Meet the 2014 class of WABA instructors

We’re fortunate to have 16 excellent instructor candidates in our 2014 certification class. This weekend we had them all in one place for the first part of their training — a Traffic Skills 101 class.

Meet them in the photos below, and wish them luck in the next phase of the program, a three day seminar in October. Once they are fully trained, they’ll be teaching WABA classes and leading rides in the spring!

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What is an everyday superpower?

If you’ve poked around our educational materials lately, maybe you’ve seen our fall 2014 class campaign, which is about superpowers. Everyday ones, specifically.

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What does this mean, and what does it have to do with biking?

Traditional superheroes, like one of my favorites, Spiderman, practice more explicit forms of vigilante justice — fighting bad guys that the cops just can’t get to.

But our campaign isn’t about flying around in a cape — it’s about the small ways that we can empower ourselves, and others, by biking in the DMV and doing so responsibly. Everyone has an everyday superpower — it might include one of the little things that you do to make your day special, that get you out of your routine, that improve your quality of life.

You’ll notice that our superheroes are creative, vibrant, and, yes, law-abiding folk. They’re expressing themselves through biking, but they’re also working with existing systems to make things better.

Take a look at our superheroes below. Or collect them all around town. Finally, take a city cycling class and get your own superpower!

Bonus points if you email us your own everyday superpower.

With great power comes great responsibility,

The WABA Education Team

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Thanks to Anna Bavier, Elizabeth Willis, Eileen Matos, WT Chen, Mike Decker, Heather Vetting, Sarah Rice Scott, Lesly Jones, Tiffany Lam, Anica Allen, Edgar Gil Rico, Will Stowe, Delores Simmons, Ben Strahs, Chelsey Pas, and Elizabeth Lyttleton for making these photos happen.

Bike organization to watch: iCan Bike

In July I ventured to Arlington to see the iCan Bike camp, a program of iCan Shine, Inc., designed to teach students with disabilities a skill that Executive Director Lisa Ruby believes they’ll use for life: how to ride a two-wheeled bike.

In a gym, among volunteers running along students as they pedaled, Ruby told me a bit about the program.

Ruby’s team works with a total of 3,000 students with disabilities nationally. Camp participants are aged eight and up, and although 42 percent of them are on the autism spectrum and 26 percent have downs syndrome, the rest come with a wide range of disabilities.

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The camp uses adaptive bikes developed by University of Illinois mechanical engineer Richard Klein, who designed a set of rollers that attach to adapted bikes, facilitating balance while students gain confidence with pedaling and steering. As students progress, volunteers and site facilitators switch out the rollers for narrower and narrower versions, until the students are balancing on a roller the same width of a bike tire.

Klein's rollers, in order of decreasing size.

Klein’s rollers, in order of decreasing size.

Though iCan Shine’s bike camps are finished for the summer, volunteers are needed for next spring and summer’s programs. Want to get involved? Email Lisa Ruby at lisa@icanshine.org.

Ruby answered a few of my questions, below.

WABA: What happens after the students start balancing on two wheels in the gym?

Lisa Ruby: At that point we like to transition them to [biking outside], because there are more distractions and things going on — cars and wind blowing and birds singing and all of that stuff, and that’s where they’re going to be, so making that transition in a safe way is important.

WABA: Can you talk about what the kids who go through this program get out of it?

LR: For this population that we serve, if they’re not riding a bike, then their family is usually not riding a bike, because they can’t all go together. Somebody has to stay home, so [our program] really gets everybody active.

Especially for a child with a disability who has younger siblings who are riding bikes and they’re not, it blows their self-esteem. It’s just crushing. So when [our kids] learn to ride a bike and they can be just like everybody else, it changes everything for them. It’s not just, “I can ride a bike now.” It’s, “I can do anything I want to do.” It makes them so self-confident.

You know how it feels to ride a bike. It’s awesome – it’s just like, “I’m free, and I’m doing this. It’s me and only me.” And that’s awesome for someone with a disability.

WABA: There’s no maximum age limit on the program, right? What brings the older students to class?

LR: A lot of our teens and young adults come because they want independent transportation. They can’t get a driver’s license, but they want wheels, right? They have a job; they want to be able to get there and go see their friends and get around, and that’s important.

