Meet James Ploeser, our new DC Bike Ambassador!

Hi. I’m James and I’m new here.

Prior to joining WABA as a part-time Bike Ambassador, I’ve been a lot of things. I’ve been a barista, a community organizer, and a truck driver. Recreationally, I’ve been a gardener, natural builder, and a musician. At present, I’m a yoga teacher, a religious educator working with high school students, and a seminarian training to become a Unitarian Universalist minister.

And all that time, I’ve always been a bike-rider.

I feel very fortunate to have grown up in Madison, WI, one of the best and safest cities for cycling in the country. Its downtown lies between two lakes, so shoreline nature trails are many people’s paths to work. That, plus an extensive network of protected bike lanes made it relatively easy to become comfortable biking most anywhere.

For the last 11 years, DC has been my home. Through prioritizing being a good neighbor in my immediate surroundings in NW, I’ve also been lucky to explore most parts of the city rather extensively- and not only by bike. In addition to cycling, here I’ve spent nearly equal time as a driver and a train- or bus-rider. Coincidentally, a recent part-time job had me driving a vegetable truck for a local food access organization, and my route took me along one of my favorite cycling destinations beyond the beltway, adjacent to the Custis and W&OD trails, into the horse and wine country of Loudoun County, VA.

I see cycling as not only healthy, sustainable and affordable (though it is all those things!), but as a means of empowerment and social change. Learning that you can take yourself great distances on just two wheels, and with just your own two legs, offers an embodied experience that we are more free and more capable than we often think. In 2010, a friend and I rode to the UN Climate Talks in Cancun. Along the way we not only promoted sustainable transportation but also highlighted local efforts to transition to a people-powered global economy.

That and other such experiences are why it’s important for me that safe, enjoyable cycling be available to everyone in the D.C. region. My belief in inclusion aligns with WABA’s vision for the region. In fact, it’s partly why I’ve been invited to join the team. I’m a fluent Spanish speaker, having spent time not only in Latin America where I studied and volunteered with social movement organizations, but also working as an organizer in Spanish-speaking communities back in the midwest and here in the DMV.

If you are also interested in expanding the accessibility of WABA’s program offerings to Spanish-speaking communities, and have the language skills to assist, email me at james.ploeser@waba.org to let me know.

So that’s me. I hope to meet many of you before and during upcoming activities, and that we’ll continue welcoming more new folks into the lovely and growing WABAverse. 🙂

Try It By Bike!: A Guide to Riding Around Red Line Metro Closures

For all of us who can’t take off a leisurely July 21st to Sept 3rd vacation and avoid some very humid days, the Metro closure of the Brookland and Rhode Island Ave Red Line stations are going to affect many travel patterns. There will be bus shuttles between stations and a temporary bus lane on Rhode Island Ave (!). But it can also be a easy bike ride—there is a trail that parallels the Red Line!

Want to avoid crowded roadways and train platforms while Metro undertakes maintenance? The Metropolitan Branch Trail follows the Red Line from just south of Fort Totten past Brookland, Rhode Island, NoMa to Union Station with some great connections to downtown and points east & west.

Metropolitan Branch Trail signage.

The Metropolitan Branch Trail runs along the Red Line in D.C., and you can pick it up just south of Fort Totten! An easy alternative route to use while Brookland and Rhode Island Ave. are closed.


How to Prepare

Check your brakes, pump up your tires, and give biking a try! A few things we’ve seen that are useful for beginning to bike for transportation:

  • No need to start with the Big Ride. Maybe test out a daily commute on a weekend when there isn’t a 9am important meeting. Where are you going to park your bike?
  • Options are your friend. You can drive a car to a park-and-ride, and ride your bike from there. Take bikeshare downhill and bus home. Try out a bikeshare bike for a week and see how getting around feels.
    • A Capital Bikeshare corral with unlimited parking will be available at 3rdSt. NE and M St. NE from 8am-1pm, on Monday – Friday from 7/23 – 8/31, so you can easily drop off your bike.
  • You do need a working bicycle, a u-lock and some way to carry your things. A helmet is encouraged. But, like so many things, no need to go all in on all the fancy gear to start with! Are bike specific bags nice? Sure! But you can also use the random Aldi’s reusable bag you got free that one time. If you’re going to be biking when it is dark, a front light is legally required and you should have a rear light too.
  • It’s hot! Sunscreen, a water bottle and sun protection are probably a good idea. I like wearing casual clothes on my ride and changing at work to avoid sweaty clothes. But for folks with shorter rides or who aren’t perennially biking fast to avoid being late for meetings, a slower pace should help minimize sweat.
  • Trails are kind of like roads, but better. Ride to the right and pass folks on your left. Let people know that you’re passing them and give them space. Don’t do anything sudden. And above all, be courteous about the shared space.
  • We’ve got maps, events, classes, and all sorts of other resources below to make your bike commute comfortable, safe and fun.

