Becoming a biking instructor

Understanding the paths that people take to get to where they are fascinates me. I’m constantly asking people how they got to today. Teaching a City Cycling class recently I was chatting with the Lead Instructor for the class, Jason. The lead instructor is responsible for the entire class that day. They have to manage the team of instructors and the students to ensure that the educational experience meets or even exceeds students’ expectations. It’s a tough but rewarding job!

While watching Jason work I wondered how he got to this place—leading a group of participants through a City Cycling class. I was curious why he joined WABA in the first place and how that led him to not just teach classes for WABA, but become a lead instructor. Some of the details are unique to Jason, but I imagine that many of his greater points resonate with you, too.

When I moved to DC in 2006 to start a new career, I chose a location close to the free shuttle bus to Georgetown University.  For years I would walk to the bus stop and would arrive on campus a short time later.  One day in 2008, the bus turned a different way, the long way.  Come to find out, the Advisory Neighborhood Commission had voted to prevent any private busses from running through the neighborhood for fear that the old row houses were being shaken to the ground.  Needless to say, I was not happy about the extra time it was taking to go to the same location. The very next day I rushed to the local bike shop—I walked through the door just before closing. I selected a bike and when going to pay for it, noticed WABA membership flyers behind the register. I inquired and noticed that a benefit of being a member of WABA was a discount at local bike shops. The opportunity to save money immediately is how I entered the DC bicycling community.  Before moving to DC, I had a bike which collected dust in my garage where I left it for the new owner.

I started to get emails. I learned about the City Cycling classes WABA offered in the community.  Having never biked in a city before, I decided to sign up for a class.  At the time, there were 2 distinct classes. One class focused on the fundamentals of riding a bike while the other offered bicyclists an opportunity to learn and hone hazard avoidance maneuvers. I took both.

In the second class, the lead instructor, Glen, mentioned that WABA was looking for instructors to help teach classes—there were hundreds of adults requesting lessons. Who knew? What a great way to help more people feel safe on their bikes! After all, one way of achieving better bicycling is by having more bicyclists on the road.



In December 2010 I completed the League Certified Instructor (LCI) seminar and became a nationally recognized cycling instructor with the League of American Bicyclists.  Since that time I have been helping WABA teach people how to ride and those that knew, how to ride better and become a “driver” of their wheeled vehicle.  After all, we share the roads with cars and should be just as predictable and respected for the safety of everyone.

After teaching classes with WABA for several years, I was asked to become a Lead Instructor.  Lead Instructors are in charge of the classes and work closely with the education staff to ensure quality and consistency.  Leads allow WABA to teach classes simultaneously instead of only one class being held on each day. I appreciate the opportunity I have to teach with WABA and feel honored to be a Lead instructor.

Do you want to help make a difference in the region’s bicycling community?

Are you ready to make bicycling better in the region by helping more bicyclists get out on the road?

Come and teach with WABA!

Yep, Over 2,000 Kids In 6 Months

Thank you for everything you do for WABA: the letter-writing, the petitions, testifying and staying in the know.  Thank you for all your time and financial contributions over the years.

Your support is paying off. On Tuesday we sent out our big wins in 2016 (link), your big wins, a list of a dozen updates on everything from 100 miles of new bike trails you’ll get to enjoy to the first protected bike lane in Silver Spring.

Today we want to highlight the outreach and education metrics that shape your experiences on the road. And today we ask you to contribute to WABA this fall so that, in addition to infrastructure wins, we can continue our relentless work for better bicycling. We want to tell you about the award-winning programs you support (some of which have been replicated across the country and world).

They are built around our three shared goals:

  1. Inspire more people to give biking a try.
  2. Inform all road-users about vital rules and roadway etiquette.
  3. Empower more people to create and grow biking in their communities.

Bike ClubRandle Highlands Elementary Bike Club

Your tax-deductible contributions to WABA are shaping the culture on your roads, creating more bike advocates in your communities, and introducing new generations to biking. Your donations fuel the programs, fill classes, fund the outreach, and foster the community that drives bicycle advocacy.

