Bike Back to School

Family Portrait by Matilda R, age 5

Family Portrait by Matilda R, age 5

It’s back-to-school time, and for some of our members back-to-school means regular bike trips with their child(ren). We spoke with one of members who regularly takes his children to school on a bicycle, you can read the conversation below.

Hiya! Who are you and your passengers?
I’m Jon Renaut. I’ve lived in Columbia Heights since 2007. My passengers are my daughters, a third grader and a first grader

What’s been the biggest challenge biking with kids?
I’m not sure I can pick one biggest challenge. Sometimes it’s the weather. Sometimes it’s just being tired at the end of a long week. Sometimes the girls won’t stop fighting on the back of the bike. Often it’s bad drivers not paying attention, and DDOT refusing to enforce the Safe Accommodations Act.

Where and when do you ride?
Everywhere and all the time. Unless we’re leaving the city (and sometimes even then), our Xtracycle is our primary means of transportation. Sometimes we have to take the sidewalk (slowly and carefully), like if we go to Brookland and have to pass the hospital. Sometimes we take the long way or the flat way because it’s safer or easier.

Where and when don’t you ride?
Snow and ice usually keep me off the bike (except for the big snowstorm last winter. I left the kids at home for that, though). There’s pretty much no place I won’t ride, but I’m definitely more likely to take a sidewalk on a road I don’t feel is safe when I’m riding with the kids.

Why do you bike your children to school?
When my older daughter started school, the building was in a temporary space at 20th and S, which meant a bus ride and a long walk for 3 year old legs. We bought a trailer from some friends who had outgrown it and I started biking the kids to school and daycare. It was mostly because it was easy and because getting two kids under 4 onto the 16th Street bus at rush hour isn’t a lot of fun. Eventually the kids outgrew the trailer and we upgraded to the Xtracycle.

We bike to school because it’s faster than driving or the bus (the school’s new location requires a bus transfer for us). One day I had to pick up my wife from DCA right after school dropoff so I took the car. We had gone a block before the kids started complaining how slow it was. And all the neighborhood groups around the school love the school except for one big complaint – parents parking illegally at dropoff and pickup. So we’re also doing our part to be good neighbors.

Even on a bike, you are still a parent.
The bags on the Xtracycle are exactly like the complaints you hear about the back seat of a minivan. Old snack wrappers, odd bits of clothing, random treasures the kids forgot about. I probably have more bungee cords in there than most minivans.

Does WABA made a difference in your bike experience?
In a broad sense, WABA makes a difference by being a voice of reason and having the ear of politicians to get changes made to how we do bike things in the area. In a specific sense, it’s little things like Greg Billing reaching out to me after I’ve been begging DDOT for literally months to enforce Safe Accommodations and being ignored. Greg talked to me on the phone, reassured me of some things WABA is doing to make things better, and made me feel a lot better about the whole process.

 

If you are interested in riding with your children and have questions, WABA can help!  Visit our Family Biking page  to learn more and sign up for email updates!

 

Wave when you see us out and about!

Jon and his two daughters riding on 14th Street NW

Jon and his two daughters riding on 14th Street NW.

 

 

 

DC, Maryland, and Virginia’s only Platinum Bicycle Friendly Business℠ is…

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association!

BFB platinum sealWe are proud to announce that WABA has received a Platinum Bicycle Friendly Business℠ (BFB) designation from the League of American Bicyclists! With this highest honor WABA joins just 33 Platinum Bicycle Friendly Businesses out of the 1,232 local businesses, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies across the country recognized by the League for their commitment to transforming the American workplace and making bikes work.  We’ve been working hard to practice what we preach and be a model for businesses in the DC area.

But we don’t want to hog all of the glory!  We couldn’t do what we do without the WABA Business Members that have shown their commitment to making the DC area a better place to ride and commute by bike, and we want to make sure they get the recognition they deserve as well.  That’s why, along with many other great benefits, we offer support in applying for Bicycle Friendly Business recognition from the League of American Bicyclists to all of our Leadership Level Business Members.

Find out more information about the League’s Bicycle Friendly Business Program at bikeleague.org/business, and contact us at membership@waba.org for information on BFB application assistance for your business. The next BFB applications are due in by October 13, with the next round of awards to be announced in December. We’re excited to see what other DC area organizations will be joining us on the list!