Also, a lot of our parents recognize when their children are young that they won’t be able to drive a car. So they know the value of learning to ride a bike early.

Founder and Executive Director Lisa Ruby stands with one of the bikes used for programming.

Founder and Executive Director Lisa Ruby stands with one of the bikes used for programming.

WABA: How did you get into this field?

LR: Very interesting. I spent years in corporate America, and I owned a business in Seattle for six years, and it allowed me to take some time off and volunteer. I was volunteering at a transitional school for homeless children, and I had this epiphany that I needed to be working for and with children and no one should be excluded.

I thought that meant United Nations, or Save the Children, and all those types of organizations were in Boston, New York City, or Washington, DC. I decided DC was going to be it for whatever reason, and my first week here I went to a neighborhood recreation center  looking for a place to work out. There was a big sign that said if you volunteer for adaptive aquatics you get to use the facility for free. So I did, and I was assigned a three year old boy with autism who had so many sensory issues he couldn’t even focus on me.  After working with him I was hooked — I did swimming, I did adaptive gymnastics, I worked for Fairfax County Parks and Rec for a while, and then I found this.

WABA: Why was starting a bike program more appealing than focusing on other sports?

LR: I had never seen anything, any sort of program where in less than six and a half hours somebody can learn a lifetime skill. Never even imagined something like this existed. So I quit my job and we started a non-profit and built the infrastructure, and now I have 28 staff in the summer and 82 camps, and we’re all across North America.

WABA: If I want to help out at iCan Shine, what can I do? 

LR: This is a good volunteering opportunity. We do have local camps for next summer — four in Maryland and three in Virginia DC area, and a spring break camp as well.  I think awareness is huge, just to let people know about it and get involved and help out.

 

 

 

Two (more) ways to be confident on your bike

A couple of weeks ago, we brought you a few bike tips to practice on your own, straight from our City Cycling class curriculum.

This is part two – skills you can practice to get out of a dangerous situation if you ever need to. We teach them at the advanced section of our City Cycling class, called Confident City Cycling.

Come to a class to get tips from our instructors. In the meantime practice these moves on your way  to work, en route to the grocery store, heading to the block party, etc.

They’re fun and simple once you get the hang of them, but if they don’t come naturally at first – hang in there! Some of these maneuvers are counter intuitive, and they take time to get used to.

1. The quick stop. 

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This maneuver involves shifting your weight backward, which will make you stop faster. When we press both brake levers to stop, our weight naturally shifts forward. However, the more weight we apply to the rear wheel, the faster it will come to a controlled stop without skidding.

So, you’re coming to a stop sign.

A. Make sure your pedals are level:

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B. Take your butt off your seat and shift backward, toward the rear wheel (this is the part that might feel dangerous or destabilizing at first). Once you get more comfortable with parting ways with the seat, you can even try to shift your weight far enough back so that your stomach is resting on your seat.

At first it might feel like this:

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Scary, strange, but empowering, no? (Image via)

But it should look something like this:

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No speed suit required.

More importantly, see how our model’s stomach is resting on his seat, and his weight is shifted toward the rear wheel?

This will give you more stability and stopping power, whether you’re on your way to an important job interview or heading out with friends.

Best place to practice the quick stop: I like to try my hand at the weight shift on streets with lots of stop signs. For instance, 11th Street in Northwest DC is a good road to try superwoman moves on the fly.

2. The Rock Dodge

The rock dodge is exactly what it sounds like: a technique to dodge small objects that could jolt you unpleasantly, or even cause a flat tire or a crash.

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Practice quickly flicking your handlebars to the left, which will cause your body to lean to the right and bring your front wheel safely around the dangerous object. Your rear wheel should snake around the other side of the object, avoiding it entirely.

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Rock: Dodged. You: Not going to be late for an important date.

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Best place to practice the rock dodge: Plenty of streets in the DC region have lots of potholes worthy of a dodge – let us know if you find one that’s worthy of an award.

Look for more tips to be confident on your bike in this series, or come to a City Cycling class to get our take on these techniques. We’ll return with a full slate of fall classes in late August.

