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

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

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.

Weekends with WABA’s Education Team

Every weekend this June, our instructors are hard at work teaching adult classes. This past Saturday and Sunday we had full attendance at Alexandria’s City Cycling course and 20 students at Arlington’s Learn to Ride class. We thought a full photo recap was in order.

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Instructor Mike Gipstein with Introduction to City Cycling students.

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Practicing scanning and signaling.

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Instructors Elizabeth Bolton and Hamzat Sani assist while a student practices the quick stop.

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Instructor Elizabeth Bolton with Confident City Cycling students.

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Sunday’s Learn to Ride class gets ready to begin.

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WABA instructor Hamzat Sani explains learning to balance on a bike by gliding.

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Fun and games during a water break.

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WABA instructor Leigh Ann Evanson puts pedals on a student’s bike.

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Pedals!

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Sunday’s instructor team, from left to right: Arielle Milkman, Dan Redmond, Leigh Ann Evanson, Anica Allen, Steve Offutt, and Hamzat Sani.

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The ABC’s of Family Biking Returns on May 3rd

ABCsYou are invited to join the DC Safe Routes to School program, Kidical Mass DC, and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association on May 3rd from 11 am-2 pm for the 3rd annual ABC’s of Family Biking. This free, one day event helps you learn everything you need to know about biking with kids.

The ABC’s of Family Biking runs from 11:00am until 2:00pm and will offer:

  • Open Forum, 11:00am-1:00pm: A chance to talk, ask questions, and share tips with area parents who bike with children of all ages
  • Bike & Gear Show, 11:00am-2:00pm: See and test out all the bikes and gear from local bike shops designed to help parents bike safely with their children
  • Free Youth Bike Course, 11:00am-12:30pm: WABA’s Youth Challenge Course teaches kids riding skills while having fun! Kids’ bikes & helmets will be available, or bring your own! Parents must sign a waiver in order for kids to participate.
  • Parents & Kids Riding Class, 1:00pm-2:00pm: Parents and kids will learn skills for biking together, either as a family or in a “bike train” group. All participants are encouraged to bring their own bikes & helmets. All participants will be required to sign a waiver.
  • “Swap or Sell” Meet, 11:00am-2:00pm: Bring your gently used family biking equipment to trade or sell.

The event is a great chance for families to practice their bicycling skills in advance of National Bike to School Day which is May, 7, 2014, more details are available here.

Event Location:

The parking lot behind Capitol Hill Montessori School at Logan, 215 G Street NE

The location is easily accessible from the Union Station Metro and Capital Bikeshare stations. Metered parking is available on the street.

Sun, spring, and the first Learn to Ride class of the season

We’re already a few weeks into our spring education season, but Saturday marked the 2014 kickoff of one of the most rewarding tasks for WABA instructors – teaching students how to ride bicycles.

WABA’s learn-to-ride classes are set up for adults who don’t know how to ride a bicycle. Starting to ride as an adult can be a difficult process, but our method is time-tested and overwhelmingly effective. As such, sessions fill up fast, and our interest list is filled with eager adults who want to learn to ride.

Saturday’s class brought 20 students, 20 bicycles, and six WABA instructors to Freedom Plaza to take on the most daunting task of the weekend for some – mastering balance on two wheels.

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Photo by Nelle Pierson

WABA education coordinator Daniel Hoagland directed students to their bicycles, provided by Bike and Roll, and told them that we’d start with step one, and the hardest part of all – learning to glide on the bike, without pedals, feeling the rhythm and weight of the machine driving itself forward.

For some, Freedom Plaza didn’t seem the most auspicious place to try biking for the first time – it’s a well-traveled stomping ground for tourists, skateboarders, and those who manage to stay suit-clad even on a Saturday. But initial hesitation to try something new in the public eye soon gave way to excitement as students began to glide on bikes and quickly progressed to pedaling through the plaza.

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Photo by Nelle Pierson

As students found their balance and began to pick up speed on two wheels, uncontrollable giggling, smiling, and high-fiving commenced. WABA instructor Hamzat Sani adapted to the class success, leading a fairly competitive game of on-bike red-light-green-light to encourage first-time riders to hone stopping and starting skills.

After three hours of hard work, nearly all participants were riding – ready for Bike to Work Day and whatever else may come. We’re proud to add more cyclists to DC’s bike community, and hope to see you all out there this spring.

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Photo by Nelle Pierson

Want to learn how to ride? Join our interest list.

Ready to practice your skills and learn new tips at a City Cycling class? Sign up for one here.

Last but not least, do us a solid and register for Bike to Work Day. Ride on!

City Cycling Classes Return for April

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We want you to ride all spring and have fun doing it! But it’s hard to have fun when you’re riding while nervous, worried, or anxious about drivers, car doors, clueless pedestrians, and everything else. Lucky for you, our City Cycling classes are back to ease your mind and let you get back to having fun.

Whether you’re getting on a bike for the first time in years or have been riding every day, we can teach you new tricks, answer your questions, and even get you ready to teach your friends and family!

City Cycling classes in April are as follows:

11:00 a.m., Sat., April 12 in Bethesda, Md. (Montgomery County residents only, please)
10:00 a.m., Sun., April 13 in Washington, D.C.
10:00 a.m., Sun., April 20 in Alexandria
10:00 a.m., Sat., April 26 in Arlington, Va. (Arlington County residents only, please)

More classes will be added soon!

WABA’s Fall Education Season, in Photos

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The last leaf has fallen on the youth bicycle education tree! We wrapped up our fall in-school bicycle education classes last week at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School.

This calendar year alone,WABA has shared the joys of bicycling with 3,425 students in the District’s public and public charter schools.  We’ll be back after winter break in more schools, to teach more students, and with (hopefully) more bikes!

Want to help us get more bikes so that we can teach more kids? Vote for us in the Do the Kind Thing contest!

If you are the parent of a child in a D.C. public school or public charter school in grades kindergarten through 6th and would like to bring WABA’s Youth Bike Education program to your child’s school, let us know! We will get in touch with the school’s PE teacher about spring classes.

Bruce Monroe Elementary 10/7/13

Janney Elementary

Janney Elementary

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Our adult programming has also finished up for the season. While it’s satisfying to cross off the final fall class on our education chalkboard, there’s certainly no erasing the experiences of 373 adults who attended WABA’s bicycle education classes this year. Some were learning to ride for the first time, while others fine-tuned their skills as long-term commuters. WABA’s Education Department provides confidence and knowledge that D.C, Maryland, and Virginia residents can use to enjoy their trips on two wheels.

See you in the spring!

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Montgomery County

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Arlington

City cycling in Washington, DC

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Adult Learn to Ride Alexandria 9/8

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