The Next Step for Paved Trails in the National Capital Region!

better bike trails

The National Park Service (NPS) National Capital Region Paved Trails Study is complete! NPS finalized the study in mid August.

This study includes a set of goals and 121 capital and programmatic recommendations, in addition to a framework for prioritizing regional funding of trail-related projects in the National Capital Region. In essence, NPS is laying out the next 20 years of work on paved trails under their jurisdiction.

In May, we dug into the draft study and facilitated public comments back to NPS. WABA submitted comments to the study, along with a petition of support signed by more than 1300 WABA members and supporters!

We are thrilled that the Park Service has taken this on, and we are pleased with the results. NPS has included programmatic recommendations including three that relate to regional coordination.  As many know, this region is very complex when it comes to trail development, and agency coordination is a vital part of creating a world-class trail network. We’re pleased that NPS has prioritized regional coordination and WABA looks forward to working closely with NPS to implement the ambitious plans.

What’s in the study, and why are we giving NPS a round of applause?

Here is just a small sample of the priority projects:

  • Extension of the existing cycle track south on 15th Street from Pennsylvania Avenue, NW to the 14th Street Bridge. (You know, that connection we’ve been asking for for years?)
  • A feasibility study for a cycle track or trail along the Military Road, NW right of way, from Glover Road, NW to 16th Street, NW.
  • A feasibility study for an extension of the Suitland Parkway Trail from the D.C./Maryland line to the Henson Creek Trail.
  • Improved wayfinding and standardized signage so that it’s easier to navigate the trails system.
  • The development of comprehensive trail design standards and guidelines for the region that address trail width, snow removal, clearances, safety features, and more.
  • Fixing numerous bridge access problems, including the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, Tidal Basin Inlet Bridge, and 14th Street Bridge.
  • Connecting the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to the Wilson Bridge, by way of Blue Plains and Oxon Hill Farm.

Like we mentioned in May, it’s a big deal that NPS is being so strategic about the quality and connectivity of paved trails in the National Capital Region. These are important corridors for commuting, running errands, recreating, exercising, and connecting to our natural surroundings. For those of us who believe that the best way to experience the National Parks is by bike or on foot, this is a welcome investment in a connected, world-class trail network.

High-volume corridors, many of which are vital commuting routes, warrant special design, maintenance and operational considerations. With this study, NPS is acknowledging that these trails are transportation systems, and should be treated as such.

We extend a big “thank you” to National Park Service for a job well-done on the final Paved Trails Study, as well as the 1300 trail users that shared their voice with us! As we move into implementation, WABA will keep our supporters in the loop on trail development updates.

 

Let’s make sure improvements to Jones Point Park work for people on bikes

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The George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP), which is part of National Park Service (NPS) is in the process of reviewing Jones Point Park in Alexandria, VA. Specifically, GWMP is looking to redesign the paved space under the Woodrow Wilson bridge to accommodate and encourage more recreational uses. The space under the bridge was originally intended for parked cars, but security changes following September 11th, 2001 made that no longer a possibility.  Since then, the space has been underutilized while the rest of the park actively encourages recreation.

In our formal comments to NPS, WABA has requested that a portion of the paved space under the bridge be turned into a “traffic garden” for bicycle education classes. WABA also recommended that the flexible space designated for a bike safety course in the plan be expanded.

The Jones Park Park Recreation plan also proposes to re-route the Mount Vernon trail around the park instead of straight through it. WABA recommended retaining the Mount Vernon Trail alignment through the park to facilitate biking to park amenities and restrooms, while encouraging through-bicyclists to utilize the new routing. We noted that if new routing or re-routing is put in place, the new trail must be 100% off-street, multi-use, and not require any mixing with motor vehicles. Finally, if bicyclists are going to be discouraged from riding through the park past the restrooms, then in-pavement solutions i.e. differentiated pavers or stencils, should be utilized rather than bollards or barriers.

Public comments on the project are being accepted through September 23rd. The proposed recreation plan and planning documents can be accessed by clicking here.  To submit comments of your own regarding the plan, please click here.

 

Tonight’s Free Bike Maintenance Workshop

To celebrate the opening of their DC Flagship, REI is leading 100 days of recess and donating $100,000 (!) to five local non-profits. Your votes determine the donations! By attending their summer events, you’re voting where the benefit dollars go. Click here for more information.


