9 Reasons to Bike in the Winter

biking in the winter

When I first started riding at age 25, I only rode during the day and only if the temp was over 70 degrees. I was literally a fair weather rider. Now many years later, I find myself biking to and from work all year long. And I must admit it’s not nearly as bad as I thought. It sounds crazy, but I actually enjoy riding in the winter. Don’t believe me? Here’s what won me over:

1. Park anywhere

The spring and summer mean more people are biking. YAY! That also means fewer places to park your bike when you arrive at your destination. In the winter, you don’t have that problem. You can park almost anywhere.

2. Be #awesome

Biking to work in the cold and wind and snow leaves people in awe of you. While they were stuck in traffic in a warm car you were passing them, avoiding the traffic, braving the elements and being amazing.

3. Hains Point 100

Every December one of our amazing volunteers, Megan Jones, organizes the Hains Point 100 event to raise money for Women & Bicycles, WABA’s program to encourage and support more women to ride bicycles. The idea is to ride 100 laps, 100 miles, 100 minutes, 100 seconds, 100 anythings, etc. around Hains Point in East Potomac Park. And she raffles off incredible gifts and swag too. Register for the Hains Point 100, this Sunday on December 17th from 8:45 am-3:00 pm and help raise money for a great cause.

4. Stay healthy

Exercising throughout the winter helps to boost your immune system which can help you fight off colds and the flu and stay healthy. Plus, more biking means you can eat more holiday cookies.

5. Improve your mood

When the time changes we have a lot less daylight, leading to anxiety, crankiness, and even Seasonal Affective Disorder. One way to combat that is to bike to work. Being out on your bike is a great way to get a little more sun, fresh air, and daylight in your life during the winter.

6. Skip the shower

Summer riding is fun but can be sweaty and leave you feeling like you need to shower after every bike ride. But in the winter you can ride and arrive at your destination and not feel like you need to shower before your first meeting. But it never hurts to keep some wet wipes or a stick of deodorant in your office, just in case.

7. Bike Lanes are less crowded

(at least until everyone reads this post!)

8. Friendly competition

If you are one of those people who need a bit of motivation to ride through the winter you may want to try Freezing Saddles. It’s a friendly winter competition and the goal is to ride at least 1 mile every day from January 1 until the last day of winter. Each registrant is part of a team and there are fun (and sometimes meaningless) prizes that are given for the person and team that rides the most miles, rides the most often, visits the most coffee shops, and more!

9. Bike & Skate

Join us for our first ride event of 2018. We’ll be riding to ice skate at the Ft. Dupont Ice Arena on Ely Place SE. If you haven’t ice skated in a while or you ice skated last week, you should come join us for a fun bike ride and skating event.

Biking through the winter isn’t for everyone. And there are some days when it’s below freezing and you just don’t want to. There’s nothing wrong with that. But winter biking is worth a try occasionally. And you never know, you just may begin to like it.

Trash On Trails: More Than An Annoyance

Trail Rangers do lots of different trail projects: promote trails, answer questions, clip back vegetation, ride trails (and write the word “trails” a lot). Why do Trail Rangers spend some of their time removing trash?

We want more folks wanting to feel trails are welcoming and use trails. People don’t like walking or biking through trash – it’s not fun to look at or be around. Studies have found that litter on trail decreased trail use by 20%. Trails are appealing for a number of reasons but being outside in the natural world is a common one – does this look appealing to you?

Another study found that how folks perceive safety is influenced by trash – eliminating litter from an image increased the perception of safety 30%. It’s hard to encourage more folks to enjoy trails if they feel unsafe or that it’s not a pleasant place to spend their time.

Trash can cause problems. It’s much easier to pick up a whole glass bottle just off the trail now before it breaks and causes flat tires. And it’s no fun to fall because you hit a carryout container just right and then–whee, sideways!

We want a healthy environment. All of our trails are part of the Anacostia River watershed, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Trash in the river has been so bad in recent years that the Anacostia River was declared “impaired by trash” by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act. Whatever we don’t pick up will eventually likely go into the bay and from there into the ocean (unless it’s picked up by a few trash traps or the DC Water skimmer but they only make a dent). Plastic and manmade materials are not part of the ocean ecology – let’s keep them out!

 

So how do you help the team and encourage more folks to be on the trails?

Don’t litter. We’d rather be doing something else! Save us a step.

Request a trash can! There are definitely places along the trails and roads that have higher incidence of litter because people expect there to be a trash can (ex: Stanton Rd and Suitland Parkway). There is a whole category in the city 311 reporting system on requesting new trash cans

More info about effective 311 reports here.

Join the team for a cleanup! We do public cleanups a few times a year to make a bigger impact. The next one is January 15th for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. More details and signup here.  

Get updates for all of cleanups by joining our email list. Yes!





Also lots of other organizations are involved in trash reduction efforts so if you’re not near a Trail Ranger trail, there is probably something going on close to you!

