Meet the 2014 class of WABA instructors

We’re fortunate to have 16 excellent instructor candidates in our 2014 certification class. This weekend we had them all in one place for the first part of their training — a Traffic Skills 101 class.

Meet them in the photos below, and wish them luck in the next phase of the program, a three day seminar in October. Once they are fully trained, they’ll be teaching WABA classes and leading rides in the spring!

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Hey. Come ride with us!

Take on the fall with WABA’s education ride series!

When it comes to learning about biking, nothing beats real-world experience, so we’re embarking on a series of four rides — each covering a different topic or theme that will help you get around the city.

Our rides are certain to be a good time, but they’re also a safe space to practice riding with people who live and breathe (and teach) this stuff every day. Come to tour DC, come to ride, come to ask any of your deepest, darkest, secret-est bike questions, and come to have fun.

Still not sure? Did we mention that each ride will end at one of DC’s premier taco establishments?

Click on a ride below to register — advance registration costs 10 bucks a person, but you can join us for free on the day of, providing we still have space. Bring a bike, wear your helmet, and read the fine print here.

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First up, we have our Ch-ch-ch-changes Ride on Wednesday, Sept. 17th! This ride is all about preparing for what comes next when you’re on your bike. We’ll be riding from trails to roads, from bike lanes to open lanes, and from Northeast to Northwest, all while summer changes to fall around us. Get ready to reinvent yourself and change the way you ride!

Starts at 6:30 p.m. @ M Street NE, between 1st Street NE and 2nd Street NE, in front of the NoMa Metro station

Ends at 8:00 p.m. @ Taqueria Nacional (14th and T Street NW)

Every other Wednesday, we’ll be setting off to explore riding in DC. And these rides are just the beginning. Next year, we’ll have a whole new series!

Check ‘em out:

On Wednesday, October 1st:

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And on Wednesday, October 15th:

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And finally, on Wednesday, October 29th:

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What is an everyday superpower?

If you’ve poked around our educational materials lately, maybe you’ve seen our fall 2014 class campaign, which is about superpowers. Everyday ones, specifically.

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What does this mean, and what does it have to do with biking?

Traditional superheroes, like one of my favorites, Spiderman, practice more explicit forms of vigilante justice — fighting bad guys that the cops just can’t get to.

But our campaign isn’t about flying around in a cape — it’s about the small ways that we can empower ourselves, and others, by biking in the DMV and doing so responsibly. Everyone has an everyday superpower — it might include one of the little things that you do to make your day special, that get you out of your routine, that improve your quality of life.

You’ll notice that our superheroes are creative, vibrant, and, yes, law-abiding folk. They’re expressing themselves through biking, but they’re also working with existing systems to make things better.

Take a look at our superheroes below. Or collect them all around town. Finally, take a city cycling class and get your own superpower!

Bonus points if you email us your own everyday superpower.

With great power comes great responsibility,

The WABA Education Team

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Thanks to Anna Bavier, Elizabeth Willis, Eileen Matos, WT Chen, Mike Decker, Heather Vetting, Sarah Rice Scott, Lesly Jones, Tiffany Lam, Anica Allen, Edgar Gil Rico, Will Stowe, Delores Simmons, Ben Strahs, Chelsey Pas, and Elizabeth Lyttleton for making these photos happen.

City Cycling is a hit in Alexandria

Last Saturday, we kicked off the fall education season with our first City Cycling class of the season. We met Saturday morning in Jones Point Park, where the Mount Vernon Trail crosses under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. After discussing the basics of helmet use and fit, and helping students get to know their bikes a bit better, our instructors set up a series of skill-building exercises.

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Instructor Allyson Brown gives students the lowdown on brakes.

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Instructor Sam Mazur showing off a Capital Bikeshare bike.

We believe confidence comes from controlling your bike in everyday situations, so we start with the basics and students progress from there. The exercises gradually get more complex and we try to mimic the situations and challenges riders may encounter on the roads and trails, all in safe and controlled space.

