More Support for a Low Stress Louisiana Ave

Support is growing quickly for a protected bike lane on Louisiana Avenue to fill a major gap in downtown DC’s low stress bike lane network. Since June, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) have received requests from DC Councilmember Charles Allen, ANC 6C, and even members of the Congressional Bike Caucus, urging swift action and support for a protected bike lane on Louisiana Avenue between existing lanes on First Street NE and Pennsylvania Ave. Following these requests, DDOT and AOC staff have already conducted a preliminary site visit to explore possibilities.

Louisiana Ave in red is a missing link in a much larger protected bike lane network in green

Earlier this week, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton added her support in a letter to DDOT Director Dormsjo and Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers.

“A protected bike lane between Union Station and the U.S. Capitol Grounds on Louisiana Avenue would improve safety and provide a vital link between already existing bike lanes in the area,” she wrote. “Union Station and the U.S. Capitol are separated by multi-lane roadways with fast-moving traffic, which poses safety risks to the residents, workers, and visitors destined for Union Station, the U.S. Capitol, and points beyond. DDOT Has already constructed protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue NW and First Street NE and throughout the city. Filling in the missing link on Louisiana Avenue NE would help complete this network of bicycle lanes.” Read the full letter here.

We are grateful to have the support of Congresswoman Norton for a project with benefits for countless DC’s residents, workers, and visitors. More updates on this campaign as it progresses. Read more about the proposal here

Volunteer with WABA for The Cider Ride!

WABA’s third annual Cider Ride is coming up on Saturday, November 14th and we need your help to make the event a success! We have a bunch of volunteer opportunities available throughout the week of the ride and during the event itself.

Check out the opportunities below, sign up, recruit a friend to help out with you or make friends while you’re volunteering, and generally be awesome!

Volunteer image

1. Volunteer Night at WABA HQTuesday, November 10th, 6-8pm @ the WABA Office, 2599 Ontario Rd NW, Washington, DC

Join us at the WABA office for a Volunteer Night to help get ready for the Cider Ride. Light snacks and beer will be provided. Volunteers will help assemble cue sheets and first aid kits, as well as help make route signs, pit stop signs, and decorations.  RSVP here!


2. Join the Cider Crew: Thursday or Friday, November 12th or 13th, whenever you have time to help out, located @ various locations along the route

We need help before the day of the event hanging signs along the route. You’ll get a sneak peak of the route, and you’ll get a complimentary registration for the ride on Saturday if you want to join us (or if you don’t want to do the ride we will save you one of the special edition rider swag items). The Cider Crew will need to be available on Thursday or Friday during the day or evening to spend anywhere from 25  minutes to a couple hours hanging signs in assigned places along the route. We can work with you on how much time you have available and assign you to a section of the route that’s best for you. We’ll also provide you with the signs and hanging materials as well as a detailed route map. This is a crucial way to lend a hand, plus you get to be on your bike!  Sign up to be part of the CIDER CREW.


3. Volunteer On Your Bicycle: Ride Marshals NeededSaturday, November 14th, times vary but rides depart from 8:30am to 11:30am and finish from 12-5pm.

We are recruiting volunteer ride marshals to do The Cider Ride with us! Ride Marshals get to participate in the ride event for FREE (while helping direct others, call out cues, and letting WABA staff know if there are any issues or crashed), so it’s a great way to help out while enjoying the ride. Marshals should be confident going on long rides (you will choose from the 23-mile or 47-mile route to marshal), biking with traffic, and leading or providing directions to other riders. Sign up to be a Ride Marshal here. 


4. Cider Ride VolunteersSaturday, November 14th, locations @ the start (Dew Drop Inn in DC) and at pit stops (Proteus Bicycles and Buddy Attick Lake Park)

Do you want to make a difference in the biking community? We need volunteer help at the ride start, pit stops, and the ride finish and celebration. Volunteers at the start will help with rider check in, and pit stop volunteers are crucial to welcoming and encouraging riders as they arrive and depart from pit stops, while helping to pass out and replenish cider and pit stop snacks. Sign up here to volunteer!


If you have questions about volunteering, email WABA’s Events Coordinator at

Un-Protected Bikeways: Why is DC Still Undercutting Safety?

