Announcing Everyday Biking Seminars for Spring 2014

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This spring, we’re launching our Everyday Biking Seminar program. It’s the evolution of our Commuter Seminars, which were lunchtime sessions held at offices interested in helping employees figure out the details of biking to work.

The Everyday Biking Seminar is a short presentation designed to introduce the basics of how to safely and easily fit biking into your daily life. It includes tips on

  • Making sure your bike is in good working order,
  • Planning a good route,
  • Understanding safe riding principles and rules of the road and trail,
  • Carrying the things you need to carry, and more.

After the presentation, our trained staff will answer your questions, address your concerns, and resolve that nagging issue that has kept you from biking. (In our experience, everyone who isn’t biking but wants to has that one nagging issue!)

The full seminar takes only an hour, and we provide every participant with a Safe Cycling guide, local bike map, opportunity to take a free WABA city cycling class, and materials on upcoming bike-related events, activities, and programs.

The cost of an everyday biking seminar is $300 (with a 50% discount for new WABA Business Members). Thanks to the generosity of our members, we are also able to offer a limited number of  pro-bono Everyday Biking Seminars to interested groups unable to afford the fee.

To request and schedule a commuter seminar, please complete this form.

Buy Women & Bicycles Swag

Will you be at WABA’s first-ever Sadie Hawkins Dance this Friday? It’s a fundraiser for our much-loved, super-successful, absolutely awesome Women & Bicycles program. If you liked Bike Prom, you’ll love Sadie Hawkins.

You can also support the Women & Bicycles program by buying stuff! We’ve got reflective bands and American Apparel T-shirts, both branded with the program’s logo, for sale. Click here to purchase your tickets to the Sadie Hawkins Dance or purchase Women & Bicycles merchandise.

Check out our staff modeling the swag:For

leg bands

 

leg bands in light

 

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Resources: Biking Visibly

This blog post is part of a new series by our bike ambassadors. It’s dedicated to presenting tips that will encourage new riders to get started. We’ll link these posts on our Resources page, forming a library of tips for beginning cyclists.

Staying visible on your bicycle is extremely important, but easy to overlook: You may not think you’ll ever get caught biking in the rain, dark, or fog, but the more you ride your bike, the more likely it is to happen! In the winter in particular, if you’re not lit up, you’re nearly invisible. Today, we’ll cover the basics on some obvious (and maybe not-so-obvious) ways to stay lit up.

THE OBVIOUS
Front Light

Mount a light on your handlebar and let your light shine where your bike is heading. This should be sufficient if you’re biking around town and have the added benefit of streetlights to light the way. A helmet-mounted light will shine where you’re looking. Consider doubling up if you’ll be out alone on a trail at night!

Rear Light
Flashing, or not flashing, put a red taillight to your rear. It’s a personal preference if you wear it on your bag, jacket, or mount it to your seat post, but the higher the light, the more visible it is to drivers. Remember to only use a red light behind you. Just like a car, a red light indicates a bike’s rear.

Consider a light set like these Planet Bike blinkies.

Reflectivity
At the very minimum, bicycles are required by law to come equipped with standard reflectors, front and back. If you purchased a used bicycle, or yours have fallen off over time, consider adding reflectors to your wheels, pedals, under the seat, or on your handlebars. If you want to add something more unique or stylish, there are plenty of creative options out there from reflective stickers, bike wrappers, tape, and reflective wheel stripes. Check out more about reflecting on your bicycle.

Hi-Vis Clothing
Safety black is not a real thing. While your all black coat may be stylish, it camouflages you in the dark. Consider wearing bright colors, or adorning your outfit with high-vis items such as a vest, ankle straps, leg or wrist bands. Many bicycle-specific clothing companies have reflective stripes built into their clothing and bags, but you can achieve the same function much more affordably by adding reflective tape to the gear you already own.

To test what you’ve got, have someone else ride your bicycle in your high-viz gear so you can get have a clear picture of how easily you’re seen.

THE NOT-SO-OBVIOUS
Reduce Your Speed
Slow down! This is less about you being visible and more about being able to see any obstacles in front of you. Particularly on roads you are less familiar, obstacles and debris are more difficult to spot in the dark.

