To commemorate the life and history of civil rights advocate Frederick Douglass, WABA partnered with local community members and organizations to co-host the first “Lion Ride” through historic Anacostia and Anacostia Park. The heat and humidity of early August Washington weather didn’t deter the hundreds of attendees who roamed the grounds of the Frederick Douglass Historic Sitebeing treated to free ice cream and popcorn, dancing, music, games, tours, and family bicycle portraits with none other than Frederick Douglass himself. Local cyclists had the opportunity to comment on cycling infrastructure and where improvements might be made in their neighborhoods on an enlarged DC Bicycle map. “The Lion Ride” was a new component of the National Parks Service’s 5th annual Frederick Douglas Family Day.

With help from local community members Kellie Armstead and Adrienne McCray who inspired and sparked this event, WABA helped to bring Capital Bikeshare and Bike and Roll bicycles to the community of Anacostia. Nearly 100 cyclists cruised down the majestic streets, homes and businesses of MLK Ave to the breezy banks of the Anacostia Riverwalk trail. Metropolitan Police officers helped escort the caravan to and from the Anacostia Skating Pavilion. Over a dozen riders from Artemis Bicycle Racing Team provided integral support to help riders navigate the route as well as lend a hand in the intense summer heat. Volunteers from the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative helped our bike check out run smoothly and efficiently. Residents got a chance to see just how close natural outdoor amenities are to their homes via bicycle. Older residents remarked on how this event helped them get back on a bicycle for the first time in years. Younger residents remarked on how this event helped them to get on a bicycle for the first time in their lives.

The Lion Ride, named after Frederick Douglass’ moniker, the Lion of Anacostia, marks a tremendous achievement of advocacy and community support for cycling East of the River as a safe, viable, affordable and sustainable form of transportation. To echo the sentiments of Mr. Douglass’ thoughts on reading, “Once you learn how to [cycle], you will forever be free.”

Please join WABA August 25th at St. Elizabeths East for a day of cycling, education, repairs and more.