Many of you have seen the video of the cyclist struck while riding illegally during a community ride last week. We’re glad the cyclist is OK, but we’re disappointed at the way the incident and the video portray the bicycling community. I have no doubt, given the number of voicemails I have received, that this video is being used to paint cyclists as nothing but scofflaws. But it raises some serious questions about how the District is going to deal with the growth of bicycling and group rides. So far, the answer has been, in too many cases, “not very well.”
Many know that the annual BikeDC event was cancelled this year because permits could not be secured, due to restrictions that were overly burdensome individually and self-contradictory, and therefore impossible to meet. Fewer know that smaller events, including the Tour de Fat parade, were also unable to meet permitting requirements. In the case of the Tour de Fat parade, WABA went to the affected ANCs to voluntarily ask for support. Though we did receive ANC support, we were still unable to obtain a permit for the ride and were thus unable to limit motor vehicle traffic along the route or, importantly, exclude participants who might have been riding or celebrating in inappropriate ways.
Organizers of rides frequently reach out to WABA asking for assistance in making their rides safe. But if the issue is a number of riders who refuse to follow the rules that the organizers set, the organizers are left with no recourse. Anyone can ride public streets along with a group.
What is the solution?
We do not want a system in which every group ride has to get a permit. That makes a mockery of our right to bike on public streets. But that was actually suggested in some our our prior permit negotiations with the D.C. permitting taskforce—that any time multiple cyclists ride together an event permit would be required. However, the mayor’s office quickly clarified that was not the case.
What we need is the ability to work with enforcement officials interested in balancing in a flexible way the safety of events with functioning roadways. Perhaps the one fortunate thing to come from this ridiculous demonstration of bad behavior is that Sgt. Terry Thorne, who has worked productively with WABA on numerous bicyclist safety issues, contacted us to figure out a way forward.
I will be contacting a number of groups with a specific interest in this issue to participate in a discussion with Sgt. Thorne and MPD to work out a reasonable approach to ensuring that community ride events can take place, and that MPD can focus its efforts on public safety.
That said, WABA does not support additional restrictions on group rides. We already have a permitting system with so much red tape and so many fuzzy “security” standards that only large and well-heeled fundraising rides and races can be held. Community events are either cancelled or left to operate on their own. But we do look forward to an open conversation with police about how we can better work together to find a balance that helps ensure the safety of group bike rides.
To that end, I will be reaching out to a number of ride leaders in the coming week to discuss the issue further. If you operate a group ride and want to be included in this conversation, email us at email@example.com to be on the list.
We don’t need any more viral videos of bad behavior, and we especially don’t need any more people hit by cars on group rides. Let’s work together and find a solution that meets the needs of bicyclists that WABA and ride leaders can collectively get behind.
Photo by Flickr user Mr. T in DC
Read below for a press release from the National Park Service concerning safety improvements on the Water Street entrance to the Capital Crescent Trail.
C&O Canal National Historical Park News Release
Release Date: June 18, 2013
For Immediate Release
John Noel, Public Information Officer, (301) 491-6422
Visitor Safety Improvements along Capital Crescent Trail
DC – Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) hikers and bicyclists should anticipate construction on June 20th, 2013, as the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park makes improvements to the Water Street entrance following increasing concerns for public and visitor safety.
An increasing number of cars are parking along the trail and landscaped area upstream of the Alexandria Aqueduct, leading to an increasing number of vehicles reported driving on the CCT in search of I-495 Beltway or Dulles Airport.
“In recent months we have become concerned for the safety of Capital Crescent Trail visitors at the end of the trail on Water Street in Georgetown as one serious injury and an increasing number of near-miss accidents between bicyclists and cars have been reported,” confirmed Park Superintendent Kevin Brandt, “Before another serious injury occurs we will take actions to minimize the risk posed to park visitors using the trail for recreation.”
