What in the World is a DC Bike Ambassador?

You may have been driving, walking or biking one day and noticed a group of enthusiastic, red-shirted people with bikes on the corner. Congratulations! You spotted the DC Bike Ambassadors in their natural habitat. They were most likely talking to people about being safe on the street. Maybe they were passing out bike lights to bicyclists. Or perhaps they shared a flier with you about upcoming bike events around town. DC Bike Ambassadors are volunteers who love bicycling and want to bring the benefits of bicycling to their communities. But the best part is, you can be one too!

Want to be a Bike Ambassador? Yes!

DC Bike Ambassadors with Brianne Nadeau

This year, we are adding another layer to the work of DC Bike Ambassadors. We want to spend more time in communities typically underserved by WABA and by the bicycling improvement efforts in the District. This includes communities in Wards 4, 7 and 8, seniors, the Spanish speaking community, deaf bicyclists, and blind bicyclists.

We’ll better engage with these communities by hosting rides and events, tabling at expos, fairs and festivals, and being present for community meetings that affect these communities. We’ll also work to build relationships with organizations in these communities to reach their members and share WABA’s resources with them. Finally, we’ll be biking with our public awareness trailer (if you see us, say hello!), volunteering our time with other organizations, and connecting them with the people they serve.

We want DC Bike Ambassadors to be a reflection of the region’s growing bicycling community; including all communities is key.

If you want to be part of this movement to attract more diverse bicyclists to the biking community, please sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter to learn more about our upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

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.

We’re Hiring: Part-Time Bike Ambassador

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is looking for an outgoing, energetic, and motivated person to help run the D.C. Bike Ambassador program. The program’s goal is to establish WABA’s presence city-wide, to foster a positive impression of bicycling and bicyclists and to educate residents and local organizations about bike laws, roadway safety, and potential benefits of bicycling to individuals, families, workplaces, and communities.

The D.C. Bike Ambassador will promote WABA’s programs and the Bike Ambassadors’ core messaging, as well as coordinate volunteer Bike Ambassador outreach events, and help recruit local residents to become volunteer Ambassadors and attend WABA classes, programs, and events.

This position is part-time, 20 hours per week and compensation is $15 per hour.


  • Implement Bike Ambassador outreach, education, encouragement, and community organizing events for WABA.
  • Recruit and energize our team of volunteer D.C. Bike Ambassadors.
  • Distribute print resources to community members, such as D.C. bike maps, Quick Start Guides, D.C. Pocket Law Guides, Capital Bikeshare information, and WABA education and promotional materials.
  • Pull the WABA Bike Ambassador billboard bike trailer (up to 20 miles/week).
  • Complete administrative and reporting requirements.
  • Report to, communicate and coordinate regularly and effectively with supervisor about goals, planning and logistics, reporting, challenges and issues.
  • Other WABA duties as assigned.

Preferred Qualifications

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A strong commitment to WABA’s mission.
  • Willingness and excitement to learn bicycling safety, traffic law, skills, and WABA’s bike encouragement philosophy.
  • Experience planning events and coordinating volunteers.
  • Excellent presentation and public speaking skills.
  • A flexible schedule and willingness to work evenings, and weekends.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office, Google Apps (Gmail, Calendar, Drive/Docs/Sheets, Forms), Facebook and Twitter.
  • The ability to pull a bicycle trailer weighing 10 lbs. for 1-3 hours.
  • The ability to lift at least 40 lbs.
  • Organized, good time management skills and ability to multitask in a relaxed, fun environment.
  • Conversational fluency in Spanish (strongly preferred).
  • Familiarity with American Sign Language (ASL) a plus.
  • League of American Cycling Instructor (LCI) certification a plus.

About the Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Making bicycling better through advocacy and education, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) promotes biking as a healthy, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly form of transportation and recreation. With 6,500 members region-wide, WABA serves the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, including the District of Columbia and communities in Maryland and Virginia.

To Apply

Send a cover letter and resume to jobs@waba.org with “Bike Ambassador.” Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis; the position will remain open until filled. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply by or before Friday, March 16th. Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. No phone calls please.

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.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Every job comes with its inherent specialities and institutional knowledge, and the Trail Ranger program is no different. As the DC Trail Ranger Coordinator, I’ve spent a lot of time on the trails we maintain and serve – specifically the Marvin Gaye, Anacostia River, Suitland Parkway and Metropolitan Branch trails. I know a lot about how the trails have changed over the last five years of the program and collectively, we’ve spent hundreds of hours on each of the trails.

But what is gained is more than knowledge of broken-glass patterns (always an increase after DC United games on the Anacostia River Trail). It is an appreciation of the smaller details of a trail, built up over repeated shifts. Like that one quiet shift when things feel a little boring and you finally stop to actually observe the flowers. There are special attributes to all of the trails but on the Marvin Gaye Trail, I’ve particularly come to appreciate:

Early Mornings in the Spring

Early morning in the spring is an absolutely magical time to be on the trail. The world is quiet except for the chattering of birds. The Marvin Gaye Trail follows the Watts Branch, the largest tributary of the Anacostia River in DC, from the easternmost corner of DC to Minnesota Ave NE. The trail is entirely within the boundaries of a city park.

