Who should be next in our Tiny Space Lecture Series?

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Recently, we welcomed Professor James Longhurst from the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse to our offices for a special member lecture. He’s the author of Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road and he shared with us a chapter from his new book on the fate of Victory Bikes during World War II, which happened right here in Washington DC. Space was tight, but cozy, for our inaugural “tiny space” lecture series. We all enjoyed his talk, complete with videos and never before seen photos that he was able to dig up from various archives.

Professor Longhurst discussed the history of bicycles and how they have shaped American society. Unfortunately, just as they are often dismissed as a legitimate transportation mode, they are also not taken seriously as a research topic and therefore are almost completely left out of the social science canon. However, bicycles are clearly an important part of our country’s history. The history of bicycling in this country intersects, of course, with the history of automobile use at several critical points.  And decisions that were made decades ago in favor of cars, still resonate and hinder how we move about on bicycles today.

During World War II there was a brief moment where, with automobile production expected to be restricted to war vehicles only, and gasoline rationed, the US war office recommended the mass government production of what they nicknamed “Victory Bikes.” A heavy public relations campaign was envisioned, pitching daily bicycling as a patriotic duty. UnfortunatIMG_2378ely, another US war department intervened and instead, car production was saved, albeit restricted, and US production of bicycles plummeted. It was an early missed opportunity to establishing daily bicycling in this country as socially responsible, safe and sustainable, even in times of national crisis.

James Longhurst’s book will be published later in April, but it is available now for pre-orders. The other chapters seemed just as interesting, including chapters on the Sidepath movement, bicycle taxation and more.

The lecture was so successful that we are planning another. So tell us, who would you like to hear speak on the lost history of bicycles?

 

Don’t cut funding for biking and walking in Alexandria

Take Action

Alexandria’s Acting City Manager’s proposed budget would eliminate multi-modal and transit investment in new infrastructure for the next decade. The proposed budget options would also remove operating funds for planned Capital Bikeshare expansion.

While Alexandria has long-standing goals and policies to encourage more walking and biking, relative investments in these areas have been declining for the past few years. This year, the proposed budget would cut Alexandria’s non-motorized transportation budget, remove operating funds from planned Capital Bikeshare expansion ($10,000 per station), and remove the City’s capital investment in the only two trails planned for the next decade. Capital funds are available from other sources for the bikeshare expansion, only operating funds are needed. As D.C. and other surrounding jurisdictions provide competitive transportation options to attract new businesses, Alexandria should be investing in, not cutting, non-motorized transportation infrastructure.

Please send a message to the City Council to restore investments in non-motorized transportation infrastructure.

Capital Bikeshare is a highly cost-effective system with fare-recovery at more than twice that of other transportation systems. The two trail projects will cost-effectively provide safe transportation, recreation and access to transit for people of all abilities. This proposal should also be considered against the rising number of studies showing that investments in walking and cycling are high payoff investments. Better infrastructure drives real economic development.

If you want to make walking and biking safer, and more accessible for every Alexandrian, say so. Otherwise, expect a decade- long (or more) delay. The City Council meets Thursday, April 9th to discuss the transportation budget. Please send your message before April 9th.

Please take a minute to ask the City Council to reject proposed cuts to the City’s non-motorized transportation budgets related to Capital Bikeshare, the Old Cameron Run Trail and the Backlick Run Trail.

We want to ride Alexandria with you on April 8

Last fall, we launched our first-ever Education Ride Series, and this spring we’re back with all-new rides in all-new places!

And we’re just in time. Capital Weather Gang says winter is over.

The bad news: You have no weather related excuses.

The great news: You can meet us in Old Town next Wednesday, April 8 for a transitions ride that will get you moving and grooving all over Alexandria.

mike let's ride

Sign up!

What are education rides? They are 90 minutes long, and usually around 5 to 7 miles in length. They’re a fun time, but they are also designed to be a safe space to ask questions, try some new biking techniques, and learn about local infrastructure.

