Riding in the Cold

We’ve had a warm fall, but with winter the cold weather is coming. This doesn’t mean you have to put away your bike and stop riding, we were outside teaching at Bridges PCS this morning! However, the colder it gets, the more attention you have to give to what you and your children are wearing. We’ll cover some typical tips below, but the key is to find what make you feel comfortable riding and that your children stay warm enough.

If you are an experienced year-round rider, then you will know the secret to cold weather riding is layering. This is super helpful for days on the edges of winter, where your evening commute might be 20 degrees warmer than your morning. I’ll talk about three layers, base, warm, and outer.

Base Layer

This is the innermost layer you wear. Ideally, it will be a soft wool or a wicking fabric (often referred to as “tech fabric”) and not cotton. Cotton will not keep you warm if it gets wet from rain, snow, or sweat. I wear light leggings under my pants most days during winter. This layer is less important for your children if they are passengers and not pedaling.

Warm Layer

This is the layer(s) that (surprise!) will keep you warm by trapping air and your body heat. Again, wool is a top performer here, and wool sweaters come in a wide variety of thickness and warmth. Fleece is also a good option. (Budget tip: wool sweaters can be found for cheap at thrift shops, if only for commuting a hole won’t matter under your outer layer!) Passengers will need more warm layer than you, as you’ll be working to move the bike but they will just be sitting there in the cold breeze.

Outer Layer

The most important part for your outer layer is to block the wind, with a close second to be waterproof, to keep your warm layers dry. When you ride, you are in a constant breeze, and that can steal your heat fast. This is especially important for children as passengers. If they are in a seat on your handlebars, they will be catching the full force of the wind and need to be bundled up more than if they are on a rear seat riding behind you. Snow suits work as great outer layer for kids, and they are warm and waterproof, and can be easy to pull off when you arrive where you’re going. Another option for smaller children is to wrap them inside a blanket or use a stroller snuggle. A bungie cord can help keep these in place and out of your wheels and chain.

Head, hands, and feet

Don’t forget the rest of you! A balaclava is a great option for a child to wear over their head and neck, but under their helmet. A scarf can we wrapped around neck, face, and ears and held in place with the helmet straps. Waterproof (and therefore windproof) boots also work well with thick socks on inside of them, or even rain boots pulled on over the top of regular shoes. I use thicker hiking socks for winter riding. Windproof gloves are key, and as it gets colder or the rides get longer, then lobster gloves or mittens become more important to keep your hands warm. Make sure that your gloves are not so bulky that you can’t use your brakes!

We’re Hiring! 2021 DC Trail Rangers

Brightly lit greenery and trail with some black eyed susans and a green yard sign that says Go Slow Enough That Everyone's Safe with the Trail Ranger logo

Do you love being outdoors and connecting with people? Want to be part of a collaborative trail team in DC this summer, and be paid to engage with folks about trails and fix trails?

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is looking for two passionate and energetic professional trail champions with a wide range of skills and experiences for our 2021 Trail Ranger Team. We are looking to hire two dependable and thoughtful people. Beyond this, there is not a standard job history, experience of biking, years of experience or skills set for previously successful Trail Rangers. 

These positions are expected to begin April 29th and will end on September 30th, 2021. Pay will be $18.50 per hour for new Trail Rangers, and $19.00 per hour for returning Trail Rangers. These positions are seasonal, full-time opportunities. Shifts will still vary in start time, and will be scheduled on weekdays and weekends. 

About the Trail Rangers Program

WABA’s Trail Ranger program encourages trail use through daily trail presence, community engagement, trail maintenance, and trail user assistance. Reporting to our Outreach Manager, Trail Rangers cover trails within the District, including the Metropolitan Branch Trail, Anacostia River Trail, Marvin Gaye Trail, Oxon Run Trail, and connecting street routes. Trail Rangers act as trail ambassadors, offering a consistent and friendly presence from May through September to make the trails more approachable, enjoyable, and dependable for transportation and recreation.