For every new trail, bike lane, and policy that makes the region a better place to bike, there are committed advocates working in their communities, with government officials, and WABA staff to improve our streets for people who bike. Here is an update from Joe Allen, a DC and Montgomery County advocate.

The protected bikeways throughout much of downtown DC have contributed to great increases in people bicycling.  These new bicycle facilities have a physical barrier as well as horizontal separation from moving vehicle traffic.  Protected bikeways offer improvements in safety, predictability, and comfort for the average person.  Unfortunately, the record for DC in maintaining protection of these bikeways during building or roadway construction is horrible despite a law requiring them to do so.  What happens when construction or other reasons impact these bikeways will impact their long term success.

People riding in these new facilities expect a continuity in the level of comfort and skill required to reach their destination safely.  Therefore, a major challenge for developing such lanes downtown is finding a solution for construction projects that require the sidewalk and curb lane closures.  Often years of thought and engineering go into the protected bikeway design to minimize conflicts and maintain separation.  This hard work should not be erased when roadwork happens.  Given the type of riders attracted to these lanes, who prefer not to mix with traffic, even a periodic one-block disruption could discourage future use.  The DC Council agreed in 2013 and passed a law requiring the Office of Permits to work with the DC Bikeways Coordinator in approving traffic plans for construction zones that provide safe accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians. The law mandated that plans provide an equivalent bicycle facility wherever possible and a stepwise approach that maintains safety when space is tight.

Read about the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013

What has been the record of Office of Permits since this law was passed and regulations were issued?  One only has to look at comments about the protected bikeways to see the law is regularly ignored, or even worse, implemented in ways that actually increase risk to people riding bicycles.  The stepwise approach that is supposed to prioritize safety over maintaining parking lanes and travel lane widths often does the opposite.  In some cases, accommodation is provided for people on bicycle but not people walking with the obvious result, people walking in the bikeway.  More often though, sidewalk detours are provided, but people on bicycle must quickly merge into mixed traffic. Nowhere has this more true than the M St. NW protected bikeway.  There are currently three construction projects on the protected bikeway, each which violate the spirit if not the letter of the law and regulations.  The traffic plans for these construction projects were approved by the Office of Permits. However, the approvals are in violation of the law and conflict with very clear direction by DDOT on how these projects should preserve and not eliminate the protection for people on bicycles.

M St. NW and 20th St. NW

M and 20th St. NW. Note the turning vehicle.

The worst implementation yet occurred during the past few weeks on the M St. protected bikeway at 20th St. NW.  The signage emphasizes the very violation of the law: “Bikeway Closed”.  A pedestrian passage is maintained on the same side of the street as the bikeway despite an available sidewalk on the opposite side of the street and the parking lane on the opposite side of the street is left intact.  The result is people on bicycles must merge at the last minute in the middle of an intersection.  The traffic plan goes further and closes the right hand turn lane to cars for no apparent reason, eliminating the predictable mixing zone developed to reduce conflicts and avoid right hand turning cars crossing in the path of bicycles.  The return to the protected bikeway is at the entrance to a parking garage which regularly blocks the protected bikeway in the morning as the valet parks cars.  The plan fails at a number of levels.  There is no predictable, safe path maintained and the safety of people on bicycle is actually significantly harmed by merging cars and bikes at the worst possible place.  The plan encourages cars to cross the path of bicycles and vice versa.  During two brief morning spent observing the result, I caught on camera at least three near miss conflicts of cars turning into bicycles as well as regular failure to leave safe passing distance for bicycles that finally made it into the auto travel lane.  To add insult to injury, two additional closures and detours occur within the next four blocks, including conflicting detour and closure signs posted at M St. NW and New Hampshire St. NW.  The signs at this intersection give conflicting directions regarding use of a correctly posted protected detour and an illegal closure two blocks away (including use of “Share the Road” sign rather than “May Take Full Lane”)..

