Happy #OptOutside, everyone!

We’re stepping away from our computers, skipping the shopping mall, and getting on our bikes today.

We’re celebrating the power of nature, and doing something to leave our communities a little stronger than we found them. 

WABA staff. Not pictured: Greg Billing and Jonathan Stafford. Also pictured: Peter Gray, Board Member and supervolunteer.

We hope you get to do the same—spend some time outside with the people you love. Go for a bike ride, help out at a neighborhood cleanup, enjoy some breakfast pie on your porch. 

This week is also a time to reflect on everything we’re grateful for:

  • You. You and thousands of other supporters power WABA, and we wouldn’t be a strong, sustainable organization of 20 people without you.
  • Trails that give us reprieve from the concrete jungle, and give us that boost of sunshine and happiness.
  • Protected bike lanes that keep us safe moving through cities and act as superhighways to meet and make friends.
  • Ice cream—did you know that we almost always have ice cream in the freezer at WABA? (We’re on the hunt for a cozier, wintry treat.)

With gratitude,

The WABA Staff: Katie, Anna, Kristin, Sydney, Ursula, Garrett, Colin, Hannah, Carm, Tessla, Raymond, Trey, Hannah, Cyrus, Pedro, Eli, Jeremiah, Jeff, Jonathan, and Greg.

Let’s build a protected bike lane on Connecticut Ave NW!

Connecticut Avenue NW is a pretty hostile place for people who bike and walk. Speeding drivers and haphazard parking make the corridor unwelcoming to bicyclists and pedestrians. 

Fortunately, DC’s Department of Transportation is studying potential redesigns of the road, including the installation of a protected bike lane.

A protected bike lane will make Connecticut Ave a safer place for people to bike and walk—to jobs downtown, to school at Deal, Wilson, and the many other schools in the area; and to shops and restaurants. 

Add your name to those supporting the addition of a protected bike lane on this important corridor. 

Although DC has installed many bike lanes in the downtown area, areas such as Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, Van Ness and Chevy Chase have not seen the same improvements for cyclists. The central piece of improving biking in this part of DC is the installation of a protected bicycle lane along the length of Connecticut Avenue.

Fortunately, all three ANC’s along Connecticut Avenue in Ward 3—ANC 3C, ANC 3F, and ANC 3G—have passed resolutions calling on the city to conduct a comprehensive traffic study of Connecticut Avenue. DC has announced that the study will be launched in late 2019, and that the study will include study of the addition of a protected bike lane. 

Please contact the Ward 3 Bicycle Advocates with any questions or to get more involved! 

Email: ward3ba@gmail.com

Twitter: @ward3bikes

Website: http://ward3bikes.org/ 

Note: this petition is collaboration between WABA and Ward 3 Bike Advocates. If you opt in to email, you may receive communications from both groups in the future.

Ask Alexandria’s Mayor and City Council to direct a three-lane configuration for Seminary Road

The City of Alexandria is at a crossroads: City policies require providing safe accommodations for all road users, particularly for people who walk and bike. The safest option for Seminary Road provides a three-lane configuration with center left turn lanes for drivers, pedestrian refuge islands for people who walk, and bike lanes for people who bike.  The City’s Traffic and Parking Board narrowly recommended maintaining four motor vehicle lanes prioritizing motor vehicles, rather than safety and multi-modal transportation. Send a note supporting a three-lane configuration with bike lanes on Seminary Road to let Alexandria officials know that residents support safe streets for everyone. Ask Alexandria’s Mayor and City Council to direct the T&ES Director to implement a three-lane solution for Seminary Road, to provide safe accommodations for all road users consistent with City plans and policies

The City Council-approved Transportation Master Plan and Complete Streets policy emphasize safety for all users and prioritize multimodal transportation, including walking, biking and use of transit. The city’s Environmental Action Plan prioritizes low-carbon mobility options, specifically, a “…transportation system that puts the health, mobility, and accessibility of ‘people first’… with the following level of precedence: pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation, shared motor vehicles and private motor vehicles.” In March, 2019 city transportation planners proposed reconfiguring a section of Seminary Road, consistent with these plans and policies, a four-to-three lane reconfiguration. The three-lane configuration would apply an FHWA proven safety measure with features including a center left-turn lane for drivers, buffer space and refuge islands for people who walk or take the bus, and bike lanes for people who bike, all without adding to congestion. This section of roadway has excess capacity: traffic is already constrained to one lane in each direction at entrances to the project area 

