What to Expect at a WABA Ride!

Why come to a WABA Signature Ride? Well…a day spent outside riding bikes, eating snacks, and making new friends, all while knowing you’re supporting WABA’s mission to make bicycling better in our region? Sounds pretty good, right?

This year WABA is bringing you three bike ride events celebrating biking in Virginia, DC, and Maryland: the Sweet Ride (June), the 50 States Ride (September), and the Cider Ride (November). 

While each ride is a little different, they have a few things in common. Below is some information on what to expect at WABA’s rides. (Still have questions after you read? Drop a line to events@waba.org— we’re happy to chat.)

Come as you are—these rides are for everyone who wants to explore our region by bike! WABA’s Signature Rides are recreational rides, NOT races. There are 10-16  mile routes in addition to longer 30-50 mile options. You can ride in spandex and cleats if you want, but a lot of participants will be in t-shirts. It doesn’t matter what you wear! So dress comfortably, ride a bike that feels good to you,  don’t worry about the pace— and reach out to WABA staff at events@waba.org if you have questions about what to wear, bring, or ride. 

Check-in is important. When you register for a WABA ride, you’ll receive a start location and check-in time. This is where your ride will start—but when you arrive, make sure you go to the WABA tent first to check-in. This is where you’ll receive your cue sheet, ride swag, and the wristband that gets you into pit stops (access to snacks and water is clutch!) 

Pit stops are snack/water breaks. Along the ride route you’ll have the opportunity to stop at pit stops, where WABA staff and volunteers will have water, snacks, and cheers waiting for you. During COVID-19 pit stop snacks are pre-packaged, single-serving items. Be sure to bring your own water bottle to refill at pit stops— WABA does not provide plastic water bottles.

Ride routes are not marked or closed to traffic. WABA’s rides celebrate bicycling in our region using existing infrastructure. We don’t close any roads for our rides, and the routes go on trails and  streets with varying levels of bicycle infrastructure (protected bike lanes, painted bike lanes, and some roads without bike lanes. We do our best to plan the rides on low-stress streets, but you will be sharing the road with motor vehicles.  Feel like you want to practice before the ride? Sign up for a Confident City Cycling Class. Or, for a refresher, watch this webinar on How to Ride in Traffic

The ride is self-guided— here’s how to navigate!

  • Use your paper cue sheet. Participants navigate WABA ride routes using a paper cue sheet with turn-by-turn directions, which we’ll give you at ride check-in. This method of navigation means you need to consult the sheet every few turns. We recommend clipping it to your bike so you can glance down at a red light or stop sign and see what your next turn is. Feeling unsure about using a cue sheet? Here’s a helpful blog post on how to read a cue sheet, and one on how to attach your cue sheet to your bike.
  • Use Ride With GPS. If you have a smartphone, you can get turn-by-turn audio directions for the ride using the Ride with GPS app (after you register for the ride, you’ll get instructions on how to do this— you’ll need to make an account and join the WABA Ride With GPS club, which are both free, before the day of the ride) Registered for a ride and need help setting this up? Email events@waba.org.
  • You’ll probably take a wrong turn or two during the ride. Most people do! If you feel lost, remember that your cue sheet has a map in it, which can help you navigate back to the route or to the closest pit stop, where you can gather your bearings. 

You probably won’t ride with a group the whole time. Each check-in group at WABA’s rides has an optional group start. But not everyone will ride together, and even if you start with a group, you will probably spread out over the course of the ride. If you want to make sure you have a buddy for the whole ride, consider registering with the ride for a friend, saying hi to someone new at the group start, or chatting with a Ride Marshal.  Speaking of which…

Volunteer Ride Marshals are there to help! Ride Marshals are WABA volunteers who help you navigate and offer encouragement and support. Marshals receive a training from WABA staff before the event and know participants may look to them in their colorful vests with questions, for assistance, or to be a buddy. Marshals carry basic first aid supplies, and are instructed to call 911 in the case of an emergency on the ride.

