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So It’s Your Tenth Bike to Work Day…

Every Wednesday leading up to Bike to Work Day, we’ll post here about ways you can get ready for the region’s biggest annual celebration of bike commuting. Register for Bike to Work Day now!

Welcome back, old friend! How have you been? How is the job? The family? The bike? It’s so nice to see you again. We should really do this more often. At least we’ll always have Bike to Work Day….

That’s right! Bike to Work Day is coming up on May 17, and we’re working our butts off to make it our biggest and best one yet. I’m sure you don’t need our advice, old pro, but if you’re looking to change things up, we do have a few suggestions on how to make this your favorite Bike to Work Day yet!

Register
We know you ride to work regularly, in all seasons, with no encouragement. That’s why we want to count you! This is WABA’s best chance to tally bicycle commuters in the city each year, and every cyclist counts. Plus, Bike to Work Day is a giant party and the first 12,000 VIPs (which is to say, registrants) get a T-shirt! You don’t want one missing from your collection, do you? Register now at the Bike to Work Day website.

Register—seriously
Do you work the third shift or an otherwise nontraditional schedule? Do you bike to meetings from your home office? Bike to run errands? Bike to work some days, but not Fridays? Can’t get away from your duties while the nearest pit stop is open? This is still your chance to be counted among the nine-to-fivers. Register now.

Promote BTWD on your social media channel of choice
Tell everyone! On Twitter and Instagram, use the hashtag #BTWD13 and mention us in your tweet so that we see it (our handle is @WABADC on both platforms). And feel free to talk about Bike to Work Day on Facebook.

Invite a friend
Whether you invite that one coworker who doesn’t think you’re a car-hating anarchist, the neighbor who asks about your commutes during foul weather, or the friend you’ve been promising to ride with for ages—sign them up and bring them along! You’re a bike mentor now. Or serve as a bike buddy and mentor for a new commuter.

Once convinced, your friend, neighbor, or coworker may want a helpful guide to lead them around the region. Or maybe all of your friends are lycra warriors, but you want to nurture a new rider. In that case, connect with someone through the Washington Area Bike Forum. Accompany your new mentee on their ride to work on May 17. Set a good example by obeying all traffic laws and riding at a safe, comfortable pace for them. Ask them as many questions as you answer. Follow up with them afterwards. Now you’re a really good bike mentor!

Organize your office
Is your company going green, organizing a wellness committee, installing bike parking, or otherwise keeping up with the times? Invite your coworkers to bike to work, too! We have posters ready for you to print and hang around the office. Try coaxing incentives out of your administrators or tying it to your other office initiatives. At the very least, you might meet some of the folks you lock up beside every day. (P.S.: Are your coworkers interested, but not sure how to start bike commuting? Contact the DC Bike Ambassadors about scheduling a Commuter Cycling Seminar in your workplace!).

Visit a new pit stop
With 70 pit stops in the area, there’s sure to be one you haven’t seen yet. Check the full list and change it up this year! Or if you’re really advanced…

Daisy chain
Stop by your neighborhood stop, then the stops on your route, then the ones with the best activities, the major stops in Rosslyn or Freedom Plaza, the stop at work…you get it. String a few together to maximize your fun. Say hello to WABA staff, board members, and volunteers, and enjoy a beautiful morning. Just leave some coffee for the rest of us!

Volunteer at a Bike to Work Day pit stop
You’ve been doing this so long, you could practically run it yourself, you say? Volunteer at your local pit stop! Share your expertise, meet new bike commuters, and get an early start to your day (and first dibs on the bagels). We need volunteers for pit stops from Frederick to Dumfries. Sign up to volunteer here.

Lead a commuter convoy
Convoys are led by experienced bicycle commuters throughout the region. They announce a route and designate pick-up points along the way. Most end at Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C. but all are open to anyone who wants to join them. A running list will be posted on the Bike to Work Day website. Contact Greg at WABA to have your convoy listed.

Join WABA, or renew your membership
As you know by now, WABA is your regional education and advocacy organization for bicycles, and Bike to Work Day is our best opportunity to reach out to bicyclists across the region. Join WABA for only $25 for one year (normally $35)–that’s a $10 discount for Bike to Work Day participants! Support better biking in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, and enjoy discounts at local bike shops, deals with many community partners, and so much more.