M St. Protected Bikeway and New Hampshire St. NW - two Blocks from 20th St. NW closure

M and New Hampshire St. NW – two Blocks from 20th St. NW closure

I have captured these violations of bikeway closures on 15th and L St. during the past year on several occasions and the response from DC government officials has always been polite.  They acknowledge such traffic plans should not be permitted and state that the permit office will learn over time but are overwhelmed with the volume of construction requests.  DDOT recently issued further guidance for bicycle lane closures and acceptable traffic management plans. Yet, it is unacceptable that a law has been passed, regulations have been issued, and requirements to coordinate with the DC Bikeways Coordinator outlined, and bikeway closures which should be a last option are regularly instituted as the first option.

Bicycling as a means to get from point A to B has become a new norm thanks in part to the building a protected bike network.  However, the new norm also requires recognizing the responsibility to maintain protected bikeways according to the law.  DC would rarely close a commuter arterial to cars on a daily basis for weeks on end or force cars onto the sidewalk or into narrow alleys not designed for auto traffic.  DC can and should do better, and it should not require a lawsuit for the government to uphold its own laws.

Joe Allen is a WABA member and chair of WABA’s Action Committee for Montgomery County.

November 1st: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!

With the Daylight Savings turning the clock back an hour this weekend, your trip home from work, or school will be a lot darker than normal on Monday. WABA has collected a few tips and tricks you can use to maximize visibility when out on the road!

Front White Light For Your Handlebars: These bicycle lights let oncoming road users aware of your presence and are required by law in DC, MD. and VA. Putting the lights in blinking/pulsating mode saves battery, and makes your bicycle distinguishable from other road users. 


Front White Light For Your Helmet: This light shines where you are looking, which can be very helpful in areas without much street lighting and helps you spot potholes or debris in your way.
helmet light

Rear Red Light For Your Helmet: Many helmets have have vents or straps where a bicycle light can easily hook on to and is an easy way to increase your visibility.


Rear Red Light For Your Bicycle: Although not required by law to have a rear light (rear reflector is the minimum), having a red blinking, or pulsating light will increase your visibility. Hand signals are also a great way to communicate with other road users what your intentions are!


Reflective Clothing: For even more visibility, reflective clothing provides multiple options from jackets, pants, scarves, shoes with reflective strips attached to them that brightly light up when hit with lights from vehicles, or other light sources. Backpacks, ankle straps, and helmet stickers are also other useful accessories that can be incredibly reflective.



If you would like to learn more about bicycling, visit our Education Calendar for a list of upcoming classes.

Happy riding!



As you may have heard, last week was our Fall Membership Drive. This year, through our Stress Less t-shirts and stickers, we asked for your support in advocating for more protected bike lanes in the DC area, and wow, did you respond! All told we welcomed 880 new and renewing WABA Members! Your support is truly inspiring and shows us the passion that this region has for cycling.

Membership not only supports youth and adult classes, advocacy efforts, community events, and programs that strengthen the bicycling community in the DC area, but also acts as a concrete measure of the commitment of cyclists to WABA’s mission.   Thank you; we could not do what we do without you!

The Membership Drive may be over, but it’s never to late to join the more than 5,500 area cyclists that have become WABA members! Head to today!

Where’s that Crash Victims Bill?

Legislation was reintroduced this year that would reform negligence law in the District and make the law more fair for crash victims.

Current D.C. law recognizes the doctrine of contributory negligence, under which the victim of a negligent act cannot recover for her harm if she is found to have contributed in any way through her own negligence.  Translated into real life, this means a bicyclist injured in a crash cannot collect damages if she was in any way at fault, even if the other party bears a disproportionate amount of blame.

As a result of this antiquated doctrine, insurance companies routinely deny claims resulting from crashes, leaving injured bicyclists with few options. This is a serious problem for people who are harmed while riding bicycles due to the frequency with which improper citations are issued to the cyclist in a crash.

Legislation introduced in 2014 to change the law to a fairer standard was tabled, largely over concerns by the Trial Lawyers Association over joint and several liability, a doctrine that helps make it financially viable for plaintiff’s attorneys take on these types of cases. This year, Councilmember Cheh reintroduced an updated version of the bill designed to address those concerns.

The bill has a lot of support, but has been stuck in Judiciary committee since January waiting for a vote so it can be considered by the full Council. Please contact the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Councilmember McDuffie, and ask him to move the bill forward.

Contact Councilmember McDuffie


Below, you’ll find our answers for the most common questions we’ve encountered, updated to reflect the 2015 version of the bill.

