DDOT Installs Safer Sidewalk on the Interim Metropolitan Branch Trail

Sometimes change is dramatic, like the opening of Kenilworth section of the Anacostia River Trail. But the small modifications can have a big impact as well – that one pothole that scares you, the fantastic new bike repair stand, a repaired streetlight. The Metropolitan Branch Trail saw a few great improvements this fall that we wanted to highlight.

New lighting in the pipeline

One of the new LEDs being tested

Durability and reliability of the lighting has posed a challenge on the trail. The original solar lights installed weren’t up to the test with easily broken fixtures and an inadequate power supply from the solar panels. Earlier this year, many of the poles were hard-wired and temporary fixtures installed from Edgewood St NE to T St NE. A new round of work has been done in the last few weeks to continue this farther south, and now poles are wired until south of R St NE. The trail is brighter with more reliable lighting but the final solution is still in the works. Two new LED fixtures were installed on the trail at the S St intersection two weeks ago for testing. Should they be up to the job, the trail will get new and much improved fixtures.

A Brand New Sidewalk

It’s been the talk of the trail – there is a new climbing sidewalk on Fort Totten Drive from Bates Rd NE to Crittenden St NE! We worked with DDOT in an effort to get it installed before Safetrack Surge 10 increased trail traffic and are delighted to see it become a reality. Previously, riders had to cross the street and use the narrow west sidewalk or the far more common choice, ride in the road up the short steep hill. It was decidedly unpleasant. The new sidewalk is designed so that climbing riders can get up without competing for roadspace with the dump trucks and other vehicles.

Pothole Free R St NE

Speaking of new paving, the entrance to R St NE was repaved! The roadway had been cracked and broken for years.

Northern Trail Extension

DDOT is still in the design process for Phase 1 of the Metropolitan Branch Trail extension from Bates Rd NE to Gallatin St NE. We will continue to keep you updated when more is known, sign up for updates on the campaign page.

Feedback and Reporting

If you could change or add one small thing about your trail, what would it be? A trash can, bench, new sign? I’ve been mulling over things but want to know what sticks out for you! We’re curious to know.

See something that needs to be fixed? Check out our resources on maintenance reporting.

You’re invited: WABA Member Holiday Party!

When: Wednesday, December 14th from 6:00-10:00pm

Where: Boundary Stone, 116 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC

Who: WABA Members and your family and friends

RSVP: Join the Holiday Party event on Facebook and invite your WABA friends

All WABA members are invited to join the WABA Staff, Board of Directors, and your fellow WABA Members on Wednesday, December 14th at Boundary Stone in DC’s Bloomingdale neighborhood for an evening of bicycle cheer.

Come eat and drink and be merry with us in celebration of this year’s advocacy successes and mingle with fellow WABA members.

The party is free and there will be food and drink specials available for you to purchase at the bar.

*Please note this party is for WABA Members and their close friends and family. WABA is a member supported non-profit organization and your yearly membership dues fund our ongoing advocacy and outreach work. If you have friends that are not WABA Members, bring them and encourage them to become a WABA member at the party!*

Thank you EYA!

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WABA would like to give a great big bicycle thank you to EYA for their support of better bicycling, their title sponsorship of The 2016 Cider Ride, and for bringing out an awesome EYA team to ride along with us last weekend on the Cider Ride.

EYA is WABA’s biggest signature ride event supporter. As the Title Sponsor of our fall community ride event for 2016, 2017, and 2018, EYA is making it possible for WABA to hold ride events that not only bring people together to celebrate bicycling, but also raise support for our on-going advocacy efforts to make bicycling better. EYA is a regional developer with a focus on bicycle and pedestrian friendly urban homes and communities.

Since 1992, EYA has earned recognition for introducing innovative and thoughtfully designed new homes in DC metro area neighborhoods that offer life within walking distance. They share a lot of common goals with WABA members to reduce dependence on cars and encourage new opportunities for more sustainable living.

Thank you so much EYA!

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Alexandria Takes Universal Bike Education For a Spin

 

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Youth riding during PE class

In September, WABA’s Youth & Family Education team trained eight Alexandria City Public School PE teachers for their first year of teaching third graders how to ride bicycles! For the 2016-17 school year ACPS will conduct a pilot program called Bicycling in the Schools—based upon the highly successful Biking in the Park Cornerstone program in DC Public Schools. The intent of these programs is to provide universal bike training and safety education to all students.  WABA is actively advocating for programs like this across the region.