Trail Connections for a New Long Bridge

Anyone who enters DC from the 14th Street Bridge by bike or foot is aware of the narrow trail on the bridge and the mixed-salad congestion of bike/foot commuters, automobiles at speed, and bewildered tourists that all use the 15th Street & Maine Avenue SW intersection. The Long Bridge Project presents a once-in-a-century opportunity for a new high-quality trail connection between SW DC and Arlington to bypass this quagmire. Stakeholder agencies need to hear from our biking and walking community to ensure that the Project includes bike and pedestrian improvements.

The Long Bridge is the District’s forgotten piece of river-crossing infrastructure. This century-old bridge conveys passenger and freight railroad traffic alongside the 14th Street and WMATA Yellow/Blue Line bridges across the Potomac.  The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are in the midst of a multi-year study of possible upgrades to the Long Bridge to better handle 21st-century load and reliability. There is potential that a bicycle and pedestrian trail could be included in a bridge upgrade, creating a new link between Arlington’s Long Bridge Park, Mount Vernon Trail, and the District. This would also allow foot and bike traffic to completely bypass 15th & Maine, terminating in the less congested and more useful locations of Maryland Ave SW and L’Enfant Plaza.

What’s New

Earlier this year, the Long Bridge Project team narrowed the field from nineteen preliminary concepts to just seven based on a set of railroad specific and engineering selection criteria. Aside from the no build option, which is still on the table, all of the remaining build concepts would create a new bridge with 3, 4, or 5 rail tracks. Three of the seven concepts include a new multi-use trail as part of the project.

For the past few months, staff have done a second round of screening to further narrow the build options by considering factors like Constructability, Railroad Operations, Efficiency and Effectiveness, Cost, Preliminary Environmental Effects, and Safety.

Speak Up

On Thursday, Dec 14, DDOT and FRA are hosting a public meeting to share and gather feedback on the preferred build alternatives. Though we anticipate some of the chosen alternatives will include a trail, it will take consistent, ongoing pressure to ensure the final plan includes a high quality, convenient, and safe trail.

Long Bridge Public Information Meeting #4
Thursday, December 14 4 pm to 7 pm
Presentations at 4:30 pm and 6 pm
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1100 4th Street SW, Room E200
Learn more

At the meeting or afterwards, be sure to submit comments to the project team. For more information, see the Long Bridge Project Website for more on the screening results. You can read WABA’s comments on the first round of screening here. To submit comments, use the contact tab on the project’s homepage and consider subscribing to the project mailing list for updates.

 

Celebrate with WABA!

 

The holiday season is upon us, and while there is plenty to be thankful for and jolly about, coming up a gift for that one friend, coworker, or family member can be quite daunting…

maybe WABA can help!

Give the gift of comfort…

WABA socks are the perfect present for everyone, on a bike or not! Give them to your favorite rider to wear on the trails or with their best suit to work. The best part about giving WABA socks is that you can both participate in the social media fun that is #wabasockwednesday.

Give the gift of style…

Everyone will turn heads seeing your friends whiz past in a WABA jersey. In men’s and women’s sizes, the WABA jersey is great for dedicated members who want to share their love of WABA wherever they ride!

Give the gift of better bicycling…

Have an all star bike rider in your social circle? Gifting someone a 1 Year Membership Certificate introduces them to WABA classes, events, and a community of like-minded individuals who love to be on a bike too!

Best of all, we’re giving you a gift, too: use the code WABAHOLIDAY at our online store to receive 10% off your order!

Another great way to support WABA this season is by giving to our non-profit mission to support better bicycling! Make a gift in memory or in honor of your favorite bicyclist, or to celebrate your most recent great ride.

Come celebrate the joy of biking with us at the WABA Member Holiday Party at Bar Roubaix (14th and Irving Streets NW) on Wednesday, December 13th from 6-9pm and enjoy an extra 10% off all merchandise!

Everyday Bicycling Program Year in Review

The Everyday Bicycling program rode with a lot of bicyclists in 2017. Since the weather is supposed to turn colder this time of year the adult education team doesn’t offer many classes. Instead, we take a brief pause to scan behind and discover what worked in 2017, then set our sights on 2018 and beyond. Below are some highlights from the year.

A few hundred new bicyclists

This year our team of instructors led 30 adult Learn to Ride classes across DC, Arlington, and (for the first time!) Prince George’s County, and the City of Falls Church.

  • More than 400 folks attended a class and 80% of them were riding by the end of the morning!
  • That means 320 new riders are enjoying the trails and roads on two-wheels today!

Our season has wrapped up for the year, but if you know someone that still wants to learn how to ride, consider sharing the joy of life on two wheels by setting up a private class—many of WABA’s instructors enjoy teaching one-on-one.

Students learning to ride in Arlington

Riding confidently

More than 200 people (mostly grown ups, but also kids) attended a City Cycling class in 2017. In 3 hours time participants learned some skills and tips to enjoy the great trails and also how to make the commute with traffic less stressful and more fun. In addition to the confidence learned, community building was gained.

