A First Step Toward Better Bike Lanes in MD and VA

Two way protected bike lane illustration from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.

This week, WABA sent letters to local departments of transportation requesting consideration and adoption of the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide. The NACTO guide presents state-of-the-practice solutions that create safe, enjoyable complete streets for current and new bicyclists.

The NACTO guide provides county traffic engineers with additional designs for innovative bicycling facilities that use several techniques to encourage new bicyclists, primarily by separating bike lanes from car traffic. The guide also has recommendations for designing on-road facilities such as buffered bike lanes, protected bike lanes (cycle tracks), bike boxes, contraflow bike lane and other facilities.  Adoption of the NACTO guide by local DOTs clears one of the many obstacles to building protected bike lanes.

Why protected bike lanes?

Protected bike lanes keep current bicyclists safer while encouraging new people to use bicycles for transportation. WABA is working to increase the miles of protected bike lanes throughout the region. Learn about our advocacy priority and our local campaign to build a protected bike lanes in Bethesda. More local campaigns are coming soon.

We sent letters to the Directors of Transportation for Fairfax County, Prince Georges’ County, Montgomery County and the City of Alexandria*.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Arlington County have already endorsed the guide and are currently implementing protected bike lanes. We will publish the written responses we receive from the departments to the blog.

Read the full letter requesting adoption of NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.

* Update: The City of Alexandria has also endorsed the NACTO guide. 

New: the WABA Member Photo of the Week

Are you a #WABAMember? Do you #bikeDC, #bikeMD, #bikeVA?

Do you employ the “#” symbol on your #mobile #device with #verve and #gusto?

If you answered yes to these questions,  tag your Instagram or Twitter bikey-like photos with #WABAMember! Every week we’ll pick an awesome #WABAMember photo and retweet and regram it. We’ll also put it on our Membership Page.

Get riding and snapping  WABA Members (but not at the same time), and you may see your photo on our Twitter and Instagram.

Note: Extra points for bad puns  and even more extra points if you submit a photo the old fashioned way:

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PS: If you love taking pictures of bikey things, consider joining our Flickr pool

Kitty Litter Pannier Workshop

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Meet Kirby. He stopped by the Bike Ambassador’s tent last night at the National Night Out event and we got to talking about kitty litter panniers!

As you can see these containers are GREAT for hauling groceries from the store. If you’re interested in making your own kitty litter pannier, Bike Ambassadors are hosting a workshop on August 14th at WABA HQ (2599 Ontario Rd NW) at 6 pm. To register, or to find out more click here.

We are also requesting donations of empty kitty litter containers, as well as empty Costco laundry detergent containers. Anything helps! If you have any empty containers you’d like to get rid of, contact jon.gonzalez@waba.org

Introducing Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar, a WABA Business Member

We’ve recently introduced you to our business membership programWe debuted the program in 2012 and are steadily signing up new business members in 2014. As part of the program, we’d like to introduce you to some of our business members. Today, meet Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar

Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar was founded in 2010 with a focus on single origin coffee and a variety of hand made espresso drinks. Filter was one of WABA’s first Business Members when the program started. There are two Filter locations, one in the Dupont Circle area and one in Georgetown. Next year they plan to open a third location in the Brookland neighborhood with a joint venture with the Bike Rack. Coffee and bicycles – always a great combination!

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Coffee bike racks!

Filter gets their coffee from a local roaster out of Annapolis, MD. You may have noticed their pretty cool coffee themed bike racks in front of their Dupont Circle location as well! They also sponsor the District Velocity Racing Team. We are happy to count Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar as a business member!

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Trail Ranger Tuesday: Behind the Scenes

Over the last two months, we’ve introduced our Trail Ranger team and highlighted some of the fun trail focused events from this summer, but we have kept quiet about what keeps us busy every day.  Despite our lack of evidence here, we are, in fact, quite a busy crew.  Our team is out riding and improving DC trails an average of 50 hours per week.  And though you may wonder what we’ve been up to, you can benefit from our work even if you don’t.

You won't find this tree blocking your way anymore!

You won’t find this tree blocking your way anymore!

And that is kind of the point.  We work to ensure that every time you turn your wheels toward a trail, your ride is pleasant and uneventful.  You don’t need to know about those trees that came down a few days ago, that clogged drain or those branches doing their best to get in your way.  We want you focussing on the spectacular views, the wind in your hair and those gleeful moments that turn a commute into a positive part of the day.

