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On Sunday, May 4th Alexandria women will join together for the Women on a Roll Ride. The group will wear green, gather at Jones Point Park, and tour local bike shops to declare and share their support for women’s biking.
“Women are a powerful consumer force,” says the League of American Bicyclists in its August 2013 “Women on a Roll” report on women’s cycling, “but too often they do not feel welcome in bike shops or do not feel products address their desires and needs.”
This is where the green comes in. The group wants to visually show that women who bike mean business; they represent spending power.
The ride is being organized by the Alexandria Spokeswomen, who formed in September 2013 out of a city focus group on women’s cycling with the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and WABA’s Women & Bicycles.
Happy Earth Day!
The tie-in between Earth Day and bicycling is obvious. Biking, as a means of transportation, is better for the air (no emissions), the water (less polluted runoff), and natural resources (no petroleum) than driving. Today, this seems obvious, but in the 1970′s our predecessors at WABA consistently fought to gain public recognition of the environmental importance of changing our transportation behavior.
In 1980, WABA led an Earth Day Bike-In that received significant press coverage and sparked what would eventually evolve into Bike to Work Day–which is still, at its core, an event designed to improve the region’s air quality by getting new and longtime riders to travel by bike more frequently.
This year, all of WABA’s programs are working together to push Bike to Work Day registration beyond 17,000 riders and continue to show that biking for transportation is a critical tool to for regional and urban sustainability.
Help us continue growing bicycling and growing Bike to Work Day by registering for the event here.
We’re already a few weeks into our spring education season, but Saturday marked the 2014 kickoff of one of the most rewarding tasks for WABA instructors – teaching students how to ride bicycles.
WABA’s learn-to-ride classes are set up for adults who don’t know how to ride a bicycle. Starting to ride as an adult can be a difficult process, but our method is time-tested and overwhelmingly effective. As such, sessions fill up fast, and our interest list is filled with eager adults who want to learn to ride.
Saturday’s class brought 20 students, 20 bicycles, and six WABA instructors to Freedom Plaza to take on the most daunting task of the weekend for some – mastering balance on two wheels.
WABA education coordinator Daniel Hoagland directed students to their bicycles, provided by Bike and Roll, and told them that we’d start with step one, and the hardest part of all – learning to glide on the bike, without pedals, feeling the rhythm and weight of the machine driving itself forward.
For some, Freedom Plaza didn’t seem the most auspicious place to try biking for the first time – it’s a well-traveled stomping ground for tourists, skateboarders, and those who manage to stay suit-clad even on a Saturday. But initial hesitation to try something new in the public eye soon gave way to excitement as students began to glide on bikes and quickly progressed to pedaling through the plaza.
As students found their balance and began to pick up speed on two wheels, uncontrollable giggling, smiling, and high-fiving commenced. WABA instructor Hamzat Sani adapted to the class success, leading a fairly competitive game of on-bike red-light-green-light to encourage first-time riders to hone stopping and starting skills.
After three hours of hard work, nearly all participants were riding – ready for Bike to Work Day and whatever else may come. We’re proud to add more cyclists to DC’s bike community, and hope to see you all out there this spring.
Want to learn how to ride? Join our interest list.
Ready to practice your skills and learn new tips at a City Cycling class? Sign up for one here.
Last but not least, do us a solid and register for Bike to Work Day. Ride on!
The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is seriously looking at how to accommodate passengers who want to bring ordinary bicycles aboard a Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) train. A background briefing by top MARC officials last week left bicycle advocates with the distinct impression that they want bikes to be allowed on some weekend trains within the next year or so.
MTA officials have long maintained that the combination of high speeds and full trains prevented them from allowing bikes. At a meeting three years ago in Washington , advocates pressed the matter with Simon Taylor (Assistant Administrator of MTA) and John Hovatter (Director of MARC and Maryland Commuter Bus operations). The officials made it clear that there was no real prospect for bikes on trains anytime soon.
Yet they also told us that MARC was planning for weekend service, and that bikes “should” be allowed if that service started. At the time, weekend trains seemed like a remote possibility. But now they are a reality, and MARC officials are evaluating options for allowing bikes aboard some weekend trains.