Marvin Gaye Park and Trail is particularly great for birds because a lot of work has been done to restore native plants and repair the stream corridor – including 10,000 new trees and plants in 2012 alone. A healthier forest and stream ecosystem mean more food, shelter and space for birds. It’s easy to hear which birds have moved in or are visiting during the early mornings when most birds are the most talkative.

Sand and greenery in the foreground, a clear rocky stream is flowing behind it. Everything looks prestine

Herons and Beavers

Well, one heron, one time. Herons are a pretty common sight on the Anacostia River Trail, especially near Kingman Island. But one time – I saw a heron at 42nd St. and Hunt Pl. NE in the stream and it was majestic! Though there is certainly work to be done with trash removal along the stream corridor, the amount of trash surrounding the heron was less inspiring.

A far more common sight are the presence of beavers – especially their tell-tale cut down stumps. They are really good at logging! And the beaver dam is pretty (dam) cool.

Lots of underbrush greenery and dead leaves on the ground. To the right is Watts Branch Stream but the photo is focused on the beaver cut sharp stump in the middle of the photo.

Nannie Helen Burroughs

At one-and-a-half miles long, the trail is in a history-rich environment. A DC boundary stone is just off the eastern end of the trail and the Crystal Room where music legend Marvin Gaye first performed is mid-way through the trail (now Washington Park and People’s Riverside Center). But for historic legacy, it’s hard to beat the campus and gates of the National Training School for Women and Girls on Nannie Helen Burroughs Ave NE.

Founded in 1909 by Nannie Helen Burroughs, the prominent 20th century African-American educator and civil rights activist, the school’s location went against the common thinking of the time that a vocational boarding school was more appropriate in the south. The school proceeded to educate thousands of African-American students with Nannie Helen Burroughs as principal until her death in 1961. Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue is particularly notable since many nearby major roads still honor slave-owning families that used to own much of the land around Deanwood (notable examples include Sheriff and Benning).

Front white gate of a fence with peeling white paint. THere is an gold image of Lincoln on top of the arch and it reads "Progressive National Baptist Convention" in black cursive font.

Playground at Marvin Gaye Recreation Center

Musical-themed splash park and playground at a recreation center named for Marvin Gaye, and the result of hard work by the community for neighborhood amenities. Need I say more?

A playground on a sunny day. there is a giant guitar in front and the slides structure behind has keyboard printed roof. There is a water splash park.


Little Known Black History of Blacks in Biking

It’s February and that means it’s Black History Month!

This month, I’d like to highlight a few little known black history facts about blacks in biking.

“Bicyclists’ group on Minerva Terrace. [Lt. James A. Moss’s company of 25th Infantry, U. S. Army Bicycle Corps, from Fort Missoula, Montana.] YNP.”
October 7, 1896.

Buffalo Soldier

Bob Marley’s song Buffalo Soldier is not just a great sing-along song with a wonderful bridge-Woe! Yoe! Yo!  It is a song that tells a story about the 25th Infantry United States Army Bicycle Corps. The theory is the name was given to them by Native Americans because their hair felt like a buffalo’s pelt. The name was embraced by the soldiers because they were familiar with the buffalo’s bravery and fighting spirit.

The soldiers were one of the many segregated units of the U.S. Army. They were testing if bicycles could replace horses in the military. Their biggest test came when they rode 1900 miles from Ft. Missoula, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri. They averaged 56 miles a day and completed the trip in 34 days. To learn more about the Buffalo Soldiers contribution to the U.S. Army, check out the book Iron Riders: Story of the 1890s Fort Missoula Buffalo Soldiers Bicycle Corps” by George Niels Sorensen (Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 2000)

Vélocipede + Tricycle

In 1888, Mathew A. Cherry invented and received the patent for the vélocipede. The vélocipede was a metal seat with frame set on top of two or three wheels. This design was a big improvement over previous designs. The rider would propel themselves along with their feet on the ground in a fast walking or running motion.

This design eventually evolved into the bicycle and tricycle. In May 1888, Cherry received the patent for the tricycle. In the U.S., the tricycle is used mostly by children. However, in Asia and Africa, it’s used for commercial deliveries and transportation.

Picture courtesy of patentpending.blogs.com


One of the things that makes biking a great form of transportation is the ability to carry stuff. In 1899, Jerry M. Certain created the first bicycle parcel carriers, designed to carry items via bike. Today, we call these parcel carriers panniers and they are essential to many riders who use bicycles for transportation and travel.

These are just little facts about African-American contributions to making bicycling better and accessible for all. Think about that the next time you load up your pannier for a ride!

Thanks for joining us at the 2018 WABA and Bicyclists’ Choice Awards!

Held on February 8th at the Josephine Butler Parks Center, the 2018 Bicyclists’ Choice Awards were an incredible success! This is a favorite annual events because we get to celebrate the people who are making bicycling better in our community – not only our members, advocates and supporters, but our partners, elected leaders and decision makers. These awards recognized the momentum happening for bicycling in the region right now; we were honored to recognize these people and their work.

