Fall adventures with DC Youth Bike Clubs

This fall, we piloted Bike Clubs in two locations in ward 7, working with a group of 4th and 5th graders at Randle Highlands Elementary School and 9-14 year olds at Benning Park Recreation Center.

Bike Club is an afterschool enrichment program in which youth explore their neighborhoods on bikes and combine biking with academic and team-building activities.

The Randle Highlands Bikers and the Benning Park Smooth Riders (team names chosen by our students) rode all over town – we explored Anacostia Park, Fort Dupont, the Marvin Gaye Park Trail, and many parks and community centers in between. We learned about bike maintenance and journaled about our experiences, and braved the Hillcrest hills together.


The Randle Highlands Bikers take a break near Fort Dupont park.

Last week I caught up with Jessie Webb, a recreation specialist and co-creator of Benning Park Bike Club. When Jessie approached us during the summer about the idea of starting an afterschool bike program at the rec, the timing was perfect, as WABA’s education department was hoping to pilot more youth enrichment programs around biking. Now, several months, many miles, meetings, snacks, and group rides later, we looked back on the program’s successes and challenges.

"My dream bike has boosters on the back."

“My dream bike has boosters on the back.”

WABA: Where did the idea to start a bike club come from?

Jessie Webb: It was one of my first days around the rec center, in the community, and I kept seeing young people using a lot of ingenuity and riding bikes that shouldn’t be ridden, riding bicycle trash. I thought it would be cool to engage them this way — and they really love bikes, so we started out fixing their bikes … [and afterward] I really wanted us to have a bike club and to ride. That’s when we started talking and came upon the idea of youth exploring their community on their own two wheels.


Exploring the pirate ship at Anacostia Park.

WABA: I think you said once to me that this club – this program – engages the community in a unique way. Could you tell me more about that?

JW: I thought it was a novel concept. In that coming of age time, around 12 or 13 — in those years you’ve got enough freedom to branch out a little bit and you want to do that. [Bike Club] is also me walking with youth in a safe way and kind of doing life together. I’m really big on mentoring, but as you go along, not just sitting down and I’m lecturing, but living life together through shared experiences. I thought the bike thing was a great tool to mentor through, to select youth and to get to know the kids.


DC Bike Ambassador Jon Gonzalez joined us for bike club in Hillcrest.

Also, I think the kids come [to the program], but it’s not like we serve them as much as it’s like they get to serve themselves. Because they are the ones riding the bike, a lot of the experience is self-guided, which I like. Even when they had to label different parts of the bike they had to figure it out themselves; the material wasn’t just spoon-fed to them.

They were really excited about it — all throughout the week kids will be asking about the bike club. I think this is a great way to engage youth in a very different way … I had a guy tell me who’s been with the rec for many years that this is the first time he’s ever seen someone do a bike club through the rec department.


Benning Park Smooth Riders on the road.

WABA: What do you think the youth took away from the program?

JW: The bike safety piece is something that wasn’t even on their radar before this, and now it is. Little things that we covered, like the abc check, putting air in your tire, thinking to check your brakes before you ride around – I think some of the youth if not all will remember how important these things are. I also think that their level of riding has been enriched a little bit.

I think they have developed a love for biking, too. It’s probably already there with the lion’s share of the kids, but I think it’s going to grow through exercises like this, being able to be a part of this deal. It’d be great if we had some lifelong bikers develop, through being excited to be in the bike club and then having that hunger spurt on.

"My dream bike has eyes on it so it can see everywhere."

“My dream bike has eyes on it so it can see everywhere.”

Bike Clubs like these wouldn’t be possible without our excellent partner organizations and input from other educators. Big thanks to Darlene Ferguson and the faculty and staff of Randle Highlands Elementary School and Jessie Webb and the staff of Benning Park Recreation Center.

We’re also so appreciative of the advice and words of wisdom from Ryne Emory of The Bike Depot in Denver, CO and Liz Pisarcyzk of Neighborhood Bike Works in Philadelphia, PA, who offered their time and experience to help us develop this program.

WABA’s afterschool program will be back in the spring. Email us at education@waba.org if your organization is interested in hosting a bike club.


Introducing Capitol Hill Bikes, 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 Capitol Hill Bikes.

Capitol Hill Bikes was one of our first business members and they have renewed for another year! Capitol Hill Bikes believes in a family-friendly environment for all. It is a women-owned shop that was founded in 2000.


Helping out at the mobile clinic as Anacostia Library

The full-service shop also holds a variety of rides and classes. They were voted an America’s Best Bike Shop in 2013. The shop has also helped with our mobile bike clinic events, sending mechanics to help out and get people’s bikes in working order! We are happy to call Capitol Hill Bikes 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.

REI! Free bike repairs! Free cookies & coffee!

You like bikes (we’d bet 5 bucks on that).

And you’ve probably gone for a bike ride, went for a jog, or pushed a baby stroller along at least one of our region’s trails (there’s so many: Capital Crescent Trail, Rock Creek Park Trail, Metropolitan Branch Trail, Sligo Creek Trail, C&O Canal Trail, Georgetown Branch Trail, Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, Marvin Gaye Trail, Suitland Park Trail, W&OD Trail, Custis Trail, Four Mile Run Trail, Mount Vernon Trail, and we could go on….).

So we wanted to cordially invite you to WABA’s Future Trails Celebration with REI happening this Saturday, November 15th from 11am to 2pm in the NoMa neighborhood of DC.

