This annual event brings together passionate riders of all levels for a great cause: resources and scholarships for high school seniors with disabilities. The ride is fully supported with 10, 30, 60, and 100-mile ride options. Fundraise to earn more swag and prizes!
We are excited to announce WABA Business Member, Price Benowitz’s Vaccination Sweepstake to select five COVID-19 vaccinated individuals who enter to receive $100 Visa gift cards. Visit their contest page to enter the sweepstakes before September 30th!
The 2021 legislative session was a busy one, hampered by COVID restrictions but productive nonetheless. Below are the transportation related bills WABA and other bike advocates from around the State, including BikeMD, followed and worked to pass. We will renew the fight for the ones that did not pass next January in the 2022 session and also make a concerted effort to significantly increase the level of State funds for all active transportation projects.
HB 118/SB 293 – Vehicle Laws -Injury or Death of Vulnerable Individual -Penalties – text here. This was the main focus of efforts by the BikeMD advocates and will become effective law on October 1, 2021. The new Vulnerable Road User law will save lives by encouraging safer driving with stronger penalties for those who hurt or kill pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, wheelchair users and other vulnerable road users lawfully using or crossing our roads.The law mandates a court appearance by any motor vehicle driver who causes a crash with a vulnerable road user who is killed or seriously injured. In the past, such drivers usually were issued a traffic citation or ticket. Now, such drivers must appear in court and face stiffer penalties including higher fines, a driver safety program, community service and license suspension for up to six months. This will provide greater support to victims and friends of crash victims knowing the driver involved will face a greater penalty. The law helps fill a gap between traffic citations and higher offenses such as criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle.
HB 562 – Montgomery County –Speed Limits –Establishment – text here. Montgomery County and any local jurisdiction in the County can now decrease the speed limit on a street down to 15 mph after performing an engineering and traffic study. This seems to include State Highways ( such as Georgia Avenue/MD-97) as long as the change is approved by MD State Highway Administration. This bill will be effective October 1, 2021.
PEPCO Trail paving funded – more detail here. $10 Million was appropriated to Montgomery Parks to pave 7 miles of an existing 13 mile natural surface trail that runs along an electric powerline right of way from South Germantown to Cabin John Regional Park. The trail goes along a electric powerline right-of-way.
Passed but Vetoed by Governor Hogan
HB 114 – Maryland Transit Administration – Funding and MARC Rails Extension Study – establishes and funds a Purple Line Grant program for businesses along the light rail corridor and funds a study on extending MARC service to West Virginia. It is likely the veto will be overridden by the legislature in 2022.
Proposed but Not Passed
HB 564 – Montgomery County –Automated Traffic Enforcement – the bill would have allowed Montgomery County to transfer the automated traffic enforcement program (Speed and red light cameras) from the police (MCPD) to the transportation agency (MCDOT), thus placing this program with the agency primarily responsible for Vision Zero and any redesign of the roads. In addition, removing this program from police responsibility could be an initial step towards removing armed police from traffic enforcement overall and thus reducing friction (often racially motivated) between the police and drivers. This bill passed the House of Delegates, but failed to get a floor vote in the Senate.
HB 0067 – Maryland Department of Transportation Promises Act – bill would have placed restrictions on public-private partnerships and aimed to hold the Maryland Department of Transportation and Hogan Administration to many of the promises made during highway expansion planning. The bill would prohibit the Board of Public Works from approving a phase public-private partnership agreement for the I-495 and I-270 Public-Private Partnership Program unless the payment of the toll revenue is transferred to a certain special fund; it also would authorize a public-private partnership agreement for the Program to require a bidder to agree to initiate a community benefit agreement. This bill did not pass either house.
by Joanne Neukirchen, President, WABA Board of Directors
This is a follow up to Greg’s announcement of his departure from WABA.
First, I hope you’ll join me in thanking Greg for his 11 years at WABA. Biking has changed a lot during that time, and WABA has too. If we weren’t in a pandemic, I’d be inviting you all to sunburnt rooftop happy hour in Adams Morgan to share stories and hopes for the future. Instead, we’re putting together a short, socially distant ride and gathering in a park. Details to follow soon.
