Reaching Out to Restaurant and Hotel Employees

Last fall, the DC Bike Ambassadors began a new, targeted outreach campaign focused on restaurant and hotel workers. We wanted to provide bike lights (as well as information about bike laws and safe bicycling) to these folks, who are often late-night or early-morning bike commuters.

Since then, we have travelled throughout all eight wards in the city making connections with employees and managers. One thing we heard over and over is that changes to bus and train schedules have a large impact on many of these people’s ability to work. We believe that bicycling can help provide reliable safe, effective transportation for employees in these fields (and others!), so we’ll continue reaching out and connecting with the foodservice and hospitality industries. This work is really just beginning!

If you would like to get involved as a volunteer, or recommend a business for our program, please email Jon at jon.gonzalez@waba.org

It’s Bike Light Blitz 2016

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The end of Daylight Savings Time is nearly upon us! There’s often an uptick in traffic crashes after the time change, so WABA is spending next week distributing bicycle lights. Our goal is to get bicycle lights in the hands (and onto the handlebars) of folks who are riding without them. If you’ve already got bike lights but still want to be part of the fun, stop by to pick up a pair to give away next time you see someone who needs them.  If you are interested in helping the DC Bike Ambassadors distribute these lights please join us at one of our pop up locations next week:

Spread the bike light love!

Here’s where we’ll be 11/7 -11/10:

  • Monday, 5-7pm we’re at 15th & P Street NW
  • Tuesday, 5-7pm we’re at Union Station (The First Street protected bike lane, in front of the Postal Museum)
  • Wednesday 5-7pm we’re at 3201 Benning Rd NE
  • Thursday 5-7pm we’re at the Key Bridge, on the Georgetown  Side.

Light tips:

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When you’re riding on a trail, be aware of the angle of your front light. Modern LEDs can be quite bright, and you don’t want to blind on coming trail users.

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Last Week Tonight with the Bike Ambassadors

On November 1st, a shipment of 750 bicycle lights arrived at the WABA Office. By November 20th, our team of Bike Ambassadors distributed all of them to DC area bicyclists in need. Thanks to a heroic volunteer effort, WABA was able to quickly fill a need in the DC bicycling community. Along with our standard outreach near heavily traveled bike corridors, Ambassadors went to local restaurants in search of service industry employees who bike to and from work. More often than not these workers end their shifts well past midnight, so reaching them with the “Got Lights?” campaign was a top priority. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get everyone in DC a bicycle light, but it was a good start in the right place.

Phill helps to bicyclists riding at night without lights.

Bike Ambassador Phill helps two bicyclists riding at night without lights.

If you would like to join our efforts to make DC the friendliest bike town in all the land, consider becoming a DC Bike Ambassador. Our next orientation is on December 9th 2014 from 6 pm-7:30pm. You can register here. It will be held at the WABA headquarter in Adams Morgan. There will be plenty of bicycle parking and metro accessible. Light refreshments will be served.

Bike Ambassadors Light Up Baseball Fans


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Bike ambassadors had a ball giving out lights after Tuesday’s game at Nationals Stadium.

The home team may have suffered a loss, but bike ambassadors saved the night with a major win for bicyclists leaving the game: free bike lights! In the district, bicycles are required to have a front white light and rear red reflector (or rear red light) after dark. See a complete list of bicycle laws and requirements here.

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Nationals Stadium has provided a free bike valet service for fans who ride to games. The valet is a great way to attract riders who might not have considered biking to games, which is a great option considering that Metro cars are often crammed with baseball fans on game days.

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Since games typically start before the sun goes down, fans who ride to the stadium may not realize they will be riding home in the dark. About 80 percent of riders leaving last night’s game did not have bikes equipped with both rear and front lights. Not only is it the law to have lights on your bike, it also makes you more visible to other riders, drivers, and pedestrians. Being visible is key to staying safe on your bike!

The goal of Tuesday’s lights giveaway was to raise awareness about bicycle safety and to encourage people to be as visible as possible while navigating D.C.’s streets. We passed out about 60 lights last night and had many more interactions with bicyclists about general safety. The bike ambassador team will be popping up at other places around the city, encouraging folks to be seen.

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Bike ambassadors made a tangible impact on the bicycling community by lighting up the streets! Funding for lights is provided by DDOT.