Plans to enhance visitor safety and improve the aesthetics of this historic area include filling in all ruts and depressions in the drive-through arch of the Alexandria Aqueduct to create a smooth and level surface. Installation of a bicycle-friendly gate at the Georgetown side of the aqueduct will prevent vehicles from driving upstream and replace the single bollard located 200 feet upstream that had previously served this purpose but that was knocked over frequently by errant cars. Signage and striping to warn visitors as they approach the gate and direct them towards the 5 ½ feet-wide opening will be installed. Additional signs will be posted that alert visitors to the fact that they are leaving a non-motorized trail and entering a public road.
The grassy landscape that used to exist in this area will be restored upon project completion. Two weeks ago DC Water turned on the odor control scrubbers which will remove the smell emanating from the eight-foot-diameter Dulles Interceptor sewer line that is buried a few feet below the area where cars park upstream of the Alexandria Aqueduct, making this area much more conducive to visitor enjoyment of the Potomac River waterfront.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park is interested in your ideas and suggestions for improvements to the Capital Crescent Trail and in particular the Water Street entrance. To submit suggestions or report problems or other maintenance requirements please email John Adams, Safety Officer & Acting Chief of Maintenance, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Flickr user Daquella manera
Bike to Work Day, the region’s largest celebration of getting to work on two wheels, was a month ago, . The 2013 Bike to Work Day shattered registration records with over 14,500 participants and demonstrated the importance of regionalism to biking for transportation.
Have you continued to bike to work since Bike to Work Day? Leave us a comment telling us about your commute! For a recap of Bike to Work Day’s memorable social media mentions, read In the Capital. For a commuter’s perspective, read A Few Spokes Shy of a Wheel on the festivities.
Bikesharing: not just for liberals
Nats player Tyler Clippard is a bike commuter. (Confidential to Nationals management: Our offer to work with you to start a light-distribution program for fans leaving your games is still on the table!)
More on the Met Branch Trail attack
Audible advice for New York City cyclists that’s good for beginners everywhere
Our own Nelle Pierson tells Women & Bicycles sponsor WomenBike, of the League of American Bicyclists, about the program’s progress.
Photo by Flickr user Colin Browne. Join our Flickr pool!
On Fri., June 14, area ANC commissioner Tim Clark will host a safety walk on the Metropolitan Branch Trail in light of the attack on a cyclist there earlier this week. Those interested in participating are encouraged to meet at the trail entrance at 3rd and Randolph streets at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
We understand that the continuing string of violent incidents on the Met Branch is a significant deterrent to use of the trail. However, more eyes, not less, are one way to make the trail safer. We’ll continue to work with the Metropolitan Police Department and the District Department of Transportation to ensure that the trail is under surveillance. And we’ll continue to push for the completion of the Met Branch, so that more people are able to use it—thus creating an even stronger alliance of eyes on the street.
To that end, we’d like to take this opportunity to announce our trail ranger program. The trail ranger program, created by a grant to WABA from DDOT, will combine outreach, communication, and data collection on all of D.C.’s DDOT-managed trails: the Met Branch, Suitland Parkway, Anacostia Riverwalk, and Marvin Gaye. The work of the program manager and its assistants won’t be limited to any one of these trails in particular. While the rangers will, of course, work on the Met Branch, the grant will also enable them to address issues on other trails, like the devastating condition of the Suitland Parkway trail.
The trail ranger program will begin on June 24. We’ll post more information about the grant and the work of the trail rangers here.
Read a full description of the trail ranger program below the jump, and please plan to attend Friday’s safety walk.
Bicycling along H Street NE was significantly impacted several years ago by the streetscape reconstruction and installation of streetcar tracks. Riding on H Street requires extra attention and skills, and there has been an increase in crashes there due to cyclists’ tires getting stuck in streetcar tracks. The streetcars aren’t running yet, but when they are, they’ll add to the hazardous biking environment: Streetcars are longer, heavier, and unable to maneuver around bicycles.
Next Monday, ANC 6A and ANC 6C will host a joint public meeting to address the issue of bicycling access in the H Street NE corridor. DDOT has proposed four alternatives to improve bicycling there, specifically by making improvements on the two adjacent streets, G and I streets NE. ANC Commission Tony Goodman has explained the alternatives in detail on Greater Greater Washington.