So what’s next? The Board is delighted to appoint Kristin Frontiera as Interim Executive Director. Kristin has led WABA’s development team for the past four years. We have the deepest confidence in Kristin’s ability to shepherd WABA’s mission, vision and values through our Executive search and hiring process. Kristin will take on this role on June 1.
We expect this search to take some time, likely 5-6 months. The Board is committed to a hiring process that reflects WABA’s values, with a particular emphasis on justice. WABA’s work contains an inherent duality: riding a bike is a joyful, freeing experience, but the transportation system we exist in is unjust and deadly. We can’t fight those injustices if we’re perpetuating them as we hire a new leader. Our intent is to conduct a broad, nationwide search for a new Executive Director who can help WABA build a just and sustainable region where biking, walking and transit are the best ways to get around.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at this email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Nick Johnson is leading the Board’s Executive Search Committee. You can also reach out to him at email@example.com with questions about the search and hiring process.
Thank you for all of your support, Joanne Neukirchen
President, Board of Directors
On April 15th, Fairfax County held their public hearing on the County Executive’s Proposed FY 2022 Operating & Capital Improvement Plan Budgets. This was one of three opportunities for community members to comment and testify on the proposed budget. (To read and learn more about budget hearings, visit our post about them here!) Our Trails Coalition Manager, Stephanie Piperno, represented the CTC and testified at the hearing to verbally support adding funding for Phase Two of the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan as well as to advocate for funding working toward filling in gaps on the Arlington Boulevard Trail.
Fairfax County is working on updating their active transportation network by combining the Bicycle Master Plan and the Countywide Trails Plan into the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan. The goal of this project is to establish and implement safe, convenient, and enjoyable streets and trails in Fairfax County for users of all ages and abilities. The ActiveFairfax Transportation plan will combine the vision for bicycling from the Bicycle Master Plan created in 2014, together with infrastructure, benefits, and highlights of the Countywide Trails Plan map that was last updated in 2018. Combined, these two plans offer the blueprint needed to create a connected and seamless network of on-street facilities and trails.
The ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan launched in the summer of 2020 and has an expected completion date of Winter 2022. It has been split into two distinct phases with Phase One including the development of a vision statement, goals, and objectives, as well as a thorough inventory and assessment of previous planning efforts and existing conditions. The development of a Systematic Safety Program Plan was also included in Phase One. Phase Two, and our focus, includes the development of active transportation network recommendations and facility selection toolkit, coordination with potential updates to the current Comprehensive Plan, and an implementation approach that includes policy, program, and strategies on project prioritization. Phase Two really comes down to implementation. We urged the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to fund Phase Two of the plan during this budget cycle as we do not want to see the momentum slow and the safety improvements proposed in Phase One shelved. We need these safety improvements implemented as soon as possible, especially as our region is seeing an unprecedented increase in traffic fatalities despite there being fewer cars on the road.
Additionally, to further our mission of creating an expansive, accessible, and safe trail network, we also encouraged the completion of the Arlington Boulevard trail, as its current state—riddled with significant gaps in pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly facilities—proves to make for an unreliable route for trail users. In connecting existing trail segments and creating new sections, we can create a 22-mile trail from Fairfax City all the way to the National Mall! One major gap is in the Merrifield area where there is no trail connection over I-495 (the Capital Beltway).
We proposed that Fairfax County include funding in the FY 2022 budget to study the best locations for two trail crossings along the I-495—one north and one south of Arlington Boulevard. Funding this study is the first step needed to complete the Arlington Boulevard Trail. Arlington Boulevard crosses several jurisdictional lines and connects people living in adjacent neighborhoods to offices, retail, parks, schools, and government services. But, it currently lacks a consistent, safe place for people to walk and bike. The Arlington Boulevard Trail will connect dozens of neighborhoods along Arlington Boulevard which will significantly increase pedestrian and bicycle trips by the people living near the route including the 202,320 people residing within just one mile of the trail. Connecting the gaps will lead to a continuous route that will create access from the trail to 17 activity centers, 30 different schools, 20 different parks, and much more. Funding the completion of the Arlington Boulevard Trail is a no-brainer!