Intangible benefits include: working outside on those perfect spring days, getting to know your city better through talking with neighbors, and appreciation from fellow trail users. 

You can learn more about the Trail Ranger program here.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Spend the majority of your work hours outside, biking on or between trails (except during thunderstorms and other hazardous conditions).
  • Work in shifts with a partner riding electric-assist cargo bikes at a relaxed, conversational pace on an 8 hour shift.
  • Collaborate with your team member to determine daily priorities and share program information. 
  • Support and encourage trail use with friendly and helpful trail presence, regular maintenance efforts and consistent outreach events.
  • Help lower barriers to bicycling, build community, and build a more robust trail network.
  • Run cleanups and community events with the program coordinator (currently paused, subject to Covid-19 precautions and community spread).
  • Perform trail condition inspections and trail corridor maintenance, including pruning branches, gathering trash, and removing obstructions.

Qualifications

Trail Rangers must have:

  • A proven track record for being dependable, timely, and communicative.
  • The willingness to be positive and engaging in a public setting.
  • The willingness and enthusiasm to work in a collaborative team and as a proactive, self starter. 
  • The capacity to be available for 40 hours per week in 8 hour shifts with weekday and weekend availability. Shifts are generally:
    • 6:30 am – 2:30 pm or 11:00 am – 7:00 pm on weekdays.
    • 9:00 am – 5:00 pm on weekends.
  • A commitment to work April 29th to September 30th, 2021.
  • The ability to ride a bike with a willingness to ride in mixed city traffic and off-street trails.
  • A commitment to being a safe and exemplary bicyclist.
  • A commitment to respect, include, and be kind to all.
  • An understanding of how race, gender, and other factors shape conversations and experiences. 
  • The willingness to further their knowledge of trail and neighborhood history.

Additional qualifications and experience that are helpful but not required:

  • A proven track record for working collaboratively within a team.
  • Excellent communication skills in informal settings and across lines of difference.
  • Creative problem-solving skills and capacity to innovate.
  • The ability to prioritize and a thoughtful attention to detail.
  • Lived experience with our program trails and the surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Working knowledge of basic bicycle maintenance including patching a flat tire and adjusting brakes.
  • Fluency in Spanish, ASL and/or Amharic a strong plus.

Support

WABA is committed to:

  • Teaching you the skills necessary for the job (urban bike riding, basic trail maintenance, basic bike maintenance, how to do bicycle outreach).
  • Ensuring an inclusive, collaborative professional team environment.
  • Run an intersectional outreach program that recognizes the multitudes of identities and promotes diversity, inclusion, and equity for employees and the public.
  • Orientation and team management that prioritizes your well-being, including training in preventing common biking injuries.
  • Doing our best to have a consistent schedule that respects your time and outside obligations. 
  • Providing all the tools, bikes and materials needed to perform the job, including electric cargo bikes.

Benefits

  • This is a full-time, non-exempt, temporary position from April 29th to September 30th 2021.
  • Wages will be $18.50 an hour for new Trail Rangers and $19.00 for returning Trail Rangers. 
  • 100% employer-paid health, dental, and vision insurance premiums from May 1st to September 30th. 
  • Sick, holiday, and funeral leave. Employees will accrue 8 hours sick leave per month, and have paid time off for every federal holiday during employment. 
  • WABA supports and promotes the health of it’s staff. You may use accrued sick time for unscheduled leave when not feeling well (mind or body), as well as for scheduled medical appointments.
  • Optional commuter transit benefit (pre tax deduction).
  • A fun and relaxed workplace environment.
  • Passionate, supportive colleagues who are dedicated to working together for our mission and seeing the impact of our work. 

COVID-19 Operational Staff Safety Plan:

WABA expects that COVID-19 precautions will be necessary for all of the 2021 season.

  • Properly worn quality masks will be required on the job at all times, except for distanced water and snack breaks. KN95s and surgical masks will be provided. 
  • The majority of Trail Ranger work will be performed outside, with minimal inside work. Shift setup and breakdown will be staggered between employees to avoid sharing air space. 
  • Trail Rangers should expect to see limited other WABA staff in the office, but they will be working in a separately-ventilated space. 