That said, on June 24, the City of Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board voted 3 to 2 to maintain four lanes for motor vehicles, as advocated by multiple civic associations, in spite of city staff evaluation of the three-lane option as best meeting project criteria and a 2-to-1 majority of speakers at the hearing requesting a three-lane alternative. A group of residents in the Seminary Road area have appealed the Board’s decision to the Mayor and City Council; they argue that  the three-lane configuration is most consistent with City Transportation, Environmental and Complete Streets policies, was the highest-scoring alternative that best meets project goals and objectives, and is the best option for reducing excessive vehicle speeds. The City Council is expected to make a final decision on September 14. Letters and phone calls from residents will help convince Alexandria elected officials that they should demonstrate their commitment to safety and City plans and policies by directing a three-lane solution for Seminary Road. 

DDOT removes bike lanes from Alabama Avenue SE.

In an unprecedented move this week, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) removed southbound bike lanes on Alabama Avenue SE between Stanton Road SE and Bruce Place SE. The lanes, which were installed less than a month ago, are a small portion of the larger Alabama Avenue Corridor Rebuild through Wards 7 and 8. In 2019, half of the traffic fatalities in DC have happened in Ward 8. A safer, slower Alabama Avenue is critical to achieving the District’s Vision Zero goal—ending fatal crashes by 2024.

This project has been in the works for many years. It is part of the City’s long range transportation master plan MoveDC, which calls for protected bike lanes for the entire Alabama Avenue SE Corridor. WABA submitted public comments on the Alabama Avenue study more than two years ago. Our concern then, as now, was that the agency was compromising safety and to accommodate faster driving and more car parking.  

Last year, DDOT hosted a community meeting to discuss the proposed design for this section of Alabama Ave. At that meeting, some community members raised concerns about lost parking spaces. Agency staff responded by further compromising and an already compromised design in order to decrease the impact on parking (with a corresponding decrease in safety for bicyclists and pedestrians). 

Because the paint used to mark streets requires warm weather, DDOT could not install the bike lanes immediately after that meeting and waited to paint them until this spring. The delay meant that by the time construction started, newly elected ANC commissioners were not part of the agency’s initial ANC outreach process, and a number of complaints got picked up in the press. 

DDOT, rather than making the case for the safety improvements it had just built, simply removed half of them.

Ameen Beale, who lives in Ward 8, said this to Greater Greater Washington in June:

“When I first saw this modification I was in the car with my 11 year-old,” Beale said. “When I saw it I was excited. I said it’s great they are taking multi-model transportation in Ward 8 seriously.”

Beale, who had been attending meetings since the initial study in 2017, knew the modifications would take time. So would the time it takes for the community to adjust to the changes.

“I’m always saying there is no difference between a dude on a bike and a cyclist. We have to stop believing that cycling is a white thing or that making traffic improvements are a white or gentrification issue,” Beale said. He does hope the bike lanes will be get a barrier to protect them from cars though: “I feel in order for it to be adequate it needs to be protected,” he says.

At monthly Ward 8 Traffic Safety meetings, many community members have shared their support for the bike lanes and some expressed disappointment that better safety measures like protected bike lanes weren’t implemented in the first place.

Throughout this process, one thing that most everyone can agree with is that speeding is a huge problem. 

In a 2017 letter to DDOT regarding the rebuild, we wrote that:

DDOT’s speed and crash data confirms an alarming pattern of speeding and crash frequency. On some blocks, 85th percentile vehicle speeds reach 42 mph, meaning that 15% of vehicle traffic is traveling faster than 42 mph. 

