Become a WABA Member: Support our Education programs

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This week is our 2014 WABA Member Drive. On the blog, we’re highlighting the work your membership supports.

Join or Renew Now!

Our education program teaches children and adults how to ride a bicycle, safe rules of the road, and confidence on a bike. We go into local schools, day camps, and hold adults classes throughout the city. In 2014 alone our education program has reached 1,469 kids and 267 adults.

This fall our education program is expanding in a few key ways. Our adult programming includes a new series of educational rides.

What is an educational ride? It’s not quite a class – there’s no sitting around or listening to lectures or doing exercises. Each of our rides is focused on a different topic that’s critical for successful city riding: infrastructure, hill climbing, and transitioning from trails to city streets.

Our youth education programming is expanding to include two after school Bike Clubs. Bike Club is a progressive 5-7 week after school program designed to get kids aged eight through fourteen thinking about bicycling for fun, exploration, physical fitness, and transportation. We’re using bicycling as a vehicle to teach team building, community engagement, volunteerism, and awareness of the urban environment.

Our education programming is always striving to meet the needs our our community. Being a WABA Member shows your support for our unique programming. Join or Renew your WABA Membership this week to show your support!

The first 500 people to join or renew this week will receive a limited edition “I bike. I vote. @ I’m a WABA Member” t-shirts. T-shirts can be picked up on October 17 from 5:30-8:00 PM at Beirgarten Haus on H st. or will be shipped the week after.

 

You bike, you vote—are you a WABA Member?

you-bike-you-vote

It’s that time of year for WABA: A successful Spring and Summer has passed, Fall is ramping up with rides, classes, and outreach, and our 2014 Membership Drive is here!

Join or renew now!

This year if you are one of the first 500 people to  join WABA or renew your WABA membership you will get a limited edition t-shirt!

WABA strives to represent the voice of cyclists in our area with advocacy, outreach, education, and events. This shirt represents our collective voice. This week we will share stories and information about our work and why being a member is essential to the continuation of this work.

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday you will find WABA out and about across the region signing up members. On Friday we will celebrate with Biketoberfest at the Biergarten Haus on H St. were those people who joined or renewed can pick up their t-shirt as well.

We look forward to seeing and hearing from you this week. Now is a better time than any to join or renew with WABA!

Help us spread the word! Change your social media profile picture to the image below during this week. If you frequent a bike room, print out our poster and hang it up!

 

Yay! DDOT Releases Final Safe Accommodation Regulations

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Capital Bikeshare shows how to maintain safe accommodations for bicyclists while they install a new station at 15th & L Streets NW.

DDOT released final regulations for safe accommodations of bicyclists and pedestrians during construction. Future public space permits issued by the city must maintain access for people traveling by foot or bike. A growing number of District residents and visitor rely on walking and biking everyday. Bike lane and sidewalk closures create hazardous situations and have a discouraging effect. With proper enforcement, the final rules should go a long way to maintaining safe access for people walking and biking.

Overall, the regulations are pretty good. Draft regulations were released in August and there have not been any substantive changes between draft and final.

The regulations give an explicit order of priority for providing safe accommodations:

  • Priority one would be to have no impact on existing bike lanes. This could be achieved by keeping construction activities restricted to the parking lane.
  • If that’s not possible, the next best choice is narrowing or reducing other travel lanes as long as at least one remains open.
  • The next option would be to create a shared-lane.
  • Finally, as a last resort, a detour could be set-up. Any detour option would need to replicate the existing infrastructure as practicably possible. Again, the overarching goal would be to simply reduce impacting the existing bike lanes.

The Bicycle Safety Amendment of 2013 became law in the beginning of 2014. WABA worked hard to with DC Council on this law. After it’s passage, this legislation triggered the rulemaking process. The law compels city agencies changes regulations for new permits that effect sidewalks, bike lanes and paths. Future permits must provide “safe accommodation for pedestrians and bicyclists” during construction. DDOT completed the task in less than a year.

Thank you DDOT!  We look forward to working together on enforcement of these new regulations. Safe passage during construction makes walking and biking a more reliable mode of transportation.

Seatbelts Everyone! Explore the WB&A Rail Trail

On Saturday, Oct 11 at 1:00 pm, join WABA for a field trip into PG County to the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Trail.  With summer just behind us and hints of fall colors on every tree, now is the perfect time to get out for a trail ride.  Join us for a relaxed, family friendly ride, a look at an exciting emerging rail trail, and a discussion of the possibilities for connecting the trail to the District.

Join Us

As you move from busy urban areas towards quiet suburbs, the places you want to go tend to be farther from each other.  As destinations spread out, roads get wider, faster, and more like highways, and if you get around by bike, just getting to the grocery can be tricky.  Traffic calming, bike lanes, and side paths are essential, but they cannot compete with the joys of a rail trail.  The Washington Baltimore & Annapolis Trail is still a work in progress, but is already a fantastic bike highway.

The WB&A runs a total of 10.25 paved miles over two discontinuous stretches in Maryland’s PG and Anne Arundel Counties.  It follows the route of the long abandoned WB&A Electric railroad offering a direct path from Glen Dale to the Patuxent River, then to Odenton.  Though a 1.4 mile gap remains between the two built segments, the built portions through quiet woods and open sunlight are already a dream to ride.  And don’t forget the bridges and tunnels that whisk riders past those busy roads.

On Saturday, we will meet at the end of the PG County segment near the Patuxent River and bike westward towards DC, then turn around and head back.  Along the way, we’ll discuss the trail’s history, current holdups, and some possible connections towards DC.  This will be a completely off street and relaxed ride, so feel encouraged to pile the family in the car to join in.