You can find our full testimony here.
In September 2020, Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) conducted a focus group to better understand trail awareness and safety among DC area residents and to understand barriers (those real and perceived) that may prevent residents from utilizing trails more regularly. The research was funded by the WABA DC Trail Ranger program funded by DDOT, and Rails to Trails Conservancy.
The participants in the study were largely from Wards 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 with 43% being from the priority zip codes highlighted in Figure 1. Of the 21 participants, 52% identified as Black, 33% identified as white, 10% identified as Asian/Paficic Islander, and 5% identified as ‘Other.’ 48% of participants identified as trail-users while the majority and remaining 52% identified as trail non-users. 33% of the participants identified as male and 67% identified as female (note: the study incorrectly used gender binary for this demographic question).
As a whole, regardless of location, the respondents believed that trails contribute to the well-being of their community, and the top cited reasons for trail use were to enjoy nature, to get physical exercise, and to use as a means of relaxation. In fact, in both the pre- and post-focus group survey, everyone thought trails were positive, and the number of individuals who felt that trails contribute ‘a great deal’ to their well-being increased after having participated in the focus group. Just talking about trails increased their importance to individuals in the community!
|Level of perceived |
|Pre-focus group||Post-focus goup||Change in number of responses|
|A great deal||29%||38%||+10%|
|A moderate amount||33%||33%||0%|
|Not at all||0%||0%||0%|
Overall Results showed that trail users find spending time outdoors more important than trail non-users, but even with 52% of the respondents identifying as trail non-users, 82% of all participants reported interest in spending time on trails if they had access. However, citing interest in trail use and outdoor recreation does not guarantee accessibility, ease of use, and/or awareness of opportunity. Even though the zip codes represented in the study are in Northeast, Southeast and Southwest DC, apart from the Anacostia River Trail (ART), Rock Creek Park Trail (RCPT) was mentioned by participants the most without prompting – trails like Oxon Run and Marvin Gaye were far less known. Because no one mentioned these two trails unprompted, we wanted to gauge the level of awareness of these trails. We found that of the participants representing the 8 target zip codes, less than half (40%) were aware of trails in their neighborhood, while 30% were unsure, and 30% were completely unaware of the Oxon Run and Marvin Gaye Trails. Mere lack of awareness could be a large barrier to trail use, and we believe the Anacostia River Trail (ART) and Rock Creek Park Trail (RCPT) are more well known because they cover more mileage and touch more neighborhoods. The ART and RCPT are also likely recognized more because of their “name brand” status. Because of this, we believe that increasing name recognition of various trails in the area could lead to increase in trail use! (If you’re interested in learning more about either site, you can check out DPR who manages Marvin Gaye Trail or DDOT who manages the Oxon Run Trail!)
Though many individuals may know about trails, they may not use them because they don’t feel that “trails are for them.” The focus group found that there is a common perception among trail non-users that trails are primarily for “outdoorsy people” – those who enjoy walking, biking, and being in nature. If someone doesn’t identify as an “outdoorsy person” they may not feel as welcome, or that they belong on a trail. Participants were asked to share who they felt were individuals not welcome on trails. Broadly, white participants feel those misusing the trail, and exhibiting inappropriate behavior to be individuals not welcome on trails. Black participants more often alluded to those identifying with their community as being less welcome due to worry about other’s perceptions of them as well as the fear of experiencing race-based discrimination and violence. The participants in this study overwhelmingly identified as Black or white, so we cannot confidently conclude how non-Black people of color’s experiences and understanding of DC trails may differ.
The idea that others perceptions are negative can be a huge deterrent to trail use in marginalized populations as it leads to feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome. Additionally, Black participants noted a fear of white trail users acting on negative thoughts and threatening Black trail users. One participant identifying as a 38 year-old Black male and trail non-user said:
“Black people in general are not drawn to trails… People in my neighborhood would actually think it strange for me to say I was going to spend some time on the trail. It is not taught as children.”
