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This Week in Bike Reads

April Trailer Challenge

The Bike Rack and Filter are opening a bike store/coffee shop in Brookland.

We agree that every day should be Bike to Not-Work Day. But while you’re at it, go ahead and register for Bike to Work Day anyway!

Texans have realized that its sprawling metro areas have too much traffic and are, thusly, beginning to embrace bicycling.

Are you following our April Trailer Challenge?

Contraflow lanes have gone in on G and I streets NE.

Biking is healthy, round 100.

Advice from Virginia lawyer Bruce Deming regarding what to do in the event of a crash.

Join our Flickr pool!

What’s New on the Met Branch Trail?

As we dig ourselves out of what promises to be the final snowstorm before spring, there are many new faces on the Met Branch Trail and two coming attractions that promise to keep the trail busier than ever this year.

Pedestrian bridge construction is moving along
Anyone who rides the Red line through the Rhode Island Avenue Station or the MBT beside it has likely seen some interesting new structures growing near the trail. As construction continues, a ramp, staircase, and bridge over the rail tracks will take shape. Here is what to expect.

RI Ave. Metro Pedestrian bridge

Rhode Island Avenue Metro pedestrian bridge progress as of March 20, 2014

When complete, the project will provide a direct connection from the Met Branch Trail to the Rhode Island Avenue/Brentwood Metro station and places east by foot and bike. The bridge will be a dramatic improvement from the current winding, cage-like ramp to Rhode Island Avenue and a much needed trail link for the area. It will shorten the circuitous route from the Metro to MBT from over a third of a mile to just a few hundred feet. With a new Capital Bikeshare station, shops, apartments and Metro gaining an easy trail connection, we expect to see many new faces on trail. The project is on track for completion in early 2015. Read more on the project website.

Project rendering from the District Department of Transportation

New Capital Bikeshare Stations
If you live, work, or play near the northern end of the built Met Branch Trail, three new Capital Bikeshare stations may come in handy. The following new stations are located at:

  • Rhode Island Metro Station: 3 minute ride from trail (map)
  • Fort Totten Metro Station: 4 minute ride from the trail and 1 minute ride from interim MBT route (map)
  • Takoma Metro Station: directly on the interim MBT route (map)

Bikesharing Commuter Benefit to Be Introduced Tomorrow

Photo credit: Mr.TinDC

Tomorrow is a big day for bikesharing in Congress.

Senator Charles Schumer of New York will introduce an amendment that allows commuters to pay for bikesharing with their transportation benefits. Last summer, the IRS ruled that paying for bikesharing was not allowed under the bike commuting fringe benefit. This amendment will fix this issue and allow commuters to pay bikesharing-related expenses with their benefits.

The Senate Finance Committee will vote on a tax extender package tomorrow that includes commuter parity, giving those who take the bus the same tax breaks given to those who drive. In January, the maximum transit benefit was cut in half to $130 per month,  while the parking tax subsidy stayed steady at $250 per month.

In a statement released by his office, Schumer says, “Bike share programs are an efficient, healthy, and clean form of mass transportation, and they should be treated the same way under the tax code as we treat car and mass transit commuters. It makes no sense for cars, trains, buses, and private bicycles to be covered by this program but not bike shares, and this legislation will fix that.”

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia is co-sponsoring the amendment.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, the amendment will have the following effects:

  • Last summer, the IRS ruled that costs associated with bike share memberships were not eligible under the commuter benefit statute as currently drafted. This amendment would change that.
  • Specifically, it adds bikeshare costs to the list of recognized expenses eligible for the transportation fringe benefit.
  • Like the Bike Commuter Benefit (for those who ride their own bike to work), employees using a bikeshare program to commute to work would now be eligible to receive $20 per month on a tax-free basis from their employer to subsidize their bikesshare membership.

Please take one minute and ask your Senator to support the bikesharing commuter amendment now.

Welcome to the April Trailer Challenge!

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Perhaps it won’t snow in April.

The D.C. bike ambassadors kicked off the April Trailer Challenge yesterday. Expect a month of amped-up visibility from our bike ambassadors and the friendly, roving trailers to spread the love of bicycling.

