Resources: Basic Bike Commuting Gear

This blog post is part of a new series by our bike ambassadors. It’s dedicated to presenting tips that will encourage new riders to get started. We’ll link these posts on our Resources page, forming a library of tips for beginning cyclists.

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Commuting by bicycle isn’t complicated. You don’t need much to get started. Once you have a bike that fits you and is in working condition, you’re almost all set to ride. These basics will ensure that you’re safe, lawful, and comfortable.

A helmet: While a helmet is not required by law in D.C. for riders over the age of 16, there’s nothing wrong with protecting your head.

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U-lock: Unless you are just taking your bicycle out for a spin, you’re going to want to be able to leave your bike outside your destination (i.e. Metro station, restaurant, workplace, etc.) and rest assured it will be waiting for you when you’re ready to head home. Purchasing and properly using the best lock you can afford will provide a sense of security when you don’t have your eyes on your bike.

Lights: Requirements for lights vary by jurisdiction, but regardless, it’s important to keep yourself visible on the road. Make sure to use a white headlight (front light) and a red taillight (rear light) when it’s dark, foggy, or in wet weather. There are several types of bike lights, and the one that suits your needs depends on your ride. Riding a dark trail at night? You’ll want the brightest one you can find to help illuminate the path in front of you. Riding down a heavily light cycle track? Maybe you can get by with smaller blinky lights. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever ride at night, you never know when you may leave work later than you planned, get caught in the rain, or decide you need to take your bike out after dark.

Some bicycle commuters often find that it’s nice to have a few extras beyond what’s absolutely necessary. These nice-to-have items include:

Bell: Bells are not only for your safety, but for the safety of other bicyclists and pedestrians out on the road. A bell can communicate to others that you’re passing, warn jaywalkers that you are approaching, or grab the attention of a passenger hopping out of a cab before they door you.

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Fenders: Avoid loking like a skunk after your rainy day rides by adding fenders to your bike. A wet and puddle-filled ride becomes more enjoyable when you’re not working about getting your clothes filthy on the way.

Gloves: Plenty of riders use cushioned gloves on their everyday commute throughout the year. Protecting your hands from the cold, wet, and wind is crucial during the winter months since most braking and shifting control comes from your hands and fingers. For most short commutes, your usual winter gloves will suffice.

Pete and FABB’s Absolutely Merry Holiday Shopping Expedition—By Bike!

Pete Beers is one of our part-time bike ambassadors. Pete lives in Virginia and spends a lot of time biking in D.C.’s suburbs and, as a BA, has worked tirelessly to make getting around WABA’s suburban jurisdictions by bike easier and more accessible. Recently, Pete led a holiday shopping trip by bike to Tyson’s Corner and the Mosaic District in conjunction with Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling. We’re reposting his account of the day–which was, by all accounts, exceedingly enjoyable–on our blog. You can read Pete’s blog, I Love My Commute, here.

The best response that I got when I proposed this ride was “Ho Ho NO. I’ll follow you to Certain Death, Pete, but not to Tyson’s Corner (a fate worse than . . . ).”

I think many people dread crowds and parking problems associated with holiday shopping at the mall the week before Christmas.  The mall can get a bit crazy this time of year.  My goal was to make it fun.  I did this by getting there by bicycle and by bringing  along as many friends as I could.  I’ve also wanted to share how amazingly easy it is to ride to Tyson’s Corner by bicycle.  That was the genesis of the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB) / Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) Holiday Shopping Ride.  Both FABB and WABA are all about showing people that it is easy to live by bicycle.

Tyson’s Corner Center jumped in immediately as a sponsor.  Mosaic District enthusiastically supported this too.  Freshbikes Mosaic provided both shopping bags and bicycle security services (me with a bunch of U-locks and cables) to make this all possible.  I rode the cargo bike with buckets on the back to help people with transporting their purchases.  In the end, I was the only one filling the buckets with stuff that I’d bought.  It wasn’t that others didn’t shop.  They brought their own means for carrying their purchases home.


The route was simple.  Nine of us rode from Vienna, Virginia to Tyson’s Corner and completely bypassed the lines of cars waiting to get into the parking garage.  We picked up two more riders along the way.  Bicycle Parking is right next to the mall entrance in spot that had Mall Security and a police officer right next door for added bicycle security.  The outdoor German Market was really nice!  The local artisans and bakeries were the backbone of my shopping for the day.  We got a lot of shopping done before even setting foot in the mall.  We enjoyed two hours of shopping inside and a nice lunch before loading up our purchases and heading south.