Here’s all the programming your contributions support:

  • Youth and family education: training up new generations in schools, workshops and rodeos, and our summer Bike Camp!
  • Adult education: teaching people how to bike confidently, legally, and respectfully through City Cycling classes, Adult Learn to Ride classes, and workplace Everyday Biking Seminars,
  • The DC Bike Ambassador and PAL Ambassadors: empowering volunteers to lead community-driven outreach,
  • Women & Bicycles: inspiring more women to bike, teach, engineer, plan, and advocate within the bike movement,
  • And the Trail Rangers: spreading care and caring for DC trails.

2016 Education By The Numbers

  • Adults taught how to ride a bicycle: 288
  • People taught to ride confidently, legally, and respectfully: 457
  • People taught how to bike to work: 330
  • Hours of teaching by WABA instructors: 541
  • Bike Camp! miles ridden by campers: 122
  • Kids taught to bike better: 2,145
  • Bike puns: [number redacted]


2016 Outreach By The Numbers:

  • Volunteer Ambassadors: 225
  • Miles ridden pulling our Bike PSA trailers: 284
  • Bags of debris collected by Trail Rangers: 223
  • Bells distributed on the trails: 100
  • Coffee distributed on the trails: 1,920 ounces
  • Days of the week the Rangers are out on trails: 7
  • One-on-one conversations at community events, fairs, and expos: 9,140 (yep, we count them!)

If you’ve already donated, thank you! Your bike rides improve when WABA succeeds. And we succeed because people like you choose to contribute your time and your hard-earned money to better bicycling. Please consider a mid-year tax-deductible donation to the persistent and critical action that will lead to a region that truly prioritizes bicycling.




Alexandria Bike Campus: Miles’ Story


Last week, we announced our plan to turn an unused parking lot into the region’s first ever bike campus. Thanks to our members, we’re halfway to our fundraising goal!

The total cost of the project is around $55,000. We’re trying to secure $35,000 in grants and sponsorships, and we need your help to cover the remaining costs.

Before we ask you to make a donation, we want to highlight one of our members and why he and his family support the Alexandria Bike Campus. Miles learned to ride in the city as an adult, and taught his daughter to ride at—you guessed it—Jones Point Park.


My name’s Miles and I really don’t know what I’d do without my bike. I wasn’t born a bicyclist, I learned in an old orchard as a kid. Although I crashed into trees, I never had to worry about how to bike sensibly with cars, pedestrians, and other people on bikes.

It was years later, in my early thirties, before I was comfortable riding in the street at all. Now I ride my bike to work 25 miles a day. Think of all those lost years between the orchard and the city streets! It was a difficult process. Even as an adult, I had a hard time getting comfortable and and feeling safe and learning to be courteous around other people moving through the city.

It’s even harder for kids. My kids didn’t have an orchard to learn in, but places like Jones Point park are a good environment to teach kids how to fall in love with biking. It’s great: safe, flat, bathrooms nearby, and a relaxing setting by the river.

I’m thrilled to learn about WABA’s proposed bike campus. I love the idea of a fun practice course that models our city streets, because we need a dedicated space to teach people how to ride safely around town. Think of all the years of lost biking joy we can spare them! Think of all the family excursions they’ll be able to take if they can learn someplace safe! Imagine how much more fun we’d have if everyone learned at a young age how to love biking and how to bike safely around town!

Thank you, WABA!

Miles’ confident new rider!


We need $11,750 to make the Alexandria Bike Campus a reality.

Alexandria Bike Campus – We’re Halfway There!

Quick update: we’re 50% of the way to having enough money to build the Alexandria Bike Campus –thanks for helping us get this far!

Help the bike movement reach new heights at the Alexandria Bike Campus!

bike campus thankyou


Quick rundown: here’s what makes the Alexandria Bike Campus awesome: 

  • It’s the first of its kind in our region! Baltimore has one, Austin has one, Santa Monica has one. We deserve one!
  • Anyone can go learn, practice, teach, anytime, any day – especially the days we’re teaching classes.
  • The design is simple. It’s paint and instructional signage. And it’s a pilot. Over time we’ll try to build it out to a 3D streetscape!
  • We’re grateful to partner with National Park Service, and plan to get to work and launch this fall.
  • We’re grateful for any leads on other potential bike campus locations and partners. You know you want one in your neighborhood!