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Students navigating the course during exercises.

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A pair of students gets a feel for braking from behind the saddle.

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Instructor Allyson Brown demonstrating an avoidance weave.

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A student successfully pulling off the instant turn.

After a short break, everyone gets ready for a ride. Half the group took advantage of the Mount Vernon trail to practice safe passing, trail etiquette and communication skills before venturing out into a quiet neighborhood nearby. The other half explored Old Town Alexandria’s bike routes, rode alongside drivers, and even practiced taking control of the travel lane.

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Instructor Brenda Ruby leads the group on the Mount Vernon trail.

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You can never be too courteous when passing pedestrians on trails.

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Taking the lane on Cameron St. in Old Town Alexandria.

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Instructor Sam Mazur makes sure no riders get left behind.

When the riders returned, they were full of smiles and ready to turn around and get back out there! They left with new skills, more confidence, and a wealth of new information, helpful tips, maps, and guides. We know they’ll be out there riding well and helping other cyclists.

If you haven’t taken a City Cycling class yet, now’s the time! You can check out our upcoming fall schedule here. All classes cost $10 to reserve a space, or you can walk-up to any class for free. Riding a bike in the city is for everybody, come on out and get started!

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.

Two (more) ways to be confident on your bike

A couple of weeks ago, we brought you a few bike tips to practice on your own, straight from our City Cycling class curriculum.

This is part two – skills you can practice to get out of a dangerous situation if you ever need to. We teach them at the advanced section of our City Cycling class, called Confident City Cycling.

Come to a class to get tips from our instructors. In the meantime practice these moves on your way  to work, en route to the grocery store, heading to the block party, etc.

They’re fun and simple once you get the hang of them, but if they don’t come naturally at first – hang in there! Some of these maneuvers are counter intuitive, and they take time to get used to.

1. The quick stop. 

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This maneuver involves shifting your weight backward, which will make you stop faster. When we press both brake levers to stop, our weight naturally shifts forward. However, the more weight we apply to the rear wheel, the faster it will come to a controlled stop without skidding.

So, you’re coming to a stop sign.

A. Make sure your pedals are level:

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B. Take your butt off your seat and shift backward, toward the rear wheel (this is the part that might feel dangerous or destabilizing at first). Once you get more comfortable with parting ways with the seat, you can even try to shift your weight far enough back so that your stomach is resting on your seat.

At first it might feel like this:

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Scary, strange, but empowering, no? (Image via)

But it should look something like this:

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No speed suit required.

More importantly, see how our model’s stomach is resting on his seat, and his weight is shifted toward the rear wheel?

This will give you more stability and stopping power, whether you’re on your way to an important job interview or heading out with friends.

Best place to practice the quick stop: I like to try my hand at the weight shift on streets with lots of stop signs. For instance, 11th Street in Northwest DC is a good road to try superwoman moves on the fly.

2. The Rock Dodge

The rock dodge is exactly what it sounds like: a technique to dodge small objects that could jolt you unpleasantly, or even cause a flat tire or a crash.

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Practice quickly flicking your handlebars to the left, which will cause your body to lean to the right and bring your front wheel safely around the dangerous object. Your rear wheel should snake around the other side of the object, avoiding it entirely.

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Rock: Dodged. You: Not going to be late for an important date.

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Best place to practice the rock dodge: Plenty of streets in the DC region have lots of potholes worthy of a dodge – let us know if you find one that’s worthy of an award.

Look for more tips to be confident on your bike in this series, or come to a City Cycling class to get our take on these techniques. We’ll return with a full slate of fall classes in late August.

 

Meet DC’s newest and safest bicyclists

It’s summer camp season. More specifically, for us, bike camp season. For the past two weeks, we’ve collaborated with Marie Reed Elementary School to incorporate bike education into their summer enrichment camp.

We’ve been honored to teach a bright group of first through fourth graders this July — meet the gang in the photos below.