Lane Positioning
Where in the lane should you ride to be most visible? Hint: Don’t hug the curb! Taking the lane (or riding in the center of a travel lane) is your legal right, and helps keep you visible to drivers. If no designated bicycle lane is available, riding in the center of a traffic lane not only allows you to avoid hazards near the edge of the road, but prevents oncoming vehicles from turning directly in front of you or passing too closely. And doing so keeps you out of the door zone (the area three to four feet away from parked cars).

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Women & Bicycles Tip: Know Your Bike Infrastructure

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This entry is part of our Women & Bicycles blog series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. These posts certainly aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming and staffing. Click here to learn more and get involved.

There’s a good chance the bike infrastructure we use today wasn’t around when you learned to ride a bike (and it probably wasn’t mentioned in your drivers’ ed course).  This week, we’d like to help you familiarize yourself with some different types of bike facilities out there.

Sharrow
Madison Dr closed to traffic - lovely! #bikedc #shutdown
Sharrows are street markings that serve as reminders to road users that bicyclists have rights to the lanes on these routes—even though cyclists may, for the most part, legally ride in the road. Sharrows are often placed on routes that see more bike traffic or on streets that are too narrow for drivers to pass bicyclists safely as reminders.

Bike Lane
Spectacular bike commute weather this morning, but riding directly into the sun is a challenge!
Bike lanes provide a dedicated space for bicyclists on the roadway. Without a lack of physical barriers, however, cyclists still must be wary of riding in the “door zone,” the 3 to 5 foot area along parked cars, double-parked vehicles, road debris, and turning vehicles. Parking in bike lanes is illegal in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Cycletrack
Penn Av bike lane
Cycletracks are protected bike lanes. Some provide physical barriers from other road-users and effectively form an on-street bike path. Click here to check out 19 creative ways cities are protecting cycletracks.

Wayfinding
Metropolitan Branch On-road Trail Sign
Yes, if you build it, they will come. But first, people need to know what you’ve built! Wayfinding encompasses things such as street signs placed throughout the region to direct bicyclists to trails, paths, and other amenities.

Bike Box
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Bike boxes give priority to bicyclists at intersections by providing a designated space to queue up in front of cars. Bike boxes improve the visibility of bicyclists and can help prevent right-hook collisions.

Mixing Zone
Sunny, at this point in the ride
Mixing zones are merging areas. Traffic that is turning at intersections must yield to bicyclists just like they would with another automobile and enter the mixing zone. Sometimes this means the vehicle may need to wait in the bike lane at the intersection before turning. This is perfectly fine as long as the driver yielded to bicyclists.

Bicycle Corrals
Washington, DC bike corral
Bike corrals are an efficient use of on-street bike parking. They transform a parking space or sidewalk area into bike parking. Portland just recently installed its 100th bike parking corral! How many have you spotted in our region?

The future of bike infrastructure?! Bike superhighways, underground bike parking systems, bike overpasses…and maybe even SkyCycle, an elevated bike network of bike paths.

Save Your Third Thursday Morning for the BA Coffee Club

This morning, the D.C. bike ambassadors met at Chinatown Coffee Company to welcome those biking to work in the area or anyone generally interested in the bike ambassador program. This was the first-ever BA Coffee Club!

The BA Coffee Club will change locations, but will always be on the third Thursday of the month. Stay tuned to our blog and social-media platforms (are you following us on Twitter and Facebook?) to keep abreast of the locations. If you can’t make it to one, no worries–there will be plenty of opportunities to meet our BAs!

Women & Bicycles Tip: Be Prepared for Bike Theft

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIThis entry is part of our Women & Bicycles blog series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. These posts certainly aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming and staffing. Click here to learn more and get involved.

 

You’re an expert at locking your bike.* But are you an expert when it comes to finding your stolen bike?

bike thief

Here’s what you can do if your bike gets stolen:

Mourn. Your baby is gone–for the time being.

Immediately file a police report. Call your local police department and provide the date, location, and approximate time of the theft. Give the police officer a detailed description of the bike including serial number, make and model, general description of its aesthetic, and any small and noteworthy details that might distinguish your bike from someone else’s (ex: parts, add-ons, flare, stickers). It’s important to take note of the officer’s name and contact information and the case number.

Notify your network. push a picture and a description of your bike to your friends who can help be on the lookout. Send out an email, post an update on Facebook, and tweet to #bikeDC.

Research.  Scan local Craigslist and eBay sellers for your bike, and check out sites in other nearby cities.