We need $20,000 to make the Alexandria Bike Campus a reality.

Draft Alexandria Bike Campus Design


Propaganda is such a strong word—let’s go with “Skillshare.”

Are you tired of explaining to your co-workers how to bike to work?

No, you probably aren’t. But maybe your coworkers are!

Let WABA do the explaining.

Talk to your HR team about bringing an Everyday Biking Seminar to your workplace. We’ve got fun, engaging ways to review the logistics of riding to work, and you can help us answer some of the workplace specific questions.

An Everyday Biking Seminar is an hour long Lunch & Learn specifically tailored for the workplace. During the seminar we cover many popular topics for new bike commuters. We will also leave plenty of time to answer questions and concerns.  The seminar will cover:

  • Finding a bike that feels good
  • Bike Law, traffic law and bike etiquette
  • How to be safe & confident on the road
  • Tips on preparation for commuting
  • Tips on having fun while riding to work

We’ll answer questions, assuage doubts, and make sure you and your coworkers have all the information and inspiration you need to hop on two wheels and experience all of the joy and benefits of biking to work.

Note: Probably don’t send this blog post to your HR people. Instead, send them our Official Everyday Biking Seminar PageOr, if you’re the decision maker in your office, you can request an Everyday Biking Seminar by completing this form.   

Yep! We’re Finally Getting Our Region’s First Bike Campus!

Have you seen our plan to convert an unused parking lot into a next-generation classroom for biking? With your help, we’re finally bringing our region its first-ever Bike Campus!

We’re asking you to help us raise funds to create the region’s first Bike Campus.

If you’ve donated to WABA, you know you’ve contributed to concrete change in our built environment and a tangible shift in the way we all interact on the road. You’ve made a lasting impact in our region. Thank you for continuing to back us. Thank you for driving our mission to make our region the best place to ride a bike.

Donate today to create a safe and vibrant place for people to learn about biking.

Bike Camp 3


For two and half years we’ve worked with National Park Service to take Jones Point Park, in the heart of Alexandria, to the next level as a place for bike education. With your help, we’ll have the funds to convert an unused parking lot into a vibrant skills course and replica streetscape so we can teach you and your children how to safely and confidently navigate city streets. And so you can take your children out on the weekends and teach them how to ride. But we can’t do it without your help.

Donate today to show your support for the next generation of bicyclists.

Bike Camp 2Over a dozen cities across the country have bike campuses, and it’s time we get one ourselves! Your support will pay for actual supplies so we can clean and re-seal the surface, lay out and paint the campus, and post new signage around the park! Your support will pay for our maintenance fund, so that we can help cover the costs of ownership over the new park. With your backing we’ll have a template to pressure other counties to adopt, and with your help we’ll eventually have bike campuses across Northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland.

Chip in today so we can create a Bike Campus our region deserves.


Meet Doug, our New Education Coordinator

Doug Smith

Hello everyone, I’m Doug Smith. I’m very excited and fortunate to be the new Education Coordinator here at WABA. I was encouraged to apply for this position by my family because the role directly aligns with my personal passion. I love to ride a bike. I don’t care if I’m riding down to the corner store, across town to meet friends, or repeatedly up and down the largest hill near my house so my son (on the “tag-a-long”) can feel the thrill of going downhill fast. I am looking forward to sharing my love of riding the bike with you in the community.

Professionally, leading up to this position I found myself mostly working from the road. For ten years, I worked in the natural care and wellness industry with a special focus in values-based business and leadership practices. I was a member of the customer development team for the leading producer of natural toothpaste and deodorant. I regularly saw people riding in town while I was stuck at a light and I envied them, I was tired of always looking through my windshield.

In this role as the Education Coordinator I’m getting back to where my passion lives, bikes. I’m looking forward to working with the community to get people safely on bicycles that have never ridden before. I believe everyone should be able to experience that joy and freedom. If you’re already comfortable on a bike, I’m looking forward to working with you to help you achieve whatever your goals are, be it greater confidence riding in the city, or experiencing the wonderful roads and trails that are available outside the city. Cheers!

You can meet Doug and the rest of our Education Team tonight (2/11) at the Mad Fox Tavern in Glover Park