Interested in getting involved with the Bike Ambassador program? Contact Megan McCarty, the D.C. Bike Ambassador program coordinator, at megan.mccarty@waba.org for more details.

Bring Lights to Cyclists in Your D.C.-Area Community

As many WABA members know, we–led by our D.C. Bike Ambassadors–annually give out hundreds of lights to cyclists who are riding unlit at night. This program is funded through by the District Department of Transportation, so the lights are given out only in D.C. It is a wonderful program, and we would love to expand it regionally and to targeted areas.

If your business or community organization would be interested in helping to fund the purchase of additional lights that can be used in other parts of the region or as part of additional outreach in D.C., please email us so that we can discuss the details. We will be placing our main order within the next couple of weeks, and we invite groups interested in helping to provide lights to be in touch.

 

WABA Volunteers Light Up DC

WABA’s “Got Lights?” project gives away 1,000 free sets of front and rear lights (provided by DDOT) and will continue all year in various locations throughout the District.  We are committed to giving each and every light set to cyclists who are riding without lights when we find them. If you already have lights on your bike, please consider helping us put these lights on the bikes that need them. Call 202-518-0524 x200 or email bikeambassador@waba.org to help out! This post was written by WABA member and volunteer DC Bike Ambassador Jason Clock.

WABA's branded bike lights for the Got Lights? giveaway

The Dark Ages

Daylight Savings Time ended on November 6th, and since then WABA has been waiting for their bike light sets to be paid for/arrive (as a volunteer, information isn’t always easy to come by). The first few weeks after the time change are statistically some of the worst to be a pedestrian (or a bicyclist), as the number of crashes jumps up.

But for most bicyclists, evening commutes stay dark well into the late winter/early spring, so even though WABA’s lights only arrived last week, the need for lights on bikes hasn’t gone away. This is definitely the time of year when many cyclists are not visible due to lack of lights and reflective clothing.

Bike Lights For the Lightless

WABA’s goal is to target cyclists “riding dark”, i.e. people who don’t have any lights on their bike at all. Whether it’s due to a lack of knowledge about the laws requiring lights, an inability to afford them, not knowing where to buy them, or just plain forgetfulness, these people are the ones who are the most vulnerable.

So when the DC Bike Ambassadors were asked to sign up for the Bike Light Blitz–riding around with a bag of light sets and handing them out with a smile and a “Got Bike? Get WABA” business card, I was happy to help out. Here’s my timeline of the evening.

  • 6:00 PM: I arrived at WABA HQ in Adams Morgan and grabbed a bag of bike lights. 15 white front lights and 15 red rear lights in the “knog” style, single-piece lights with a silicon strap that loops around handlebars, seat posts, or pretty much anything else.
  • 6:10 PM: I decked out my bike with a few light sets to draw attention and designated a pocket each for front lights, rear lights, and WABA cards. Joined by the rest of the Bike Light Blitzers, I headed out. We were allowed to pick our own routes, and I chose to head towards downtown, riding along the 15th street cycle track with an eye out for “stealth riders” to start blitzing. I quickly encountered a few “False IDs”–riders with rear red lights but no front white lights. I told them that a front light is not only good for visibility, but is required by law when riding at night.

  • 6:30 PM: Feeling like a bike messenger, I pushed hard to chase down one stealth rider after another, standing on the pedals and hoping for a red light that would give me a few seconds to pull up alongside and enlighten them. The adrenaline rush helped break the ice, since most riders were a little suspicious at first. “I am just going across the street,” complained one single-speed cyclist–decked out in dark clothing on a black bike. “How much?” asked another rider. “No trick here,” I assured him, “I’m just shedding some light on the stealth riders of the District.” My pun went unnoticed, but the bike lights were appreciated.
  • 6:45 PM: I fully expected that the morning’s rain would keep the number of cyclists low in the evening, but I was shocked to find myself out of light sets in just 35 minutes!  I was surprised by how many cyclists did not have lights.  Many of them also wore dark clothing which certainly did not help visibility. And worst of all, most people didn’t even realize they were putting themselves in unnecessary danger.

A Brighter Future

I have to say I had a blast helping out with the Bike Light Blitz, and I plan to grab a few more bike light sets to keep on hand for when I come across stealth riders on my normal commute.  And, after counting dark cyclists while walking my dog, I might stash a few sets in my coat pockets for those times when I’m on foot, too.

