Monday Morning Outreach—Changing Bike Behavior One Intersection At A Time

Sharply dressed man respectfully rides down the sidewalk of 16th Street NW

Sharply dressed man respectfully rides down the sidewalk of 16th Street NW

16th Street is one of the scarier roads to bike down in the city. Regardless, it doesn’t stop hundreds of commuters from taking the popular route to downtown. It warms my heart to see a steady stream of bicyclists riding down the street with helmets that fit, stopping for red lights, and yielding to pedestrians. On the other hand, it is perfectly legal to ride on the sidewalk anywhere in the city (excluding the Central Business District). Bike Ambassadors were out on Monday morning asking bicyclists who using the sidewalk to bike politely and respectively. Guess what, bicyclists were respectful! The jury is still out on whether our signs and encouragement did the trick, but lets just say it didn’t hurt!

Upcoming Events

  • Thursday August 14 6 pm at the WABA Headquarter 2599 Ontario Rd – Kitty Litter Pannier Workshop. Learn how to make your own Kitty Litter Pannier to haul large amounts of groceries by bike. Sign up here.
  • Saturday August 16 Bike Ambassadors visit the Ward 8 Farmers Market. We will be promoting a Kitty Litter Pannier give away while passing out handy bike maps and law guides.

Calling All Treasure Hunters!

Do you have an affinity for nautical themes, bicycles, and vague maps of geographical forms? Do you like exploration, friendly competition and prizes? If so, grab a friend, a bicycle and strap on your skull and crossbones helmet for the first ever Anacostia River Treasure Hunt!

At 10: am on Saturday, August 30th, set sail for the shores of the Anacostia River at Diamond Teague Park for a spirited hunt for all the treasures our city’s other great river has to offer. in days of olde, treasure hunters crossed the seas and beat back jungles in search of precious metals and plunder. Today, we’ll compete for points, earned by following clues, discovering lesser known attractions, and clearing some jungles too! Armed with a treasure map, a sense of adventure and a Twitter handle, your team will take on the competition for points, prizes, and glory.

Hunt Details

Each team will receive a treasure map and a broad list of clues to “Trail Treasures” and challenges scattered up and down the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Since the mark of a true privateer is the right balance of braggery, skill, and wit, teams will collect points by tweeting and instagramming photos featuring their team’s  hunting talents.  With limited time, will your team seek out the large payoffs of tricky and distant treasures or aim for the easy return on simpler clues? Good treasure hunters always have a keen mind for strategy!

Teams that collect the most points or show great creativity will be showered with prizes and glory. The rest will walk away with an album full of reasons to come back for more adventure by bike, kayak, roller skate, or picnic blanket.

Registration is free and open to all. Teams including bike savvy kids are welcome too! We’ll have a shorter, kid friendly map and clue sheet so aspiring treasure hunters can join in the fun.

Treasures Worth Hunting

While the Anacostia has never been a place for precious metals, it is littered with treasures of another kind! These are the sweeping views, riverside hideaways, feats of engineering and pieces of history that make the Anacostia impressive. They are those uplifting scenes of a river alive with wildlife and abuzz with people. They are boathouses, roller rinks and aquariums right in DC’s back yard!  We hope you’ll join us!

Weigh Anchor, Register Now!

Let’s Extend the 15th St NW Protected Bike Lane to Constitution Ave

This guest post is written by Cheryl Hawkins, a WABA Member from Washington, DC. Have an advocacy issue you’d like to write about for our blog? Contact us at advocacy@waba.org.

During my daily commute from Takoma neighborhood to Crystal City I think I ride on every form of bicycle infrastructure – shared streets, bike lanes, and off-street paths. I also have the privilege to ride along nearly the entire length of the 15th St. NW protected bike lane (also known as a cycle track) and I absolutely adore it. I would say many other cyclists agree, since the protected bike lane is usually filled with long lines of cyclists on my evening commute home. I recently heard someone from out-of-town who was riding in the bike lane comment that she had “never been in a bicycle traffic jam before.”

The reasons the protected bike lane is popular are obvious – separation from automobile lanes means a much safer and more comfortable ride. According to DDOT counts, between 300-400 people travel the lanes during the morning and evening rush hours. The additional separation created by the white flex-posts and hashed areas make it less likely for a person riding to be injured by a car door than when riding in the bike lanes that run between parked cars and car lanes. The protected bike lane provides a fast, direct route for people riding bikes through the center of the District.

While not perfect, the 15th St. protected bike lanes is far superior to sharrows and standard bike lanes. I also prefer the protected bike lane to narrow, shared-use paths like Mount Vernon trail because the space is dedicated to bike riders. Pedestrians have their own separate space on the wide sidewalk.