Why MARC Does not Allow Bike on Trains
MTA explained its reluctance to allow bikes on trains to several advocates at the 2011 meeting. MTA has long said that allowing bikes on trains is economically infeasible. Federal safety rules require bicycles to be securely tied down on trains running faster than 70 mph, lest they become a projectile in a crash, they said.
On the Penn Line, trains exceed 70 mph along most segments except in Baltimore. On some stretches, the trains exceed 110 mph when pulled by electric locomotives. MTA engineers have been unable to devise means for quickly securing bikes without permanently removing 3 to 5 seats from the car for every pair of bikes that could be potentially accommodated. With full trains, that is not a tradeoff that MARC is willing to make.
The Camden and Brunswick Line trains are not so full, so removing a few seats in favor of bike racks might be reasonable for those trains. But MARC rotates all train sets (except for the electric locomotives) between the three lines, so modifying cars for those two CSX lines would make Penn Line trains even more crowded.
Could MARC allow bikes on the Camden and Brunswick lines with the existing configuration of the trains? Given that WMATA allows bikes on off-peak Metrorail trains, it might seem safe to do so. But MARC officials countered that the CSX track is much poorer, resulting in side-to-side jostling which can cause bikes to slip out of the hands of the owner and strike another passenger. The low platforms at almost every station was another problem. None of these problems are insurmountable, but in MTA’s mind, they seemed to all add up to make bikes more trouble than they are worth.
Signs of a Possible Breakthrough
Last year’s increase in the fuel tax provided additional funds for transportation, making it possible to finally add weekend service. Last summer, I reminded Mr. Hovatter that he had indicated that “bikes should be allowed“ when weekend service starts, because the trains will not be crowded. I asked if he could provide us with an update of his thinking. He responded:
I would suggest we wait a few months to see how it is working and how many passengers we will be hauling. We are only running 3 car train sets to start off. If the trains are packed, and we hope they are, I doubt we will be able to handle any bikes, except the folding ones that we allow right now. Check back with us when it starts.
I was not encouraged by that response, but other members of Maryland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (MBPAC) were more optimistic. Greg Hinchliffe, who represents Baltimore on the committee, pressed MDOT’s Michael Jackson to set up a meeting with MARC officials and MBPAC.
As soon as the meeting began, it was clear that something had changed. Rather than listen to cyclist pleas for better service, MARC started the meeting with a presentation by Erich Kolig, its Chief Mechanical Officer. His presentation started with a bit of a lampoon of MARC’s existing policy: With a perfect deadpan, he showed the MARC web site:
Here is our bicycle policy: “Due to safety concerns, MARC’s bicycle policy allows for the transportation of folding bicycles only…However, folding bikes are no longer restricted to those carried in a case.” You see, we do have a bicycle policy [loud laughter by all the advocates and Mr. Jackson].
Mr. Kolig then explained that he thinks the weekend service and MARC’s capital equipment upgrades provide an opportunity to start carrying bikes on some trains. While the trains have attracted more passengers than expected, they still carry fewer people than the weekday trains. His presentation included illustrations depicting how bikes can be safely stored aboard the trains. He had clearly thought through how to do it, and how to keep the cost low enough to make it economically feasible.
MARC officials asked the advocates to not reveal any details of the proposal.
Mr. Hovatter seemed favorably disposed to the proposal, although he did not promise that MARC will actually implement it. The decision to go forward is a few steps above his pay grade. And some unanticipated problems may arise, since railroads are highly regulated and MARC owns neither the track nor the largest stations on the Penn Line.
We hope that the Maryland Department of Transportation will approve Mr. Kolig’s recommendation and at least start a pilot project with bikes on weekend trains, as soon as practicable. WABA stands ready to assist MTA officials on any aspect where obtaining the cyclist perspective might be useful.
Jim Titus is a bicycling advocate and member of WABA’s Board of Directors from Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. These posts certainly aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming and staffing. Click here to learn more and get involved.
Women & Bicycles is gearing up for Bike to Work Day and doing what we do best; sharing skills to inspire more women to ride.
Regardless of your gender we need you to pass along the invitation below and encourage the women in your life to participate as a Bike to Work Day Protege.