 

Meet DC’s newest and safest bicyclists

It’s summer camp season. More specifically, for us, bike camp season. For the past two weeks, we’ve collaborated with Marie Reed Elementary School to incorporate bike education into their summer enrichment camp.

We’ve been honored to teach a bright group of first through fourth graders this July — meet the gang in the photos below.

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Balance bikes!

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Getting ready to ride.

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WABA education coordinator Daniel Hoagland leads a group of fourth graders on a ride in Adams Morgan.

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Working together to patch a flat tube.

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“My dream bike”

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“My dream bike has a rainbow that shoots out of the back wheel.”

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Become a WABA Instructor

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WABA’s 2012 class of Instructors.

We are proud to announce the 2014 WABA Education Instructor training program. This is a unique opportunity to join one of the country’s most prominent and successful bike education programs that has been featured in The Washington Post and on NPR in 2013. You’ll get paid to teach adults and kids throughout the region how to make the most of their time on a bike.

Additionally, through the program, you will become certified as a League Cycling Instructor (LCI), enabling you to teach bike education anywhere in the country and/or to host your own classes as an independent instructor.

You’re invited to apply for one of a limited number of Instructor trainee positions this fall. The application is not long, but please take the time to think about your answers and use them as your opportunity to make the case for yourself.

Click here to fill out your 2014 WABA Education Instructor application!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a WABA Education Instructor?

WABA Education Instructors are enthusiastic local individuals who combine their love of bicycling and aptitude for teaching to help run one of the best Adult Bike Education programs in the country. Anyone can apply using this form, and from those applications, we will select 12-16 people to be our Instructor class for 2014.

Do WABA Education Instructors get paid?

Yes! Once Instructors have completed their Trainee period (seven hours of teaching), they are paid a rate of $50/hour for any classes they teach with WABA.

What is the time commitment for WABA Education Instructors?

The training program involves 3-4 mandatory events,  including weekly online assignments, a 9-hour class on a Saturday (tentatively scheduled for 9/13) and a weekend-long seminar (tentatively scheduled for October). We estimate that the total required time is somewhere around 40-50 hours (including time spent on homework) between August and November. Once you complete the Seminar, you will have to attend two WABA adult classes (totaling seven hours) as a Trainee. After that, however, your commitment level is up to you. Over 90 percent of our classes are held on weekend mornings and are 3.5 hours long.

What happens if I am chosen as one of the WABA Education Instructor candidates?

You receive the following:

  • A guaranteed spot in an Instructors-only Traffic Skills 101 class, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 13. ($75 value)
  • A guaranteed spot in WABA’s League Cycling Instructor (LCI) Seminar, tentatively scheduled for October 10-12. NOTE: This application is the ONLY way to attend this Seminar. ($300 value)
  • A WABA Instructor polo shirt. ($20 value)
  • A 1-year WABA membership OR renewal. ($35 value)
  • Payment at the $50/hour Instructor rate for any classes taught with us after you successfully complete your Trainee period.

And in exchange:

  • You must commit to the dates for ALL classes in the Instructor training program.
  • You must commit to completing your Trainee requirements (seven hours of instruction) in your first year as an LCI.
  • You must join the League of American Bicyclists, if you are not already a member.
  • You must complete the Traffic Skills 101 course with a score of 85 percent or higher.
  • You must agree to wear a helmet at all classes and while teaching.

We think that seems like a pretty fair trade.

What are the dates and times that I should know about?

July 8 – Applications begin
August 1 – Applications end
August 11 (Tentative) – Instructor Candidates notified
September 13 – Traffic Skills 101
October 10-12 – League Cycling Instructor (LCI) Seminar

What does it cost to become a WABA Education Instructor?

Completing the application form is free, of course. If you are selected as one of our fifteen candidates, you will be asked to pay for membership in the League of American Bicyclists ($40) in order to obtain your League Cycling Instructor certification.  Additionally, you are responsible for all transportation, food/beverage, and bike upkeep costs incurred while in the training program, and as a WABA Education Instructor thereafter (except where otherwise noted). WABA will cover the rest of the costs (see above list).

I completed WABA’s City Cycling course(s). Can I skip the Traffic Skills 101 requirement?