Apply

This position is full-time from April 29, 2021 through September 30, 2021 for 40 hours per week. 

Please email a cover letter and resume to jobs@waba.org with “Trail Ranger” as the subject line. Please make sure your application illustrates how you meet the qualifications for the job and what additional skills you would bring to the team. 

Here are some helpful resources as you prepare your job application materials: compilation of resources and resume basics.  

Applications will be accepted until March 15th though candidates are strongly encouraged to apply earlier and a first round of decisions will be made on March 1st. Phone interviews will begin March 25th, hiring decisions will be made by April 16th and team orientation will begin April 29th. 

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.

What is the deal with the Met Branch Trail?

When complete, the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) will be an 8.5-mile multi-use trail from Union Station in the District of Columbia to Maryland’s Silver Spring transit hub. With advocacy and concept plans going back 30 years, this rail-with-trail has been a long time coming. So far, about four miles are complete. The remaining pieces can be a bit overwhelming to track, so here is an update on the latest happenings from south to north. For a truly detailed look, you can follow along with this interactive map of the Met Branch Trail’s progress.

8th St. NE in Edgewood

Under the Franklin St. bridge, the Met Branch Trail emerges onto 8th Street NE for a half-mile where walkers move to the sidewalk and people on bikes share the road with cars and trucks. WABA, trail advocates, and the local neighborhood commissioner are pushing DDOT to transform this often stressful road with a two-way protected bike lane on the west side. DDOT has drawn up rough plans and aims to install them in 2021. Click here for more information and to sign our petition in support.

Brookland to Fort Totten

DDOT broke ground on this ~1 mile addition in summer 2018 to link the existing trail on John McCormac Dr to the Fort Totten Metro Station along the Metro and freight rail tracks. Though progress has been very slow due to contractor issues, work is in full swing and expected to be complete by May 2021. Find construction photos and progress updates on the project website.

Fort Totten to Takoma

The last long section in DC runs ~2 miles from Fort Totten to Takoma. In 2017, WABA worked closely with DDOT, neighborhood advocates, and Takoma’s advisory neighborhood commission to solidify the trail’s route along First St. NE, McDonald Pl, and Blair Road NE. In 2020, DDOT began final design, which will be complete by March 2021. Construction is funded and should be done by Fall 2023. 

DDOT is holding a virtual public meeting to present and collect feedback on the current design on February 10th at 6:30pm. The trail will run along Blair Road as a wide side-path as it crosses many wide driveways, parking lots, and business entrances. It also includes needed traffic calming and new pedestrian crossings on Blair, so getting the fine points of design right is critical. Please attend to ensure this trail is a great experience for trail users of all ages.

Get Meeting Details

Takoma’s Main Street

How to route the trail from Blair Road around Takoma’s main street and Metro Station has been a persistent question for the Met Branch Trail since the beginning. The 2011 Environmental Assessment identified two possible routes east and west of the elevated rails tracks in a mix of on-street signed route, protected bike lanes, and off-street trail. The eastern alignment continues the trail at Sandy Spring on Maple, left on Carroll, right on Cedar around the Metro parking lot and up the steep hill on Eastern Ave.

The western alignment takes 4th street to the (now rebuilt) Cedar/Blair Road intersection, squeezes between the building at 343 Cedar St and the rail embankment to meet Spring Street, then right onto Chestnut Street. From here, it either ramps down to the south side of Piney Branch Road or bridges to the north side before joining the existing trail at Eastern Avenue. See this interactive map for more detail.

Until now, DDOT has worked to preserve both routes, while negotiating to add pieces of the trail as part of some recent housing developments. Both routes are still viable, but the western alignment is getting attention first. DDOT has committed to beginning preliminary design of the western alignment starting in Spring 2021.