We’ve also got tools for employers looking to make life a little easier for their staff.


What’s WABA Doing?

  • Pushing local transportation officials to create space and infrastructure for biking during the surges.
  • Steering our existing programs and resources to help and support people impacted.
  • Leading the bike community to help by providing resources, programming and events.

For press inquiries, please contact Colin Browne.


Already a Bike Commuter? Help your neighbors and your coworkers!

Metro maintenance is huge and we need your help to make sure that nobody on a bike is left behind. How can you help?

  • Be a resource for their questions.
  • Can you go on a ride with them? Collaborate on route route planning?
  • Connect them with other resources – any WABA events that they should join?

New to Bike Commuting?

Join us at a City Cycling class! This class is the right fit for you and will give you three things you can’t get anywhere else:

  • A safe and supportive environment to practice riding and build confidence
  • Access to the best bike teachers in the region to answer all your questions
  • Riding techniques, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your ride

View the schedule and register for classes here.

And check out our extensive resources for new riders!

Ask our Trail Ranger team questions! We’ll be at a few more outreach events this summer with free bike maps, resources and answers. Can’t make it to a market? Email us at trailranger@waba.org or give us a call at (202) 518-0524 x208 and we’re happy to help.

Takoma Farmers Market
July 8th, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Laurel Ave, Takoma MD

Met Branch Coffee Hour
July 13th, 7:30 am – 9:30 am
4th and S St NE

MBT Meander Ride
July 15th, 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Silver Spring Metro
Details and registration here.

NoMa Farmers Market
July 22nd, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
First and Pierce St NE

Oh, and here’s what you need to know about bikes on Metrorail and bikes on Metrobus.


Help Your Employees Bike to Work!

Make commuting the best part of their day by hosting an Everyday Bicycling Seminar with WABA.

Our bike experts will solve bike mysteries and bust bike myths in a relaxed and engaging “brown bag” format.

Complete the form here and our coordinator will be in touch.

I’d Like to Bike, But…

People have their reasons for not biking. We’re here to change some perspectives!

Since becoming the Outreach Coordinator at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), I have attended a lot of expos, wellness events and festivals. I love meeting new people and talking with them about what we do at WABA. I also like hearing from people about why they do or don’t bike in the city.

So I decided to create two boards to take with me to my events. One of the boards says, “I bike because…” and the other says, “ I’d like to bike but…”. Although I love reading the responses about why people bike, I am even more intrigued by why people don’t. I read each one as people write them and use those responses as a way to jump-start a conversation about what we do and how we can help them. Here are the top reasons I see and hear about why people don’t bike and how WABA can make you a little less apprehensive to biking.

#1 – “I don’t know how to ride a bike.”

I learned to ride as an adult (as did one of my co-workers), so I completely understand how that hinders someone from riding a bike. And as you get older, you realize that you are further from the ground so falling off a bike becomes pretty scary. If you or someone you know is in this situation, we can help.

WABA offers adult Learn to Ride classes throughout the year. We have certified instructors who will spend time with each student getting them comfortable on a bicycle and learning to ride in under 3 hours. And you are never to old to learn. Last season, we had a 76 year old woman learn to ride so you have no excuse! You can learn more about our Adult Learn to Ride Classes here.

#2 – “I’m scared of being hit by cars.”

I must admit, I always find this answer funny. These are drivers who are afraid to bike because of…drivers? But I also get it because I was in their shoes. After I learned to ride, I always rode on trails. I was terrified of being hit by a car, or more specifically, by a taxi cab.

I overcame that by taking a City Cycling class with WABA! I learned to not ride in the gutter, how to signal for turns and how to confidently take the lane when biking to make sure I’m seen by cars. Amazingly, these and other simple steps really do make you feel so much more confident on the road. You can learn how to ride confidently in the city too by taking our City Cycling class.

#3 – “I live too far away.”

This is a legitimate reason to not bike the entire way to work. However, you may be able to do multi-modal riding. For example, maybe you can take the Metro part of the way and take bikeshare the rest of the way. Or perhaps you bike rather than drive to the store or to run errands near where you live. Thinking of biking in these small ways can help build your confidence and get you biking more often.