Sorry, but no. Traffic Skills 101 includes both a written evaluation and an on-bike evaluation that you must pass with a score of 85 percent or higher in order to be allowed into the LCI Seminar. While WABA’s classes cover some of the same material, the only way to take these evaluations with us is through this WABA Education Instructor training program.

What happens if I am accepted as a candidate, but fail to meet the 85% score requirement at the Traffic Skills 101 course?

It is possible for this to happen, though we will do our best to ensure that you reach the required score. If you do not meet the League’s requirement for the Seminar, we cannot allow you to continue. We will offer you a spot in the next LCI Seminar that is hosted by WABA, and will work with you to bring your score up.

Click here to fill out your 2014 WABA Education Instructor application!

Thanks for applying, and good luck!

 

Happy summer from WABA’s education team!

Spring is the busiest time of the year for WABA instructors. From the first blustery weeks of April to the scorching end of June, we get kids on bikes during the day and hit the streets with adult classes on the weekends.

Now, we’re happy to report, we’re on hiatus from classes for the month of July!

Why?

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER!

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DCPS’ last day of school was June 19. During the spring semester, we served:

6 elementary schools: Mann, Bancroft, Powell, Tubman, Garrison, and Randle Highlands,

in Wards 3, 1, 4, 2, and 7, respectively.

We taught 1,469 students and worked with 6 physical education teachers.

We’ll return to DC public schools in the fall. Want to bring WABA to your school? Send us an email at education@waba.org to get in touch.

ADULT SCHOOL IS OUT FOR SUMMER TOO!

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We don’t schedule classes during the brutal July heat in the DC region, but we’ll return with a full schedule of City Cycling and Learn to Ride classes in August.

Want to be the first to know about upcoming sessions? Sign up here to receive notifications about Learn to Ride classes, and here for information about fall City Cycling sessions.

The spring 2014 adult class season was a particularly successful one for our department.

In brief, we served:

267 adults in a total of 19 classes offered in DC, Alexandria, Arlington, and Montgomery County.
We taught 124 people how to bike for the first time ever.

143 people came to City Cycling class, and became more confident bicyclists for it.
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Here’s what students are saying about our classes:

“Learning and practicing rock dodge, quick stop, and quick turn were super, super beneficial. Instruction was good. Try-outs were good. Encouragement to practice at home was good. The ride and instruction along the ride were helpful and very good. Stressing the danger of the door zone was noted well.” (CC 6/7)

“The instructors are very knowledgeable, patient and friendly. They are eager to provide advice, and positive feedback. It is a pity there is no “Bike Instructor Award” – they all deserve it.” (L2R 6/8)

If we didn’t see you in class this spring, we’d love to meet you next fall. Sign up here to learn about new course offerings before everyone else does.

If you’re interested in teaching next season, look no further. Follow this link to get notifications about our instructor certification program.

School profile: WABA in Randle Highlands Elementary School

Every week for the past seven weeks, WABA has been working with DC elementary schools to bring students bike education programs. Our curriculum covers spatial awareness, safe riding skills, helmet fit, road rules, and learn to ride tactics for students new to biking without training wheels.

We spent last week at Randle Highlands Elementary School, working with Physical Education teacher Darlene Ferguson to serve K-4th grade students.

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Randle HIghlands Elementary School

On Thursday we touched base with Ms. Ferguson about her takeaways from the program — and goals for future bike programming.

WABA: What did you think of this week’s bike curriculum? 

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Darlene Ferguson, Randle Highlands’ Physical Education teacher

Darlene Ferguson: I thought it was wonderful. I thought that the students really needed it, and even though they think they can do all things, it was very useful for them.

The curriculum was simple, and it was easy enough for them to follow things, so it gave them different rules of the road, things that they wouldn’t necessarily think about otherwise. I think it helped them to become more aware of how to stay safe while they’re riding a bike. This is something that they could take with them when they go home … they will want to show off to their parents that they learned these new techniques.

WABA: Are your students riding bikes to school?

Ms. Ferguson: I don’t think they are riding to school as much. I think they probably ride in their neighborhoods, those who do have bikes. The WABA program has me thinking … that maybe we could raise money to get bikes for the school or just have more programs to encourage this kind of exercise activity.