Eastern Avenue

Work is finally set to begin on a short trail segment on Eastern Avenue between Piney Branch Road and the already-complete trail through Takoma Park, Maryland. This project will repurpose some parking spaces to build a new trail, curb extensions for traffic calming and shorter crossings, and bioswales for some extra greenery and stormwater management. DDOT issued a Notice of Intent in December 2020 and work should start in February 2021.

Montgomery County’s Section

Montgomery County’s ~1.3 miles of the Met Branch are being built slowly but steadily in small segments. More than a decade ago, Takoma Park built it’s half-mile piece on Eastern Ave and Fenton Street. This was extended as part of the Montgomery College expansion that built the footbridge over the Metro tracks, and Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) extended it to King St. in 2018. The Silver Spring Transit Center brought a large stretch, and another piece, so far disconnected, came with the new Progress Place development.

North of King Street, MCDOT will run the trail along the rail tracks, under Burlington Ave in a new tunnel, and alongside Selim Rd. It will cross over Georgia Ave on a new trail bridge and run around the parking lot of the reconstructed historic B&O train station to connect with the trackside Progress Place Trail. Final design has been complete since 2019. MCDOT is in the final stages of obtaining the final permits and sign-offs to move forward with construction. They are planning to put the project out for construction bid in Spring 2021 and could potentially move forward with construction in Fall 2021. Construction will take about 2.5 years.

The final 400 feet will be built as part of the planned Ripley II mixed-use development project which is expected to finish in 2022. At the Silver Spring Transit Center, the Met Branch Trail will directly connect to the Capital Crescent Trail bridge over Colesville Road when the Purple Line project is complete.

Want to stay up to date on the project status? Be sure to follow us on Twitter @TrailsCoalition and sign up for our quarterly newsletter! You can also sign up to receive project updates and notifications here: http://www.capitaltrailscoalition.org/metropolitan-branch-trail/

Tell NPS to make the Memorial Circle improvements permanent!

In November, 2020, The National Park Service (George Washington Memorial Parkway) completed several safety improvements to Memorial Circle. The goals of the project are to reduce risks at key locations within the corridor and to reduce conflicts between trail, walkway, and roadway users—where approximately 600 crashes were recorded in the area between 2006 and 2012. The project includes several safety upgrades for trail users including:

  • Higher visibility crosswalks
  • Relocating trail crossings
  • Lane reductions
  • New signage and rapid flashing beacons 
  • Clearer lane markings
  • Repaved road surface

WABA is pleased with the changes and believes that they are effective, but we know there is still enormous room for making these trail intersections truly safe for everyone (like by installing controlled trail crossings). The National Park Service will now monitor the effectiveness of the changes before deciding to keep the improvements and make them permanent or remove them. Due to the new merge pattern, drivers are complaining that they have to slow down for people’s safety. 

We do not want these complaints to undo the changes that have been made, so we urge you to sign this petition to NPS asking to make these safety improvements permanent! 

Ask VA Legislators to pass The Bicycle Safety Act now!

With the VA General Assembly set to wrap up it’s work this session, there have been a number of bills that are making their way towards the finish line. 

WABA has been in collaboration with partners and networks on the ground to monitor and track the progress of these bills, and we want to highlight a key bill that needs your support as it nears its final vote! The Bicycle Safety Act (HB2262 / SB1263) would require drivers to fully change lanes to pass people biking, allow cyclists to ride two abreast in a lane, and permit people on bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs. The bill is modeled after Delaware law that has proven safety benefits!

Tell the Mayor and DC Council we need a bold DDOT Director

With the Former DDOT Director Jeff Marootian stepping down to join the Biden-Harris Administration, the Mayor now has to select and the DC Council has to confirm a new leader to tackle the pressing transportation issues ahead. 

The new DDOT Director will be entering at a time where bold and transformative leadership is necessary to ensure that we have safe and equitable infrastructure development in the District. 

Take a moment to tell the Mayor and DC Council, we need a new DDOT Director who prioritizes completing our trials network, developing a connected and protected bike lane network, and ensures safe infrastructure investments are equitably distributed throughout the District.   