#4 – “I’m out of shape.”

Biking is great exercise and helps to get you in shape. I often suggest just biking a mile or around the block. Or join one of our community rides so you can be social and ride with others. Often people don’t even realize they have biked 10 miles when they bike in a social ride. And it’s a great way to build up your endurance!

And #5? – “Hills!”

Hills are no joke. I grew up in Anacostia and it is HILLY. It can definitely prevent people from wanting to ride. But there are a couple of ways to conquer hills. One way is to bike down the hill and take Metro or the bus up the hilly part. The other way is to buy or rent an e-bike. These incredible bikes make hills seem flat by giving you the boost you need to roll up any hill with ease.

Now you know the most common objections I hear about why people aren’t biking. But we all have to start somewhere – consider this a step in the bike direction!

Put the Pedal to the Podcast

These days, podcasts are sort of a big deal. Especially since the breakout success of “Serial”—the 2014 true crime podcast from This American Life that explored a murder case in Baltimore in the Winter of 1999. Just four years later, podcasts are everywhere you look—oops, we mean listen!

Podcasts have become a way to consume news, learn new skills, connect with pop culture, and discover stories we might never have heard otherwise. If you aren’t familiar with podcasts, they are sort of like on-demand radio. Podcast topics can range from parenting to politics and everything in between.

There are even quite a few podcasts on bicycling! And here at WABA, we thought it was about time to explore some of the options.

Here are our favorites:

  • Shift Up Bike Podcast – This podcast is a new bike-industry focused weekly podcast where host Arliegh moderates healthy conversations to build a better bike industry!
  • The Bike Nerds Podcast – The Bike Nerds Podcast hosted on the OAM Network. The Bike Nerds is hosted by Kyle Wagenschutz and Sarah Studdard. Their podcast features community leaders, neighborhood advocates and urban thinkers on how bicycling makes cities better. They also nerd out on the aspects of their lives that influences their life on two wheels.
  • We Got to Hang Out – This podcast is hosted by four friends living in the Portland who have been biking or working in the biking industry for nearly a decade. They gather to tell authentic stories of biking in a casual storytelling style.  
  • Breaking Bike – This new podcast by Lanespotter is all about urban biking. It’s about bike lanes, bike tech, and people who bike telling bike stories.
  • The Slow Ride Podcast – three former bicycle messengers from Minneapolis, MN gather for an unscripted conversation about the bike racing and culture.

Download ‘em and take a listen, and if there’s a bike-related podcast you love, let us know on Twitter (@WABADC) or Facebook.

What to give your bike loving sweetie for Valentine’s Day

WABA members and their bike loving sweethearts

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. This is the day we get to celebrate our love for our partners. For many that means dinner, candles, chocolate (of course), or flowers. But if your partner loves to ride a bicycle, we have some gifts that you may want to consider giving instead. No guarantees, but we’re pretty sure they’ll love them.

WABA merchandise

Your partner loves to ride their bicycle, so make sure that they become a member of WABA (it’s only $35/year to join and get a lot of great perks). If they already are a member, then why not outfit them with some of our WABA merchandise? We have socks to keep their toes warm during a winter ride and cool in the summer, t-shirts that let everyone know they love biking, and jerseys to show off that WABA pride. Your purchase helps us continue to advocate for better bicycling across the region and supports our efforts to get more people riding bikes!

Velofix

At some point, your loved one will need to have their bike serviced or repaired. But it can sometimes be inconvenient to take it to a shop and wait for the repair. There’s no need to do that when you could give them the gift of Velofix. Velofix is a mobile bike shop that can do any repairs or service needed on-site at your home or office. They even sell bikes in case you need a new one. Check out all the services they offer here.

Car2go

Even though your loved one rides a bike, there are some times when a car is necessary. Maybe they need to go somewhere farther than they are willing to bike. Or perhaps biking in less-than-ideal weather just isn’t fun for them. Well, you can give them the gift of options with car2go. With a car2go membership, they can use the app to reserve a car nearby and unlock it when they arrive, then simply hop in and go. Even better, you can park it (almost) anywhere and end your trip. It’s perfect for one-way travel or even full-day trips. Learn more about why a car2go membership is a great gift for your honey.

Grip Unlimited

Most likely if your sweetie is biking, they need to carry stuff. It may be clothes or just a flat repair kit. No matter what it is, they will need a way to transport it. And Grip Unlimited is the perfect way to do that. Their products are made locally and attach to the frame of a bike. Check out their collection of bags here.