The joint meeting is being hosted by ANC 6A during its regularly scheduled Transportation and Public Space Committee on Mon., June 17 at 7 p.m. at the Sherwood Recreation Center. Please consider attending and learning more about the proposed changes to making biking east/west through the H Street NE area better.
You’re likely familiar with the L Street cycletrack, D.C.’s eastbound, physically separated bike lane. The L Street cycletrack is one of a few bike lanes in D.C. that emulates the kind of infrastructure BikesBelongs’ Green Lane Project is trying to encourage across the country.
Next week (Tuesday and Thursday), the D.C. bike ambassadors will be teaming up with the District Department of Transportation and Portland State University to conduct a bicyclist survey that will indicate the effectiveness of the L Street cycletrack. We need volunteers! This is a great opportunity to get directly involved with the future of D.C.’s bike lanes. Data from this survey will be used to make the case for more L Street-style bike lanes in D.C. Read on for more information and for details on volunteering.
The Neighborhood Street Study is a national study of separated bike lanes (“cycletracks”) funded by the Green Lanes Project and the National Institute for Transportation and Communities. Researchers at Portland State University are carrying out the study in six cities across the United States, including D.C. The goals for the project are to find out how well the cycle tracks are working, how they are impacting neighborhoods, what people’s experiences are with them, and what needs to be improved. Results and findings will be shared with each city and will help improve transportation in your neighborhood and with others around the United States.
Our role in this study is to help survey the people bicycling on D.C.’s cycle tracks, specifically, L Street. We will be handing out postcards to bicyclists at two locations on the L Street cycle track, with information about the survey and instructions directing them to an online web address where they can find the survey. each postcard has a unique code so we can be confident that the respondent actually received a postcard. It’s important that actual users have their voices heard!
Next week, on Tues., June 11 and Thurs., June 13, bike ambassadors will be help DDOT conduct this survey. We will provide more detailed information upon sign-up.
Feel free to sign up for any and all dates you can help out. You won’t be out there by yourself, so don’t fret. We need folks at the following times:
- Tuesday, June 11th from 7:30am – 10:00am
- Tuesday, June 11th from 11:00am – 1:00pm
- Tuesday, June 11th from 3:00pm – 5:00pm
- Tuesday, June 11th from 5:00pm – 7:00pm
- Thursday, June 13th from 7:30am – 10:00am
- Thursday, June 13th from 11:00am – 1:00pm
- Thursday, June 13th from 3:00pm – 5:00pm
- Thursday, June 13th from 5:00pm – 7:00pm
To sign up, use this form. We appreciate your continued efforts to help make bicycling in DC more awesome each day!
For more information on the Neighborhood Street Study, check out its website. Please feel free to contact the D.C. bike ambassador, Megan McCarty (email@example.com), for more information or to answer any questions.
Photo via Flickr user DDOTDC
But do helmets really save people?
Do they, really?
You can’t drive on trails. Bad things happen.
New York might have an exceptionalism complex, but the anti-bike rhetoric that’s coming out of it isn’t limited to the East Coast.
Prince George’s County is making it easier to develop land around Metro stations.
Bikes aren’t the end of the world. If you don’t believe that, just ride one.
Bikes really aren’t the end of the world—because Bill Cunningham loves them!
That said, Citibike may run into a real problem that’s technology-, not pedal-, powered.
Last Saturday’s Tour de Fat—with its edict of crazy costumes for all and a full slate of entertainment and performances—provided great fodder for photographs. We’ll post a more formal recap later in the week, but for now, enjoy the festivities as captured by a number of local photographers. (Go below the jump!)
Did you take photos at Tour de Fat? Add them to our Flickr pool!
As part of our outreach program, East of the River Associate Kim Davis will lead the Oxon Run Ride in Oxon Run Park this Saturday, June 8, at 10 a.m.
The ride is an easy, no-drop, beginner-friendly cruise. Helmets are required. Bikes to borrow will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis;. please arrive no later than 9:30 a.m. if you need to borrow a bike. See the flyer below for more information (download it here).