The second stop on our shopping ride is the Mosaic District.  This eclectic group of shops and restaurants is quickly becoming one of my favorite hangouts.  In addition to being home to my favorite local bike shop (Freshbikes) there are many small local shops, MOM’s Organic Market and plenty of restaurants, Target and the movie theater make it a great place to be.  It is quite easy to get to by bicycle and has good bike parking in the garages and out on the street.  We spent an hour there shopping and getting coffee before heading back to Vienna.

What was my favorite reaction after the ride?  “Thanks for organizing and leading the ride, we got a lot of shopping done. We’ll be riding to Tysons instead of driving again in the near future.”

This was the first of many, many rides of this kind.  Many thanks to Tyson’s Corner Center, Mosaic District and Freshbikes for making it possible.

Resources: Bike Route Planning

This blog post is part of a new series by our bike ambassadors. It’s dedicated to presenting tips that will encourage new riders to get started. We’ll link these posts on our Resources page, forming a library of tips for beginning cyclists.

Once you’ve found the bike that works for you, it’s important to ensure it’s in working condition for riding before venturing out onto the road. Now that you’re all geared up, it’s time to plan your two-wheeled tour—of D.C., Maryland, Virginia, or anywhere!

Before mapping out your bike route, it can be helpful to consider your options. How comfortable are you riding in traffic? Do you prefer bike lanes and trails? How much time do you have to get to your destination? What time of day will you be riding? Do you want to avoid or tackle the hills?

Basic Route Planning
Google Maps (both the desktop browser map and the smartphone app) has an option to select bicycling directions. Just as if you were trying to get driving or walking directions, simply type in the start and end locations and click the bicycle icon.

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Often, there is more than one way to get from point A to point B. Dark solid green lines show separated bicycle facilities like trails or cycle tracks. Medium solid green lines indicate that street has a dedicated bicycle lane, but is not separated from traffic. Dotted green lines represent places in the city that are considered “bicycle routes” and/or have sharrows painted on them.

Depending on personal comfort level, mileage, and timing, you could choose any number of different ways to get around D.C. While an electronic mapping function like Google Maps may produce the directions for the most direct route, it may mean riding on busy streets without any dedicated bike infrastructure.  Some riders may be comfortable taking the lane, but others may not. Getting to your destination via the most bike-friendly route may mean taking an indirect path on trails and side streets in order to avoid major thoroughfares.

D.C.-Area Trails
While the D.C. trail network is not complete, there are a number of connections to and from the city for commuting to work or getting your workout. Trails can provide a safe alternative for riders looking to get out of traffic or to those looking for a scenic weekend ride. In some cases, trails are the only real connection between destinations. Check out or complete list of trails in the D.C. region.

Multi-Modal Routes
Having the option to hop on transit with your bicycle is a handy one. Whether you get a flat, get caught in a blizzard, or are too tired ride, knowing your options for getting home can make it easier to decide to go by bike.

Metro: Folding bikes are allowed on Metro Rail anytime during the usual hours of operation. Regular bikes are permitted at all times except for certain holidays and Monday-Friday rush hours, which are 7 a.m.-10 a.m. and 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Bicycles are permitted any time during the weekends. You must use the elevator with your bicycle.

Bus: Every Metro Bus has two bike racks on the front of the bus. You can carry your bike on the front of the bus at any time with no additional charge. Learn how to put your bike on the bus.

Park and Ride: Many of the area metro stations have bike racks or lockers on site. Check WMATA’s website to find out if your station has these amenities. Consider bicycling from home to the Metro for your commute to save on parking costs!

With over 200 stations in the region, Capital Bikeshare gives you the option of one-way, short bike trips. Check Bikeshare’s website for details about how to join, and use the app SpotCycle to figure out which stations near you have available docks or bikes.

Paper Bike Maps
If your smartphone is dead or if electronic maps just aren’t your thing, there are plenty of printed bicycle maps available for navigating your way through the city. Check out our complete list of maps available in the Maryland, Virginia, and the region, or stop by the WABA office to pick one up.