Join Us


This is the third and final tour of our future trails series this fall.  We are grateful to our good friends at REI for making this series possible.  Be on the lookout for future trail advocacy and events later this fall.  Read more about our trails advocacy partnership with REI.

WABA’s Future Trails Tour Series

September 20 – Unbuilt Met Branch Trail Walking Tour
October 4 – Southeast DC’s Unbuilt Trails Bike Tour
October 11 – Washington Annapolis & Baltimore Trail Bike Tour

We conquered Northwest’s toughest hills — you can too!

In case you missed last week’s fun, we’re posting the routes to the first of our education rides. Ride them on your own, and join us for the next ones!

Coming up on October 15:

Bike Lane Blitz

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This ride is about making sense of all that bike-specific white paint on DC streets. Ride the good, the bad, and the ugly of DC bike infrastructure with us — we’ll debunk myths, wax philosophical on questions both whimsical and specific, and at the end of it all we’ll seek solace at District Taco.

Tackle the first two educational rides on your own:

Ride # 1, Ch-ch-ch-changes

We rode from Northeast to Northwest and from protected bike trails to streets without infrastructure — and got a chance to look at some fall colors on our way. Click the map below to try the ride yourself.

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Ride # 2, Gotta Get Up to Get Down

We powered up to the highest natural point in the District and shot back down to Adams Morgan in time for food at Super Tacos — a neighborhood favorite where you can find WABA staffers most days during lunch.

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Read about our fall educational ride series here.

No Tunnel for the Capital Crescent Trail at Wisconsin Ave

The Bethesda tunnel. Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.

Plans have fallen through for a Capital Crescent Trail tunnel underneath Wisconsin Ave in downtown Bethesda. Montgomery County attempted to facilitate a redevelopment of the Apex Building that would have allowed a large and more efficient Purple Line light rail station and trail tunnel. In a closed session several weeks ago the County Council, at the recommendation of County Executive Ike Leggett, decided not to move forward with this attempt.

WABA is disappointed that the county has abandoned these plans. The Capital Crescent Trail is one of the most travelled multi-use trails in the county, and the Purple Line transit project is a once-in-a-lifetime investment in better trail infrastructure. Redevelopment of the Apex Building would have allowed for the best possible station and trail.

The construction of the Purple Line will connect the Capital Crescent Trail to Silver Spring and will upgrade all trail crossings along the corrdidor, which is why WABA supported the project. The loss of a grade-separated crossing where one already exists is a significant compromise and loss. Wisconsin Avenue is the busiest road in downtown Bethesda. More than 1.3 million people use the trail annually. An at-grade crossing of this road is not an acceptable long term solution.

Repeat, there will be no trail tunnel.

A redevelopment of the Apex Building would have allowed the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to design a larger, more efficient Bethesda Purple Line station with better multimodal facilities. A new building above the station would be considerably taller and denser. The plans also included a bicycle and pedestrian tunnel underneath Wisconsin Ave for the Capital Crescent Trail.

With this latest news, the MTA will go forward with the original plan for the project: when construction begins in late 2015, the existing trail tunnel will be closed and the light rail station will be built in that space. The completed station will include a very narrow pedestrian (and walking bicycle) entrance from Woodmont Ave. The Capital Crescent Trail will follow a surface route described below.

Now what happens to the Trail?

Plans for the Purple Line have always included the construction of an additional “surface route” for the Capital Crescent Trail through downtown Bethesda. You can think of the surface as the “business route” and the tunnel as the “express route”. The Montgomery County Dept. of Transportation is developing the plans for the surface route right now. The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail (CCCT) and WABA have been involved for over a year with a stakeholders group advising MCDOT on their plans. With the tunnel now off the table, the surface route will carry all of the traffic on the Capital Crescent Trail.

The stakes are now much higher for the design and execution of this surface route. Councilmember Roger Berliner has tasked MCDOT to build a “gold standard” trail experience for the at-grade crossing of Wisconsin Avenue. MCDOT is hoping to have draft plans to present to the public later this fall, finish designs and begin construction by next summer. This sounds like an aggressive timeline because it is one—the surface route must be completed before construction starts on the Purple Line, as the tunnel will be closed. We will post notice about a public meeting here when the information becomes available.

What next for the trail?

WABA has been working for more than two decades on the Capital Crescent Trail. The trail is a well loved community resource which provides an important recreation, fitness and transportation benefit to visitors and residents of all ages. The vision has always been a seamless trail from Georgetown to Silver Spring. While the Purple Line will complete a major gap in the trail, it leaves behind a new one.

We are disappointed by this loss of an tunnel option and hope that County officials exhausted all options before making this decision. We expect a safe, grade-separated crossing of the trail at Wisconsin Avenue to be the long-term solution.

Tell Montgomery County you want a safe trail crossing

What doesn’t get counted doesn’t count

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This old saying rings true in the transportation planning world, where future investments are based on available data. In this context, it’s very encouraging that the District Department of Transportation is installing their first permanent automatic bike and pedestrian counters on popular trails and bike lanes. Arlington County has the most robust automatic counting program in the country with about 30 counters deployed, including the first “bikeometer” on the East Coast.

The first counter was installed by DDOT was on the Metropolitan Branch Trail last week using Ecocounter equipment. The Met Branch Trail counter is able to count both pedestrian and bicyclist traffic including direction of travel (north- or south-bound). With around the clock data collection, transportation planners can monitor travel patterns as the relate to weather, time of day and the increase of traffic over time. The earliest data shows a peak of over 150 people biking past the counter during morning and evening rush hours.

DDOT also installed a bike automatic counter on Eye St. SW and plans to install a counter on a very busy downtown protected bike lane in the coming weeks. The data from all of these counters will provide more granularity of bike traffic and complement other data collect efforts. From 2006 to 2013, bicycling commuting to work has quadrupled to 4.5% of all commuters.