DoorDash

Let’s be honest, going out to eat on Valentine’s Day can be frustrating and expensive. But you still need to eat (and impress that special someone). Instead of going out this year, you could stay in and order a delicious meal via DoorDash. Download the app or order online and have your food arrive in less than an hour.

Urban Stems

And finally, if you want to go traditional on Valentine’s Day and send flowers, consider having them delivered by one of the wonderful bike couriers from Urban Stems. Who wouldn’t love beautiful flowers delivered by bicycle? It’s the best of both worlds. The flowers will also pair nicely with your meal from DoorDash.

When you love a person who loves bicycles you may as well get them something they will truly appreciate and you can’t go wrong with any of these gifts.

Get updates on all of the Bike Ambassador events that your bike loving sweetie (or you) will enjoy by joining our email list.

Yes!





Meet a PAL Ambassador: Leeann

Throughout January, we’ve been asking bicyclists, walkers, and drivers alike to share their new year’s resolutions to #BEaPAL.

Are you thinking about how to improve your own transportation behavior to make our roads, trails, and sidewalks safer? Consider becoming an ambassador like our friend, Leeann.

What’s it like to become a PAL Ambassador?

Meet Leeann Sinpatanasakul, whose amazing work and passion for her community make her a great PAL Ambassador.

How did you get in involved as an Arlington PAL Ambassador? What do you like about being a part of this program?

I became involved in the PAL ambassador program after meeting the coordinator, Ashley Blue, at a community event where she was tabling. What got me interested was that it wasn’t just for bicyclists—it was for drivers and pedestrians, too. I hope more residents will join our efforts and see PAL as something for more than just cyclists. After all, at some point we’re all pedestrians when we travel.

I like everything about the program! I like being involved and making a difference with our events, and I like that the program has encouraged me to be more civically engaged. It’s because of the program that I’ve been involved in Arlington’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

What does the PAL message mean to you? What do you think the program means to the community?

To me, PAL, which stands for “predictable, alert, lawful,” means that we all have a role to play in making Arlington a safer, more enjoyable place to live. PAL tries to educate residents on how to be a safe driver, cyclist, or pedestrian. In the future, I hope that more members of the community will learn about the PAL message and take it to heart.

What are your PAL resolutions for 2018? How will you be a more Predictable, Alert, and Lawful road and sidewalk user?

My resolution for 2018 is to be kinder and more courteous to other bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. While driving, this means giving at least three feet of space between myself and a person cycling and slowing down when passing safely. While walking, this means being visible and predictable to drivers, especially at night with low visibility. We share Arlington’s transportation infrastructure with our neighbors. It’s important to remember to be courteous to them in the shared community space.

What’s your #BEaPAL resolution for 2018?

Join our Outreach Party next week to share yours and collect ideas from the public!

Can’t make it to the party, don’t worry. Share your resolutions with us in other ways:


Want PAL updates by email? Yes!






 

What’s your #BEaPAL resolution?

The Arlington PAL Ambassador program is looking forward to making Arlington a safer place to get around for all in 2018!

That’s why, in January, we’ll be asking the community to share their New Year’s resolutions on how they will be a better PAL (Predictable, Alert, and Lawful road user) while walking, biking or driving in Arlington.  

Keep an eye out for more information and outreach event updates in the new year, and if you’d like to participate online, share your resolutions with us:

  • On our Facebook group
  • On Twitter, you can find us @arlingtonpal or just tweet with the hashtag #BEaPAL
  • On Instagram or post a picture of how you get around Arlington, and don’t forget to tag it with #BEaPAL.
  • Or you can post your resolution on our forum.

And now, here’s a year in review of the amazing work the Arlington PAL Ambassadors did this past year. Enjoy!

A rainy yet spectacular Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade!

The time we made some videos for Annmarie’s PALentines Day!

 

 

Lots of what we call “trailer-ing” with the PAL bike sign.

My first event as the PAL Coordinator (cry emoji) for Earth Day!

ALL the pizza parties…

Predictable, Alert, Lawful: The Musical!

PAL Popsicle Pop-up, in the heat of summer.

Being a PAL means….

A spooky, safety PALoween on Quincy Street!

Daylight Savings bike light distribution to restaurant employees!

Advocacy with art.

A cold, cold, (but super fun) coffee pop-up!


And finally….the PALiversary party!

Thank you to all of our supporters and volunteers for a wonderful 2017. Join us next year in changing road culture in Arlington!

 


Want PAL updates by email? Yes!

