Newsletter: The past is real.

There are a lot of public meetings and webinars next week, but I want to highlight one: The Anacostia Parks & Community Collaborative is hosting a listening session about the future of Kenilworth Park. If you’re not already up on the history, this plot of land along the river used to be a landfill, and for more than 25 years the city burned trash there every day. In 1968, a 7 year-old boy was trapped in the flames and killed. The daily burns halted and the landfill was capped with soil. Then, in the late ’90s, under some very shady circumstances, private contractors used the site to unload waste fill from construction sites across the city, depositing enough contaminated soil to raise the ground level by 26 feet.  Sometimes environmental racism is complex. Setting fire to a pile of trash next to a predominantly Black neighborhood every day for 25 years, then dumping acres of construction waste on top of it? Not subtle. Check out the listening session for details about the future of Kenilworth Park.

One of things I like about biking is the opportunity to experience the human geography around you. When you’re in a car, you see the road in front of you and not much else. On a bike, you’re around people, among buildings, and aware of the space you’re moving through. Whether you’re looking at a map, or just pedaling around, the consequences of environmental racism are visible. From landfills to highways to zoning and housing, this region has been deeply shaped by more than a century of systemic hostility to the health of Black communities. 

I don’t really have a takeaway here. History is important and it’s incumbent on all of us to understand how it shapes what we fight for in the present.

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Now, the weather

It’s looking like a damp weekend, so let’s talk about staying dry on your bike. Here’s WABA’s official set of suggestions.* My primary beef with riding in the rain is wet knees. You know that feeling? Your raincoat has kept your top half dry, and you’ve got warm socks on, but the tops of your legs get soaked through so the wind is just hoovering all of your body heat straight out through your knees. I’ve tried rain shell pants, but they’re too sweaty (and maybe this is just my own neurosis but I feel weird putting them on or taking them off in public). I’ve finally settled on nice big fenders and a simple poncho that’s long enough to drape over the handlebars: plenty of airflow, keeps your legs dry, and relatively quick to get on and off over normal clothes. The tradeoff is that you look like—and have the same aerodynamic profile as—a small, mobile tent. Dry and well-ventilated, but still basically a tent.

Things To Do This Week:

Long Bridge Bicycle Pedestrian Bridge Stakeholder Meeting
Monday, February 13, 2023

2023 WABA Member Meeting
Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Light the Night with the DC Bike Ambassadors
Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Park Space For People on Little Falls Parkway
Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Suitland Parkway Trail Rehabilitation Project – First Meeting
Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Speak up for a Safer Tuckerman Lane
Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Duke Street In Motion Advisory Group Meeting
Thursday, February 16, 2023

Trail Ranger Coffee Hour
Thursday, February 16, 2023

Ward 8 DC Budget Conversation
Thursday, February 16, 2023

Citizen’s Listening Session: Kenilworth Park Landfill Site
Thursday, February 16, 2023

A fun route idea for the weekend:

This one might require a car, depending on where you live.

Take a spin through the string of parks along the Patuxent River south of Route 4. Start with the Mt Calvert Historical and Archeological Park. The museum is closed for renovations, but it’s still pretty cool to scope out a spot that humans have inhabited for 10,000 years, and the view of the river is lovely. From there, you can pedal past some alpaca farms and south to the site of Columbia Air Center, the first Black-owned airfield in Maryland and hub of African American aviation from 1941 to 1956. If you’ve got your gravel tires on, keep heading south on the Critical Area Driving Tour (unhelpfully named, since it’s closed to cars except on Sundays) into the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary—one of the most peaceful and beautiful places you can ride a bike in the entire region, IMHO. Bring your binoculars and watch some birds, or eat a sandwich at the top of the lookout tower overlooking all of Jug Bay. Mind the geese.

Have a great weekend! 


* Did you know about We’ve got all sorts of handy how-tos and suggestions. If you’re the person you friends go to with bike questions, it’s a handy link to have up your sleeve.

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