Don’t get confrontational. If you or someone you know sees your bike on the street, notify the police immediately. If the bike is locked up outside, lock it up with your own lock until the police arrive. For your safety, we do not recommend confronting the person riding your bike. Anecdotal evidence indicates it’s entirely possible that the person riding you bike has purchased it from the person who stole your bike.

Most importantly, be proactive.  First, see if your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance covers your bicycle. Second, take the time right now to print off and fill out WABA’s Bicycle Record Sheet (PDF). Don’t put this off–you will sorely regret it if you do. The National Bike Registry will also aid your bike’s return. For $10 you can register your bike for 10 years. After submitting your bike information to the Registry’s national database, you receive a tamper-proof label with a unique tracking number. If your bike turns up with the police, they will know exactly who it belongs to. Click here for more information.

*Click here to become an expert at locking your bike. Please.

How We Biked KIND-ly in 2013

Last week, we announced that the Bike KIND-ly program—during which our bike ambassadors hand out Kind bars stickered with a helpful tip about bike etiquette—is back on for 2014.

On a monthly basis, the ambassadors selected a different location and crafted a message to distribute to cyclists riding near it. Individual snack bars were adorned with a short reminder to share the road, yield to pedestrians on sidewalks, basic bike-lane etiquette, and to ride lawfully. Read the full list of last year’s Bike KIND-ly tips below:

  1. Don’t be a bike ninja! Position yourself to be seen, and be visible with bright bike lights, bright colors and reflectivity.
  2. Avoid bicycling on the sidewalks! You’re safest when you ride on the road and go with the flow.
  3. Be extremely KIND to your fellow trail users. When passing slow down, ring your bell, give an audible warning, pass on their left.
  4. Communicate lane changes and turns to drivers with hand signals, eye contact, and your positioning on the road.
  5. Show respect for fellow road users. Yield to pedestrians in x-walks and follow traffic laws.
  6. Tune into your surroundings, not mobile devices. Don’t text or make phone calls by bike.
  7. First in, first out. Wait behind cyclists already stopped at lights. Don’t crowd beside or blow through without warning.
  8. Thanks for Stopping By. Obey traffic signs to help prevents injuries and improve bicyclists’ image. Be a Roll Model!
  9. Claim the lane! A cyclist is entitled to the road, take what is yours! Riding in the middle of the lane makes you more visible to drivers.

And here’s a list of Bike KIND-ly locations:

  • Columbia Heights Metro station
  • Met Branch Trail
  • 15th Street cycletrack and M Street NW
  • R Street and New Jersey Avenue NW
  • East Capitol and 4th streets NE
  • 11th and W streets NW
  • 11th Street Bridge SE
  • 16th and U streets NW
  • Kansas and 5th streets NW

Have a suggestion for the next Bike KIND-ly location or message? Let us know! Email the D.C. Bike Ambassadors at dcba@waba.org.

Trail Rangers Returning in 2014

Though the days are finally lengthening, the temperature seems to keep on dropping.  And with weather like this week’s, it’s easy to find  excuses to keep your bike indoors. But here’s a reason to keep riding through the winter: WABA’s Trail Ranger program is back for 2014!  With so much momentum built over the summer, we are thrilled to once again support and encourage the growing community of trail users in the District!

This past summer, we began a four-month pilot of the program. Through daily patrols, rangers logged over 2,000 miles on and between D.C. trails, making improvements to trail corridors, addressing (and helping to resolve) safety concerns, and helping riders with directions and unexpected mechanical trouble along the way. We met some incredible folks and got to know them as we crossed paths almost daily. And with the help of over 60 volunteers, we tackled large cleanup projects on the Met Branch and Suitland Parkway trails, carting away more than 100 massive bags of garbage, glass, overgrown vegetation, and debris. By all accounts, the pilot was a success.

In 2014, we want to do even more. In addition to continuing the projects of last summer, we’re turning our focus to more active encouragement of trail use and giving neighbors and trail regulars a chance to get to know each other. We’re excited to announce two initiatives starting this month on the ever-popular Met Branch Trail.

MBT Trail Patrol

Starting next Tuesday, Jan. 14, we’ll be taking a weekly, evening ride up the Met Branch Trail and welcome anyone who wants to tag along. Part social commute, part community patrol, these Tuesday Trail Rides will be a great opportunity for someone looking for company through the dark months or encouragement on that new year’s resolution.  Join us for an hour, a conversation, or as far as your commute takes you. Tuesday Trail Rides will begin Jan. 14 at 5:30 p.m. near Union Station (F and 2nd streets NE).