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Images courtesy of REI

 

Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2016
Time: 6:30PM – 8:30PM
Location: REI’s Community Space at WunderGarten: First and L St NE, DC
More information: here!

Head over to REI’s community space tonight for a free session of level 2 bike maintenance! Come get greasy and learn cable tensioning, changing brake pads, replacing chains, and smooth shifting and braking.

If you can’t make it, click here to check out the next few events!

  • September 15th: Thru-Hiking Party with ATC
  • September 16th: Campfire Hangout with S’mores
  • September 20th: Elevated Camping: Hammock Basics
  • September 27th: Bikepacking the Canal: Tips & Tricks
  • September 28th: Map and Compass Navigation Basics
  • October 8th: Thingamajig Gear Swap

DDOT Sidestepping Complete Streets Policy in Bridge Rehab Plans

Over the next few years, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has plans for substantial rehabilitation work on the aging Whitney Young Memorial (East Capital St.) Bridge and Roosevelt (I-66/US-50) Bridge. Opened in 1955 and 1964, both bridges are structurally deficient and in need of serious rehabilitation. These bridges are important links in the city’s highway network, yet due to insufficient design, they fail to connect gaps in the region’s trail network and perpetuate barriers to safe walking and biking. Despite the opportunity, DDOT’s plans consider non-motorized accommodations as “outside the scope of work.” As DDOT plans the rehabilitation of these bridges, it has a duty to correct the mistakes of the past and improve both bridges for safe non-motorized access.

Transition from the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to the East Capitol St. Bridge (10 feet to ~3.5)

Last week, WABA sent DDOT a letter outlining serious safety and access issues for people biking and walking on the Whitney Young and Roosevelt bridges. As DDOT moves forward with rehabilitation plans, it is imperative that the existing sidepaths see substantial improvement as well. Unlike roads, which get repaved every decade, bridges are built to last many decades. DDOT cannot let design decisions of the 1950s continue to limit DC’s future transportation choices. That’s common-sense and good policy. It is also a requirement of DDOT’s own Complete Street’s Policy (pdf) and a requirement of Title III of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015 which will become law in November (awaiting Congressional review).

Read WABA’s letter here (pdf).

Welcome Our New Community Organizer—Renée Moore

renee moore

Hello!

I’m Renée Moore, the new community organizer focusing on Vision Zero and the former coordinator for WABA’s Women & Bicycles program, a community of 5,400 women working to inspire more women to bike, teach, lead, and advocate in our region.

I’m so happy to be (back) here and working to share the power of biking. It’s very important to me—riding my bike is my favorite activity and it all started here in D.C. I was able to get rid of a gym membership, avoid parking tickets, lose 37 pounds, and have fun all while getting places around the city.

At 6 years old, I ran into a parked car on my bike and my grandfather took my bicycle away from me- forever. For years I would see others riding and think, “wow, that looks like so much fun.” Finally, when I was 25, a guy asked me on a date and asked me what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to learn to ride a bike. He looked surprised and said cool ok! We went to Georgetown, rented a bike and within 2 hours I was riding along the waterfront all by myself. I was free and I loved it.

In 2013, I took my bicycling group to a workshop with Black Women Bike DC, a workshop on how to bike in the city during the winter. I sat in the back the entire time thinking, “ok, there is no way I am riding in DC streets; that is just crazy!” The four or five times we talked about why bicyclists fare best when they ride in the streets I sat there shaking my head. I decided to take the class again in the spring and this time we went on a ride after the workshop.  I found it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. But in September, my mom had a stroke. Luckily, she caught it in time and I got her in George Washington Hospital. Unfortunately, the parking was $22! I told my mom that I was going to ride my bike to see her rather than spend $154 / week parking the car to come visit her. And I did! I fell in love with riding in DC. I was saving money. I was getting outside. It was therapeutic.

It was great riding the streets of DC, but not every street in DC feels safe to ride on. We need better infrastructure and better enforcement to make sure that our streets are safe for everyone to walk and bike. And that’s what I’ll be working on—making sure the District’s Vision Zero plans are implemented and our Vision Zero goals realized. I’ll need your voice and help to make it happen. You can reach me at renee.moore@waba.org or on Twitter @girlonbluebike.

See you in the bike lanes,
Renée