Alexandria begin their program with 150 students in third grade at Mount Vernon Community School in Del Ray this fall.  It was such a hit with the teachers and students that it was immediately expanded to include all 4th and 5th graders, for 450 youth on bikes. That adds up to 120,000 student class-minutes of bike time! Wowzers!

Watch for more youths and their families enjoying the fantastic off-street Potomac Yard Trail between Braddock Rd. and the Four Mile Run trail. And if your children have been a part of an in-school bike education program, we’d love to work with you to help your community support riding after the school’s program ends. Please email youth@waba.org.

 

Helmets lined up as they would be for a class.

Helmets lined up as they would be for a class.

 

It’s Bike Light Blitz 2016

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The end of Daylight Savings Time is nearly upon us! There’s often an uptick in traffic crashes after the time change, so WABA is spending next week distributing bicycle lights. Our goal is to get bicycle lights in the hands (and onto the handlebars) of folks who are riding without them. If you’ve already got bike lights but still want to be part of the fun, stop by to pick up a pair to give away next time you see someone who needs them.  If you are interested in helping the DC Bike Ambassadors distribute these lights please join us at one of our pop up locations next week:

Spread the bike light love!

Here’s where we’ll be 11/7 -11/10:

  • Monday, 5-7pm we’re at 15th & P Street NW
  • Tuesday, 5-7pm we’re at Union Station (The First Street protected bike lane, in front of the Postal Museum)
  • Wednesday 5-7pm we’re at 3201 Benning Rd NE
  • Thursday 5-7pm we’re at the Key Bridge, on the Georgetown  Side.

Light tips:

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When you’re riding on a trail, be aware of the angle of your front light. Modern LEDs can be quite bright, and you don’t want to blind on coming trail users.

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Welcome Our New Women & Bicycles Coordinator—Betsy Tesi

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Hello, awesome women of DC (and beyond)!  I am excited and grateful and a little nervous to be taking the reins of WABA’s Women and Bicycles program as the new Coordinator.  Women & Bicycles was started in 2013.  In those days, WABA came to realize that fewer than 26% of the cyclists on our roads were women.  There was plenty of space on the roads!  Women & Bicycles was born to help us connect with, teach, and empower each other to conquer these roads.

Since then, we’ve hosted a few hundred events, and our Facebook group has grown to over 5,000 women.

You might want to know who I am and how I got into this whole bicycling thing.

First off, the most important questions:

  • Road bike?  I ride a BMC that I call “The Badass Mountain Climber” for all the mountains I climbed on that thing in Oregon, where every ride was a hills ride.  I love it to the ends of the earth and that is my over-25-miles bike.
  • Commute?  Yes, I bike commute year round, multimodal style.  That means I use buses and trains as well as the bike, which is a folder bike named “Zelda”.
  • Bike I most regret selling?  My mountain bike.  Sure it was too big, but it was fun.
  • N+1 dream? a standard bike to which I could hook up a trailer so I could try to trailer-train my puppy.
  • Where do you store all these?  Mostly in my tiny apartment… together with my spouse’s bikes, one of which is technically a frame and which lives in the upper shelf of his side of the bedroom closet.  Doesn’t everyone have a tri frame in their closet?  No?  Just us?

I’ve lived in the DC area since 2001.  Despite two stints in Connecticut and Oregon, I keep coming home.  I love this city, the Nats, the museums, and our shared hobby of whining about the congested traffic.  When I first moved here 15 years ago and discovered I395, I said so many swear words that a friend decided to introduce me to bike commuting.  He fixed up a beater bike, taught me the rules of the road, and a few months later, I bought my first grown-up bike with lots of gears.  I’ve been bike commuting ever since.

A few years ago, with a new work schedule, my old routes just weren’t working out any more.  My new roads were steep, fast, and scary.  I was lonely… and worse, I was getting bored of my old favorites.  Luckily, around that time, the bell on my commuter bike broke, and so I went on Mission: Bell Replacement.  In shop after shop, I found boring, quiet bells, and worse yet, I kept getting mansplained by these guys who would tell me I could not put a bike bell on my BMC roadie.  It didn’t matter that I kept explaining that the bell was for my commuter!

Finally, frustrated, I walked into a shop where this petite woman greeted me… and actually understood what I was looking for.  She knew what it was like to have a small voice, so when I said I needed a nice loud bell, she understood what I actually needed.

And that saleswoman told me about this group, Women & Bicycles.