Want to be involved? There’s a few ways:

Pull the Bike Ambassador Trailer: You can sign up to pull the trailer on your own or to an event, or ride alongside the team as support crew. Sign up here to let us know you want to pull the trailer. Check out our trailering calendar and e-mail dcba@waba.org to set up a time.

Snap a picture: Spot the trailer? Take a photo, and post it on social media! Tag us @wabadc using #bikeambassador (on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook) and you’ll be entered to win a free bike tune-up.

Read more about the ATC here! Happy April. We hope to see you on the streets.

 

 

DDOT Unable to Provide Deadlines for Major Trail Projects

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Mary Cheh, second from left, pressed DDOT on its lack of progress.

“Will I be alive [when the trail is finished]?” asked Transportation Committee Chair Mary Cheh of DDOT, with regard to when she can expect the Metropolitan Branch Trail to be completed.

On Fri., March 20, the D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment held a performance oversight hearing for the District Department of Transportation. After hours of public testimony, DDOT Director Terry Bellamy testified on behalf of the agency. Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson and Director of Planning Sam Zimbabwe were also on hand to answer questions from the councilmembers.

WABA provided testimony about DDOT’s performance for implementation of its bicycle program over the past year. Executive Director Shane Farthing expressed concerns with no progress on major trail projects, as well as with significant delays and design compromises with on-street facilities like the M Street Cycle Track.

Councilmembers Mary Cheh and David Grosso pressed DDOT for responses related to many of WABA concerns. “Rock Creek Trail—that has been many, many, many years in consideration,” asked Cheh. Over 2,400 people signed a recent petition effort by WABA to speed up the planning and design of a major rehabilitation of the Rock Creek Park Trail.

Raising the issue of public safety on trails, Councilmember Grosso noted, “The fact is the Met Branch Trail is something that people have been waiting on for a long time. And we know for a fact it will be safer for people to ride on that trail if it’s connect all the way to the top and we get more people using it. So that’s an urgent item.”

Committee Chair Mary Cheh pushed DDOT to provide deadlines for the completion of major trail projects. DDOT Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson replied, “We’d be placing ourselves in another place where we don’t make our dates. I would really like to get back to you with a firm schedule…by next week.”

Currently, there are no firm dates for completion of the Rock Creek Park, Metropolitan Branch, South Capitol Street, Oxon Cove trails or repaving of the Capital Crescent and Suitland Parkway trails. Under the leadership of Director Terry Bellamy, DDOT has not many any significant progress on trails in D.C.

Arlington to Install First Real-Time Bicycle Counter on the East Coast

Tomorrow, Tues., April 1, Arlington County will celebrate the unveiling of a bikeometer on the Custis Trail at Lee Highway and Lynn Street. (This isn’t an April Fool’s joke!)

This is the first real-time bicycle counter on the East Coast, and collected data will help to inform future decisions affecting infrastructure for people who bike. Details about the unveiling, which runs from 10-10:30 a.m. on April 1, can be seen on the flyer below.

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Get Involved: Bike Ambassador April Trailer Challenge

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April is almost here, and we are excited to introduce a month-long bike ambassador project: the April Trailer Challenge.

You’ve probably seen the BA trailers around town, and wondered what they’re all about. This month, our goal is to spread the message of bicycling to everyone in the community in a positive, tangible way! The best part is that you can participate.

What is the April Trailer Challenge? The ATC is an opportunity to get messages of bike education, outreach, and advocacy out to a broader audience in a fun way! Our goal as bike ambassadors is to get the trailers around as much of the city as possible during the month of April, and we’re going to need YOUR help! We’re aiming for 500 trailer team miles in just 30 days.

Why the Bike Ambassador trailer? Pulling the BA trailer is a great way to reach drivers and other bicyclists and communicate with a different audience that we might miss through other forms of outreach. Our BA trailers have a series of interchangeable signs with various bike-friendly messages that aim to get people thinking about bicycling, acting as “roll” models, or driving safely around bicyclists. Engaging a broad audience with cheerful reminders is a huge part of the BA program, and we want to give everyone a chance to get involved.

And, throughout the month of April, we’ll want to remind as many people as possible to register for Bike to Work Day. We want to hit 17,000 registrants—a massive increase from last year’s 12,000—and we hope that the ATC challenge will provide a great lead-up to May 16.