This year, WABA received a record number of votes for the Bicyclists’ Choice Awards and hosted a record number of attendees. We also had the best host a bunch of bike nerds could hope for: Lauren Ober, of NPR and WAMU’s The Big Listen. 

The energy in the room was absolutely electric – we can’t wait to do it again next year!  Thank you to everyone who attended, voted, nominated, and supported such an amazing evening.

Continue reading to find out who won and to see photos from the event.


WABA Award Winners

  • Community Organizer Award: Anna Irwin
  • Vision Zero Award: City of Alexandria (accepted by Mayor Allison Silberberg)
  • Protecting Bike Lanes Award: Jon Renaut & DDOT Public Space Regulation Team: Matthew Marcou, Elliott Garrett, and Levon Petrosian
  • Educator of the Year Award: Edgar Gil Rico
  • Biking for All Award: Phoenix Bikes (accepted by Edoardo Buenaobra and Raymond Duran)
  • Advocate of the Year Award: Dave Helms
  • Volunteer of the Year Award: Lauren Annenberg and Michael Avilez
  • Public Leadership Award: Chief Sogand Seirafi


Bicyclists’ Choice Awards Nominees

Best Improvement for Biking in the District of Columbia in 2017

  • Dockless Bikeshare
  • Oxon Run Trail
  • Bike to Work Day pit stop in Twining, Ward 7
  • Maine Avenue SW protected bike lanes
  • Klingle Valley Trail Opening
  • 15th St. protected bike lane extension to Euclid

Winner: 15th St. protected bike lane extension to Euclid

Best Improvement for Biking in Maryland in 2017

  • Silver Spring Circle
  • Trolley Trail Connector through Riverdale Park Station
  • HAWK Signals
  • M-NCPPC new regulations, allowing bike commuting after dark

Winner: Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission for the promulgation of new regulations to allow bike commuting after dark.

Best Improvement for Biking: Virginia

  • Alexandria’s commitment to Vision Zero
  • Underpass for Belmont Ridge Road on the W&OD trail
  • Four Mile Run Trail improvements
  • Updates to highway funding bill eliminating penalties for bike projects

Winner: Updates to highway funding bill eliminating penalties for bike projects

Best Bike Shop of 2017

  • Spokes, ETC.
  • Conte’s Bike Shop
  • CityBikes
  • BicycleSPACE
  • The Bike Rack
  • Proteus Bicycles
  • Gearin’ Up
  • Bikenetic
  • Big Wheel Bicycles

Winner: Proteus Bicycles

Best Social Ride of 2017

  • Hains Point 100
  • Ride to the Women’s March
  • Proteus Sunday Coffee ride
  • International Women’s Day Alleycat
  • BicycleSPACE City Explorers
  • Freezing Saddles

Winner: Hains Point 100

Bike Friendliest Business of 2017

  • VeloCafe
  • Bar Roubaix
  • Dew Drop Inn
  • Vigilante Coffee
  • Shortcake Bakery
  • Zeke’s Coffee
  • Mapbox
  • World Resources Institute

Winner: Dew Drop Inn

Thank you again to everyone who came out and who made for such an incredible celebration!

Of course, we want to say a huge thank you to our sponsors for supporting better bicycling in our region:

Presenting Sponsor: 

Celebration Sponsors: 

She won a free bike, will you?

You may not know Celeste, but she was a WABA bike education student last year. By attending a bicycle education class in 2017, Celeste was automatically entered to win the sweet bicycle you see above. Celeste signed up for a WABA Learn to Ride class because the time was finally right. She had lived long enough without being able to ride a bike. She was proud of her great life surrounded by friends, working as a professor and staying active within her community. What she didn’t have was the experience of enjoying life on two wheels.

This is where WABA came in.

In the span of three hours, Celeste was introduced to wearing a helmet properly, how to make sure her bike was properly fitted for her, and finally all about how to balance. After meticulous practice pushing with her feet, Flintstones-style, Celeste was ready for pedals. After a few wobbles and shakes (from nerves and still being new at the whole balance thing), Celeste was pedaling a bicycle all by herself for the first time in her life! She walked away from the class with a new found skill and the feeling of success. Little did she know that she was also walking away with a brand new bicycle.

Due to the generous support of a WABA member, the Adult Education team received a bicycle to raffle off during the Fall 2017 season. Anyone that learned to ride for the first time in a learn to ride class, brushed up on their riding skills in a city cycling class; or discovered the greater bicycling community in a community ride was eligible to win the bike.

By participating in a class you’re guaranteed to win (just not guaranteed to win a bike). You will win the feeling of being connected to an awesome community–the incredible local biking community! You will win new skills and tricks to find more joy and comfort while riding a bicycle. And, maybe, just maybe, you could win a bike.

So, what’s stopping you? Come and win in a class this spring. Check this space in the next couple of weeks to view the schedule. Or, enter your email address here and be notified when the schedule goes live.

Happy riding!