That afternoon, after I finished installing my new bell which was shaped like a teapot and which I named “The Bell From Hell” for its delightfully horrid and shrill tone, I joined the Facebook group.  I saw a message for this new event, a “coffee club”.  Well… I like coffee.  I like people.  Let’s see what this is all about.

At that first club, there would be four of us.  We all commuted.  We all cram too many bikes into very small apartments.  Several of us had recovered from big injuries.  We all like breakfast food.  Here were people like me!  Over the last few years, our group has grown, and become the sort of community I want all women to have in a bicycling community:

-if I have gear questions, someone else has had that same issue and has discussed it.  In fact, sometimes, someone had some gear that was ready for a new home.  I got my first pannier, basket cover, and women-specific bike shorts through our group.

-if I’m going on a big ride, chances are someone else is too and we can meet up and have riding buddies. We’ve even played hooky together to ride some of the great trails around our city.

-some rides are women-only.  It’s so great to have the option of being “just us”.

-if I need a new bike, someone will ALWAYS enable me and encourage me to go ahead and get that bike!

-best of all, when my first commuter was finally ready to move on to a new home, within the group, someone was able to get that bike to another person who really needed it.  We help each other out.

That’s what I want W&B to be- it’s ALL about the bikes… the racers, the fun rides, the beater bikes and the fancy commuters.  Bikes are why we are HERE, reading this blog, right?  I treasure our growing diversity in age, race, income, occupation, and orientations.  When I roll up to coffee club at Pleasant Pops, I am as comfortable rolling up on a CaBi in jeans as I am on my folder bike in a dress as I am on my roadie in spandex shorts.

Women & Bicycles is a positive community founded to help us help each other.  We are here to be the best, most respectful, supportive, vibrant, fun-loving, equality-supporting, allied, cheerful community in WABA, in DC, and heck… on the internet!

I am so glad to be here to help.  Sign up here to be notified about rides, events, workshops, and social gatherings for us over the next year.  And of course, please reach out if YOU have ideas for great things to do together!

 

WABA in the Wild was AWESOME!

A few weeks ago, we held our very first WABA in the Wild, a three and a half day bike tour and camping trip from Cumberland, Maryland at one end of the C&O Canal Trail to Georgetown, Washington, DC at the other end of the C&O Canal Trail.

Riders in Cumberland

A wet but happy start in Cumberland, MD

Simply put, WABA in the Wild was epic.

Take a look at the adventure below and read on to hear what a few ride participants had to say about their experience. Plus, this event was a peer-to-peer fundraiser ride that raised raised almost $14,000 for WABA! A huge thank you and props to all of our WABA in the Wild riders.

Here’s what people said about the trip:

Waba in the Wild was an incredible experience for more reasons than I even anticipated.The ride itself was an extraordinary immersion in nature and cycling all day; the WABA crew was amazingly hospitable and thought every detail through, allowing us to just ride, make friends and marvel at the scenery; and I got to try a short bike tour with all the logistics taken care of- and instead of paying a tour company, I got to raise money for an organization that directly makes me safer and happier on my bike.

I’m so happy WABA decided to organize this trip because I’ve wanted to bike the entire C&O canal for years but was having trouble with logistics. WABA arranged everything seamlessly and gave me the opportunity to do this not just for myself and my own achievement but also to raise money to support making biking safer. I learned so much about what I can do in my community, it was so inspiring!

Favorite parts of the event for me were the camaraderie and moments to ride and chat with both the riders and the WABA crew; Camping, campfire and camp meals; Learning more about the WABA mission and goals. Lastly, being completely consumed in the event from start to finish.

I am still basking in the WABA in the Wild afterglow! I’ll start by expressing my appreciation for the way you handled the logistics for this event. The guidance you provided in advance of the trip from fundraising through packing lists and daily schedules were thorough and immensely helpful. I felt a part of the WABA team in reaching the goals and from wheels up at Walter Pierce Park I also felt that friendships were formed among the WABA crew and all of the riders. I feel a connection to everyone who participated. There are many challenges presented in riding and camping the C&0 canal. Conditioning, hydration, nutrition, recovery are all a part of what each rider has to do. WABA injected massive amounts of fun into every aspect of this adventure. I truly felt like i was being taken care of throughout. WABA in the Wild was a memorable experience. Thank you!

Interested in WABA in the Wild 2017?!

Like what you hear? Are you up for the challenge? Join us for WABA in the Wild in 2017!

If you’d like to be the first to know about when information and adventure dates are available for the 2017 event, and to find out when registration opens, sign up for the WABA in the Wild C&O Canal Tour interest email list here.