As we know from considerable research, 90 percent of pedestrians hit by a car traveling at 40 mph will die, whereas 90 percent of pedestrians hit by a car traveling 20 mph will live. And crashes happen every week: between 2013 and 2015, there were 875 total crashes in the 4.2 mile corridor (8.5 per week). 312 involved injuries (3 per week) and 4 resulted in a fatality. In a similar period, 45 pedestrians and 5 people on bikes were hit by cars. 

Alabama Ave has an unacceptable speeding problem and it stems from bad road design. As an agency committed to eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries on DC’s roads by 2024, DDOT must make safety the priority on Alabama Ave.

Stay tuned for opportunities to get involved with this project.

How A Different Commute Brought Me Closer to My Community: Manny’s Story

This is a guest post from WABA Business Member Two Wheel Valet. Read about Manny Mancia’s journey from getting his first car to finding community at the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition!

I was hardly fourteen when I “learned” to drive. I gained my experience through countless hours of virtual training lessons of Mario Kart, Need for Speed and Gran Turismo. My mom would let me run grocery errands when she got home from work. Feeding dinner to a family of seven is a daunting task to anyone on any given day. Throw in a self-employed, laborious, house-keeping, full-time working mom with an hour commute, and the thought becomes a daily stress bubble. My mom would trust me enough to drive out of our four-bedroom apartment in the hispanic ghettos of Atlanta, a simple mile to the plaza containing our fancy grocery store, Publix. Miraculously, I did this almost daily errand for two years without being caught by the police or having any sort of trouble. 

When I was seventeen, my dad taught me how to drive a manual transmission. A few weeks later, he helped me purchase my first vehicle. I totaled my vehicle three months after purchase.  Through our parents best intentions, we are handed the keys to a  three-thousand pound chunk of metal and plastics with the ability to reach over one-hundred miles an hour. A life-altering decision that most of us don’t think about on a daily basis.

I went on to a technical college and eventually I immersed myself in a shop that took a chance on me. I was working sixty hours and six days a week but it was great! 

But repairing vehicles wasn’t my end game. I witnessed my dad’s body as it grew tired of his construction contracting career. Up at six every morning to come back home at eight in the evening.

Manny Mancia, who now works for WABA Business Member Two Wheel Valet!

After five years of repairing vehicles for mom and pop shops, I decided to  enter a corporation in order to climb the ladder. I had no management experience, hardly any meaningful secondary education, but what I did have was the tenaciousness to get there, along with spousal and family support that encouraged me to push myself to my limits. And so I did. I broke past my ceiling and pushed myself into a high-pressure, stress-filled, sixty hour work week for five years. Production, payroll, logistics, in-bound, out-bound, communications, human resources, hiring, terminating, implementation of ideas passed down the ladder.

The daily rigamarole coupled with my necessity to do more for my fellows lead me to seek a part-time job, if anything just to break the monotony.  I found it one late night by going through a worm-hole of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Two Wheel Valet is the service provider of bike valet to the ABC. Bike valet is like coat check, but for bikes. Sounded simple and loose enough for me, and it was a shift from automobiles to a more personal and affordable means of transportation. Not to mention a healthier option that would get you to places you actually wanted to be and bring back nostalgic childhood memories of bike riding with friends. This was it! This was what I needed!

I started spending my weekends working for Two Wheel Valet in Atlanta. Some weekends were longer than others, but I looked forward to every minute! The exhaustion of a sixty-hour Monday through Friday became a passive thought as the smile on cyclists faces and their words of appreciation kept me going. A few months of my dedication lead the owner, Jonathan Weidman, to have a sit down with me about a possible career shift and an enhanced role in the company. I couldn’t turn it down. 

I would move away from the production of vehicles to an eco-friendly means of commuting.  I’d be helping out the community by easing their minds of their transportations’ security and their ease of access to events. It would break me free of the corporate world and start all over with a smaller yet somehow larger crowd. I was all in! It was an amazing introduction to truly feel the interactions of the cycling community upon our free bike valet services. The voices of this community to push transportation mode shift were incredible.

Working from home allowed me to get rid of my vehicle and open my mind to the closeness of where I live, South Atlanta. The coffee shop, the elementary and high school, the colleges, the library, the grocery store, the park, the gym, the movie production studios, the amphitheater, the baseball stadium, the zoo are all within a 20 minute bike ride. This was where I’d been living for a few years, yet I had no idea!

