What’s a Roll Model?

Women & Bicycles Roll Models are peer-to-peer mentors who know bicycling, and want to share their knowledge and excitement with new and less confident riders. They are experts of their own experience, and want to help other women become comfortable on two wheels.

At a Roll Model meet-up, new women riders (called protégés) learn the basics of riding in a fun, welcoming environment. The Roll Model leading the meet-up will review the parts of a bike, different types of bikes, what to wear to stay comfortable, tips for riding in traffic, and selecting the best route. Many protégés and Roll Models have gone on to take City Cycling classes together, along with WABA Signature rides and Women & Bicycles events.

Last year, Roll Models helped protégés:

  • Learn the best routes to ride to commute to work in DC;
  • Figure out new bicycles, and how to put them on a car-mounted rack;
  • Decide how to set up their bikes to carry spare clothes;
  • Go on their first big ride! Protégés and their Roll Models attended the Strong Women Ride, the Seagull Century, the 50 States Ride, the Cider ride, several City Cycling classes, the Lighting the Way Community Ride, and more!

How do I sign up?

Ashley Blue, one of W&B’s original Roll Models, on the National Mall with her bike.

Join Ashley Blue, one of our original Roll Models, for the first 2018 Roll Models meet-up on April 7. Ashley’s goal is to help other women feel confident as they achieve their goals and learn new skills on bikes. One of the biggest questions she faces how to use her bike in everyday life for errands, so to help other women find the answer, she’ll show how to set up a bike for getting groceries.

We invite women who want to be protégés to sign up here.

Do you want to be a Roll Model yourself? The next training will be in April – join the Doodle poll to choose a date.

Women who changed history: a bike tour

“It may surprise you to learn that many people, including women, felt that the bicycle was not appropriate for women, and that there was an inherent danger to their health and morality,” said Megan Metcalf, the Women’s, Gender, and LBTQ+ Studies Specialist and Librarian at the Library of Congress.

We had a blast proving those 19th century naysayers wrong.

 

Women & Bicycles held our second annual Strong Women Ride in February, braving threatening weather to ride around DC learning about women who changed history.

We started at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, which opened in 1897. At the time, Metcalf explained, Americans were “absolutely obsessed with the bicycle—and for the first time women were able to engage with a new mechanical technology.” No one in our group rode a high-wheeler, but our modern bikes gave us the opportunity engage with the monuments and historical markers as we rode.

We stopped at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, the Jane Delano statue at the Red Cross, and Lady Fortitude at Howard University, and the Mary McLeod Bethune statue at Lincoln Park. We rode to the LeDroit Park home of Anna Cooper, the fourth African-American woman to earn her Ph.D. (at the Sorbonne, in History). Further south in Lincoln Park, the Mary McLeod Bethune statue dominates the plaza. Bethune was a teacher and advisor to several Presidents on issues of race, equality, and culture, most notably serving FDR on his “Black Cabinet.” One of her most compelling written pieces is her Last Will and Testament.

Back at the Library, Megan showcased women librarians who have shaped the Library of Congress. Dr. Carla Hayden is the current Librarian of Congress—the first woman, and first African-American, to lead the world’s largest library. Also featured was Andre Alice Norton, a librarian and author who wrote hundreds of novels under a male pen name. Audre Lorde is known to many as a revolutionary feminist and “warrior-poet,” but not many know she was also a librarian!

We had a great day braving the weather and feeding our intellects. A huge Women & Bicycles to Megan Metcalf for sharing her knowledge with us!

Megan Metcalf is a librarian who also bikes to work each day. She has firsthand experience of how empowering a bicycle can be. She completed her B.A. and M.A. in Women’s and Gender studies, and her MLSIS all the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is the first person to hold this particular speciality at the library. Megan also serves as the Vice-Chair of LC-Globe, and coordinates a Women’s History and Gender Studies Discussion group on the first Thursday of every month. For more information on their monthly presentations, email WomensHIstory@loc.gov. She invites everyone age 16 and up to register and come read and research.

The 2017 Hains Point 100 was a tremendous success

Hains Point 100 riders celebrate before beginning the ride in December of 2017

This past December, we celebrated the 6th annual Hains Point 100. Over 600 riders showed up throughout the day, riding all sorts of bicycles and raising $19,300 to support WABA’s Women & Bicycles program.

Donations from the event help fund over half the budget for the Women & Bicycles program, allowing us to provide programming all over the metro areas of DC, Maryland, and Virginia. We really couldn’t do what we do without the support of amazing volunteers–like Megan, Mark, and every rider who shows up to ride circles around Hains Point.