Dear lovely (friend, colleague, church-mate, neighbor, bus driver),
I think you should become a Bike to Work Day Protege!
You know how you always comment on my helmet? And you ask about how I fair on the rainy days? And remember the time you called me worried one morning because I was late for our meeting, when really I just stopped to smell the flowers a little too long?
Well, now it’s your time to join the bike movement with our women’s group. Our goal is to get more women like you out biking. This Bike to Work Day we’re pairing up all the bike Pros with bike Proteges to mentor each other for Bike to Work Day.
Sign up to be mentored as a Protege, and your Pro will get you all set up and excited to take on your commute. They’ll work with you and your goals, like go with you to the bike shop, meet up with you for a weekend ride, share tips and tricks on bike laws and packing and safe riding. And Maybe they’ll even go with you to a WABA Confident City Cycling Class.
Bicycle crashes are scary, disorienting events. Nobody wants to think about being involved in a crash, but it’s important to know what to do in case of emergency. Hopefully you will never have to experience this first-hand, but you may be able to help out your fellow bicyclists with your level-headed understanding of what to do in the situation.
This Thursday, April 17, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the MLK Library, join WABA and local attorney Bruce Deming for a roundtable presentation on important information bicyclists should know regarding bike crashes. We’ll cover steps to take now that can improve the outcome for you following a crash and how WABA is working to reduce the number of bike crashes through improving street infrastructure, street-level police education, and increasing crash data. Register here.
If you’re unable to attend the seminar, read below the jump for some tools to prevent, prepare for, and deal with an emergency situation:
At the Scene
You’ve been in a crash. Now what?
Try not to panic.
Make sure you are safe to move or stay where you are and wait for paramedics. If there is any doubt, err on the side of caution.
Call the police. Call 911. Make sure the police make a report. If you can’t call, ask someone nearby to call for you. This step is imperative. Without a police report, there is no record of the incident. Even if you don’t think there is any damage, this step cannot be overlooked.
Get contact information for any witnesses. Do not assume the police are doing this for you as they take the report. Make sure you are able to get in touch later with anyone who saw what happened.
Take photos of everything, including the vehicle involved, license plate, your bicycle, any property damage, the scene of the incident, etc.>
Collect the following information:
- Driver’s Name
- Driver’s License number
- Phone number
- Make and Model of Car
- License Plate #
- Insurance Company
- Date, Time, Location of Accident
What if the driver flees the scene or doesn’t stop? A driver who is involved in an accident and feels the scene has committed a serious legal offense. Try to get the vehicle license plate number and state issued in.
Get home safely. Remember that backup plan? Now is the time to use it. Don’t attempt to ride a damaged bicycle or ride if you’re hurt.
After the Crash
You’re off the road. You’re home safe. What are the next steps?
Seek medical attention.
Write it down. While the crash is fresh in your memory, write down as many details about the event as possible.
Pick up a copy of the police report.
Take your bicycle to a shop for inspection and repair.
Document all expenses from the crash. Keep a log of any and all expenses incurred due to the crash. Life changes like taking the bus instead of riding your bike to work, damage to your clothes, personal property, bike, stuff in your backpack, time off work, etc. The WABA Crash Tracker App includes an expense tracker for this purpose. Use it.
Complete the WABA Crash Tracker. We use this data to work on both infrastructure and law enforcement changes. Fill out the Crash Tracker form here.
Ways You Can Attempt to Prevent Crashes
Avoid crashes and problems by riding safely.
Take a City Cycling class. Most bicycle crash incidents result from the bicyclist losing control of their bicycle, hitting debris or other hazards, or running into fixed objects, and not with motorists. Learn avoidance maneuvers, practice control drills, and gain skills needed to avoid dangerous situations at one of WABA’s City Cycling Classes.
Consider your riding style, confidence level, and route. Are there adjustments or improvements you could make to decrease your risk of a crash?
Follow the law. Following the law makes you more predictable. It is also important to your ability to recover damages suffered in a crash. Due to contributory negligence, a bicyclist can get stuck with 100% of his or her medical bills and damages from a crash if even only 1% at fault for the crash–and failure to follow the law is evidence of fault.