Our streets are not safe enough.

Deadly traffic crash on Georgia Ave NW

Last Thursday night, a four year child was killed at the corner of Kennedy St and Georgia Ave NW in Ward 4. The lives of the family, the driver, and bystanders who heroically attempted lifesaving aid will never be the same. This is unspeakable trauma. 

This tragedy was preventable. Humans make mistakes, but it’s the design of our streets that makes those mistakes deadly. We know what it takes to make our streets safe for everyone, including kids. It takes slower speeds, less driving, and more space for people outside of cars. The solutions are not complicated, what’s missing is the political will to implement them.  Please join me in writing to the Mayor and Council demanding immediate action.

I live a few blocks away from Georgia and Kennedy, and hurried to the scene when I heard the news of the crash. We all live near and travel through dangerous intersections and hostile streets. Last week’s deadly crash could have been blocks away from your home, work, a place of worship or a school.

Despite a dramatic drop in driving and commuting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic fatalities are unacceptably high. People walking make up a disportionately high percentage of the fatalities and serious injuries, with communities of color bearing the burden of most traffic violence. These unjust outcomes are the result of decades of disinvestment and broken priorities.

As I stood at the corner of Kennedy St and Georgia Ave NW on Thursday attempting to comprehend the pain of a family losing a child,  across town advocates, residents, and civic leaders were pleading with city officials in a public meeting to make another dangerous corridor, Connecticut Ave NW, safer. We should not have to plead, block by block, project by project, for streets that don’t kill people. The system is broken. It’s deadly and it’s unjust.  Our elected officials bicker, and our agency leaders keep their heads down and hide behind bureaucracy, and our city fails to make sufficient progress.  Why is it so hard? We know what it takes to make our streets safer, and it might appear unpopular, but here it is:

It will take longer to drive places. It will be harder to find a parking space. 

That’s it. That’s why people keep dying on our streets. I don’t think that’s a good enough reason. 


Please join me in calling for urgent action by Mayor Bowser and the entire DC government to address the continued harm of dangerous streets in our city. The pace and scope of the District’s current safety efforts are inadequate. Five years ago, Mayor Bowser committed to  ending traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2024. The numbers continue to move in the wrong direction.  To save lives, we need commitments to the following:

The Department of Transportation must immediately implement aggressive traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures on every arterial street in the District. Speed limits, and design speeds, should be 20 miles per hour or lower.  

Further, DDOT must immediately dismantle its internal, systemic barriers to implementing safer streets, including, but not limited to: 

  • Rejecting the Level-of-Service engineering standards, which prioritize driver convenience over safety. 
  • Setting a maximum Speed Limit and Design Speed of 20 miles per hour on all streets that are not limited access highways.
  • Explicit directions to all agency staff to prioritize pedestrian safety over parking in every single instance. 
  • Drastic and immediate improvements to the agency’s  pace of Project Delivery. The status quo—safety projects that take years, and deliver piecemeal, mediocre, results—is deadly and unacceptable.  

The District’s 2021 budget must include complete funding for all elements of the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019, as well as any additional funding DDOT needs to immediately overhaul pedestrian safety on every arterial street.

How to Attach a Cue Sheet To Your Bike

So, you’re going on a bike ride…and you need to navigate using a paper cue sheet. But how are you going to attach that sucker to your bike so you can glance at it easily?

Here’s a low-tech solution that just might help.

Start by gathering your materials (if you come to a WABA Signature Ride, we’ll have these available along with your cue sheet!). You’ll need:

  • zip tie
  • binder clip
  • plastic bag
  • cue sheet

1. Thread the zip tie through the binder clip. 

2. Fasten the zip tie around your handlebar stem to secure the binder clip to the bike.  (The stem is the vertical bar underneath your handlebars!)