Coffee Outreach

And since we know that people who ride bikes also tend to love coffee, we’ll be on the Met Branch Trail the second Friday of every month offering trail users a free cup. We encourage you to stop by, warm up your hands, and introduce yourselves. You can find us at the park at S Street from 7:30-8:30 a.m. starting this Friday, Jan. 10.

These two opportunities are just the start.  When spring comes knocking, we’ll have more trail events and many ways to get involved.  To sign up to receive email updates on future Trail Ranger initiatives and events, click here.

Bike KIND-ly is Back for 2014!

Bike KIND-ly is back for the 2014 season!

Last year, WABA’s Bike Ambassadors partnered with KIND Snacks to create a Bike KIND-ly campaign. Each month, a different “tip” geared towards bicycle safety or etiquette was stuck on a snack bar and given out at various locations around the city as a reminder to riders to be kind on the roads. We reached over 2,000 bicyclists last year and are hoping to have an even bigger impact this year.

Catch the Bike Ambassadors tomorrow morning, Jan. 8, at Kansas Avenue and 5th St. NW rom 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Stop by to learn more about the program, how you can get involved, or just to grab a snack!

If you missed the 2013 Bike KIND-ly season, stay tuned. We’ll be back here with a full list of last year’s tips. For now, check out some photos below the jump. Continue reading

Pete and FABB’s Absolutely Merry Holiday Shopping Expedition—By Bike!

Pete Beers is one of our part-time bike ambassadors. Pete lives in Virginia and spends a lot of time biking in D.C.’s suburbs and, as a BA, has worked tirelessly to make getting around WABA’s suburban jurisdictions by bike easier and more accessible. Recently, Pete led a holiday shopping trip by bike to Tyson’s Corner and the Mosaic District in conjunction with Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling. We’re reposting his account of the day–which was, by all accounts, exceedingly enjoyable–on our blog. You can read Pete’s blog, I Love My Commute, here.

The best response that I got when I proposed this ride was “Ho Ho NO. I’ll follow you to Certain Death, Pete, but not to Tyson’s Corner (a fate worse than . . . ).”

I think many people dread crowds and parking problems associated with holiday shopping at the mall the week before Christmas.  The mall can get a bit crazy this time of year.  My goal was to make it fun.  I did this by getting there by bicycle and by bringing  along as many friends as I could.  I’ve also wanted to share how amazingly easy it is to ride to Tyson’s Corner by bicycle.  That was the genesis of the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB) / Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) Holiday Shopping Ride.  Both FABB and WABA are all about showing people that it is easy to live by bicycle.

Tyson’s Corner Center jumped in immediately as a sponsor.  Mosaic District enthusiastically supported this too.  Freshbikes Mosaic provided both shopping bags and bicycle security services (me with a bunch of U-locks and cables) to make this all possible.  I rode the cargo bike with buckets on the back to help people with transporting their purchases.  In the end, I was the only one filling the buckets with stuff that I’d bought.  It wasn’t that others didn’t shop.  They brought their own means for carrying their purchases home.


The route was simple.  Nine of us rode from Vienna, Virginia to Tyson’s Corner and completely bypassed the lines of cars waiting to get into the parking garage.  We picked up two more riders along the way.  Bicycle Parking is right next to the mall entrance in spot that had Mall Security and a police officer right next door for added bicycle security.  The outdoor German Market was really nice!  The local artisans and bakeries were the backbone of my shopping for the day.  We got a lot of shopping done before even setting foot in the mall.  We enjoyed two hours of shopping inside and a nice lunch before loading up our purchases and heading south.

The second stop on our shopping ride is the Mosaic District.  This eclectic group of shops and restaurants is quickly becoming one of my favorite hangouts.  In addition to being home to my favorite local bike shop (Freshbikes) there are many small local shops, MOM’s Organic Market and plenty of restaurants, Target and the movie theater make it a great place to be.  It is quite easy to get to by bicycle and has good bike parking in the garages and out on the street.  We spent an hour there shopping and getting coffee before heading back to Vienna.

What was my favorite reaction after the ride?  “Thanks for organizing and leading the ride, we got a lot of shopping done. We’ll be riding to Tysons instead of driving again in the near future.”

This was the first of many, many rides of this kind.  Many thanks to Tyson’s Corner Center, Mosaic District and Freshbikes for making it possible.