Learn to Pilot a Tandem Bike with WABA!

WABA and MWABA!

The DC Bike Ambassadors have been teaming up with the Metro Washington Association of Blind Athletes (MWABA) all summer to grow our community of bicycling friends by partnering our pilots (the person up front who steers the bike) with MWABA’s stokers (the person in the back who provides extra pedaling) for great tandem riding!

We had our first Tandem Pilot Training Session in May. Since then, we’ve participated in many more rides and training sessions with MWABA. If you would like to join in on the fun, our next tandem training session will be Friday August 25th from 5-7pm at the Eastern Market metro station. Helmets will be required and tandem bikes will be available to try out. No tandem experience (in either position) is necessary but patience and willingness to make mistakes and learn are highly encouraged.

Quick Tandem Tips

For those excited to try tandem riding for the first time, a few things are key to a successful outing:

  1. Communication — You should already be communicating regularly with those around you in everyday bicycling life; signally when turning, alerting those behind you verbally and with your hands so that they know that you are about to slow down or come to complete stop. When it comes to riding in tandem with a partner, you should also communicate when you are going down a hill and want to start coasting, when there is an upcoming bump or pothole in the road.
  2. Flexibility — As a pilot, it is much easier to adapt to your stoker’s riding style than the other way around.
  3. Perseverance — Do not worry if you can’t get it on the first try. Even very experienced pilots need time to adjust to a new stoker to make a well-oiled tandem team machine.

We hope to see you there!

Sign up here

If you would like to learn more about the DC Bike Ambassador Program please join our Facebook page for all the latest updates.

Popsicle Pop-up makes for happy Arlington residents

With the temperature rising and the humidity, well…being humid, it was certainly harder to leave the AC and get outside in June.  For their monthly block party, the Arlington PAL Ambassadors decided to provide a little motivation and encouragement to trail users with some delicious frozen treats!

The PAL Popsicle Pop-up took place where the Custis Trail meets North Quincy Street near Washington-Lee High School in Ballston.  It was also Father’s’ Day, which meant a lot of families spending time outside with their kids! It was great seeing how happy people were to stumble upon our party, especially with the heat in the high 80’s that day.  Some folks followed our chalk signage on the trail, while some PALs made it a point to stop by while on their Sunday adventure.

The bike lanes on Quincy St serve as great connectors to not only the Custis Trail, but to Washington-Lee High School, downtown Ballston and several other Arlington connections, as well.  Quincy has been a central piece of the Bike Friendly Ballston campaign, which we hope to continue improving to enhance safety and comfort getting around town.

With more and more people, including families, getting out on the trails in the summer months, it’s never a bad idea to remind cyclists and walkers to be predictable, alert and lawful!  It was a lovely afternoon connecting with friends and neighbors, as well as meeting some new PALs. 

Want to become an Arlington PAL Ambassador?  Sign up

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

Meet a PAL Ambassador: Crash

All of the PAL Ambassadors call you Crash…what kind of name is that?!

I once T-boned a police car on my bicycle in the rain. No one was seriously injured.

That’s…not really an answer. What are your favorite things about Arlington? What do you like to do?

I’ve lived here for about six years and it’s a vibrant community with so much diversity and things going on. As small as it is, each corner has a different feel and culture to it. Ballston, Crystal City, West Columbia Pike, Rosslyn. What makes Arlington really unique though is the “Arlington loop”. The 17-mile interconnected connected trail system for walking, bicycling, rollerblading, stroller-pushing, etc, whatever you want to use it for. I don’t imagine many other areas have such a well used and well maintained trail system.  There are also lots of outdoor events, but one of my favorites is the free outdoor movies. Lots of people come out to them.

The Predictable, Alert and Lawful (PAL) message is aimed at everyone in the community: bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers.  Which do you see yourself as?

I’m definitely all three. I own a car but I commute to and from work by bicycle. Being in all three roles definitely makes you better at all three. When I’m driving, pedestrians will illegally cross in the crosswalk when I’m going through the intersection! What are they thinking? When I’m bicycling, cars will change lanes or turn without using their turn signal! What are they thinking? When I’m walking, bicycles will pass me with little room to spare without notifying me with an audible signal! What are they thinking? Using each mode makes me understand what I can do better in the others.

Describe your involvement as a PAL Ambassador and what you enjoy about volunteering.

Not going to lie, I saw something in a bicycle newsletter about a pizza party and I can’t turn down food. That was many years ago and now the advocacy is more interesting than the pizza to me. Being a PAL Ambassador is pretty simple, the most important thing is to practice the PAL principles. The aspect I like the most is seeing people from the community being brought together. Volunteering at a big event like Bike To Work Day is amazing because you see how massive the bicycle community is. Volunteering at smaller events like our block parties is amazing because you get to meet families with young children who genuinely enjoy spending wholesome, quality time together outside.

Why do you think the PAL program is important and relevant to the Arlington community?