3. Clip the cue sheet into the binder clip!  (You’ll have to take it on and off to turn the page.)

4. If it’s raining: use the plastic bag to keep the cue sheet dry

5. To remove after your ride: cut the zip tie off the handlebar stem with scissors. You can also leave it on for your next ride! Either way, don’t throw away the bag or binder clip—use them for something else, too.

To learn more about how to read a cue sheet, check out this post: How to Read a Cue Sheet

WABA Advocacy Update: Spring 2021

With the support of partners and volunteers, WABA has been busy this spring! Our planning and organizing in the winter is starting to bloom into big next steps this season!   

Check out some of the campaigns, projects and events we have been organizing the last couple of months! If you have any questions feel free to reach us at advocacy@waba.org. Enjoy!

Maryland

Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets

Currently, WABA is working with advocates to publicly launch the Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets chapter in the coming weeks. We hope to see the newly developed Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets chapter soon lead local advocacy to achieve vision Zero in Montgomery County. We believe the voices of families and individuals who are impacted by traffic violence should be at the policy making table and we are excited that this project is taking off. If you would like to get involved email advocacy@waba.org

Montgomery County Budget

WABA will be testifying at the Montgomery County Budget Hearing on April 7th! You can read our testimony here.

WABA is currently monitoring the Fenton Street and Amherst Avenue PBL projects in the Capital Budget process. The Fenton Street design recommended by WABA was approved by Council Transportation & Environment Committee, but additional $4 million funding not yet approved for construction in a specific year; and the Amherst project may also need additional funds.

Thanks to more than 150 advocates who wrote and called their councilmembers, the Council took a step to restore funding for a new Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel under Wisconsin Ave in Bethesda. One final step remains to secure this funding. Read more here.

MD General Assembly 

WABA and coalition partners have continued their advocacy on HB 564. It allows Montgomery County to transfer its automated traffic enforcement operations from the County Police to the County Department of Transportation. The bill is supported by all of the Montgomery County State Delegates and the County’s Executive and Council. The bill (as of the date of publication of this blogpost) has passed the Maryland House (97-39) and is under review by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. If passed by the Senate, the bill will place automated traffic enforcement with the same agency responsible for making changes on County roads necessary to reach the County’s Vision Zero goals.

WABA has been an active member of Bike MD, an organization that has been lobbying the MD General Assembly to pass multiple transportation safety bills. The key priority for Bike MD this year is the Vulnerable Road Users (H.B. 118 and S.B 293). The bill would enhance penalties for drivers who seriously hurt or kill Vulnerable Road Users.

Virgina 

Submit a Question for Northern VA House of Delegate Candidates plus General Assembly Public Forum. 

WABA, Virginia Conservation Network, Virginia Bicycling Federation will send a candidate questionnaire to all the registered Northern Virginia House of Delegate candidates. Candidates who have registered as a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or 3rd party will receive a questionnaire.

The questionnaire aims to educate the general public about the transportation policy positions of the Northern Virginia House of Delegates candidates. There will be no endorsement of any candidate. We are crowdsourcing suggested questions for the candidates, if you have a question you would like to ask the candidates, click here to submit a question.

Questionnaires will be sent to candidates on April 19th. Candidates will have 2 weeks to complete the questionnaires by May 3rd. 

WABA, Virginia Conservation Network, Virginia Bicycling Federation will then host a forum for the general public on May 10th at 5:30pm-6:30pm, to debrief this past general assembly, and discuss strategies for upcoming general assemblies. 

We will also examine the collective responses from questionnaires at the forum. 

Crystal City Protected Bike Network 

Arlington County staff have put forward a draft plan to implement a Crystal City Bike Network over the next 4 years! 

This could be an opportunity to create a future Crystal City that includes safe multimodal travel options for everyone. However, the current plans are not good enough and we need to tell Arlington County that these plans need changes. 

Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County (SUSMO) has taken the lead on creating an alternative plan and key demands for the County Staff. We sent a letter to Arlington County staff highlighting some of the demands developed by SUSMO. You can read it here. The next public meeting to discuss the plan will take place on April 28th at 7pm. For more information and to register for the public meeting visit the project page here.