Tell your story in the comments!
Bicycling has exploded in D.C. this decade, but you were bike commuting when it was still “weird” and “dangerous”? Leave us a comment telling us why you got started all those years ago, a great Bike to Work Day memory, or what you’ve liked best about biking in D.C. We’d love to hear–and share!–your stories.

Thank you for riding with us for the long haul, and we’ll see you bright and early on May 17, 2013.

Next Wednesday, we’ll tell you how you can get in on the Bike to Work Day fun even if your commute isn’t 100 percent two-wheeled. Sign up for Bike to Work Day now!

Cycletracks 101

There are three cycletracks in place in D.C. More are being planned. And despite cycletracks being some of the city’s most visible infrastructure for cyclists, there’s plenty of “confusion”—or ignorance—on the part of drivers who try to park or drive in them.

This legitimately baffles pedestrians and makes it harder for bicyclists to use the cycletracks appropriately. To alleviate some of the tension, D.C. bike ambassadors will be out on L Street NW tonight to help drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians navigate the lane.
In the meantime, here’s a brief guide to D.C.’s cycletracks. Perhaps you might forward it to your favorite scofflaw driver.

What is a cycletrack?
Unlike a bike lane, a cycletrack is separated from traffic by barriers, parking lanes, or curbs. They may allow for travel in one or both directions, and cyclists may be asked to obey different signals than in driving lanes. DDOT has installed cycletracks on 15th St NW, Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and L St NW. Plans to install additional tracks on M Street NW and 1st Street NE are in the works. There is also an ongoing conversation about a cycletrack on M Street SE/SW.

Why are they all designed differently?
DDOT has the unenviable job of combining best practices from other cities with the unique demands of D.C. traffic when designing its cycle tracks. At this time, none of the tracks are permanent and each has a different design that’s supposed to be incrementally safer than the last cycletrack built. DDOT continues to fine-tune the designs and observe how riders use these routes so that D.C.’s cycletracks can one day be made permanent.

What makes a cycletrack permanent? The plastic bollards will eventually be replaced; curbs, medians, colored paint, or pavement markings will indicate that the route is intended for bicycles only. Such permanent tracks can be found in cities from Portland to New York, Montreal, and Copenhagen.

How do I know how to ride in them?
The first rule of thumb is to ride as if you were a vehicle and obey all of the laws, signals, and courtesies of the road. (Guidelines and links to regional bike laws are available on our website.)

Each cycle track has signs posted to guide cyclists at intersections. On 15th Street, obey the pedestrian signals and be sure to stop for cars turning left on a green arrow. If you need to wait to make a right turn, there is usually space in the parking lane. On L Street, be attentive when cars merge through the lane to turn left. DDOT produced these diagrams for drivers and cyclists. Check out the city’s first bicycle signal at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW and follow it as you would a regular traffic signal. (Do not follow the bike signal if you are driving a car!)

How do I make a turn out of or into a cycletrack?
In all cases, be careful when making a turn across traffic. You may need to make a right turn from a left- or centered cycletrack, and vehicular traffic may have the right-of-way. Consider the following options:

  • Wait for a pedestrian signal and cross traffic in the crosswalk.
  • Maneuver in line with the traffic waiting at the cross street. Proceed across the intersection when the light changes.
  • If you are comfortable doing so, before reaching the intersection, merge into the main roadway and over to the rightmost lane, then turn as normal. Remember to yield to oncoming traffic and be safe, if you choose this method.

Can I drive/park/idle/U-turn in a cycletrack?
No.

These offenses put cyclists at risk of being struck and forces them into the main road where they may not be safe or even want to ride. Driving, parking, idling, or U-turning across cycletracks may result in a citation or fine, on top of endangering cyclists. Contact the business or residence you plan to visit to find alternate legal parking or loading areas.

Mayor Vince Gray recently clarified that U-turns across the Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track are indeed illegal. They are also dangerous; most of the accidents on this road in the past year were caused by cars making illegal U-turns. It’s convenient, but illegal and unsafe.

What is being done to educate cyclists and drivers how to use the cycle tracks?
The D.C. bike ambassadors will be doing outreach tonight at the intersection of the 15th Street NW and L Street  NW cycle tracks from 5:00-6:30 p.m. Stop by to say hello! As new cycle tracks continue to be built and we all adjust to the new traffic patterns, don’t hesitate to contact dcba@waba.org with additional questions.

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