They are each organized around a theme. Our April 8 ride is called “Escape from Old Town,” because we’ll be using trails, roads, and protected bike lanes to get out of Old Town, to Del Ray, and ride back again. Oh, and afterward we’ll celebrate with tacos at Los Tios Grill.

Come join us! It will be so much fun!

anica and tiffany bring a friend

The nitty gritty:

  • Ride start – the corner of S. Union St. & Prince St. in Old Town Alexandria
  • Start time – 6:30 PM
  • End time – 8:00 PM
  • Ride end – Los Tios grill, 2615 Mt. Vernon Ave.
  • Distance – approx. 6 miles

10 bucks for advance registration. As always, walk ups on the day of class are free.

Coming up later in April:

Claim your everyday superpower at City Cycling on April 11 and April 12.

Learn to ride for the first time and see DC United on April 18.

Ride Ch-ch-changes with us in Arlington on April 22.

 

It wouldn’t cost much to make this Prince George’s road safer for everyone

by Jeff Lemieux 
Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

Suitland Road, a major thoroughfare in Prince George’s County, offers nothing for people who walk, ride bikes, or take the bus. There’s enough room to make the road nicer and safer for everybody, and the cost would be tiny.

Proposal for Suitland Road. Illustration by the author.

Suitland Road is a rural-style, two-lane road that passes through a nondescript commercial patch on the way from DC to the Suitland Federal Center. It has no sidewalks or bike lanes between Southern Avenue in DC and Silver Hill Road in MD, and and its wide traffic lanes (16 feet in some places) encourage speeding. However, it will soon be the hub for new development next to the federal center and near the Metro station.

Suitland Road in its current condition. Photo by the author.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association Prince George’s action committee has made transforming Suitland Road into a bike friendly space a top priority for 2015. The committee published a proposal to repurpose Suitland Road’s wide traffic lanes, center turn lanes, and shoulder space to a street with protected space for biking and walking on either side. There’d be no need for additional asphalt, or even sidewalk paving.

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Suitland Road between Maryland and DC. Image from Google Maps.

All things considered, the suggested changes are cheap

Adding the protected bike lanes and walk space that are in WABA’s proposal would cost between $80,000 and $165,000, with annual maintenance costs of less than $10,000. Of course, actual sidewalks, along with bus platforms and landscaping, would be nice. But the idea is to calm traffic and make Suitland Road safer for people on bikes and foot as quickly and inexpensively as possible.WABA’s proposal uses flexposts, a “soft” bike lane protector that’s common in DC, rather than more expensive curbing or a raised roadbed for bike lanes. The cost estimates also cover bike symbols, lane and buffer striping, and changing existing pavement lines.There are two main approaches to lane striping. The first, thermoplastic lines (hot tape), would cost about $165,000 to install. They’d carry an annual maintenance price tag of about $1,200.

The other option would be to use white paint for the lane markings. This would cost about $80,000 upfront, with $9,600 in annual maintenance.

On a per-mile basis, these cost estimates are considerably lower than most types of roadway improvements. The estimates, meant to provide ballpark figures rather than specifics, are from an engineer familiar with the proposal.

The Maryland State Highway Administration, which maintains Suitland Road, recently added road design guidelines that include buffered striping for bike lanes along with curbed protection features. WABA’s proposal uses flexposts, a “soft” bike lane protector that’s common in DC, instead of curbing or a raised roadbed for bike lanes.

The Suitland Civic Association, WABA, and local bike shops are planning a community walk to advocate for a better Suitland Road on April 4th.

Potomac Pedalers Sponsors Women & Bicycles!

Thank you PPTC

We’re  proud and excited to announce our partnership with the Potomac Pedalers!

Along with offering financial support, Potomac Pedalers and our Women & Bicycles group are partnering up to create four women-only rides (maybe more?) catering to different skills and biking goals, in different parts of the region, prioritizing fun and skillsharing!

