, education, and outreach initiatives; grow WABA’s events portfolio through meaningful partnerships, corporate sponsorships, and new innovative events and rides to support the WABA mission.

The Events Coordinator position is best for someone who is highly organized, likes to be in charge of their own projects, can manage many logistics at once, is skilled at delegating specific tasks to people, enjoys creating memorable experiences for others, connects the importance of events and community-building to carrying out our mission, can creatively solve problems, and knows how to breathe deeply and communicate well when managing stressful situations.

Responsibilities:

The Events Coordinator will:

  1. Deliver high-quality events to members and supporters,
  2. Manage all event logistics, including: securing venues, managing volunteers, running registration and promotion plans, tracking event budgets, and managing day-of logistics,
  3. Perform general administration tasks, including: updating content on website using WordPress, writing blog posts, data entry, tracking supplies inventory, and answering event emails and phone calls,
  4. Coordinate partnerships and event opportunities with affiliate organizations,
  5. Coordinate WABA’s bike racks, and supply racks for bike parking for WABA events and occasional partner events,
  6. Support Development, Events and Membership Team in soliciting corporate sponsors,
  7. Provide general support for WABA’s outreach, advocacy, and education initiatives as needed.

Qualifications:

The ideal candidate will have:

  1. One to two years of special events and event planning experience, including experience planning events and/or carrying out programs for non-profits, sports teams, membership organizations, or outdoor recreation groups or clubs,
  2. A commitment to and the ability to stay on task, pay close attention to detail, remain organized, and ensure event deliverables are executed on time,
  3. Excellent communications skills via email, phone, and in-person, as well as good public speaking skills,
  4.  A flexible schedule, specifically the ability to work nights and weekends leading up to and during WABA events, and the ability to begin event set up early in the morning and/or finish event break down late at night,
  5. A current driver’s license, clean driving record, and the willingness to drive and parallel park a work van and a 14-foot moving truck,
  6. The ability to lift 40-50 pounds, and the ability to load/unload event supplies in and out of a cargo van or moving truck for special events,
  7. Marketing, promotional, and social media skills, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,
  8. The ability to work independently often, as well as the ability to learn from and work closely with others,
  9. An excitement for and interest in bicycling,
  10. A strong commitment to WABA’s mission of advocating for better bicycling across the region,
  11. An understanding and commitment to safe bicycling, and the ability to follow bicycle traffic laws,
  12. The ability to ride a bicycle comfortably and confidently in urban/suburban situations, and the ability to follow a cue sheet.

Employment details

This position is full-time. Expected salary range is $32,000-$37,000. The position is based in the WABA Office in Adams Morgan, Washington, DC. Benefits include 100% employer covered health/dental/vision insurance, flexible work schedule, vacation, sick and personal leave, committed colleagues, fun working environment, optional voluntary accident/disability insurance and WABA’s 403(b) retirement program.

WABA is committed to providing equal employment opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, arrest record or criminal convictions, political affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, sex, or age.

How to Apply

Please submit a cover letter and resume to jobs@waba.org with “Events Coordinator” in the subject line. No phone calls please.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis; the position will remain posted until filled. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply by or before Friday, May 12th, 2017. Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Statement on the death of Jane Bennett Clark

Early Thursday evening, Jane Bennett Clark was struck by a bicyclist while crossing 13th St. NW in downtown DC. According to the Washington Post, she was knocked over, hit her head, and died Friday morning. We don’t know the specifics of this crash, but it is terrible, and should not have happened. Our deepest condolences go to Ms. Clark’s family, friends, colleagues and community.

The Metropolitan Police Department has not announced who, if anyone, made a mistake on Thursday night, but we will be following the crash investigation closely in order to learn how to do our part to prevent it from happening again. One of the core principles of the District’s Vision Zero initiative is that when something goes wrong, it should not be fatal. People make mistakes, and the built environment should be engineered to render those mistakes as harmless as possible. We hope the lessons learned from this terrible crash can prevent it from happening again, not just at this intersection, but anywhere.

That said, the same principle applies to bicycling as it does to driving: if you can’t see and react to a human being on the road in front of you, you are going too fast. Yield to people who are more vulnerable. This is not just the law, it’s how to be a responsible member of the community. It is your responsibility not to hurt anyone with your vehicle, whether you’re riding a bike or driving a car.

WABA works hard to make sure that our region’s bicyclists know how to ride safely. Our education and outreach teams interact with thousands of bicyclists every year. We teach people the rules of the road and how to ride respectfully around pedestrians, drivers and other bicyclists.

Deadly crashes between pedestrians and bicyclists are heartbreaking and rare. Of the 317 fatal crashes in the District in the last decade, only one other involved a pedestrian hit by a bicyclist. Both should not have happened. Fatal crashes are preventable. Our region’s governments have started the process of building systemic solutions to traffic fatalities, but changing laws and infrastructure is a slow process.

We here at WABA hope that everyone who travels in the region takes some time to feel the full sadness of this crash. Our roads and trails and sidewalks are shared space. When we bike and drive, we have to move through that space with a complete understanding of the risks our motion poses to others, and we have to let that understanding guide our behavior every time we travel.

The staff and board of WABA send our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and community of Jane Bennett Clark.