  • WABA ran 25 City Cycling classes in Montgomery County, DC, Alexandria and Arlington in Virginia.
  • WABA ran two family biking classes in DC – one discussing the challenges of riding with youth attached to the bike, while the other focused on the joys of riding with youth on their own bike in the city.
  • WABA ran a youth bike rodeo in Montgomery County.
  • WABA trained National Park Service Rangers that work along the Anacostia River Trail.

Want to bring a City Cycling class to your office for your employees? Email us: education@waba.org.

Building community

Navigating the streets in the region on a bicycle can be tricky, which is why WABA offers slow, no-drop community rides.

  • To date, WABA led 220 community members through the neighborhoods discussing ways to avoid the door zone and how to deal with tricky intersections.
  • We shared thousands of fun facts and trivia questions.
  • For the first time, WABA led a Community Ride in Fairfax County.
  • We’ve got one ride left on the calendar for 2017 – come and ride with us!

Bringing biking to work

The Everyday Bicycling team worked off of the bike too.

  • WABA shared the key components to start commuting by bike with more than 300 people in Everyday Biking Seminars at workplaces across the region. The point of this seminar is to encourage people to try a regular trip by bike instead of car.
  • WABA met with and had honest conversations with the supervisors and safety trainers of DC Circulator buses about using the road with pedestrians and bicyclists, through the creation and launch of WABA’s Bicycle Friendly Driver program.

Training the trainers

WABA welcomed 14 new certified bicycling teachers. The League of American Bicyclists certifies cycling instructors across the country, but about once a year, we run a special certification course to help us ensure that we have a varied and exciting team of instructors that are connected to the communities in which we teach. 

Planning for 2018

WABA is excited for all the work the team did in 2017 to make bicycling better for everyone in the region. By taking advantage of the best practices of this year and working from some new ideas to improve the program in 2018 – the Everyday Bicycling Program can’t wait for the weather to turn warmer. Hopefully, we’ll see you (or a friend) in a class or on a ride next year!

What’s WABA’s position on dockless bikeshare?

Dockless bikeshare has the potential to expand bike sharing and bike ridership in the District and local neighboring jurisdictions.  With opportunity comes risk, however, and that is why we have been involved in conversations for the past months with a task force convened by DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST) that included District Department of Transportation (DDOT), several DC Business Improvement Districts, and DC Council staff to discuss priorities for ensuring that this new technology is a positive addition to the menu of transportation options in the DC region.

Among our top concerns are:

  1. Safety and maintenance of the bikes – how well are the bikes built and do they receive routine maintenance? How easy is it to report issues and how quickly are they addressed?
  2. Parking  – how well are companies educating users about good/bad parking behavior? How quickly do companies relocate bicycles that have been problematically parked? Are companies helping advocate for better bike parking options to improve conditions for all bicyclists, particularly in areas downtown where bike parking demand exceeds supply?
  3. Troubleshooting –  How easy is it for non-bikeshare users to report problems? How quickly are reports of an issue rectified? Do companies have procedures in place to proactively address issues without the need to have someone report them? Are they making the complaints/response times available to the public?
  4. Data-sharing –  the data generated by bike share users is important for transportation planning and decision-making. Companies should make this data available to the public.
  5. Equity –  WABA is invested in ensuring the benefits of dockless bikeshare accrue to all, whether that is by committing to a minimum level of coverage in lower-density, lower income neighborhoods, or creating a requirement that companies participate in an en-lieu fee system so that the government can provide bike share services in underserved areas.

To see the full set of recommendations by DCST, click here.

What are your thoughts on the dockless bikeshare pilot so far? Send them to advocacy@waba.org

You can also contact each Dockless bikeshare company directly:

Send policy suggestions to DDOT at: dockless.bikeshare@dc.gov

 

Meet Jono, a WABA volunteer hero

WABA is excited to introduce Jono Sirovitka, a, dedicated member who just can’t stay away from bicycling!

Jono is a research technician at the National Institute of Health and a Montgomery County native. When he’s not on a bike, you can find him hiking or whitewater kayaking inthe region.

Whether he is riding in his favorite WABA signature event, The 50 States and 13 Colonies Ride, or volunteering in the office, Jono is invested in building better bicycling.

“I have come to love biking for many reasons. As a mode of transportation, it feels good to know I’m not polluting. It keeps me healthy and in shape. Sometimes, I can even get places faster by bike than by car.”

Jono first joined WABA five years ago and says, “I support a local organization that advocates for and does work in my community. I like being able to see the results of WABA’s efforts where I live and work.”

Jono is also an active WABA volunteer, and we are always grateful to see his friendly face in the office.

“I love meeting other volunteers and WABA staff. It’s great to see the inside workings of an organization I support. I’ve volunteered with other organizations, but rarely see my efforts translate to tangible results. With WABA, I do. Whether preparing materials for a ride or putting together membership packets, I feel my volunteer work is valued.”

WABA is so happy to have Jono as a member, speedy envelope stuffer, and a passionate advocate for bicycling wherever he goes! Thank you, Jono!

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WABA Member Highlight

Are you a WABA Member ready to share your story? We’d love to hear how you started bicycling or an inspirational tale of how it—and WABA!—has changed your life.

Contact Tara Kelbaugh at membership@waba.org to share.