Now, within one year of the decision to transition from vehicles to community, I ask myself how I can combine and re-introduce cycling as a commuting option to my South Atlanta neighbors. Growing up as most of us do, we think of bikes as toys, something you get as a gift, ride around for a few weeks then forget about. How can I continue on my path to a closer community? A much more meaningful question.

Ultimately, I see the commons in community, communication, and commuting. This is what will make the world a better place to live in. We all desire an aspect of these. I’m living proof that the three can be “comm-bined.”

Don’t miss out on THE celebration of National Bike Month

National Bike Month is here, and we are only two weeks away from its biggest celebration, on May 18!

DC Bike Ride offers you the chance of celebrating life on two wheels on DC’s only car-free course! This is your chance to OWN THE ROAD worry-free – NO cars, just FUN! Our 20-mile course is full of entertainment, offering you some of DC’s best flavors, music, and sights.

The ride is all about showing our love for bicycling! DC Bike Ride welcomes riders of all ages and riding abilities, offers special prices for kids and youth riders, and great deals on rentals. Yes, we get you covered!We are also proud to support WABA, have raised over $100,000, since 2016, for street safety programs. So, sign up today, join the 7,000 riders on this celebration, and don’t miss out on the chance to give back to the bike community!

Register today!

It’s time for Seminary Road to go on a diet

Guest post by Jim Durham of the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee

Tell the city of Alexandria to stand up for safe streets!

Tell Alexandria Mayor Wilson and City Council to make sure that City staff bring the Seminary Road “road diet” to a public hearing. The safest option provides accommodations for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.  The project could cut crashes in half and make this section of roadway walkable and bikeable — all for no more than a 5-second additional delay during the worst 15-minutes of rush hour traffic.

By adopting a Complete Streets Policy in 2011, the City of Alexandria directed transportation planners to design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. The section of Seminary Road east of Howard Street is ideally suited for the FHWA’s proven approach, a four-to-three road diet, since this section of roadway has excess capacity: motor vehicle traffic is already constrained to one lane in each direction at entrances to the project area, enabling installation of safety features such as center left-turn lanes, pedestrian refuge islands and buffer space/bike lanes without adding to congestion.

Road safety is not a popularity contest.

Transportation planners know that a properly engineered four-to-three road diet is the right solution for roads like this section of Seminary Road, but opposition to change is fierce and with high congestion in the region, some drivers are not willing to risk the possibility of even a 5-second delay in the 15-minute peak of rush-hour traffic to achieve the City’s stated safety and multi-modal objectives. Failure to bring the best option forward for a public hearing would undermine Alexandria’s commitment to Complete Streets and Vision Zero.

The Mayor has consistently referred to this project as one that requires a balanced approach. T&ES applied that “balance” by limiting consideration of the road re-configuration to the section with excess capacity. To go forward to the next phase with anything less than a properly-engineered four-to-three road diet in this section is not balanced – it is giveaway to cars at the expense of people.

The countdown to your favorite bike ride is on.

This is a guest blog post from our friends at DC Bike Ride:

We are just a few weeks away from the 2019 DC Bike Ride: your one chance to celebrate life on two wheels in a 20-mile car-free course. Come experience DC Bike Ride as we look to feature the best sights, sounds, and flavors our nation’s capital has to offer.

DC Bike Ride has a special offer for WABA supporters: $55 for 55 hours! Sign up in the next 55 hours, use the code WABA55 and get $10 off your standard registration. (Offer ends on April 17, at 10 PM EST).

Sign up!

DC Bike Ride is a fun, recreational ride, and the best opportunity to cruise through a car-free course full of flavor stations, musical acts and the beautiful views DC is known for. After the ride, we welcome everyone to the Finish Festival for free activities, fun, giveaways, and entertainment for all ages. 

The Ride is also a great way to support WABA in its efforts to collaborate with local jurisdictions on substantial street safety changes. DC Bike Ride is proud to support WABA, and since 2016 has raised over $100,000.00 for street safety programs. So sign up today, and let the fun times roll.