We’re working together because we’re committed to bringing out all types of people  of all different bike abilities to experience the joys of biking and find camaraderie throughout the D.C. region.

The Potomac Pedalers Touring Club is a non-profit educational, recreational and social organization for bicycling enthusiasts.  They boast* the biggest membership and the largest ride calendar in the Metropolitan Washington DC area! And, they host the funnest bike tailgates.

The first joint PPTC and W&B ride is scheduled for May 9!
We’ll ride in Rock Creek and tailgate afterwards. Mark your calendars; details to come.

Click here to learn more!

 

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*Actually they’re pretty humble about it.

Negatives into Positives: A PAL Story

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Preface
I lead a wonderful group called the PAL Ambassadors. PAL stands for Predictable, Alert, Lawful. It is a cooperative program between Washington Area Bicyclist Association and BikeArlington to promote street safety and responsible behavior, while building a fun, volunteer-based community of ambassadors. It is fun and EXTREMELY effective at making the region more safe. You should join us!

At our monthly PAL Outreach Block Party we were talking pedestrian and cyclist safety issues at one of the more dangerous intersections in Arlington County… Lee Highway and Lynn Street in Rosslyn.

Now to my story
A woman who works nearby and walks to and from work daily was quite angry and a little bit confrontational about how cyclists behave around pedestrians. Often times people expect me to reply to aggressive comments “with attitude”, so they open up with confrontational words and hands on their hips. She is more afraid of cyclists than she is of cars in that intersection. This fear and anger had built up over years! Now she’s got someone to point it at…. ME!

Over the years I’ve developed a very good technique for making this kind of interaction positive. Listen —> Find common ground —> Share the solution —> Enlist their help = WIN!

Here’s how it went
Listen: Pretty easy. Be attentive. Make eye contact. Listen… I mean really listen. Don’t interrupt. Just listen! She talked for almost a minute non-stop. It seemed like a lot longer. It always does. I just listened and waited for her to relax a little and breathe. She felt MUCH better when she got to the end of her talk. I could see her visibly relax.

Find common ground: I totally agreed with her, so common ground was easy to find. Many cyclists behave badly in and around that intersection. I slipped in a little comment that many of us in that intersection could behave a lot better. I was helped by a pedestrian that ran out into busy traffic and a motorist that ran the red light. SHE brought up that pedestrians are horrible there too. We have common ground and she helped find it!

Share the solution: I gave a 15 second pitch for the PAL Ambassador program. I had 6 amazing volunteers talking the talk and walking the walk all around me. She could see people talking to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. She liked it!

Enlist their help: I handed her a Kind Bar that had a PAL Ambassador sticker on it with all the info she needed to get involved. She got a snack and the ball is in her court to become a force for good!

WIN! I got a smile, a sincere handshake and a new force for good in the PAL Ambassador program. I hope she follows through.

Everyone wins!

You should come out and join us! We have our monthly PAL Pizza Night on April 16th, and our next big block party on April 23rd!

—Pete
This entry was originally posted on my blog

Introducing Two Wheel Valet, a WABA Business Member

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach and education. Our business members are committed to a sustainable future of our region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today meet Two Wheel Valet.

Two Wheel Valet was founded by Jonathan Weidman in 2013. Since then you may have even parked your bike at a Two Wheel Valet. Freedom Plaza on Bike to Work Day? The Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival? The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Miler? Or maybe the Arlington County Fair? Two Wheel Valet provides secure and easy-to-use bike parking services for events in the Washington DC area. They bring bike racks, signage, trained attendants, and logistical support in order to improve your attendee’s overall experience.

CUCB Ten Miler

Secure bike parking is a beautiful thing

 

The Washington Post wrote a story about Two Wheel Valet last year. In that story Weidman calls the need for a secure place to park your bike as essential as trash cans or porta-potties at big events. We could not agree more! We are proud to call Two Wheel Valet a WABA 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.