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Balance bikes!

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Getting ready to ride.

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WABA education coordinator Daniel Hoagland leads a group of fourth graders on a ride in Adams Morgan.

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Working together to patch a flat tube.

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“My dream bike”

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“My dream bike has a rainbow that shoots out of the back wheel.”

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6 ways to be more confident on your bike

At City Cycling class we teach skills to build confidence and be ready for anything the road can throw at you. We don’t have any classes scheduled during the hottest part of the summer season (the month of July and early August), but we’ll return in full force mid-way through August. In the meantime, here are six ways to build confidence on your own — and to get ready for a city cycling class in the fall.

1. Confidence = Knowledge + Experience

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She’s confident that you can be confident too! Image via pedallove.org

The more you know about riding (knowledge) and the more time you spend on a bike (experience), the better you’ll be able to handle yourself. You can find knowledge all over the internet or you can come to one of WABA’s City Cycling classes. Other options might include asking your friends or that one coworker of yours who rides everyday (you know who I’m talking about). Have a situation you’re curious about? Ask for advice on the forum or email us, we’re happy to help!

What’s more, you already have more knowledge than you think. Your experiences as a driver and a pedestrian will help you build confidence as a bicyclist. Remember the last time you drove a car or walked in the city? What did you see that made you nervous? Were you confident driving? Walking? Where did that confidence come from? And all of your biking experience is valuable, whether you were on streets, sidewalks, or trails.

Confidence gained:
Knowing that there are resources and people out there who can help. Your experience moving around the city has prepared you for biking.

2. Get ready the right way

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On the left: confident standing. On the right: wibbly-wobbly. Images via MSU Bike Fit.

Stand over your bike. No, don’t sit on the seat, just stand over the top with the seat behind you. Good. Now use a foot (whichever one you prefer) to lift a pedal up and forward until it rests at a 45-degree angle upwards. This is called the Power Pedal Position. Go ahead, put your foot up on the pedal. With your other foot flat on the ground, you should feel pretty stable (you can squeeze a brake, if that helps). This is your new ready position, remember it!

From now on, every time you come to a stop on your bike, your first priority is to put yourself back into this position so you can get moving when you need to. Move the bike between your legs and notice that you don’t move with it. You’re independently stable (and that’s a good thing)!

Confidence gained:
Knowing that if the bike wobbles, you won’t. When it’s time to go, you can simply go without fumbling for the pedal since it’s already under your foot.

3. Start with power

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This is a good start. You can even go a bit higher. Image via Fyxation.

If you’re in Power Pedal Position (see #2 above), we can jump right in. If not, go back a step and read instead of skipping ahead. All set? Good. From here, starting with confidence is easy! All you need to do is step down on the Power Pedal, using your momentum to sit up on the bike seat at the same time. But what about the other foot? Glad you asked! Since your Power Pedal foot is now at the bottom of its arc, the other pedal will be sitting right on top. You don’t even have to look for it, it’s right there. Seriously, don’t look. Trust us. Here’s a video. (via Sheldon Brown)

Confidence gained:
No more worrying about starting your bike in traffic. You can start with total confidence that you aren’t going to fall, wobble, or bump into anything.
Bonus confidence!
You look more in control and that projects confidence even when you’re not feeling it. Fake it ’til you make it!

4. Stop smart

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Stopping with both brakes together, together. Image via conflicttango.com

Your bike has two brakes, one on the front wheel and one on the back (if your bike has fewer than two brakes, don’t freak out). They’re designed to work together, so from now on use both of your brakes when you want to stop. Squeeze them gently but firmly at the same time. How firmly? Imagine you’re squeezing a ketchup bottle but you don’t want your plate covered in red. When you are almost stopped, you can slide forward off of your saddle and place a foot (either one, but not your Power Pedal foot) flat on the ground. Then reset to Power Pedal Position.

Confidence gained:
Stopping with authority gives you authority. No wibbles and wobbles means no worries.