The Hains Point 100, now in its 6th year, began as an informal bike party to help fund the then-brand-new Women & Bicycles program. Megan Jones invited her friends to come ride 100 miles around Hains Point, a three-mile flat loop usually popular with triathletes and bike racers doing speed training on racing bikes. Riding a small loop for 100 miles on different types of bikes seemed like a silly and fun reason to ride a bike in December.

Riding a three mile loop in December appealed to hundreds of other people. It’s become known as a great way to have fun outside with friends. People began riding different styles of bikes: folding bikes, cargo bikes, tandems, tri bikes, beach cruisers, vintage steel, and even Capital Bikeshare bikes (dutifully docking every lap to avoid fees!), unicycles, and e-assist bikes. The Hains Point 100 now includes support from the amazing Team Sticky Fingers (a women’s cycling team), dozens of businesses, a specialty pie company, bike clubs, and the famous Potluck Table where riders drop off treats to share.

WABA’s Women & Bicycles program is supported by donations. Please consider supporting us so we can keep offering new programs.

Follow us on Facebook or sign up for our email list here so you don’t miss out on future rides! Yes!




Let’s ride bikes together

A scarf for your face, some gloves for your hands, and a friend who is up for adventures might be just the ticket to get you out on your bike this winter.

Or maybe you already ride year-round, but some of your friends don’t, because the air is cold, or the roads are salty, or finding the right gear can be a hassle.

We always encourage safety first, but riding year-round doesn’t actually take special gear. You can ride your regular bike or bikeshare and wear your regular clothes. In fact, in the winter, we often wear lighter weight jackets because the riding makes us so warm!

Here are some ideas from actual rides ridden by Women & Bicycles members in past winters. Why not invite a friend out to ride with you?

Ride the monuments on the National Mall at night

The National Mall may be the flattest area in DC, and has abundant bikeshare options! All the sidewalks around the Mall are considered bike paths by the National Park Service, making it a great safe place to ride with newer riders or kids. Ride slowly, pass on the left, use your bell to politely let others know you are there, and see the monuments in a whole new way.

Play hooky and go explore a new trail

Last year, I took the morning off with several friends to ride the newest section of the Anacostia River Trail. Why not take a day off to check out the Anacostia River Trail, the Marvin Gaye Trail, the Capital Crescent, the or C&O Canal Towpath? Trails are a great option for both brand-new riders and that friend who’s ready for more mileage. We won’t tell your boss that you rescheduled that meeting so you could ride bikes.

Bike to that event

This one is a favorite on the Women & Bicycles facebook group. Recent friend-bike-dates have included movies and the Murder Is Her Hobby exhibit at the Renwick. Pick a movie, a play, a concert, a museum exhibit, and plan to get there by bike. Meet your friend at their place to lead the way. Show how comfortable it can be to ride in regular clothes. Many museums and theaters have a coat check where you can check your helmets with your coats. Bring locks to lock up, and lights in case your event gets out after dark. You could even bikeshare to the event, and carpool home in a carshare or cab.

Protest

This uniquely DC option is a great way to connect with your fellow civic-minded friends. During last year’s Women’s March, W&B members rode their personal bikes or used Capital Bikeshare corrals to get to the march.

Get to work on time

When Metro shut down for a day, Women & Bicycles members created the #wmatabikepool hashtag that quickly went viral. Experienced cyclists led “bike trains” to help first-time commuters get downtown safely, easily, and on time. Show your coworker the best bike lanes, and arrive at work feeling like a boss, even if you’re the intern.

Get out of the city

For a longer adventure, bring your bike on the Metro (but not at rush hour). Meet in Old Town Alexandria and ride the Mount Vernon trail all the way to the Mount Vernon estate, then back to Old Town for some lunch. Hop on the Silver Line to Reston and ride the W&OD Trail to coffee and pastries in Leesburg. Take the Red line to Wheaton and ride the Anacostia Tributary Trails to Navy Yard for happy hour.

Conquer your fears

Biking means learning to think about terrain in a different way. Hills are often intimidating to many new riders. Invite your friend to ride a hill with you. On last year’s Strong Women Ride, both rides ended with a hill climb up the 15th Street Malcolm X Park hill, where Strava tells us the elevation is 8-10%! Every rider conquered the hill, and we celebrated with cupcakes in Columbia Heights!

We hope this list inspires you to invite your friends out on a bike adventure! Looking for something to do right away? Join WABA’s Ride to the Rink (link) this weekend.

