If you’re a WABA member, you recently received in the mail an appeal letter from us. We send several appeal letters yearly to keep you up to date on what we’re doing and let you know what your membership dollars and donations are funding. For those of you who may not have received the letter, or aren’t WABA members, we’re running it here. Join WABA today or renew your membership to support better biking in the D.C. region.
I hope all is well with you. I’m writing to let you know that things are going well for our organization and to thank you for supporting WABA’s work through your membership. It is your voice and your contribution that gives us the ability to advocate on behalf of bicyclists to better our region.
Every change you encounter on roads and trails started as a request, then a firm idea, then a sketch, then plans, then designs. If it’s a change that is good for bicyclists, there’s a good chance WABA is there at key stages, mobilizing supporters and providing input on plans and designs.
This year, things have improved for bicyclists on many fronts. Despite the fact that the latest federal transportation bill, MAP-21, gives local governments the opportunity to opt out of funding transportation projects, D.C.-area jurisdictions have largely chosen to continue funding the kind of infrastructure that keeps cyclists safe. Ensuring that actually happens has, and will continue to, require a great deal of effort from our staff and members like you, who graciously contribute their own time to support our causes. We expect the continued expansion of trail networks, bike lanes, and bikesharing.
That said, we need to be doing more. You and other WABA members already know the joy and benefits of biking. But so many don’t.
There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the look on someone’s face when they ride for the first time. I had the chance to experience that at one of our mobile bike repair clinics in Anacostia. A six-year-old waited in line for a volunteer mechanic to patch his tube and fix his brakes. He fidgeted, looking a bit nervous. Then he asked, “Will you take my training wheels off?” We looked at the boy’s father for permission, and he nodded.
After a few minutes struggling—the boy “helping” the volunteer mechanic—the training wheels came off. Then, with a couple of false starts and a bit of encouragement, he got it. He was beaming as he pedaled around the parking lot.
A kid riding a bike is not exceptional, but it is special. With riding a bike comes freedom, fun, health, community, and so many other great things—which is why we put so much effort into getting people on bikes and building a region that supports them. And there is no shortcut to helping our region thrive through bicycling.
That is the big-picture goal I am asking you to support today. We need to build a region that better supports biking. If we don’t, the kid I witnessed joyfully pedaling around the parking lot could decide to put his bike away forever.
Our culture tells us that bikes are childish things and that responsible adults don’t ride them. Our giant roadways are a message, written in concrete by the planners and engineers, telling us that bikes are unwelcome. Our laws (or in some cases the lack thereof) tell us that we are on our own if we use roadways for “childish” things.
But every day provides the opportunity to push back, and we do. Please support WABA’s growth so that we can do our work in more places, more expediently, throughout the region. Over the past three years, we have piloted changes to build a better region for biking, and we’ve seen the results: Ridership is booming. The diversity of the bicycling community is growing. Trail and bike lane networks are expanding.
You’ve supported us in refining our approach, expanding our advocacy and communications abilities, programming for underserved communities, and offering fantastic education opportunities. Your initial investment in WABA has paid off. Now, we want—and need—to operate at a scale that can seriously affect the direction of change in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. This requires significant financial backing so that we can grow as an organization and keep pace with the rapid growth of bicycling in the region.
With your support, WABA can increase its capacity to do the work to create the D.C. region that we want to live in. We have laid the groundwork, built the relationships, and developed the programs and techniques to bring better, safer biking.
Now, we need to grow everything we have. You are WABA. Will you help us take our training wheels off?