You Can Help Too

Become a volunteer Bike Ambassador and help spread the word about bikes to your community, workplace and friends. We educate cyclists and motorists about safe cycling and have a good time doing it. You can contact Daniel Hoagland, WABA’s Bike Ambassador Coordinator by emailing bikeambassador@waba.org

Thank you to WABA & DDOT for making free bike lights possible!

What a 12-Year-Old Can Teach us About the Importance of Bike Lights

WABA will be hitting the streets tonight to begin our “Got Lights?” program for 2012, giving away 1,000 free sets of front and rear lights (provided by DDOT). The program is designed to target bicyclists riding after dark without lights. This post is a personal story from Gina Arlotto, who handles WABA’s Planning and Organizational Development, about teaching her kids about bike safety and the importance of having lights (and other safety equipment) on bikes.

WABA's branded bike lights for the Got Lights? giveaway

One Parent’s Perspective

It will come as no surprise to you to learn that kids really don’t like being told what to do. And they dislike it even more when they hit adolescence. Trust me, having to repeat the same lessons (pick your battles!) a million times gets old from a parent’s perspective, too.

Happily, teaching and practicing safe bicycling habits is one of those battles that we pick. It’s how I combat the anxiety I feel about them riding to school alone every day. I know they have the skills to control what they can–by following the rules of the road, by signaling, by stopping at stop signs and red lights–and the proper safety equipment. And I hope they can handle what they can’t control, especially the drivers commuting through our neighborhood without regard for bicyclists.  My kids know that following the rules of the road and having the proper bike safety equipment is not only the law, it’s also the safest way to ride.

My son (15) has taken many of my lessons to heart, but he takes the Metro to school (and as a teenage boy, will be a safety work-in-progress for some time regardless). I usually ride with my daughter (9) to school before I head into work, so I am able to observe her bike behavior closely.

A Bike Safety Prodigy

But for my 12-year-old daughter MaryGrace, it is imperative that she follow our safe cycling rules as she rides the 10 blocks to Stuart Hobson Middle School alongside car commuters. If you’re at all familiar with middle schoolers, you know they especially don’t like being told what to do, and my daughter is no exception. For a long time, I couldn’t be sure if all our lessons on bike safety were sinking in.

Thankfully, I periodically get reports from neighbors complimenting her for stopping at red lights and riding safely around the neighborhood. And if I needed any more reassurance, I only have to think of her response when I praised her on a long ride about how well she was doing. “Mom, I’m a bike safety prodigy,” she said with all the attitude of a typical 7th grade girl. Nevertheless, I could tell she was proud of herself.

Bike lights as critical bike safety equipment is a common theme in our house. We installed lights on the kids’ bikes before they rode them for the first time, so the conversation mostly consists of reminding the kids to turn the lights on, even during the daylight hours. When we’re out and about on Capitol Hill we see a lot of bicyclists riding around without lights, and my kids are often the first to point them out.  “Wow. That’s not safe,” they say, “You can’t even see them!”

Needless to say, I was thrilled when, a few weeks ago, I came home to find MaryGrace out on the sidewalk installing a set of lights on her friend’s new bike. When MaryGrace saw the bike, she said the first thing she told her friend was that she needed a set of lights.  After school let out they rode to our house and, after rummaging around in my husband’s basement work bench, fortunately located a spare set.  Not content to just give the lights to her friend to mount on the bike later, MaryGrace had grabbed a screwdriver and they worked together to get everything attached for the now-dark ride home. A “bike safety prodigy” indeed!

Visibility is Your First Priority

All of this is to say that if a slightly stubborn (but always adorable) 12-year-old middle school girl can recognize the importance of a set of bike lights, then you probably should too. And to any other parents out there, sometimes you really do have to repeat an important lesson a million times before it sticks. If you’re very lucky, you’ll be there when it does.

WABA’s “Got Lights?” project begins today and will continue in various locations throughout the District until we’ve given away all 1000 sets.  We are committed to giving each and every light set to cyclists who are riding without lights when we find them. If you already have lights on your bike, please consider helping us put these lights on the bikes that need them. Call 202-518-0524 or email advocacy@waba.org to help out!