5. Get to know your bike

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Finely tuned and well-cared for. The bike’s not too bad, either. Image via Business Insider.

How can you be confident in your bike if you don’t know what to expect? Get to know your bike when it’s working well–immediately after a tune-up at the local bike shop would be nice. Learn how it looks, sounds and feels when it’s ship-shape: tires full of air, brakes aligned and squeal-free, chain lubricated and quiet. That way, as soon as something starts to look dirty, feel squishy or sound scrape-y, you know it’s worth paying attention to.

Confidence gained:
Knowing you can trust in your bike to get you where you need to be. Knowing which sounds/sights/feels are okay and which are warning signs.
Bonus confidence!
Being able to explain at least a little better what’s wrong at the bike shop.

6. Take a City Cycling class!

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Just a few of the folks who have gained confidence at a WABA class.

Confidence levels still a bit low? Come on out and join us at a City Cycling class! We’ll take you from zero to hero (or at least as far as you want to go in one 3-hour class). Every City Cycling class is divided into two tracks. The Intro track is for folks who want to practice the basics and bike handling, while the Confident track is for folks who want to dive into the thick of things on city streets. Both tracks will help you feel better about your riding and get the most out of your time on a bike.

Keep your eyes on our calendar; fall 2014 classes are coming soon. Or you can sign up here to be notified when new classes are available.

Confidence gained:
All of the above, and then some!

 

Become a WABA Instructor

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WABA’s 2012 class of Instructors.

We are proud to announce the 2014 WABA Education Instructor training program. This is a unique opportunity to join one of the country’s most prominent and successful bike education programs that has been featured in The Washington Post and on NPR in 2013. You’ll get paid to teach adults and kids throughout the region how to make the most of their time on a bike.

Additionally, through the program, you will become certified as a League Cycling Instructor (LCI), enabling you to teach bike education anywhere in the country and/or to host your own classes as an independent instructor.

You’re invited to apply for one of a limited number of Instructor trainee positions this fall. The application is not long, but please take the time to think about your answers and use them as your opportunity to make the case for yourself.

Click here to fill out your 2014 WABA Education Instructor application!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a WABA Education Instructor?

WABA Education Instructors are enthusiastic local individuals who combine their love of bicycling and aptitude for teaching to help run one of the best Adult Bike Education programs in the country. Anyone can apply using this form, and from those applications, we will select 12-16 people to be our Instructor class for 2014.

Do WABA Education Instructors get paid?

Yes! Once Instructors have completed their Trainee period (seven hours of teaching), they are paid a rate of $50/hour for any classes they teach with WABA.

What is the time commitment for WABA Education Instructors?

The training program involves 3-4 mandatory events,  including weekly online assignments, a 9-hour class on a Saturday (tentatively scheduled for 9/13) and a weekend-long seminar (tentatively scheduled for October). We estimate that the total required time is somewhere around 40-50 hours (including time spent on homework) between August and November. Once you complete the Seminar, you will have to attend two WABA adult classes (totaling seven hours) as a Trainee. After that, however, your commitment level is up to you. Over 90 percent of our classes are held on weekend mornings and are 3.5 hours long.

What happens if I am chosen as one of the WABA Education Instructor candidates?

You receive the following:

  • A guaranteed spot in an Instructors-only Traffic Skills 101 class, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 13. ($75 value)
  • A guaranteed spot in WABA’s League Cycling Instructor (LCI) Seminar, tentatively scheduled for October 10-12. NOTE: This application is the ONLY way to attend this Seminar. ($300 value)
  • A WABA Instructor polo shirt. ($20 value)
  • A 1-year WABA membership OR renewal. ($35 value)
  • Payment at the $50/hour Instructor rate for any classes taught with us after you successfully complete your Trainee period.