I feel incredibly lucky to have the 15th St. protected bike lane as part of my route to work, but where the protected bike lane ends on Pennsylvania Ave. is the absolute worse part of my entire commute. The block of 15th St. between Pennsylvania Ave. and Constitution Ave. is chaotic, and frightening at times, for cyclists traveling in both directions. People riding south along this block in the mornings have to contend with vendors parking their trailers, forcing the cyclists into the left traffic lane while fast moving traffic coming down the hill bears down on them. Cyclists traveling southbound in the evenings have to worry about getting crushed between the enormous tour buses leaving the right lane and the heavy automobile traffic that fills the block. For northbound cyclists, it is confusing how to best connect to the protected bike lane once reaching Pennsylvania because it is on the opposite side of the street. There are many different variations to connect from the northbound lanes into the protected bike lanes and no one does it the same causing confusion for bicyclists and drivers alike.

I have been yelled at by drivers to “get into the bike lane,” and have had some close calls with passing cars that violate the legally required three feet buffer. Sidewalks and paths on National Park Service property are technically shared-used and it is legal for people to ride bikes on them. However, the parallel sidewalk on 15th St. between Pennsylvania Ave. and Constitution Ave. is not Park Service property, but a DC sidewalk and within the Central Business District where sidewalk riding is illegal. For this one block bicyclists are forced to mix with car traffic which confuses, and possibly upsets, drivers when they observe cyclists on the sidewalk one block away.

This one dangerous block demonstrates a difficulty in the developing bicycle infrastructure – the gaps. The gaps are where bike lanes and protected bike lanes end and bicyclists are forced to mix with cars. For drivers the sudden appearance of people on bikes in their lanes is an annoyance, which some respond to with rather risky behavior. For bicyclists the end of a bike lanes can be nerve racking. There may be alternative routes to and from the National Mall from the 15th St protected bike lane to avoid this dangerous spot, but the most direct and convenient route is obvious.

The main opposition to the extension of the 15th St. protected bicycle lane to Constitution Ave. will be from the tour bus operators and the few food and souvenir vendor trailers that currently park on the west side of the street. The parking lane will be repurposed in order to accommodate the protected bike lane extension. The vendor spaces could easily be moved to the other side of 15th St. and the tour buses already have several drop-off/pick-up locations one block over on 14th St. NW. The safety and mobility of daily District bike commuters and bikeshare riders should not be secondary to the convenience of t-shirt vendors.

The protected bike lane was initially installed as a pilot project by DDOT. Without a doubt, the pilot has been a resounding success with many thousands of people rely on it daily. The original pilot plan from 2010 included the one-block extension south but was later scrapped when there was political pushback from vendors. The need for the extension is now abundantly clear. Currently, DDOT has included the extension of the 15th St. protected bike lane to Constitution Ave. in the District’s draft long range transportation plan MoveDC. The project is listed as a Tier 1 project which means it is top priority.

DDOT needs to continue improving the bicycling network to support the rapidly growing number of daily riders with a focus on extending the current network of lanes citywide, and removing any gaps in the routes. DDOT should work quickly to complete the extension of the 15th St. cycle track to Constitution Ave. as soon as possible.

 Sign the petition to extend the 15th St. Protected Bike Lane

 

Get the most out of your ride with WABA’s fall classes!

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The Fall education season is here! Sign up for a class today. Image via Bike Barn Wallingford.

Well, the days are getting shorter and cool, delightful fall weather is coming soon — it’s going to be a great time to ride a bike!

We’ve scheduled six of our popular City Cycling classes between August and November. That’s six more chances to build confidence, have fun, and get around by bike — all with experienced instructors and other like-minded students.

City Cycling classes are divided by skill level, and each group learns different skills and focuses on unique aspects of city riding. We’ve got something for you, whether you’re taking your bike out for the first time in many years or you’re a seasoned road warrior.

We’ll cover dealing with traffic, trail use, trail-to-road transitions, bike handling, bike infrastructure, lane positioning, communicating with drivers, and good vs. bad bicyclist behavior. Most importantly, we’ll build confidence, have fun, and get around by bike.

Please use the links below to register for a session:

Saturday, August 23 in Alexandria, VA from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Saturday, September 6 in Alexandria, VA from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sunday, September 14 in Arlington, VA from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Arlington County Residents only)

Saturday, October 5 in Alexandria, VA from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sunday, October 19 in Arlington, VA from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Arlington County Residents only)

Sunday, October 26 in Washington, DC from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

You can reserve a spot in class for just $10, or you can walk-up to any class for FREE. Class registration is first-come, first-served. Each class has a ten-person waitlist. Click the links above for more details.

If you intend to use Capital Bikeshare for one of our classes, we can get your rental and usage fees waived. Just be sure to get a receipt from the Bikeshare kiosk.

Thanks, and if you have any questions, please email education@waba.org.

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:

postcard

 

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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