               


Tips for Bike Light Season

It’s bike light season again!

Lights are one of the most important safety features on your bike. If you don’t have lights, get some lights! You can buy a good set of front and rear lights at any bike shop, most hardware stores, or your preferred online retailer. If you can’t afford lights, let us know and we’ll help.

lights-101

Light tips

  • Keep a spare battery or a charger at work or in a little bag on your bike.
  • Make sure you have lights that meet your needs:
    • If you’re likely to be riding on an unlit road trail, make sure you have a light that’s bright enough to let you see where you’re going.
    • If you’re just riding on city streets, a small blinking light is probably enough.
  • 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.

front-light-good-angle

front-light-bad-angle

Note: WABA gives away thousands of bike lights every year. We’ve found that we can get more lights into the hands of folks who don’t already have them if we do not announce times or locations in advance. Instead, we seek out places where we see lots of people riding without lights. If you see us out there, say hello! Pick up a set of lights only if you need them.

 

We’re Hiring: Outreach Coordinator

Biking is growing faster than ever in the Washington region and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is a dynamic, fun, and committed local organization propelling this change. Much of WABA’s work involves meeting new people, answering questions, and providing opportunities to show just how incredible biking can be.

WABA is looking for a full-time outreach coordinator to manage innovative, community-focused bicycle engagement programs in the DC region.

The outreach coordinator is responsible for managing WABA’s outreach  volunteer corps, including recruitment, training and communications, scheduling and staffing events, pop-up activities, rides, and more throughout the region, developing new strategies and approaches to bicycle outreach and encouragement, and online program support and marketing. This position will report to WABA’s Programs Director.

Responsibilities

The Outreach Coordinator will:

  1. Coordinate an engaging DC Bike Ambassador program, including but not limited to:
    1. Volunteer management
    2. Communications strategy, including email, social media, and blog posts
    3. Events, activities, and rides in all wards of DC
    4. Targeted outreach to communities underserved by WABA and bicycling, including but not limited to spanish-speakers, the deaf community, seniors, and residents of wards 4, 5, 7, and 8.
  2. Communicate an effective and encouraging message about bikes and bicycling to employers, employees, bicyclists, motorists, pedestrians and the press.
  3. Develop a robust restaurant and hotel outreach program that expands WABA’s reach to include bicyclists who have non-traditional commuting hours.
  4. Administer all aspects of WABA’s current and future outreach programs, including: budgeting, volunteer recruitment/coordination, data entry, organization/inventory, equipment maintenance, clerical work, grant reporting, etc.
  5. With the Programs Director, develop outreach strategies and goals for communities outside of the District.
  6. Assist WABA in a non-outreach program capacity as needed.

Preferred Qualifications

The ideal candidate will have:

  1. A strong commitment to WABA’s mission and willingness to be a skillful and committed bicyclist with a solid understanding of the principles of bicycling safety and traffic law.
  2. At least two years of combined experience in: project management, events planning/management, marketing and/or volunteer coordination.
  3. Supervisory experience a plus.
  4. Excellent writing, presentation and public speaking skills.
  5. A flexible schedule and willingness to work up to 50% outside of traditional business hours (including mornings before 9am, evenings after 5pm, and weekends).
  6. Experience with Microsoft Office, social media platforms, WordPress, customer service relations database a plus.
  7. The ability to lift at least 50 lbs and to pull a bicycle trailer weighing 10 lbs. for 1-3 hours.
  8. The ability to organize time wisely and multi-task in a relaxed, fun environment.
  9. Conversational fluency in Spanish and/or ASL strongly preferred.
  10. League of American Bicyclist Instructor certification (LCI) a plus.

Benefits

  • Full-time employment.
  • Expected salary range is $38,000-$43,000.
  • Work at the WABA Office in Adams Morgan, Washington, DC.
  • 100% employer covered health, dental, and vision insurance.
  • Flexible work schedule, vacation, sick and personal leave,
  • Committed colleagues and a  fun working environment
  • Participate in a 403(b) retirement program after one-year’s service.
  • Optional voluntary accident and disability insurance programs

 

About the Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Making bicycling better through advocacy and education, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) promotes biking as a healthy, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly form of transportation and recreation. With 6,000 members region-wide, WABA serves bicyclists throughout the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, including the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and Virginia.

 

Contact

Send a cover letter with a resume to jobs@waba.org.  No phone calls please.

Position available immediately. Applications accepted until the position is filled.

WABA is committed to providing equal employment opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, arrest record or criminal convictions, political affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, sex, or age.

 

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.