Another barrier to trail use was a concern about the level of safety and frequency of crime and violence on trails. None of the participants had ever had first hand experience of crime or violence while on a trail, but a number of respondents, women especially, cited this as a reason that they may avoid trails. What participants cited as safety attributes often aligned with whether or not a participant identified as a trail user. Participants identifying as trail users often indicated that they feel safest when on a trail that is well maintained – one with a smooth surface, no trash, and with brush and debris cleared from the trail. Participants who identified as trail non-users more often cited safety attributes as those including programming along the trail – such as events and activities that are put on and run by individuals in the community, creating a more welcoming environment – and when people in uniform are visible (like the WABA Trail Rangers). Trail non-user respondents also reported that seeing individuals on the trail that look like them attributed to feeling safer, as well as seeing other people in general.
In summary, some of the key findings were that discussion and awareness amplified the perception of positive impacts of trails among participants even if they already believed that trails contributed positively to their well-being. Concerning safety, most concerns noted were perceptions instead of actual negative experiences, and these perceptions varied across groups (e.g. women indicated a fear of harassment on trails while no men in the study cited this as a fear they experience). Further, a key takeaway of the study was that for many, trails are seen as the actual destination – not just a means of reaching a destination. People want to travel to a trail for the sake of being on a trail and not just to use it as a means of transportation!
Moving forward, to increase trail use across all groups, and keeping in mind that the DC area is one full of diversity including many communities with varying needs, we are looking for ways to promote the intrinsic destination value of trails, increase culturally specific programming (trail rangers/ambassadors highlighting recreation, getting close to nature, physical activity, and wellness specific to every community) and promote inclusivity on trails through public messaging and programming that is representative of local demographics. It is our hope that we can use the information gained from the focus group to improve the level of trail awareness, perceptions of safety, and the extent to which individuals feel trails are an important part of their lives to consequently improve overall trail use for transportation, recreation, and relaxation!If you have any thoughts, suggestions, etc. please feel free to reach out to Stephanie Piperno at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear your ideas!
Do you love being outdoors and connecting with people? Want to be part of a collaborative trail team in DC this summer, and be paid to engage with folks about trails and fix trails?
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is looking for two passionate and energetic professional trail champions with a wide range of skills and experiences for our 2021 Trail Ranger Team. We are looking to hire two dependable and thoughtful people. Beyond this, there is not a standard job history, experience of biking, years of experience or skills set for previously successful Trail Rangers.
These positions are expected to begin April 29th and will end on September 30th, 2021. Pay will be $18.50 per hour for new Trail Rangers, and $19.00 per hour for returning Trail Rangers. These positions are seasonal, full-time opportunities. Shifts will still vary in start time, and will be scheduled on weekdays and weekends.
About the Trail Rangers Program
WABA’s Trail Ranger program encourages trail use through daily trail presence, community engagement, trail maintenance, and trail user assistance. Reporting to our Outreach Manager, Trail Rangers cover trails within the District, including the Metropolitan Branch Trail, Anacostia River Trail, Marvin Gaye Trail, Oxon Run Trail, and connecting street routes. Trail Rangers act as trail ambassadors, offering a consistent and friendly presence from May through September to make the trails more approachable, enjoyable, and dependable for transportation and recreation.
Intangible benefits include: working outside on those perfect spring days, getting to know your city better through talking with neighbors, and appreciation from fellow trail users.
- Spend the majority of your work hours outside, biking on or between trails (except during thunderstorms and other hazardous conditions).
- Work in shifts with a partner riding electric-assist cargo bikes at a relaxed, conversational pace on an 8 hour shift.
- Collaborate with your team member to determine daily priorities and share program information.
- Support and encourage trail use with friendly and helpful trail presence, regular maintenance efforts and consistent outreach events.
- Help lower barriers to bicycling, build community, and build a more robust trail network.
- Run cleanups and community events with the program coordinator (currently paused, subject to Covid-19 precautions and community spread).