Washington, D.C.

ANC Vision Zero Caucus

WABA is starting a Vision Zero Caucus for elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANC), a caucus that would meet bi-monthly. The Caucus would be a city-wide vision zero caucus to keep a line of connection and collaboration between WABA and ANC commissioners who champion and advocate for transportation safety issues. The Caucus would collaborate on city-wide issues e.g Movedc, Council Legislation, Budget. We would also share transportation advocacy tips and resources. 

Our first caucus meeting is April 19th. If you are an ANC Commissioner who is interested in joining our city-wide caucus, email us at advocacy@waba.org

Transportation Equity Network Grant Awardees 

WABA and our partners on the Transportation Equity Network steering committee awarded micro grants to 5 organizations to support in their efforts to carry out transportation equity related projects! We awarded up to $2,500 to the following organizations: 

  • DC Families for Safe Streets (DCFSS): DCFSS will use grant funding to collect (video) stories from families impacted by traffic violence
  • Prime Ability Bikes: Will use grant funding to buy bikes for youth at Dunbar High School, they will also hold a transportation related conversation with youths at the end of a scheduled bike ride. 
  • The Future Foundation: The Future Foundation Youth will be using grant funding to develop a transportation equity comic book. 
  • MLOV (Many Languages One Voice): MLOV will host two transportation related roundtables with DC residents who are immigrants. One in English, one in Spanish . 
  • HIPS DC : HIPS DC will use the funding to host a transportation related roundtable with employees and an additional roundtable with clients who are sex workers.

Police out of Transportation working Group

WABA formed a Police out of Transportation working group alongside our partners from Sunrise DC and Metro DSA. The working group is a part of the Defund MPD Steering Committee, and WABA joined the steering committee as a representative of the working group. 

The goals of the working group are the following:

  • Developing an “alternatives for police in traffic” campaign plan
  • Creating models for decriminalizing traffic violations

Connecticut Avenue Protected Bike Lane 

DDOT’s year-long study of potential changes to Connecticut Avenue in Ward 3 is nearly at an end! The agency hosted two public meetings to answer questions and get feedback from the public before moving forward! 

This is a major project and WABA has been working alongside Ward 3 Bikes to get residents to attend public meetings in support of Concept C, the only option with protected bike lanes to transform biking in this part of the city. You can find more details at the project website and send an email to DDOT with your thoughts to Conn-Ave-revstudy@dc.gov. Comments are due by May 1.

Beach Drive

Since the beginning of the 2020 lockdown, Upper Beach Drive has been closed to cars and open to people for biking, walking, and enjoying Rock Creek Park. We have been working closely with the People’s Alliance for Rock Creek and other groups to make the case that upper Beach Drive should be permanently open to people. At a recent DC Council Transportation & Environment Roundtable, more than 30 people showed up to ask for the Council’s support for permanent upper Beach Drive Open Streets. Learn more here.

Upcoming from WABA!

Stay tuned for the WABA Awards 

Due to the pandemic, we did not hold our annual WABA awards event in person this year. However, we are currently still planning on highlighting the work of advocates throughout the region! Stay tuned for more details to come. 

Capital Trails Coalition Impact Report

The Capital Trails Coalition, in partnership with a team of experts, has developed a report that quantifies the economic, health, and environmental benefits of completing the region’s 881-mile multi-use trail network. 

We will be releasing the report on April 28th at 2pm! 

Vision Zero Conference

Last year we held our 4th Annual Washington Region Vision Zero Summit over zoom! This year we will be using the same platform to host our 5th annual Vision Zero Summit. Please save the date for Thursday, June 24th. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.

New Protected Bike Lane Network Campaign in D.C.

WABA is hard at work developing the next stage of our protected bike lane network campaign in D.C! In the coming days, we will be rolling out a new bold campaign that is centered around the energy from our volunteers and supporters.