Friends and Forums
Pair up with a friend who bikes in your area and ride together. Talk to them about their favorite or fastest routes. If you don’t have a trusted bicycle buddy, hop onto the Washington Area Bike Forum and ask other bicycle enthusiasts in the area. Everyday bike riders are an invaluable resource when it comes to finding out where the best places to bike are, where you’ll find the biggest hills, and where to enjoy the best views of D.C.!

Remember:

  • Double check your bike route on a map before heading out!
  • Come prepared! Don’t count on trails to be well lit or for bicycle routes to be well signed. Knowing ahead of time where you’re going will save you frustrations later.
  • Leave extra time for new routes. Sure, there are times when getting lost can be a fun adventure, but not when you’re running late!

Resources: Quick Fixes and Maintenance Tips

This blog post is part of a new series by our bike ambassadors. It’s dedicated to presenting tips that will encourage new riders to get started. We’ll link these posts on our Resources page, forming a library of tips for beginning cyclists.

Previously in this new serious of resource tips, we talked about finding and choosing the right bike. Once you’ve found the bike that works for you, it’s important to make sure it’s in good condition for riding before venturing out onto the road.

ABC Quick Check
The ABC Quick Check is an easy-to-remember, fast way to make sure your bike is ready to go. It helps you identify up front things that could be inconvenient problems if they crop up while you’re riding. What does it stand for?

A is for Air: Give both front and rear tires a quick squeeze to make sure tires are firm, not soft. Check the sidewall of your tire to find out what level the air pressure should be, and use a pump to fill to that amount. It’s a good idea to check for any cuts, tears, rocks, or other flaws in the tires. Proper tire inflation and care helps prevent flat tires.

B is for Brakes: Check both hand brakes (if your bike has two) by making sure the whole brake pad squeezes tightly on the wheel’s metal rim, not on the rubber tire or on empty air. There should be space between the hand brake lever and the handlebar. If your brakes do not fully stop the bicycle, do not ride until they are fixed.

C is for Chain: Take a look at the chain. Is it dry or rusted? If so, apply a tiny drop of chain lube to each link. Each link should be free of rust and debris. Click for more advanced chain maintenance.

Quick is for Quick Release: Quick release levers make it easy to adjust or remove parts of your bike for maintenance and storage purposes. Make sure any quick releases (usually found on seat posts and at the center of wheels) are closed and pointed towards the back of the bicycle.

Check is for…Check!: Look over the rest of the bicycle. If you see any broken spokes, missing nuts or bolts, or have a wiggly seat that you can’t tighten, do not ride. Fix any small issues before you ride to prevent injury or causing damage to your bicycle! If you are unsure how to fix any problems on your bicycle, contact your local shop or schedule a bike tune-up.

To see an ABC Quick Check in action, watch this video.

Fix-a-Flat
Flat tires are nearly inevitable and can leave you stranded if you don’t know how to fix them. But it’s an easy enough process that most riders can pick up quickly. The best way to learn how to fix a flat is to watch a demonstration: To see a tire-change in action, check out this Fix-a-Flat video by REI.

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You need a few things to fit a flat: tire levers, a pump, a patch kit, or a spare tube. The process goes like this: Pull your wheel off using tire levers. Remove tube from inside tire and check for punctures or tears. Use the patch kit to repair a small leak, or replace the tube with your spare. Slightly inflate the new tube and replace the new tube inside the tire. Put the tire back on the wheel, and the wheel back on the bike. Tighten any quick releases or brakes you may have loosened to get your wheel off. You’re ready to ride!

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Clean and Lube a Chain
To keep your chain in good shape, it’s important to keep it cleaned and lubricated. Having a well-lubed chain protects the moving parts from excessive wear and tear caused by friction and rust.

There are many different types of chain lube on the market, and how frequently your bike needs to be oiled largely depends on how frequently you’re riding and the conditions the bike endures. For the most part, lube only when your chain sounds squeaky or appears dry. Cleaning and lubing your chain after riding through wet, muddy conditions will keep it from rusting.

Make sure to use bike-specific lube and be careful to avoid over-lubricating. Wipe away excess lube before riding.

Wipe your chain down so that the lube doesn’t get sticky or goopy.

 

Do It Yourself?
Your local bike shop likely offers a free or by-donation basic maintenance class. Co-ops like The Bike House and Velocity are also good options. Or check out REI’s post for more info on cleaning and maintaining your bicycle.