Arlington is a perfect intersection of cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. Commuters going into DC by car go through Arlington. Arlington is dense enough that Arlingtonians can easily walk to restaurants and bars. We have fantastic bicycle infrastructure and services so that most of us can either bicycle the complete distance to where we want to go or use it for some of our journey. These three modes of transportation aren’t separate; cars share the lane with bicycles, bicycles may need to share the sidewalk with pedestrians, and pedestrians cross streets used by cars and bikes. Where there’s a feeling of disconnect between the modes is where problems can happen, and the PAL Ambassadors are out there to remind people to put more thought into their behavior.

You can meet Crash and more PAL Ambassadors at our Block Party this Saturday!

Want to learn about future Arlington PAL Ambassador events?  Yes!





The Strong Women Ride Makes an Impact

Who’s ready to ride DC? This group.

In February, our Women & Bicycles program led the Strong Women Ride. This city is full of women who shaped history–and who were law-breaking, sanctuary-providing, kidnapping scalawags at the same time. We figured folks would jump at the chance to shake off the winter cobwebs and learn something new at the same time.

Turns out we were right. So right, in fact, that we had to scramble to schedule a second ride in March! Both rides were big successes, with great weather, great company, and great education all at once.

Want to learn about future Women & Bicycles events and rides?  Yes!





Group in front of Belmont-Paul Womens Equality Monument

 

So who were these strong women?

Our three main historical women were the Rev. Paulie A. Murray, Dr. Carla Hayden, and Marion Pritchard. But along the way, we also stopped at the Lady Fortitude statue at Howard U, Anna J. Cooper circle (near her preserved home), the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument and House, the Eleanor Roosevelt statue at the FDR memorial, and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.

Rev. Paulie A. Murray

In the 1940s, Paulie refused to sit in the broken seats of the colored section of a bus. Her subsequent arrest inspired her law career. She would later become one of the first women Episcopal priests, serving in Washington, DC and focusing on reconciliation.

Dr. Carla Hayden

Carla Hayden is the current Librarian of Congress, and both the first woman and the first person of color to hold that post.  During the Baltimore riots in the days after the death of Freddie Gray, as other businesses closed their doors, she insisted on keeping the libraries open so people had a place to go.

Marion Pritchard

Marion Pritchard was a Dutch resister during World War II. Special thanks to Marion’s granddaughters Abigail Pritchard and Grace Pritchard Burson, who shared stories of Marion’s resistance work with our riders. Our favorite story was one from near the end of the war. Marion was riding on rims, her bike tires long gone. With everyone starving, she traveled across a river to finagle some extra food beyond the meagre rations. On her way back, she was captured by a Nazi patrol. When questioned, she reportedly let them have it–she told them exactly what she thought of them, their regime, and their leader. The next morning, the soldiers drove her across the bridge where they had captured her. They returned her bike, and the extra food, and sent her on her way.

After that night of darkness, she saw some glimmers of hope and humanity.

After hearing these stories, the ride offered an option to show our own strength, with a ride to Meridian Hill Park that included the 15th street climb. Every rider who attempted the hill achieved the top… and a trip to cupcakes as a reward!

Climbing Meridian Hill like a girl. On a Brompton.

 

Serve WABA on the Board of Directors

The WABA Board in 2016

WABA’s Board of Directors is looking for people with a passion to help make the Washington area a safer and more welcoming environment for people using bikes. To this end, the WABA Board Nominating Committee is searching for director candidates with strong leadership skills and experience in helping non-profit organizations execute strategy and development plans.

WABA continues to enjoy a growing base of loyal members and a diversifying funding base. As we did last year, we have a particular interest in candidates who can help us further expand our partnerships with a broader pool of private organizations and individuals who share and will support WABA’s goal of making the Washington area the most bicycle friendly in the world. The ability to connect WABA to the broader Washington area network of donors with missions that overlap with WABA’s is a plus. We are also looking for a candidate who can help us ensure that our financial monitoring and oversight mechanisms are robust and efficient.

WABA continues to look for board members and partners who can help us ensure that our mission and programming serves the needs of bicyclists in low-income, underserved or local immigrant communities.  The WABA board’s commitment to diversity is real, and weight will be given to candidates that broaden the board’s views and experience.

WABA board members are volunteers who serve two year terms and are expected to participate in regularly scheduled board meetings (6-7 per year), serve on board committees as needed, provide counsel to WABA staff in their areas of expertise, and make WABA a significant part of their individual philanthropy.

WABA’s board also has a number of committees focused on areas that include advocacy, administration and finance, development, programming, and membership. Board membership is not required for membership on these committees, and some candidates may find service on these committees may be better suited to their time and interests. If you think that you might be interested in appointed (i.e., non-board member) service on these committees, please email mark@waba.org.

Candidates who are interested in exploring whether their skills and interests align with WABA’s are invited to make an initial expression of interest in board membership by filling out the form here.  If you have previously filled out an expression of interest, and remain interested, please email me at mark@waba.org.  While the search for director candidates is an ongoing one, the board expects to present a slate of candidates at the February 28th annual members’ meeting.

Mark Blacknell is the President of the WABA Board of Directors.

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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front-light-bad-angle