When Anna and her husband moved from DC to Bethesda ten years ago, she wanted two things: trail access and good public transportation options. And for a few years, she had them. Her commute was downright dreamy: a ride down the tree-covered Capital Crescent Trail onto DC’s network of protected bike lanes. Then, on her daughter’s first day of school, everything changed. Their connection to school and work, the Georgetown Branch Trail, closed to make way for the construction of the Purple Line, a new light rail line. Anna felt trapped. She rode the official detour and found herself navigating a poorly signed route on crowded sidewalks, through bike lanes filled with trucks and parked cars, and over roads torn up for construction or closed altogether. Instead of resigning herself to five or more years of frustrating mornings and dangerous afternoons, Anna stepped up. Within a week, she checked in with her neighbors struggling with the same lack of transportation choices, started documenting her rides, and wrote her first letter to everyone she could think of—including WABA. ”When I started, I wasn’t sure who had the power to make the changes we needed. WABA was one of my first allies—and they connected me to others. It turns out that lots of people in the county government get it—and the team at WABA is on a first name basis with most of them. They know that biking is a critical component of the transportation mix in our future. And they want to build the same safe, protected, and connected networks that I do. What they need is to hear from the community. So, I pulled my community together, and we showed up.” Anna didn’t just show up, though. When the county held a meeting about the closure of the Georgetown Branch Trail, Anna showed up with a hundred WABA members, a marker-drawn map of solutions, and a digital community calling for change. A few packed public meetings, a thousand petition signatures, and one last-minute budget resolution later, and—fingers crossed—we’ll see shovels in the ground for a new network of protected bike lanes through Bethesda in 2019.We can’t wait to take a low-stress ride with Anna and her daughter (hopefully you’ll come, too!). In the meantime, WABA’s advocacy team will be up to their elbows in engineering blueprints, county budget spreadsheets, and site visits to make sure that the county does it right. WABA is in it for the long haul in Montgomery County and everywhere across the region. But we need you to show up today so WABA can be with you and your community tomorrow and for years to come.
Whether it’s organizing for better places to bike, learning to ride, finding a supportive peer group, building skills for riding in the city, commuting for the first time, or finishing the 50 States Ride for the tenth time, WABA is a community of people helping each other accomplish big things. Today, we’re asking for your help. Will you make a donation to WABA today? Anna Irwin is one of the thousands of you who accomplished something really big this year. Here’s what happened: