Big Dreams = Big Change You Can Ride Your Bike On

What does your dream bikeable neighborhood look like? Protected bike lanes that take you wherever you need to go, so you don’t have to worry about navigating high-speed roads alongside heavy traffic? Trails that create a green haven in the middle of the city, turning an errand or commute into a chance to spend time outside? How about wide sidewalks to get you safely to school, the metro or bus stop, your favorite coffee shop, and your friends’ houses…?

It sounds almost too good to be true, but with the support of members across DC, Maryland, and Virginia, it’s becoming reality. 

This year marks 50 years of WABA, and the small group of neighbors who came together to demand better bicycling conditions for DC in 1972 has grown into a movement that is changing our entire region.  Block-by-block, mile-by-mile, and neighborhood-by-neighborhood, you and your neighbors give life to the vision of a region where walking, biking, and transit are the best way to get around.

Being a WABA member means that you’re not riding alone, not fighting alone, and not dreaming alone. Here’s what you and your fellow WABA members made possible in the last year:

  • In DC, wheels hit pavement in new protected bike lanes on Kenyon and Warder Sts NW, Park Place NW, 9th and Florida Ave NW, New Jersey Ave NW and SW… the list goes on! And we might see even more connections before the year is done.
  • A new extension of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which links Union Station through Brookland to Fort Totten. This bustling trail connects 1500 people a day from vibrant neighborhoods to transit, schools, parks, businesses, and downtown DC, all without cars.
  • Groundbreaking on construction to fill the gap in the Hyattsville Trolley Trail—a much needed connection in Prince George’s County that will keep people walking and biking safe from traffic on Rhode Island Avenue. 
  • A critical shift at the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, which announced a plan for 2 miles of protected bike lanes on Old Georgetown Road in North Bethesda. This long-needed improvement to this deadly corridor has been too long in the making but, thanks to your advocacy, the administration is finally listening. 
  • DC Council support for the Safer Streets Amendment Act! When enacted, this will make the District the first city in the United States to both ban right-turn-on-red and legalize the bicycle safety stop, keeping people safe at intersections. 
  • Four miles of upper Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park are open for people, for good. Thanks to the work of thousands of volunteer advocates, this beloved outdoor space is preserved for people using trails and streets to play, explore, and travel from Maryland to downtown DC by foot or by bike. 

Here’s an example: in 1972, WABA founder Cary Shaw built his own curb cut on Connecticut Avenue NW. Fifty years later, in 2022, WABA advocates like you won a commitment from the city to put protected bike lanes on that very same roadway. This will be a transformational change for one of the region’s busiest corridors, making it possible to travel safely from Woodley Park to Chevy Chase without a car. Talk about a dream come true!

Thanks to 50 years of consistent advocacy from people like Cary Shaw all the way up to you and your neighbors, our region is on the edge of an enormous cultural shift in how people get around. DC is building bike lanes faster than ever before, with the city committing to 10 new miles of protected bike lanes every year. WABA won overwhelming support from leaders across the region to complete the 40 priority trails in the Capital Trails Network by 2025—a huge milestone to completing this 990-mile network of connected, world-class trails . And more people than ever are choosing to walk, bike, and scoot—seeing how green, active transportation options like walking, biking, and transit can be more fun, more sustainable, and more affordable…in other words, a win-win-win. 

WABA members are part of a movement to reimagine what our region could look like—a movement for protected bike lanes, trails, safer streets, and a just and sustainable transportation system. Here are some of the dreams we’re making reality in 2023:

  • A protected bike lane on 9th St NW. Yes, that’s right— after nearly nine years of advocacy for this critical safety improvement, the city is breaking ground on a dedicated bike route from Florida Avenue NW to Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • Protected contraflow bike lanes in National Landing—part of the Crystal City Bike Network plan that WABA won in partnership with the People Before Cars Coalition.
  • A new walking and biking trail in Ward 8, connecting the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail in DC to the Oxon Hill Farm Trail in Prince George’s County, MD… and moving us 3.8 miles closer to a completed Capital Trails Network.
  • A truly great Long Bridge Trail that creates a dedicated connection from Arlington and the Mount Vernon Trail to DC for people walking and biking.
  • More projects like the Connecticut Avenue NW protected bike lane that reimagine what streets can look like—especially on high-traffic corridors like Old Georgetown Road in Montgomery County, where change is so overdue.

Whether you were there when it all started in 1972 or took your first Learn to Ride class with WABA this past year, you are a critical part of this movement. With you and your fellow WABA supporters on our side, our dreams for a region where it’s easy and fun to get around by bike are bigger and better than ever. 

Bike lanes? How about a network of protected bike lanes and low stress streets that takes you where you need to go—so you can bike jubilantly from door to door without fear?

Trails? How about 990 miles of trails that connect our beautiful region, making it easy for active, green transportation to be part of everyday life?

Safer streets? We need them, now— and we are demanding that elected officials make good on their promises to make streets safer for everyone. Because we have a right to a region where not even a single person is forced to confront the grief and trauma of losing a loved one to traffic violence. 

The fight for a region where walking and biking are low-stress, easy, safe ways to get around isn’t one anyone can win on their own. That’s why we’re grateful to have you on our team, helping turn our shared vision into real change on our streets. Thank you for being part of this movement— now, onwards to 2023!

Beach Drive for people, all year round!

Some fantastic news for your Wednesday afternoon:

The National Park Service announced that Beach Drive will be open for people all year round. 

This is an unqualified win for everyone who loves to spend time in Rock Creek Park. Your petition signatures, your letters, and your presence out on Beach Drive made this possible. Thank you for speaking up. 

This huge step forward for a connected regional network of bikeable, walkable spaces is the result of years of work from WABA staff and coalition partners like the People’s Alliance for Rock Creek Park. You can read the full details on the announcement here.

Now we need your help to keep this momentum up.  Can you make a donation to WABA today so we can keep so we can win even more beautiful green places to walk and bike?

After that—it’s 70 degrees and sunny. Get out and celebrate with a ride in your park!

NPS wants to bring the cars back to Beach Drive

On July 11, the National Park Service released its Environmental Assessment for the future management of Upper Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park. It calls for keeping Upper Beach Drive closed to cars and open to people during summer months. But starting in September, during fall, winter, and spring, NPS plans to welcome cars and commuting traffic back onto Upper Beach Drive – effectively (and by its own admission) closing Beach Drive and much of the park to people not traveling by car. Park officials call it a compromise.

For two blissful years, Upper Beach Drive has been closed to cars and open to people for safe, quiet, recreation, transportation, and access to natural spaces. It has been transformative for tens of thousands of people and families around the region. WABA and our partners appreciate that NPS has taken a big step forward in committing to permanently expand non-motorized access during the summer.

But we do not accept this outcome. Parks should be for people, for the preservation of and access to the natural environments they thrive in. And by choosing to hand the park back to cars and drivers for nine months of the year, NPS has left most people out of this decision. The People’s Alliance for Rock Creek (PARC), of which WABA is a member, issued this press release on Monday, July 18.

On July 18, park officials hosted a public meeting to present their plan, answer questions on the process, and take feedback. More than 200 people attended the virtual meeting, piling their questions and their disbelief into the text chat box. Park officials defended the plan, pointing to new, yet unreleased, 2045 traffic analysis and recommendations by the District Department of Transportation, and clarified how opening Beach Drive to commuter traffic will protect the natural environment. NPS encouraged anyone with feedback on the proposal to submit comments by August 11. The meeting’s presentation slides, recording, and transcript are available here.

NPS will accept written comments on this decision and document until August 11th here. WABA and our partners are assembling thorough comments challenging this decision. Expect an action alert with guidance in the coming weeks. This decision will not be final until NPS has reviewed all comments, likely in the fall.

Thanks to everyone for the ongoing support for Rock Creek Park Seven Days a Week. For full details on this campaign and to sign the petition in support, go to waba.org/PARC.

In the News

‘It Is Counterintuitive’: NPS Officials Say That More Cars Will Improve Rock Creek Park’s Environment (Jacob Fenston DCist) – Jul 19, 2022

Beach Drive in Northwest DC to Reopen to Traffic Despite Popularity of Closure (Jackie Bensen NBC 4) – Jul 19, 2022

The future of Beach Drive and D.C. traffic (Paige Hopkins Axios) – Jul 19, 2022

People’s Alliance For Rock Creek Press Release – Jul 18, 2022

Opinion | Leave Rock Creek Park’s upper Beach Drive closed to cars (Seth Yeazel Washington Post) – Jul 15, 2022

The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi – July 15, 2022 – Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh reiterated her support for closing upper Beach Drive to cars and opening it to people permanently and year-round.

Who Is a City Park For? (Henry Grarbar Slate) – Jul 14, 2022

NPS to hold hearing on plans to reopen upper portion of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park (Tom Roussey ABC 7)- July 11, 2022

NPS weighs making Beach Drive car-free every summer (Luz Lazo Washington Post) – Jul 11, 2022

DC Protected Bike Lanes & Trails Update: June 2022

Late last year, after more than two years of organizing and work from advocates, Mayor Bowser committed DC to redesigning 3+ miles of Connecticut Ave with continuous, protected bike lanes and advancing the project to the next steps. Next week, we need your help and your voice to get it done right.  Read on for details.

Connecticut Avenue is just one of the many campaigns WABA supporters are pushing forward. Join our monthly Low Stress Network Advocate Meetup on Monday, June 27 at 7pm to meet advocates from across the city, share updates on citywide opportunities, and join a work session on a campaign to build a piece of the low stress network near you.

Did You See This?

  1. A Tenuous Opportunity On Connecticut Ave  – next week, DDOT is finally sharing detailed plans for safety improvements and what will be the longest protected bike lane in DC on Connecticut Ave. But two critical questions remain: Will the lanes stop short of Chevy Chase, DC, leaving this neighborhood and retail corridor cut off from the network? And will the block-by-block design stick to the ambitious vision or cave to demands for preserving parking. Come to UDC to have your say on Wednesday, June 29 at 6pm.
  2. Rock Creek Park Trail opening soon – major sections of the Rock Creek Park Trail are opening south of Calvert Street, around the Zoo tunnel, and across Rock Creek on a new bridge (watch the full presentation). Plus, a new tunnel takes the trail under the Roosevelt Bridge near the Kennedy Center (check it out).
  3. 7th Street Open Streets – last month, DC closed a few miles of 7th St. to cars and opened it up to people! And boy did they show up! Check it out!

Things To Do

Good things happen when advocates like you are speaking up for DC’s Low Stress Bike Network. Here are some quick actions to support building parts of the network. Find the most recent actions at waba.org/action.

Safety First on Q And R Streets NW / NE

DC has many north-south protected bike lanes in Ward 2, but the lack of high-quality, east-west routes put people who bike in constant danger. It’s time to put Safety First on Q & R St with continuous, protected bike lanes from Dupont to the Met Branch Trail.

Sign the Petition

Sign the Petition to put People First on I (Eye) St. SE/SW

Sign the petition to support DDOT’s plan for protected bike lanes, traffic calming, and safer intersections on I St. in SW Waterfront and Navy Yard ahead of the June ANC discussion.

Sign the Petition

Share Your Big Ideas with the DC Build Back Better Infrastructure Task Force

What are your transformative ideas for a bigger, better, more equitable transportation system in DC? Up to $3 billion in federal funding may be coming DC’s way and DC’s Infrastructure Task Force wants to hear your ideas.

Take Action

Weigh in on Columbia Road NW Bus Priority & Bike Project

DDOT wants your ideas for making Columbia Rd in Adams Morgan work better for buses and bikes. Take the survey.

Take Action

Support DDOT’s Plan to Finish the Met Branch Trail on 8th St. NE

DDOT has a new, thoughtful, & all-around better plan to complete the Met Branch Trail on 8th St. NE with wide protected bike lanes, orderly school pickup/dropoff, and traffic calming. Sign your support!
Take Action

Safe Biking & Walking on Lincoln Road NE Now!

Join us in urging DDOT to take this next step in connecting the bike lanes of Northeast DC, and taking the next step towards a safe commuting future for the District.

Take Action

Events & Places to Go

Low Stress Bike Network Citywide Meeting

Get updates on campaigns across DC and get involved in one near you.
Monday, June 27 at 7pm
Register on Zoom

 

Connecticut Avenue NW Protected Bike Lanes Design Update

Get the latest on this transformational safety project. Weigh in on the block-by-block design, and help us make the case for continuing the protected bike lanes though Chevy Chase to the Maryland line. Two ways to attend:

Virtual Meeting 

Tuesday, June 28 at 9 am

Join on Webex: rebrand.ly/ConnAveRevStudy

In-Person Meeting

Wednesday, June 29 at 6 pm

Van Ness UDC 4200 Connecticut Avenue NW, Student Center Building, 3rd Floor Ballroom

What We’re Reading

  1. The JFK closure has brought some zen to Golden Gate Park (SFGate) – after a years-long fight, one of San Francisco’s signature park roads is a completely different place, transforming the park and the neighborhoods around it.
  2. When will we say not another? (GGWash) – a troubling look at the horrible impact cars and guns have on children’s lives in DC and why it’s time to stop talking and instead take action.

Step Up Your Advocacy

  • WABA’s Low Stress Network campaign is powered and lead by community advocates like you. So we have tons of resources to share. Visit waba.org/network for videos of past trainings, helpful how-tos, and more. 
  • Grab a slot at my Advocate Office Hours to dig into an issue, find opportunities to get involved in a campaign, or plot the first steps of your own. Sign up for office hours here.

WABA and our supporters are transforming our region.

Our region is changing. Can you see it? I can: from my window, from my bike, from my picnic blanket. More people than ever are riding confidently in new protected bike lanes. Families are out enjoying our gorgeous local trails and car-free spaces like Beach Drive. Friends are eating, drinking, talking, and laughing in streateries. 
 Our streets are becoming more than a way to get from one place to another. They are the places where we live our lives.

In 2021, WABA, our supporters, and our partners came together to reimagine what our region can look like when we make space for more people. Here’s what we did together:

  • A wider Washington & Old Dominion Trail that invites more people to make this beautiful space part of their daily lives.  

  • Unprecedented demand for a car-free future for Beach Drive— an incredible show of support for one of our region’s beloved National Parks.

  • The first-ever protected bike lanes on a state highway in Maryland, piloting a repurpose of two traffic lanes for biking.

  • DC’s second Open Streets event, which brought tens of thousands of people to Georgia Avenue NW for an afternoon of carefree, car-free play.

  • More bike lanes all over that create critical connections to other bike lanes and trails, and make each ride better than the last.

WABA joined with organizations focused on intersectional issues like climate, housing, and transit, to advance our shared vision of a sustainable, equitable transportation system. In coalition, we:

  • Earned support from four jurisdictions—and counting!—to build the Capital Trails Network by 2030—an 881-mile network of connected, world-class trails.

  • Won dedicated, comprehensive funding for the DC Vision Zero Bill, which will increase automated traffic enforcement and pay for pedestrian and bicyclist safety projects, taking a much-needed step towards ending our region’s traffic violence epidemic.

  • Built power, strategy, and community among regional Families for Safe Streets chapters, bringing together those impacted by traffic violence through peer support and advocacy.

  • Expanded our DC Trail Rangers program. WABA Trail Rangers’ daily, friendly presence on the trails is setting a national precedent for what trail outreach and maintenance should be, and making it clear that trails are for everyone.

Tomorrow, I’ll share more about what’s ahead for WABA in 2022. I hope you’ll be along for the ride!

Upper Beach Drive Environmental Assessment Meeting w/ NPS

The National Park Service is holding a virtual public meeting about the future management of upper Beach Drive. This meeting kicks off an environmental assessment of the options, including keeping sections of Upper Beach Drive open to people and closed to cars, seven days a week. 

At the meeting, NPS will present the options under consideration, explain their process, take feedback, and share how you can weigh in through the 45 day comment period.

This is the chance we’ve been pushing for! Please attend, share your enthusiasm in the chat box, and share what you think about the options. We’ll have guidance on written comments soon.

Upper Beach Drive
Environmental Assessment Kickoff
Thursday, July 8 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Join on Microsoft Teams
More info on the NPS project page