WABA: How is this neighborhood for riding in?

Ms. Ferguson: Busy. You know we’re on a main artery; Pennsylvania Avenue is a busy street. The streets are busy, but they do have crossing guards. So we’d just have to teach the kids how to ride safely and use the bikes the right way and the brakes and all so that they wouldn’t run into the street by accident. It’s a little hilly over here also … riding from home to school they would really need a lot of parental guidance.

WABA: What’s your dream bike program for Randle Highlands?

Ms. Ferguson: Maybe like a bike club; maybe we could do that for extra exercise. Maybe we could even try to collaborate with other teachers about distance and we could teach across subjects. Even though it is physical education because we are moving, the students also could calculate the distance from one place to another [and use math], or we could do something in social studies where they could learn about the city and the maps.

I think [the program] would be something where you can incorporate material across the board. It would be something extra to help bridge all the other lessons that they can learn, whether it’s social studies, whether it’s math, whether it’s P.E. … it would be a great cross-curricular activity and something which which parents can start engaging with their kids.

WABA: How could you see parents and school administrators engaging in biking programs in the future?

Ms. Ferguson: A [family] activity on the weekend, or after school or having parents help their kids ride their bikes to school would be great.

And maybe even talking to the administration about investing in more infrastructure – like we don’t even have a bike rack. So if [the students] did ride their bikes to school they don’t have a place to put them, either. … and just having our own fleet of bikes, that would help. We have enough space, we just don’t have the bikes.

School Profile:

School name: Randle Highlands Elementary School

Location: Ward 7

Enrollment: 335

Number of students who participated in WABA’s bike program: 148

WABA Education Coordinator Daniel Hoagland leading a group of Kindergarten students through a course.

WABA Education Coordinator Daniel Hoagland leads a group of Kindergarten students through a course.

Students decide which way to turn as they approach an interection.

Students decide which way to turn as they approach an interection.

 

 

 

Weekends with WABA’s Education Team

Every weekend this June, our instructors are hard at work teaching adult classes. This past Saturday and Sunday we had full attendance at Alexandria’s City Cycling course and 20 students at Arlington’s Learn to Ride class. We thought a full photo recap was in order.

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Instructor Mike Gipstein with Introduction to City Cycling students.

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Practicing scanning and signaling.

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Instructors Elizabeth Bolton and Hamzat Sani assist while a student practices the quick stop.

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Instructor Elizabeth Bolton with Confident City Cycling students.

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Sunday’s Learn to Ride class gets ready to begin.

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WABA instructor Hamzat Sani explains learning to balance on a bike by gliding.

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Fun and games during a water break.

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WABA instructor Leigh Ann Evanson puts pedals on a student’s bike.

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Pedals!

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Sunday’s instructor team, from left to right: Arielle Milkman, Dan Redmond, Leigh Ann Evanson, Anica Allen, Steve Offutt, and Hamzat Sani.

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Our new kids’ fleet is here!

WABA’s education team has a brand spanking new set of kids’ bikes! Big thanks to the folks at Revolution Cycles, Clarendon, who made this project possible.

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Daniel Hoagland, WABA’s education coordinator, testing the fleet at Tubman Elementary School in Columbia Heights.

Why does WABA need so many kids’ bikes?

During the spring and fall seasons, we’re busy at DC public schools, where we teach students about spatial and street awareness and get them riding bikes. And to do so, we bring a whole lot of bikes with us almost everywhere we go.

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What kind are they?

Because we work with kindergarten-5th graders, we need bikes in a range of shapes and sizes.

  • The tiny green machines in the background of the first picture are balance bikes, which we use to teach younger students who haven’t ridden before. Balance bikes don’t have pedals or wheels — they’re just for gliding practice. The most difficult part of learning to ride is mastering balance on two wheels, and it’s easier to focus on balancing when you take pedals out of the equation.
  • We have three bikes with 20″ wheels and two bikes with 16″ wheels, ideal for teaching first-fourth graders.
  • Finally, our new fleet includes four full-sized mountain bikes, so older students can learn shifting and braking skills along with control and balance.

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Here’s to an excellent spring season! Read more about our kids’ programs on the education page.