Link Roundup: Biking During Inauguration Week

TL;DR: Do not attempt to bike around or through the federal core of DC for the next week.

Things to know:

Bicycles are not permitted within the Inauguration Perimeter.

The Secret Service has not released a full map of closures, but there’s a list: lots of roads and bridges are closed. The Memorial Bridge and 14th Street Bridge are currently listed as open to pedestrians, but we do not recommend relying on that, and would definitely not plan to try to bring your bike with you.

As of this writing The Google Maps traffic layer has reasonably current closures marked.

The National Mall is closed.

Lots of bikeshare stations are closed.

Lots of transit stations are closed too.

Trails are not included in the closures lists we’ve seen, but assume that portions of the Rock Creek Trail around the Kennedy Center will be closed, and probably sections of the Anacostia River Trail between the 11th Street Bridge and the Jefferson Memorial.

The Washington Post has a good summary here, which will probably be more up to date than this post. And the good folks at DCist are also tracking closures and have made a map.

Some brief editorializing:

In a normal inauguration year, we would be recommending your bike as a great way to get close to the National Mall without dealing with parking or crowded trains.

This year, there will be violent fascists around the city looking for a fight and an on-edge security apparatus looking to stop them.

Stay safe. Stay home if you can.

If you’re getting on your bike for fun, head away from the city rather than toward it.

New Data: Most DC voters support protected bike lanes

This past December, WABA partnered with Data for Progress on a citywide poll on biking issues. We have some good news: 

  • 79% of likely voters in DC would support a protected bike lane network, including on neighborhood streets, if it meant bike riders could ride in the street and be safe from traffic.
  • 73% of likely voters in DC support adding more protected bike lanes around the city.
  • 63% of likely D.C. voters would bike more around Washington, D.C. if they felt safer biking on the road. 

As the District continues to seek ways to meet its climate and safety goals, a protected bike lane network is a popular solution that can be implemented on a short timeline. Let’s go! 

If you are into spreadsheets you can take a look at the numbers here, but the key takeaway is that this support for a better bike network is consistent across race, gender, and political party. 

When the D.C. economy starts to open up after the pandemic has passed, we need to ensure that DC residents have safe infrastructure to commute on—we need to start building more protected bike lanes now!

What’s Next for 20X20?

In 2020, thanks to your support and voice, so many of the protected bike lanes we’ve been fighting for over the last year are open for riding or slated for construction this coming spring. We’re a lot closer to a fully protected and connected bicycle network for DC, than when we started this campaign, 18 months ago. 

But looking ahead, DC’s network still has major gaps and projects that have not gotten off the ground, projects that will require our collective voices to push them from plans to pavement. 

This month we are reflecting on our successes and what we’ve learned over the past year. We want to hear from supporters like you as we develop the next phase of this campaign. Together, we’re organizing grassroots power to build more protected bike lanes and low-stress places to bike, faster

Take this Survey and Help Shape the Future of this Campaign

As 2021 begins, we need to hear from you to help shape the next phase of our campaign. 

Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey that will give us the feedback we need to help shape the future of our campaign to complete the protected bike lane network in DC.

TAKE THE SURVEY

Take A Moment to Celebrate

In July 2019, DC had built about 11 miles of protected bike lanes. With the collective and organized action of hundreds of advocates like you, we spoke up, telling Neighborhood Commissioners, Councilembmers, and DDOT staff that we needed a connected, protected and more equitable bike lane network. How did we do?

  • 6.6 miles of new or upgraded protected bike lanes installed Aug 2019 – Dec 2020
  • 4.2 miles of protected bike lane approved & on track for installation in Spring 2021
  • 7+ miles of protected bike lane projects took significant steps in planning, design and community buy-in with completion likely in 2021 or 2022
4th St. NW/SW
G St. NW
Brentwood Parkway NE
New Jersey Ave. SE

Show Up & Get Involved in 2021

We have groups of community advocates working in every ward to build support for the 20×20 projects. Getting involved is easy. Sign up hereto be the first to hear about actions, updates and get involved with planning.