At the Scene: Witness Edition
Not involved in the incident, but saw it happen? Here’s what to do:
Stay at the scene.
Give your name and contact information to those involved in the crash and let them know you are a witness.
Offer to help take down the above information (or do it yourself) for the victim.
We hope this overview helps to prepare you for the unlikely event that you are involved in a crash. Please consider joining us tomorrow evening at MLK Library from 6:30-8:30 p.m. for our crash seminar.
To kickoff the spring season, the Bike Ambassadors started a month-long project: the April Trailer Challenge! We’re now halfway through the month and halfway through the challenge. During the second week of the challenge, the trailer made it to all eight wards of D.C.
For a closer look at this week’s ride map, follow the WABA Trailer on Strava.
This week, our volunteers rode 160 miles with the trailer in tow, bringing our monthly total up to 226 miles! Our goal for the entire month is 500 trailer team miles, and we’re right on track to reach that.
The ATC is a campaign to message WABA’s offerings of bike education, outreach, and advocacy to a broader audience in a fun way! Our goal for the month of April is to get the Bike Ambassador trailers around as much of the city as possible. We’re aiming for 500 trailer team miles in just 30 days.
Have you seen our trailer? You can participate in the April Trailer Challenge! Take a photo and post it on social media. Tag us @wabadc using #bikeambassador (on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook) and you’ll be entered to win a free bike tune-up.
Check out all the photos from the April Trailer Challenge!
For more information, contact the D.C. Bike Ambassador Program Coordinator Megan McCarty at email@example.com.
See you in the bike lanes in April, and see more Trailer Challenge photos below the jump: Read the rest of this entry »
More than 500 WABA members donned hi-vis smiles on Sat., March 22nd for a sold-out Vasa Ride. Participants enjoyed the ride, the hills (not so much), the warm-ish weather, the sunshine, and the always delicious post-ride blueberry soup inside the House of Sweden.
The Vasa Ride is named as a tribute to Sweden’s legendary Vasaloppet, the world’s longest running cross-country ski race. The Vasaloppet commemorates the trial of a renegade Swedish king who, in the 16th century, led the rebellion to free the country after a long pursuit on skis.
For nearly a century, blåbärssopp—warm blueberry soup—has been served during the Vasaloppet to keep riders warm. Many thanks to our gracious hosts the House of Sweden and the Swedish Embassy for their annual partnership with the Vasa Ride for serving up the much-loved blåbärssopp.
The Vasa Ride brings together riders from D.C., Maryland and Virginia and helps to support WABA’s work. When people participate in our rides, fundraisers, parties, and outreach events, they fuel WABA’s mission to make riding a bike safer and more accessible for all. Read the rest of this entry »
This spring, we’re launching our Everyday Biking seminar program for those who want to learn more about urban biking. The Everyday Biking Seminars are launching just in time for Bike to Work Day!
Everyday Biking seminars are typically presented to local offices and workplaces, but we are making a few available to the public. Join us if you are interested in learning the basics on how to safely and easily fit biking into your daily life. Both events are free and open to all. If you’re an everyday biking pro, we encourage you to pass this along to your friends!
We’ll provide tips on:
- Making sure your bike is in good working order
- Planning a good route
- Understanding safe riding principles and rules of the road and trail
- Carrying your stuff, and more
After the presentation, WABA’s trained staff will answer questions, address concerns, and help resolve any other issues that may be keeping you from bicycling.
There are two upcoming public Everyday Biking seminars:
Mon., April 14
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Northeast Public Library, 330 7th St NE, Washington, D.C. 20002
Sign up to attend here, or just show up!
Thurs., April 24
6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
WABA Office, 2599 Ontario Road NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Sign up to attend here, or just show up!
A business publication notices that bicycles mean business. (It’s based in Oregon, but still!)
The Pennsylvania Avenue zebras are D.C.’s best nonfunctional road art.
DDOT is installing a curbed bike lane along 1st Street NE.
And, the M Street cycletrack should be finished in a week or two.
Complete this survey about Florida Avenue NE on Tues., April 15 if you’d like to vocalize the need for bike accommodations. You can read more about the options for Florida Avenue NE that we think are good for cyclists here.
Have you registered for Bike to Work Day yet?