What Makes a Trail Great? The Ride

On Oct. 28, Women & Bicycles took to the trails to explore trail design and learn what makes a great trail a great place to ride. Trails expert and DC Trail Ranger Coordinator Ursula Sandstrom joined us as our expert speaker.

 

The group on the Anacostia River Trail

 

The ride started with a quick downhill from Congress Heights and across the busy, multi-lane Suitland Parkway road to our first stop on the Suitland Parkway trail.

 

Lesson #1: Connectivity!

Great trails connect to each other, and to amenities we need in the city. The Suitland Parkway Trail follows the bottom of a ravine, but while it is near multiple Metro stations it fails to connect any of them- they are all out of reach beyond steep hills, or across wide and busy roads, or both. It just doesn’t connect to much- it doesn’t go all the way to the large employment centers just a few miles away in Maryland on the Parkway; there are only three spots along the entire mile length that folks can get onto the trail; and only two spots are accessible from the east and those are of dubious quality for pedestrian or bicyclist safety. It doesn’t directly connect to the other nearby trails, as we would find out as we crossed ramps, took the lane on a busy street, and rode small dirt stretches.

Narrow curvy trail with poor sightlines around the trees

Once we got to the Anacostia river trail, connectivity was a different story. The trail connects to the Maryland Anacostia Tributary Trails, has clear direction signs, is easily accessible from many trail adjacent neighborhoods and makes amenities like the ballpark and the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens easy to find and easy to ride to.

 

Easy, smooth rolling.

 

Lesson #2: Situation!

In our first stop, we noticed that the Suitland Parkway Trail was separated from the busy road by mere feet at its furthest. Traffic exposes riders to heat, vehicle exhaust, and noise pollution. Additionally, without a buffer, a trail user immediately next to a fast road faces significant dangers in the event that a driver loses control of their vehicle, with no other protections between cyclists and cars. Great trail construction plans for buffers between cars and trail users. A wide, safe, green buffer with physical impediments between cars and bikes shields riders-and their cargo – from unnecessary exposure.  

No buffer and a short curb isn’t ideal construction.

The flip side of that coin was the wide trail with huge buffers on the National Park Service Anacostia Park. The heavily used multiuse trail is a great destination ride for families with kids (playgrounds), adventurous people (there’s a roller rink!), sports fans (with access to community sports such as track workouts in the Kenilworth neighbor tracks, and professional sports like the baseball and soccer teams of DC), and pet owners (with wide fields for dogs to run in).

This wide buffer and thick curb accommodated the entire group during a short educational break.

 

Lesson #3: Maintenance!

As the adventure continued on the Suitland Parkway, we stopped in an area near a number of homes. We discovered the trail marker sign down, and a trail exit point which curved around some trees effectively hiding it from view (and also startling a jogger).  There were many leaves and debris scattered over the trail.

A downed trail sign on Suitland Parkway

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail was pristine in comparison. Trail maintenance goes a long way towards helping a rider feel like the city knows about what trail amenities can do.  One super fact is that the Anacostia river trail is constructed with mixed materials and with the intention of allowing flooding. The trail rangers go out in the summer after flooding rains to sluice the sludge off the trail surface in the NY Ave area.

Discussing trail design and flood planning near NY Ave.

Overall, we have a lot of great trails in the DC area, and we also have some trails that were good starts which would benefit from upgrades and connectivity.

Interested in learning more about advocacy with the trail network? Follow the Capital Trails Coalition for the latest news.

More information about the Trail Rangers program can be found here.

Support Women & Bicycles with a donation. Your support helps fund programs like these.

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What Makes a Trail Great?

What is it that makes a bike trail great? Is it a dreamy, smooth surface? A car-free ride? Is it the lovely scenery that makes you feel as though you were a million miles from the city? Is it the chance to go places you’d normally pass by?

Together, we’re going to find out.

In October:

On Oct. 28, you’re invited to join Women & Bicycles and the Trail Rangers to explore two of DC’s trails: the Suitland Parkway Trail and the Anacostia River Trail.  We’ll start out exploring a trail that could stand some improvements, and wind up on one of the area’s best-designed multi-use trails. You’ll see how architects planned for future climate change in a flood-area, and we’ll point out connections to lesser-trafficked parks like the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. The ride will conclude at the terminus of the Anacostia River trail with plenty of time for you to explore on your own, or easily connect to the Metro or other parts of the trail system.

Join the ride!