To that end, we traveled over 1,300 miles between June and July, roaming the Met Branch, Anacostia Riverwalk, Marvin Gaye and Suitland Parkway Trails in search of issues, big and small.  Our 200+ hours of trail work means fewer obstacles, longer lasting trails, and far less trash getting to our rivers (a volume of over 1,100 gallons so far!).  That we have helped 13 trail riders get rolling again with a patched flat is icing on the cake!

So here’s a taste of what you missed (or didn’t).

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Passable trails are better trails!  Who can argue with that?

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Regular trail inspections helps city agencies keep the trail looking good.  Which scene do you prefer?

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Fewer branches in your way leaves time to appreciate the view.

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Join us for Trail Ranger Coffee Hour on the Met Branch Trail

And lets not forget about the really important things; Trail Ranger Coffee Hour is back this Friday (8/8) from 7:30-8:30 am on the Met Branch Trail!  Stop by 4th & S St. NE for a coffee (this time with ice) and meet your neighbors and our team!

Say Hi to WABA this Summer

Join WABA next week on Thursday, August 7th after your work day for a summer happy hour with our bike loving friends from New Belgium at Vendetta bocce bar and tavern (at 1212 H St NE).

Poster jpegEveryone is welcome to join us, including WABA members, supporters, friends, co-workes, bike lovers, people who’ve never ridden a bike, and that friendly face you pass daily in the bike lane. Come say “Hi” to WABA this summer, catch up with other DC area bicyclists, and share stories about your summer (or reminisce about the awesome time you had at Tour de Fat).

We’ll be there from 6:30 to 8:30 pm and the evening will feature $5 New Belgium pints, with $1 from each beer being donated to WABA. There will also be a raffle (for every drink you purchase, you’ll get a raffle ticket!) for a couple of New Belgium bicycle jerseys, and a messenger bag and tune-up certificate from the neighborhood bike shop The Daily Rider.

Please note that rather than biking down H St NE to get there (because of the street car tracks), we recommend you bike down the adjacent streets of either I or G St NE and check out the awesome new contraflow lanes!

We hope to see you there.

And a big bicycle thank you to Vendetta, New Belgium, and The Daily Rider for their support and their love of bicycling in the DC area!

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How do I get a bike rack?

WABA repaired & installed rackWe get a lot of questions about how to have bike parking installed. Here’s a quick breakdown:

To request bike parking in public space:

  • In Alexandria, use this web tool.
  • In Arlington, use this form.
  • In Fairfax County, call (703) 877-5600
  • In Montgomery County, fill out and mail the form on this page
  • Prince Georges County does not have a way to request bike parking, but some of the cities within the county do. We recommend calling your city hall directly.
  • In DC:
    1. If the space is in a Business Improvement District, start by calling your BID.
    2. If you’re not in a BID or your BID doesn’t help you, call 311 and put in a public rack request (these can sometimes take a while).
    3. If you are a business and want to install your own racks in public space, you’ll need to purchase your own racks (be sure they comply with DDOT’s design guidelines), get a permit for each installation (like any other public space construction/installation), and find a contractor with the necessary tools (a hammer drill) to do the installation.

Regulations and guidelines for bike parking in private space (which includes things like store parking lots and apartment buildings) vary across jurisdictions.

  • DC – Regulations and requirementsDesign Guidelines (PDF)
  • Arlington – Bike Parking Specifications (PDF)
  • Alexandria – Bike Parking Standards
  • Fairfax County – Bike parking guidelines are written and in the process of being approved. Check here for updates.
  • Montgomery County – Bike parking requirements depend on size and zoning. They are described in section 6-2.4.C of the recently approved zoning code (very large PDF). Bike parking standards are in section 6-2.6 of the same document.
  • Prince Georges County’s bike parking requirements and design guidelines are in section 27A-707 of the Zoning Code, which you can find here.  Note: because of the structure of the site, we can’t link directly to the relevant section. You’ll need to click through the table of contents (Zoning > 27A > 707), and the actual Zoning Code is provided as a Microsoft Word file.

Historical Note: In 2013, WABA was the contractor that installed bike racks for DDOT. This is no longer the case.

 

Looking for a fun ride? Try the Marvin Gaye Trail

Marvin Gaye Trail Ride

Live anywhere long enough, and sticky habits will develop.  We end up at the same grocery stores, weekend hangouts, and parks.  One morning’s commute can look just like the rest, and even a fun bike ride can look a little too familiar.  We all need to branch out once in a while, so this weekend, our Trail Rangers lead a small community bike ride along the Watts Branch creek on the Marvin Gaye Trail.Hard at work

Starting in Lady Bird Johnson Meadow, near the Minnesota Ave. Metro, we took a relaxed ride along the trail and through the nearby neighborhoods of Deanwood, Lincoln Heights, and Hillbrook towards DC’s Eastern corner.  Along the way, we passed a few historical landmarks just blocks from the trail, enjoyed a few hilltop views, and even found the easternmost boundary stone where Eastern Ave. meets Southern Ave just two blocks from the end of the trail.