And in exchange:

  • You must commit to the dates for ALL classes in the Instructor training program.
  • You must commit to completing your Trainee requirements (seven hours of instruction) in your first year as an LCI.
  • You must join the League of American Bicyclists, if you are not already a member.
  • You must complete the Traffic Skills 101 course with a score of 85 percent or higher.
  • You must agree to wear a helmet at all classes and while teaching.

We think that seems like a pretty fair trade.

What are the dates and times that I should know about?

July 8 – Applications begin
August 1 – Applications end
August 11 (Tentative) – Instructor Candidates notified
September 13 – Traffic Skills 101
October 10-12 – League Cycling Instructor (LCI) Seminar

What does it cost to become a WABA Education Instructor?

Completing the application form is free, of course. If you are selected as one of our fifteen candidates, you will be asked to pay for membership in the League of American Bicyclists ($40) in order to obtain your League Cycling Instructor certification.  Additionally, you are responsible for all transportation, food/beverage, and bike upkeep costs incurred while in the training program, and as a WABA Education Instructor thereafter (except where otherwise noted). WABA will cover the rest of the costs (see above list).

I completed WABA’s City Cycling course(s). Can I skip the Traffic Skills 101 requirement?

Sorry, but no. Traffic Skills 101 includes both a written evaluation and an on-bike evaluation that you must pass with a score of 85 percent or higher in order to be allowed into the LCI Seminar. While WABA’s classes cover some of the same material, the only way to take these evaluations with us is through this WABA Education Instructor training program.

What happens if I am accepted as a candidate, but fail to meet the 85% score requirement at the Traffic Skills 101 course?

It is possible for this to happen, though we will do our best to ensure that you reach the required score. If you do not meet the League’s requirement for the Seminar, we cannot allow you to continue. We will offer you a spot in the next LCI Seminar that is hosted by WABA, and will work with you to bring your score up.

Click here to fill out your 2014 WABA Education Instructor application!

Thanks for applying, and good luck!

 

Happy summer from WABA’s education team!

Spring is the busiest time of the year for WABA instructors. From the first blustery weeks of April to the scorching end of June, we get kids on bikes during the day and hit the streets with adult classes on the weekends.

Now, we’re happy to report, we’re on hiatus from classes for the month of July!

Why?

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER!

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DCPS’ last day of school was June 19. During the spring semester, we served:

6 elementary schools: Mann, Bancroft, Powell, Tubman, Garrison, and Randle Highlands,

in Wards 3, 1, 4, 2, and 7, respectively.

We taught 1,469 students and worked with 6 physical education teachers.

We’ll return to DC public schools in the fall. Want to bring WABA to your school? Send us an email at education@waba.org to get in touch.

ADULT SCHOOL IS OUT FOR SUMMER TOO!

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We don’t schedule classes during the brutal July heat in the DC region, but we’ll return with a full schedule of City Cycling and Learn to Ride classes in August.

Want to be the first to know about upcoming sessions? Sign up here to receive notifications about Learn to Ride classes, and here for information about fall City Cycling sessions.

The spring 2014 adult class season was a particularly successful one for our department.

In brief, we served:

267 adults in a total of 19 classes offered in DC, Alexandria, Arlington, and Montgomery County.
We taught 124 people how to bike for the first time ever.

143 people came to City Cycling class, and became more confident bicyclists for it.
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Here’s what students are saying about our classes:

“Learning and practicing rock dodge, quick stop, and quick turn were super, super beneficial. Instruction was good. Try-outs were good. Encouragement to practice at home was good. The ride and instruction along the ride were helpful and very good. Stressing the danger of the door zone was noted well.” (CC 6/7)

“The instructors are very knowledgeable, patient and friendly. They are eager to provide advice, and positive feedback. It is a pity there is no “Bike Instructor Award” – they all deserve it.” (L2R 6/8)

If we didn’t see you in class this spring, we’d love to meet you next fall. Sign up here to learn about new course offerings before everyone else does.

If you’re interested in teaching next season, look no further. Follow this link to get notifications about our instructor certification program.