How can I participate? Keep reading!

Attend the Kickoff Event: It’s on Mon., March 31st, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the WABA office. Sign up here! This kickoff doubles as a training session. We’ll be acquainting ourselves with the nitty-gritty details of the how to participate, the rules, incentives, and gear up to take the trailers for a spin. Even if you’re not sure you want to pull the trailers yourself, we still encourage you to attend the kickoff event! It will be a great way to meet the bike ambassadors, go for a fun ride, and get volunteer credit for riding with the trailer parade. (Volunteer with WABA three times, and you earn a free membership.)

Pull the Bike Ambassador Trailer: You can sign up to pull the trailer on your own or to an event, or ride alongside the team as support crew. Sign up here to let us know you want to pull the trailer. Check out our trailering calendar and e-mail dcba@waba.org to set up a time.

Snap a picture: Spot the trailer? Take a photo, and post it on social media! Tag us @wabadc using #bikeambassador (on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook) and you’ll be entered to win a free bike tune-up.

For more information, contact the D.C. Bike Ambassador Program Coordinator, Megan McCarty at megan.mccarty@waba.org. See you in the bike lanes in April!

This Week in Bike Reads

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Cars: still parking in D.C. bike lanes. (In Houston, there’s an undercover sting for that.)

Dr. Gridlock says to register for Bike to Work Day.

Here’s the evolution of the bicycle, in 60 seconds.

WABA staffer Nelle Pierson rode from New York City to D.C., a route inspired by five black female cyclists—in 1928.

Black Women Bike DC will hold a “Surviving the Streets on a Bike” workshop in advance of Bike to Work Day, on April 26.

Photo by Flickr user Pedro Gringo.  Join our Flickr pool!

Announcing Everyday Biking Seminars for Spring 2014

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This spring, we’re launching our Everyday Biking Seminar program. It’s the evolution of our Commuter Seminars, which were lunchtime sessions held at offices interested in helping employees figure out the details of biking to work.

The Everyday Biking Seminar is a short presentation designed to introduce the basics of how to safely and easily fit biking into your daily life. It includes tips on

  • Making sure your bike is in good working order,
  • Planning a good route,
  • Understanding safe riding principles and rules of the road and trail,
  • Carrying the things you need to carry, and more.

After the presentation, our trained staff will answer your questions, address your concerns, and resolve that nagging issue that has kept you from biking. (In our experience, everyone who isn’t biking but wants to has that one nagging issue!)

The full seminar takes only an hour, and we provide every participant with a Safe Cycling guide, local bike map, opportunity to take a free WABA city cycling class, and materials on upcoming bike-related events, activities, and programs.

The cost of an everyday biking seminar is $300 (with a 50% discount for new WABA Business Members). Thanks to the generosity of our members, we are also able to offer a limited number of  pro-bono Everyday Biking Seminars to interested groups unable to afford the fee.

To request and schedule a commuter seminar, please complete this form.

Attend the Great MoCo Bicycle Summit

On Sat., April 5, Montgomery County residents can join Councilmember Hans Riemer, MoBike, and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association for the Great MoCo Bike Summit.

The summit kicks off with a family bike ride from Silver Spring to Bethesda and will discuss the future of biking in Montgomery County, from Bikeshare to next-generation infrastructure. Read more about it here.

Montgomery County has emerged one of the most exciting grounds for new cycling innovation in the D.C. area. This first-ever summit to discuss the future of biking there will provide important insight on how Montgomery County can become a world-class area for biking for transportation.

“Our goal as a county must be to encourage biking—to work, to run errands, and for recreation. To do that, we must expand our bikeways and make them safe for the average person who wants to bike. That’s my goal and I know the goal of Councilmember Riemer,” says Councilmember Roger Berliner, Chair of the County’s Transportation and Environment Committee and a speaker at the summit..

The summit will be held at the Jane Lawson Rec Center, 4301 Willow Lane, Bethesda. Panels start at 10 a.m. The ride starts at 9:15 a.m. at the Silver Spring Metro station. To RSVP for the Great MoCo Bike Summit, click here. See the event on Facebook here.

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