- Perform trail condition inspections and trail corridor maintenance, including pruning branches, gathering trash, and removing obstructions.
Trail Rangers must have:
- A proven track record for being dependable, timely, and communicative.
- The willingness to be positive and engaging in a public setting.
- The willingness and enthusiasm to work in a collaborative team and as a proactive, self starter.
- The capacity to be available for 40 hours per week in 8 hour shifts with weekday and weekend availability. Shifts are generally:
- 6:30 am – 2:30 pm or 11:00 am – 7:00 pm on weekdays.
- 9:00 am – 5:00 pm on weekends.
- A commitment to work April 29th to September 30th, 2021.
- The ability to ride a bike with a willingness to ride in mixed city traffic and off-street trails.
- A commitment to being a safe and exemplary bicyclist.
- A commitment to respect, include, and be kind to all.
- An understanding of how race, gender, and other factors shape conversations and experiences.
- The willingness to further their knowledge of trail and neighborhood history.
Additional qualifications and experience that are helpful but not required:
- A proven track record for working collaboratively within a team.
- Excellent communication skills in informal settings and across lines of difference.
- Creative problem-solving skills and capacity to innovate.
- The ability to prioritize and a thoughtful attention to detail.
- Lived experience with our program trails and the surrounding neighborhoods.
- Working knowledge of basic bicycle maintenance including patching a flat tire and adjusting brakes.
- Fluency in Spanish, ASL and/or Amharic a strong plus.
WABA is committed to:
- Teaching you the skills necessary for the job (urban bike riding, basic trail maintenance, basic bike maintenance, how to do bicycle outreach).
- Ensuring an inclusive, collaborative professional team environment.
- Run an intersectional outreach program that recognizes the multitudes of identities and promotes diversity, inclusion, and equity for employees and the public.
- Orientation and team management that prioritizes your well-being, including training in preventing common biking injuries.
- Doing our best to have a consistent schedule that respects your time and outside obligations.
- Providing all the tools, bikes and materials needed to perform the job, including electric cargo bikes.
- This is a full-time, non-exempt, temporary position from April 29th to September 30th 2021.
- Wages will be $18.50 an hour for new Trail Rangers and $19.00 for returning Trail Rangers.
- 100% employer-paid health, dental, and vision insurance premiums from May 1st to September 30th.
- Sick, holiday, and funeral leave. Employees will accrue 8 hours sick leave per month, and have paid time off for every federal holiday during employment.
- WABA supports and promotes the health of it’s staff. You may use accrued sick time for unscheduled leave when not feeling well (mind or body), as well as for scheduled medical appointments.
- Optional commuter transit benefit (pre tax deduction).
- A fun and relaxed workplace environment.
- Passionate, supportive colleagues who are dedicated to working together for our mission and seeing the impact of our work.
COVID-19 Operational Staff Safety Plan:
WABA expects that COVID-19 precautions will be necessary for all of the 2021 season.
- Properly worn quality masks will be required on the job at all times, except for distanced water and snack breaks. KN95s and surgical masks will be provided.
- The majority of Trail Ranger work will be performed outside, with minimal inside work. Shift setup and breakdown will be staggered between employees to avoid sharing air space.
- Trail Rangers should expect to see limited other WABA staff in the office, but they will be working in a separately-ventilated space.
This position is full-time from April 29, 2021 through September 30, 2021 for 40 hours per week.
Please email a cover letter and resume to email@example.com with “Trail Ranger” as the subject line. Please make sure your application illustrates how you meet the qualifications for the job and what additional skills you would bring to the team.
Applications will be accepted until March 15th though candidates are strongly encouraged to apply earlier and a first round of decisions will be made on March 1st. Phone interviews will begin March 25th, hiring decisions will be made by April 16th and team orientation will begin April 29th.
WABA is committed to providing equal employment opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, arrest record or criminal convictions, political affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, sex, or age.
Over the last six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced every aspect of life in cities, including where, how, and how often we move around. As the pandemic peaked in DC, WMATA’s rail ridership declined 90%. Despite service returning to near pre-pandemic levels and taking steps to restore rider confidence by promoting public health and safety, Metro’s rail system has yet to experience an influx of riders returning to the system.