(This is an update of this post)

What is being proposed in this bill?

The Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2015 (bill and legislative history) changes DC law so that contributory negligence could not be used to deny coverage to a bicyclist or pedestrian who was 50% or less responsible for her injuries. It also explicitly retains the doctrine of joint and several liability.

Under current law, what happens after a crash?

Generally, after a crash between a bicyclist and a motorist, there is an injured bicyclist and an uninjured motorist. So the cyclist often will seek compensation for injuries from the motorist and the motorist’s insurer. If everyone involved agrees that the cyclist behaved perfectly and the driver was completely at fault, the cyclist will be able to recover compensation. Unfortunately, such agreement is rare.  If the cyclist was at fault to any degree, or if the insurer or a police officer believes the cyclist was at fault through misunderstanding or misapplying the law, the cyclist will not be able to recover compensation for injuries suffered in the crash. This is true even if the crash was 1% the cyclist’s fault, 99% the motorist’s fault, and all of the injuries were suffered by the cyclist.

How will this change under the proposed bill?

A person harmed by a motor vehicle while walking or biking would not be barred from recovering damages as long as they were deemed less than 50% at fault.

For example: a motorist exiting her vehicle at night opens her driver’s side door into the bike lane, striking a cyclist who had no light at night. The motorist’s door is not damaged and the motorist is unharmed, but the cyclist suffers a broken arm from the fall and ends up with $1000 in medical bills.

Under the present contributory negligence standard, the cyclist’s failure to have a light would prevent all recovery of damages, even though the motorist broke the law by opening her door into traffic. Under the new law, riding a bike without lights would not be a complete bar to recovery, if the finder of fact determined that not having lights on was less than 50% of the cause of the crash.

Contributory negligence applies to all sorts of situations. Does the proposed law change the standard for all cases?

No. This legislation applies specifically to bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable road users of the roads.

Have other states changed their negligence standard?

Forty-five states, and the federal court system have adopted comparative negligence as a basis for apportioning fault between parties in tort suits.

How many states still retain the contributory negligence standard?

Currently, just four states (including Maryland and Virginia) and the District of Columbia continue to use contributory negligence as a bar to recovery and access to courts.

Is there any precedent in current law for an exemption such as the one being proposed?

Yes, current District of Columbia law extends additional legal protection of comparative negligence to railroad workers.

If I’m following traffic laws to the best of my abilities and I am involved in a crash, could I still have my medical bills and damages reduced or totally denied?

Yes. Poor descriptions in accident reports, wrongly issued tickets, and misunderstandings or misapplication of bicycling laws can result in insurance companies denying claims for medical expenses.

Who benefits from this bill becoming law?

Vulnerable road users and motorists alike. This approach to negligence law  more equitably distributes the costs of unsafe behavior by all road users. Under the current law, motorists face few repercussions for behavior that results in a crash with a bicycle.  With this change to negligence law, it will become easier for injured bicyclists to gain access to legal representation, because lawyers have a financial incentive to take their case. At the same time, a greater number of unsafe drivers will face consequences for behavior that results in a crash, including having their insurance premiums go up.  By incentivizing safe driving, everyone who uses the road, including motorists, will ultimately benefit.

Who loses if this bill becomes law?

Insurance companies, who presently are not required to pay for the negligence of their insured if the other party is negligent (to any degree). Contributory negligence is not an economically efficient or fair method for determining compensation after crashes because it leaves injured parties who were not primarily responsible for their injuries uncompensated and allows the insurers of the primarily negligent party to avoid compensating the injured.

If you have further questions about this proposed legislation and its effects, please email

Photo Recap: Ward 4 Bike Ride with Councilmember Todd

D.C. Councilmember Brandon Todd, WABA, and 50 Ward 4 residents toured the several Ward 4 neighborhoods by bike on Sunday afternoon. The 5 mile ride featured the longest bike lanes in the ward on Kansas Ave NW and the future Met Branch Trail. Riding the route also highlighted areas for future upgrades to the bicycle network including potential protected bike lanes on New Hampshire Ave NW. Thank you to Councilmember Todd for participating in the event and we look forward to working together with the community to improve bicycling in Ward 4.