Official Comments and Testimonies from WABA

Testimony for Council Member Mary Cheh’s Roundtable on Transportation After the Pandemic

Letter regarding the Crystal City Bike Network Draft Plans 

Letter to the DDOT Director regarding the lack of a Trails strategy in the moveDC Plans

2021 DC Department of Transportation Oversight Hearing Testimony 

Montgomery County Operations Budget Hearing Testimony

Submitted Sign-on Letter from Environmental Organizations regarding the Connecticut Avenue Protected Bike Lane 

WABA Comment regarding moveDC goals and strategies

Petition in support of Lincoln Road NE Protected Bike Lanes and Traffic Calming

WABA Office of Unified Communications Oversight Hearing Testimony

Also Check out:

  • Stay up to date on what the Capital Trails Coalition is working on by reading their February newsletter here
  • Join Congresswoman Norton for a Surface Transportation Roundtable and share your ideas about surface transportation (buses, Metro, bikes, trains, scooters, and pedestrian safety) in the District! WABA’s ED Greg Billing will be speaking on a panel during the event. The event will take place on April 8th at 6pm, please email NortonEvents@mail.house.gov for the zoom link. 
  • To view all of the budget hearings throughout the region, check out this link
  • Center for Smart Growth Research and Education (NCSG) at the University of Maryland (UMD) is seeking to understand the transportation experiences of Maryland residents and employees throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in partnership with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). Click here to take their survey before May 1, 2021.
  • Active Fairfax Transportation Plan: The ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan will establish a vision and a roadmap for implementation of safe, convenient, and enjoyable streets, sidewalks, bike facilities, and trails in Fairfax County. To provide your input and participate in the development of the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan, click here. Community input will be accepted through Saturday, May 1, 2021.
  • Alexandria released their Draft Transportation Master Plan. Comments due by April 30. Click here to submit feedback.
  • City of Fairfax is seeking public comment on the final draft of their new bicycle plan, Bike Fairfax City. The public comment period is open through April 23, and they invite you to review the plan online and provide feedback via email at bikeplan@fairfaxva.gov. The full draft plan and an executive summary are available to review online: www.fairfaxva.gov/bikeplan.
  • The next Maryland Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee (MBPAC) Meeting will be held online, Friday, April 23, 2021 at 9 am (EST). Additional information, including a draft agenda, will be available on the MBPAC website.
  • VA Bicycle Safety Act Signed into Law!
  • Also the MD Transit Safety & Investment Act is on it’s way to the Governor’s desk for a signature!

Restore Funding for the Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel

Update: On Tuesday, March 23rd, the Montgomery County Council unanimously supported restoring funding for the new Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue in the County’s six-year Capital Improvement Program. This decision upholds the Council’s unanimous support in 2020, the Transportation & Environment Committee’s February 2021 recommendation and rejects County Executive Elrich’s proposal to delay the tunnel construction by at least two years.

A final vote on the budget will take place in late April or early May. Thanks to everyone who contacted their councilmembers. WABA will continue to track this funding through the budget reconciliation process. The discussion and vote starts around 41 minutes into this video.

Last year, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to fund construction of a new trail tunnel to carry the Capital Crescent Trail under Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda starting in late 2024. But this Spring, County Executive Elrich removed the tunnel from his budget, delaying funding to 2026 or later. Email your council member and urge them to restore funding for the trail tunnel.

With the construction of the Purple Line project, the Capital Crescent Trail is being upgraded and extended from Bethesda to the Silver Spring Metro. Without a new tunnel under Wisconsin Ave, the estimated 15,000 weekly trail users must cross Wisconsin Avenue’s (MD-255) six travel lanes and 40,000 daily cars and trucks at an improved, but still at-grade intersection. Restoring funding for the tunnel is critical not just for Bethesda, but for preserving safe access to jobs, recreation, transit and services from all the neighborhoods connected by the region’s trail network.