In November:

-On Nov. 16, Women & Bicycles will be at the Trails Summit! More details available soon here.

On Nov. 11, come ride with us and Mind the Gap! We’ll drive you and your bike to Bowie, MD, and we will introduce you to the excellent Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis trail (the WB&A). If you’ve never heard of it or ridden it, there’s a good reason… because there’s a gap! With the support of experienced ride marshals, we will lead you through the trail gap, and connect to the Marvin Gaye trail to DC. You’ll come away from the ride ready to support the advocacy work of the Capital Trails Coalition as they work to close the trail gaps and connect communities, making riding better for everyone.  This no-drop ride is recommended for intermediate riders who are comfortable on roads with higher speeds.

Join the ride!

In December:

You’re invited to the celebrate the end of another incredible year with two incredible events: WABA’s annual holiday party & the Hains Point 100!

You can stay in the know about both of these events by signing up for the Women & Bicycles email list, just click the button below and fill in your info.
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Looking to build your skills?

WABA’s fall cycling classes still have open spaces. Sign up here for City Cycling and for Learn-to-Ride, taught by our highly qualified teaching staff of League Cycling Instructors.

Want to make new friends and join in on the most fun rides in DC?

You won’t want to miss WABA’s fall Community Rides. Erin Potter of Bike Arlington tells ghost stories of Arlington on the Spooky Secrets of Ballston (10/25) and Doug Smith of WABA scares you speedy on the Haunted Hills of Washington, DC (10/27). S-s-s-s-sign up right here… if you dare! Community rides are open to all, but space is limited.

We look forward to seeing you on the trails and roads this fall!

Women & Bicycles and The Season of Trails

Many riders- whether they are new riders, experienced riders, riders with kids, riders trying out a new style of bike, and more- enjoy riding on bike and multi-use trails. A well-designed, well-maintained trail can offer a safe, beautiful ride, with many offering shady tree coverage, a beautiful view, a chance to connect with the community in a way that would be much more difficult from a car, and even bike amenities like little fix-it stations for minor repairs.

Women & Bicycles is making this fall the season of trails, partnering with the Capital Trails Coalition, and with WABA’s D.C. Trail Ranger program to offer a series of workshops and trail rides, to showcase great trail design, explore future trail possiblities, and teach women to become advocates in the movement to improve our trails network.

Help support the work of Women & Bicycles!

While you’re here, don’t forget to join the Women & Bicycles community on Facebook!

What’s going on this fall?

In September

  • Saturday 9/16 Derwood Family Bike Day on the new trail at Lake Needwood (families encouraged!)
  • Sunday 9/17 and Sunday 9/24: two options to polish your skills at one of WABA’s City Cycling classes! Choose the “fundamentals” track for a great trail ride. (open to all)
  • Saturday 9/23 Ride to Clarendon with WABA and PAL on a friendly no-drop community ride!
  • Every Friday, 7:30-8:45 A.M.: Coffee Club at Pleasant Pops in Adams Morgan. All you have to do is show up and hang out.

In October

  • Tuesday 10/3, 6:00-9:00PM: Who, What, Where Workshop (women only)
  • Friday 10/6 through Sunday 10/8: You’re invited to the National Youth Bike Summit! (all ages)
  • Wednesday 10/4, Wednesday 10/25, and Friday 10/27: Don’t miss the annual Community Spooky Rides, including the now-famous Haunted Hill Ride. These no-drop, open-to-all rides introduce you to the city you’ve been too spooked to discover!
  • Saturday 10/28 From the Ugly to the Good Ride (women-only, registration coming soon): this partnership with the Trail Rangers takes us on a tour of the bike trails in Anacostia, from the trails that need help to be great, to the ones that are great right now.
  • And you still have time to join us for class to polish your skills!

In November

  • Registration opens in early October for WABA’s Cider Ride (Saturday 11/4), a signature event! (open to all)
  • Saturday 11/11: Mind the Gap! Ride (women only, registration coming soon) We transport you to a start in Bowie, MD, and ride the WB&A trail. We’ll show you how to navigate a trail gap, and you’ll learn how better infrastructure can connect communities.
  • Thursday 11/16, join Women & Bicycles at the regional Trails Symposium hosted by the Capital Trails Coalition (open to all)

We hope to see you out on the trail this fall!


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Women & Bicycles is a program of WABA, specifically to encourage more women riding in a safe, confident, joy-filled manner. We strive to create a safe and welcoming space for women to build their skills, so we want to let you know that these particular events are open to women, GNC/Genderfluid and trans-identified folks.