Why should you come?

FREE bike repairs. An interactive REI Signature Camp where you can test out bike touring and camping gear. FREE cookies and FREE coffee from the Captain Cookie foodtruck. Carnival games. Facepainting. Arts & crafts. Fun for the whole family!

How are we celebrating trails?

By leading trail tours by bike of the nearby Metropolitan Branch Trail. Tours will leave at 11:15am, 12:00pm and 1:00pm, will be lead by WABA’s Trail Ranger Coordinator, and will last approximately 35 minutes. You’ll learn about the history and future of the MBT and check out Gearin’ Up Bicycles, the District’s first community used bicycle store that works with young adults from underserved communities. We’ll also have FREE bike rentals available on a first-come basis for those who wish to join a trail tour but don’t have their own bicycle. WABA will also release the concept plan for the Arlington Boulevard Trail— an exciting vision for the next regional bike trail project in Northern Virginia.

Need another reason to come?

We’ll be raffling off a bunch of cool prizes, including a spot in one of REI’s incredibly fun C&O Canal Overnight Cycling Tours.


Afraid of the cold?

Don’t be! Saturday is going to be a little chilly, but don’t let that keep you indoors and bored. We’ll have a huge heated tent to keep you warm.

Trails Celebration Details:

Location:  The grassy field at First & Pierce Street NE (in the NoMa neighborhood)
Date:  Saturday, November 15
Time: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Cost: Free!!

And here’s the Facebook page so you can share the event with your friends. See you there!

It was the last class of the season. We had a great time!

Last Saturday, we gathered in Silver Spring to celebrate something bittersweet – our last scheduled adult biking class of the fall season.

A chilly morning, but the weather cooperated with cerulean skies and sunny spots in which we warm up while we talked and planned our routes.


Instructors Megan McCarty, Caleb James and Hamzat Sani got flexible to teach the instant turn.


And then we practiced it together!


We stopped and started and scanned and signaled and shifted:IMG_1715

And ended with a group ride led by Sam Mazur and Brenda Ruby, both veteran WABA instructors.

A big thanks to all who joined us this season for any of our adult education programming. This fall we brought our City Cycling curriculum and educational rides to 108 people. We also got 180 adults riding bikes for the first time ever, through our tremendously popular Learn to Ride program.

Finally, we expanded our course selection substantially, offering a brand spankin’ new set of educational rides which we plan to bring back in the spring.

In case you missed it! The last ride, Round, Round, Get Around, explored biking the dreaded DC traffic circles, and the lines we traced around the city looked something like this:

Round Round Get Around route for blog

Give it a try on your own if you missed our session on October 29.

Stay in touch with us through the winter, and happy riding!






Biking Around the Concert for Valor

Tomorrow’s Concert for Valor will have a number of effects on your ability to get around on your bike tomorrow.

WJLA has a handy Google map of road closures (bel0w). Bikes won’t be allowed on the closed roads. Also note that bikes won’ t be allowed on Metro all day, not just at  rush hour.

If you’re entering the District from Virginia on the 14th St Bridge or the Memorial Bridge, give yourself some extra time to get around the closures on the mall. Ohio Drive around the Tidal Basin is probably a good alternative. There will be lots of pedestrians out too. Be polite!

As far as we know, the concert promoters are not offering additional bike parking. If you’re biking to the show, exercise the usual courtesy: don’t lock to trees, bus stop signposts, other people’s bikes, or members of the E Street Band. UPDATE: Capital Bikeshare is offering bike corrals at 10th and Constitution and 12th and Independence.

If you’re out on your bike tomorrow and encounter other closed or blocked streets, tweet at us (@WABADC) or send an email.


Vote on Crash Victim Fairness Bill Postponed


Today, the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety held a legislative mark-up session on a number of bills, including the Bill 20-884 “Vulnerable User Recovery Act of 2014″. The Committee voted to postpone mark-up until next Wednesday, November 12th to allow all involved parties one last opportunity to craft a bill that meets the needs of vulnerable roadway users and the concerns of other stakeholders in the legal community. Councilmembers Jack Evan, Mary Cheh, Anita Bonds, Tommy Wells and David Grosso (not a member of Judiciary Committee) were in attendance at this morning’s mark-up.

Councilmember Tommy Wells and David Gross with WABA and All Walks DC held a joint press conference and rally in support of the legislation before the DC Council. The bill, if passed, would move the District to a fairer negligence standard to enable crash victims to collect compensation from driver’s insurance.

Yesterday’s press conference was attended by dozens of local residents calling on the DC Council to move the bill forward to protect the most vulnerable road users. Following votes from next week’s mark-up, WABA will post the vote results and a legislative scorecard online. You can learn more about the scorecard here and more about WABA’s campaign to bring fairness for crash victims.

As we all wait until next week’s vote, take some time to read the press coverage from yesterday online here, here, here, here, here , here, here and here. Please also take a moment to contact your Councilmember to ask for their support of the bill.

Take Action: Ask DC Council to Support the Bill

Introducing Postmates, a WABA Business Leader 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 Postmates

Postmates is a delivery and courier service originally founded in San Francisco. Postmates launched in D.C. at the end of 2013. Postmates employees primarily deliver by bicycle. The service delivers from almost any business in the city and will even grab something at your apartment building. Postmates is currently in 15 cities across the U.S. Postmates DC was excited to show support for WABA and support local bicycle advocacy. We are proud to call Postmates a WABA Business Leader 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.