Some of the Marvin Gaye trail’s most enticing features are the tree canopy, restored creek beds, and green space it passes through.  Around every corner we found perfect spots for a picnic.  It takes constant work, though, to keep all that green in check, so  we put on some gloves and grabbed our tools following the ride.  With some sweeping here and trimming there, the trail is looking great!

Relaxed riding and trail work are even better when followed by Chipotle!  Thanks Chipotle!

Relaxed riding and trail work are even better when followed by Chipotle! Thanks Chipotle!

Every bike ride is better when followed by a hearty lunch, and thanks to our friends at Chipotle Mexican Grill,  everyone who came on the ride and helped out with the cleanup enjoyed a burrito when we finished.  Thanks Chipotle!

If you missed out on Sunday’s ride, but want to try it yourself, here is a map of some of the spots of current and historical significance.  We’ll be back for another community ride in a few weeks too!  Need convincing, check out some photos.

Two (more) ways to be confident on your bike

A couple of weeks ago, we brought you a few bike tips to practice on your own, straight from our City Cycling class curriculum.

This is part two – skills you can practice to get out of a dangerous situation if you ever need to. We teach them at the advanced section of our City Cycling class, called Confident City Cycling.

Come to a class to get tips from our instructors. In the meantime practice these moves on your way  to work, en route to the grocery store, heading to the block party, etc.

They’re fun and simple once you get the hang of them, but if they don’t come naturally at first – hang in there! Some of these maneuvers are counter intuitive, and they take time to get used to.

1. The quick stop. 

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Image via

This maneuver involves shifting your weight backward, which will make you stop faster. When we press both brake levers to stop, our weight naturally shifts forward. However, the more weight we apply to the rear wheel, the faster it will come to a controlled stop without skidding.

So, you’re coming to a stop sign.

A. Make sure your pedals are level:

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B. Take your butt off your seat and shift backward, toward the rear wheel (this is the part that might feel dangerous or destabilizing at first). Once you get more comfortable with parting ways with the seat, you can even try to shift your weight far enough back so that your stomach is resting on your seat.

At first it might feel like this:

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Scary, strange, but empowering, no? (Image via)

But it should look something like this:

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No speed suit required.

More importantly, see how our model’s stomach is resting on his seat, and his weight is shifted toward the rear wheel?

This will give you more stability and stopping power, whether you’re on your way to an important job interview or heading out with friends.

Best place to practice the quick stop: I like to try my hand at the weight shift on streets with lots of stop signs. For instance, 11th Street in Northwest DC is a good road to try superwoman moves on the fly.

2. The Rock Dodge

The rock dodge is exactly what it sounds like: a technique to dodge small objects that could jolt you unpleasantly, or even cause a flat tire or a crash.

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Practice quickly flicking your handlebars to the left, which will cause your body to lean to the right and bring your front wheel safely around the dangerous object. Your rear wheel should snake around the other side of the object, avoiding it entirely.

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Image via

Rock: Dodged. You: Not going to be late for an important date.

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Image via

Best place to practice the rock dodge: Plenty of streets in the DC region have lots of potholes worthy of a dodge – let us know if you find one that’s worthy of an award.

Look for more tips to be confident on your bike in this series, or come to a City Cycling class to get our take on these techniques. We’ll return with a full slate of fall classes in late August.

 

Introducing VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative, a WABA Business Member

We’ve recently introduced you to our business membership programWe debuted the program in 2012 and are steadily signing up new business members in 2014. As part of the program, we’d like to introduce you to some of our business members. Today, meet VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative

VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative is a do-it-yourself bicycle workshop and educational space in Alexandria, VA. Their mission is to educate, encourage, and empower a vibrant and inclusive cycling community through learning. They provide a non-profit, volunteer-run, educational do-it-yourself workshop offering training, rides, and events to empower all levels of cyclists in building, maintaining, and embracing the fun of bicycles. There are community rides and courses to help every level of cyclist learn more.

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Christian Meyers of VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative.

VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative depends on a large group of volunteers who spend time helping customers repairing their own bikes. The shop also sells used bikes, parts, and clothing. The shop has hosted Women & Bicycles workshops at the shop in the past. We are happy to count VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative as a business member!

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.