Urge the Council to restore funding for the tunnel now! Add some personal details to make the message reflect you and why you support a new trail tunnel.

As far back as the 1994 Bethesda CBD Sector Plan, Montgomery County has planned for both a tunnel route and a surface route for the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda. After the Hogan administration made significant changes to the Purple Line which removed the trail from the Air Rights tunnel, the County Council and Planning Board reaffirmed the vision for both tunnel and surface alignments by adding a new tunnel project to the adopted 2017 Bethesda Downtown Master Plan and 2018 Bicycle Master Plan. Based on this vision, the Planning Board secured an agreement with Carr Properties to build a part of that tunnel under 7272 Wisconsin Avenue and the Council approved $3.8 million for the remaining tunnel design under Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street. Construction funding was expected in the Capital budget.

High quality, accessable, and continuous trails are critical to our region’s transportation and sustainability goals, Vision Zero commitments, economic competitiveness, and public well being.  Trails provide low stress access to open space and reliable transportation for people of all ages and abilities. Funding the tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue will deliver on a generation of planning and promises with a truly accessible trail between Silver Spring and downtown Bethesda.

Restoring funding follows the unanimous recommendation of the Council Transportation & Environment Committee last month, reaffirms the 9-0 vote by the Council in May 2020 to put funding into the Capital Budget (FY 21-26) and fulfills the promises made by County officials for over 25 years to provide a facility that will allow thousands of Trail users to safely travel to and from Bethesda.

Bikeable, Walkable Workshop for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners

in early 2021, WABA hosted a Bikeable, Walkable Streets workshop for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. We explored some effective options for making streets more inclusive, how DC’s Department of Transportation moves forward street safety and redesign projects, how to participate in that process some tactics to get a good idea moving.

In the second half, a panel of past and current commissioners shared their experience and tips on workshopping ideas, building consensus among residents and stakeholders, and getting safe streets projects done.

Panelists

  • Salim Adofo – Commissioner 8C07
  • Monique Diop – Commissioner 8D04
  • Randy Downs – Former Commissioner 2B05
  • Erin Palmer – Commissioner 4B02

Questions? Email garrett.hennigan@waba.org. Click here to download the slides.

Exploring Our Regional Trails

Curious to learn more about trails in the region? The Capital Trails Coalition has fantastic comprehensive maps for a bigger picture context of the options and Google Maps is usually a decent option for specific directions. But here is more about some of our favorite trails:

Captions were done post-event by a professional service. We know the screen recording didn’t center our slides so here’s the full text:

And unfortunately, we don’t have a recording copy of our Fairfax County trails tour but we have a slide version!

Trail Basics

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

Trails are great! Oxon Run Trail, Capital Crescent Trail, WB&A Trail, Cross County Trail – our region is full of lots of options. There are a few trail basics to know;

Go Slow Enough That Everyone Is Safe. Some trails have official speed limits, often 15 mph, but regardless, you are responsible for riding responsibly. Be extra careful around hard-to-see corners, under slippery conditions and when trails are crowded with other trail users, especially kids and pets that might have more unpredictable movement. Go slow enough that you can safely react to expected and unexpected hazards. 

Ride Right, Pass Left. Trails are kinda like roads, but better! Help everyone out by having consistent “vehicle” travel patterns. When you are passing someone, call your pass with voice or bell in advance of passing. But never assume they will hear you, they might be hard-of-hearing and/or distracted – give everyone plenty of space when passing! 

Share the Space. Trails are great for walking, rollerskating, bicycling and more! Most trails are multi-use and should have clear signs if bike riding is prohibited. If you are in a group, leave width so that others can go around you. If you stop, try and pull off the trail to keep the active travel lanes open. Bright lights may be necessary for unlit trails at night, but tilt your light towards the trail pavement to make sure oncoming trail users can still see. 

Learn more with our trails webinar! Available closed captions are professionally done.