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Welcome to WABA’s new weekly newsletter! What’s it about? Read on to find out. If you like it, click here to subscribe. Got a tip I should include next week? Email me. Read to the end for a fun route idea for this weekend.
The Bicycle Stop-As-Yield is now legal in the District of Columbia, meaning you can (carefully!) roll through a stop sign, as long as no one else is at the intersection. Which is to say, go ahead and, uh, continue to do what pretty much everyone already does on a bike. Do note that this only applies to stop signs. You are still required to come to a stop at stop lights, and you have to wait for a green before proceeding. Read Garrett’s detailed explanation here.
This is one of several major legislative wins in the District from last year. You can read more about them all in Jeremiah’s quarterly Advocacy Roundup.
In other wins, the Eastern Downtown protected bike lane on 9th St NW, just, like, exists for real now? And you can ride on it? The first public meeting for this project was way back in 2015, and it’s been a real roller coaster of progress, public outrage, and political delay. For me, and probably many of you who’ve been plugged in to safer streets advocacy for a while, the Eastern Downtown project took on a sort of mythological status, a big reminder that a lot of powerful people still just don’t want bikes around. But now, thanks to sustained support from folks like you, as well as hard work from Councilmembers and agency staff, it’s built (mostly), and it’s great! I recommend checking it out. While you’re at it, take a spin in one of the several other great new bike lanes that opened in 2022.
Speaking of monumental shifts and welcome changes, The Washington Post Editorial Board has changed its tune on bike lanes.
And, in case you missed it, the Maryland State Highway Administration, which has resisted installing protected bike lanes for years, finally installed one on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda after drivers killed two young people on bikes. Unsurprisingly, the ensuing mild delays for drivers at peak times have triggered an explosion of externality-ignoring rage on Nextdoor. You can read our statement on the project here. And if you live in Montgomery County, be sure to use this form to tell the Montgomery County Council, State legislators and the SHA that you support the project.
Does it ever seem like otherwise nice, rational people lose any sense of perspective when faced with inconveniences to driving or parking? Well, the science is in, and you’ll be shocked to learn that, yep, Car Brain is real and pervasive. The title of the study is Motornomativity: How Social Norms Hide a Major Public Health Hazard, and, well, yeah. Obviously.
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How do we overcome this massive societal bias to make streets safer for everyone? We get organized and keep speaking up and showing up. To that end, WABA is expanding our capacity in Maryland and Virginia. Kevin O’Brien, who’s been supporting the Capital Trails Coalition for the past year, is now WABA’s Virginia Organizer. Grab a coffee or a beer with him in the coming weeks, share your stories, and chat about what’s coming up in the Commonwealth. We’re also hiring a full time Maryland Organizer. If that might be you or someone you know, get that application in!
This additional staffing in Maryland and Virginia is possible in large part by support from people like you. You made our year end fundraising campaign a success, and that has a direct impact on our ability to spend more time out helping folks get organized to win safer streets. Thank you!
Also on the Calendar:
- Help the DC Bike Ambassadors give out bike lights! New this year, the lights are brighter and USB rechargeable. More safety, less waste!
- Join us for our annual Member Meeting on February 15th, hear from the board about what’s coming up, ask questions, and even come chat with me about what you’d like to see in this newsletter.
- The 2023 Bike Maryland Symposium. Head over to Annapolis and for some coffee and conversation with fellow advocates and State Legislators.
Click These Things to make biking better:
- Support Protected Bike Lanes on Q&R St NW
- Share your vision for a safer intersection at Good Hope Road SE and Martin Luther King Jr Ave, SE
- Speak up for the proposed Cemetery Wall Trail on Route 110 in Arlington.
Talking Point of the Week: Dangerous roads are a policy choice.
Part of my job is talking to reporters. Here’s something I find myself saying a lot. Maybe you’ll find it useful too:
Deadly road design is a policy choice. The tools for making streets safer for everyone—people walking, rolling, biking, taking the bus, driving—exist, and they are in use in cities all over the world. The barriers to safer streets are not technical, they are political. They’re political because we have a limited amount of public space available to move people, and for most of a century, nearly all of that space has been designed to move people in cars. To make that space safer for everyone, including people in cars, we often have to reallocate some of it to move people who are not in cars.
Hundreds of people die and thousands suffer life-altering injuries on our region’s roads every year, not because we don’t know how to prevent it, but because too many of our elected officials and agency leaders are still afraid to make driving and parking marginally less convenient.
*steps down from soapbox*
Here’s a fun route idea for the weekend:
The Red Line is operating on a mostly normal schedule this weekend. Take the train to Shady Grove and pedal out to one or two of the many breweries in Olney and Brookville. Don’t miss Gregg Road, which is a beautiful twisty roller coaster.
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