So where have these riders gone? The number of people walking, biking and riding scooters has soared as people prioritize socially distant, open-air forms of transportation and recreation. The District’s own Capital Bikeshare program became a means for thousands of critical workers to continue getting to work, and with the introduction of hundreds of e-bikes this summer, is becoming a top choice for mobility and recreation district-wide. But at the same time, many new buyers are turning to “Covid Cars” as the ultimate socially distant transportation.
The District is at an inflection point for its transportation system: does it stay on track to maintain its ranking as the third most congested city in America, where commuters spend twice the amount of time sitting in traffic than the average American? Or does it embrace resilient streets which support a variety of transportation options, making streets safer and more efficient for everyone– especially our most vulnerable populations?
The first steps for creating resilient streets are already in motion in the District with quick-build temporary street improvements to support social distancing via the Slow Streets program, which closed tens of neighborhood streets to through-traffic and lowered speed limits to make more space for all types of users. DDOT has also expanded Car Free Lanes to promote efficient and reliable bus service and create additional space for bike and scooter travel on some of our busiest corridors.
We need to build on this momentum and take these concepts even further — thinking about permanence, about providing equitable access, and about expanding their reach to not only serve short local trips, but also to provide connectivity for medium-to-long distances for longer commutes.
To point to one example, an obvious place for a resilient street corridor would be the 11th Street bridge connection and the 11th Street Bridge Park, where construction is slated to kick off in 2021. Transportation infrastructure investments along a “resilient street corridor” will be critical to helping people safely and comfortably access the bridge and park, while helping drive economic development in the commercial corridors. Working with local partners and urban design experts at Street Plans, we offer a potential vision for how M Street SE and Martin Luther King Jr Avenue could be reimagined. These working concepts prioritize space for people by creating bus-only lanes with enhanced bus shelters, protected micromobility lanes for two-wheeled transportation modes like bikes and scooters, plant shade trees for pedestrians, pickup and drop-off zones for safe passenger loading, and new metered parking solutions to help ensure better parking turnover and availability. Together, these features create a rich environment for people using all transportation modes. These are resilient streets.
We also worked with Sam Schwartz Engineering to understand the impact that permanent street design and infrastructure changes could have along the corridor to help support walking, biking, scooting, and transit. We found that by making these types of safety and design changes along the corridor leading from Ward 6 to Ward 8, we could have a major impact on how residents and commuters move. With these kinds of resilient street designs, the corridor would accommodate 18,000 sustainable walking, biking trips: avoiding 54,000 of miles traveled via car every day and avoiding 6,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year.
Please join us in making these changes a reality by supporting WABA’s call to action urging our regional elected officials to start the future resiliency process right away, making sure that D.C. is set up for not only recovery, but for a new normal with expanded access to safe, affordable, and sustainable mobility choices for all street users.
Jeremiah Lowery is the Director of Policy at Washington Area Bicyclists Association; Kristina Noell is the Executive Director or the Anacostia BID; Marisa Rodriguez-McGill is a Senior Public Policy Manager at Lyft Transit, Bikes & Scooters, the operator of Capital Bikeshare.
With great sadness we share the news of Pete Beers’ death. Pete lived and breathed bicycling in Northern Virginia, and brought light and joy to WABA for many years.
Pete most recently worked as a bike mechanic at Bikenetic in Falls Church, and was a WABA Bike Ambassador from 2013-2015. That meant his job was to share his love of bicycling across DC, and he thrived in that role.
He wore the brightest, wildest socks he could find and emanated the same energy. He towed a giant trailer with signage and averaged 40 miles a day, and seemed to prefer riding on snowy days with horizontal winds.
Sarah Rice Scott, who worked as a Bike Ambassador with him, wrote “Pete, you were a bright light. Every time you said, ‘you are loved,’ I believed you.”
We miss him already.
To show love for Pete and his family in this devastating moment, his community celebrates him this week. If you would like to join, his friends are organizing a mountain bike ride on Monday.