Rock Creek Far West: First Public Meeting

This is a guest post from Ward 3 Bike Advocates member Josh Rising. To learn more about W3BA, find them on on Twitter (@ward3bikes) or check out their website (ward3bikes.org), and/or join their listserv by sending a blank email to w3ba-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Cyclists in Washington DC’s Ward 3—which stretches from Chevy Chase Circle in the north to the Palisades in the south—have long waited for the bicycle lanes that we’ve seen appear in other parts of the city. We’ve looked enviously at the protected bicycle lanes on 15th Street, Water Street, and L/M Street and wondered why there can’t be safer and more efficient ways for cyclists to move about in Ward 3.

We just don’t have enough bike infrastructure in the Ward. And that’s not ok.

Fortunately, DC’s Department of Transportation is launching a process, called the Rock Creek Far West (RCFW) Livability Study, that could result in bike lanes of our very own. The study will focus on the area south and west of Massachusetts Ave., including the neighborhoods of the Palisades, Foxhall, Glover Park, Wesley Heights, and Spring Valley.

Map of Ward 3 for Rock Creek Far West Livability Study.

Here at W3BA, we think this is an amazing opportunity to build the infrastructure necessary to keep bicyclists and pedestrians safe (many of which were laid out in the MoveDC master plan). Here is what we are looking forward to:

  • An off-street bike trail on Massachusetts Ave., stretching from Western Ave. down to Sheridan Circle;
  • A protected cycletrack on Arizona Ave.;
  • A bicycle lane on Loughboro Rd.;
  • Better connections to the Capital Crescent Trail.

All these are possible outcomes of the RCFW study, but only if bicyclists show up to demonstrate the support (you do not need to live in Ward 3 to participate). So, we are asking you to mark your calendars and join us there. If you can, go to https://rockcreekfarwest.com and comment on what improvements you’d like to see.

The first meeting will be held at the Palisades library (4901 V Street NW) from 6:30-8:30 on Tuesday the 26th. Come speak up about what you want to see in this part of town!

Click here to RSVP. We’ll see you there!

Josh Rising

W3BA Steering Committee

10K. Today. You and me. For WABA.

This is guest post from David, a WABA Member, who is offering to match your gifts to WABA today, up to $10,000!

Hi, I’m David. I’m writing to offer you the chance to double your donation to WABA, get more biking bang for your buck, and take my money to support better biking in Maryland, Virginia, and the District.

Today only, I’m matching your donation to WABA!

WABA is the leader we need to improve biking in our region, whether for pleasure or commuting. But WABA can only be here for us later if we are here for them now.

DONATE

I’m encouraging you to give by matching your donation because we need WABA. I don’t always know what’s going on in all our governments that affect our bike experience—but WABA does.

That’s what they do: keep track of all the bike-related issues and projects throughout the region. They know the issues, the government agencies, and the officials. WABA represents us so we have a voice at the table, even when we might not know there is a “table.” And then they plug us in with petitions and action alerts and community meetings when our voices are most effective.

How great is that?!

So, please, be like me. Don’t see your donations to WABA as an expense, but as a contribution to your own biking pleasure and safety.

If you think I look familiar in the picture, you may have seen me volunteering on the Mount Vernon Trail trimming the foliage back. The trail is a special place for me: it’s where I started biking as an adult. I remember my first anxious ride from Belle Haven marina to Mount Vernon Estate. In the beginning, I had to stop at the Mount Vernon food court for a cup of tea and blueberry muffin while I rested for the trip back. Over time, I developed the stamina so I didn’t stop to rest but could ride right back to my car. Then I stopped driving to Belle Haven and rode my bike from home in Alexandria to Mount Vernon.

Now, my bike is my primary mode of transportation. And because of that, I am acutely aware of the flaws in the area’s biking infrastructure and the need for WABA’s oversight and representation of our interests in every government project and decision affecting us.

Now, take my money and give generously. This is not the day to be stingy. If you’ve got it, give it. WABA needs us.

DONATE

And, remember: you’re always only one ride away from a good mood.

Bike on,

—David