Resources: Finding the Right Bike

This blog post is part of a new series by our bike ambassadors. It’s dedicated to presenting tips that will encourage new riders to get started. We’ll link these posts on our Resources page, forming a library of tips for beginning cyclists.

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No matter how you want to use it—whether it’s riding to work or venturing out on trails on the weekends with your family—it’s important to have a bike that feels right. This post discusses some important factors in choosing a bike that’s right for you.

There are so many types and styles of bicycles that it’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to find a match. Some things to consider when picking out a bicycle include:

Budget: How much do you want to spend on your bicycle?
Terrain: Where will you be riding? Mostly on rocky trails? Smooth road surfaces?
Distance: How far will you be riding regularly?
Purpose: Do you want to use your bike for exercise? Errands? Touring cross-country? Commuting?
Parking/Storage: Will you be leaving your bicycle parked outside or are you able to bring it inside?

Ultimately, it doesn’t necessarily matter what type of bike you choose to ride as long as you are comfortable. If your bike does not fit you properly, is in poor shape, or causes you discomfort, you won’t want to ride it!

How do I determine what size bicycle fits me?
While not every style of bicycle has the same geometry, there are a few easy ways to determine whether or not a bicycle will fit you properly. Once you have a bicycle that generally fits your body type, there are many other adjustments that can be made to ensure the most comfortable and efficient ride.

Be sure to pay attention to your standover height. To test a bike’s standover height, throw your leg over the top tube and straddle the bicycle. For bicycles with a top tube parallel to the ground, there should be about one inch of clearance between you and the tube. For a slightly angled downward top tube, you can expect to see about two inches of clearance. Some hybrid bicycles and many comfort styles, the top tube won’t be nearly as close to your body.

Learn more about standover height from Sheldon Brown and REI.

The black arrow indicates standover height. Image via REI.

Where can I purchase a bicycle?
Any bike shop in the area will be happy to help you find a new bicycle that suits your needs and fits your body size. Shops are a great place to go for a test ride and find out what type of bicycle works best for you. Try out a couple different shops before purchasing your bike, since each one offers different brands and styles. Purchasing a bicycle is an investment, so choose wisely. Check out our list of area bike shopshere.

There are a few shops in Maryland and Virginia that sell used bikes, but current regulations prevent D.C. shops from doing the same. Craigslist is your best bet for secondhand purchases in the District. Make sure you know the size and type of bike you’re looking for before you begin your search. You might determine your preferred size by test-riding bikes in bike shops.

I’m Still Not Convinced.
Maybe you’re still not sure what type of bicycle is right for you. Another great option in the D.C. region is Capital Bikeshare. The system has over 200 stations and 1800-plus bikes for you to rent in half-hour blocks. If you’re not sure how frequently you’ll use a bike, Bikeshare is a good way to figure out if you’d like to commit to buying one of your own.

What If I’m Not Confident Riding a Bike?
We’ve got a class for that! Our City Cycling classes teach new and experienced riders alike how to ride in traffic. If you don’t know how to ride a bike, our Adult Learn to Ride classes are a great option. Winter is coming, so our education offerings are slowing down, but be sure to check our calendar to see if something is coming up.

For more information on bike fit, see REI’s breakdown of types of bikes and riding and Simply Bike’s detailed first steps for fit. This slideshow is also a good introduction to bike fit in general. Competitive Cyclist has a DIY fitting process for those looking for a bike for athletic pursuits. And you can geek out with Sheldon Brown’s extensive explanation of dishonest frame sizing.

Meet the Bike Ambassador Team

We’ve previously introduced you to a few of our superstar bike-ambassador volunteers. Since then, the program has grown, and we’ve brought on part-time staff to better spread the word of bicycling in D.C. You might recognize Dani, Hamzat, and Pete, who have spent the past few weeks roaming the city with our big green bike trailers. Learn more about them below. 

20130926_071525Dani Moore
My path to professional cycling zealot began innocuously enough. In 2006, I moved to Tempe, Arizona to attend Arizona State University. Like many Sun Devils, I discovered that the fastest and most pleasurable way to commute to campus was by bike. Every day I rolled 1.5 miles from my apartment to school. The habit was so engrained that I continued to commute by bicycle when I moved 1.5 miles farther away. Along the way, I made friends with other cyclists, and I found myself biking increasingly longer distances in their company. We biked to cupcake bakeries, hiking trailheads, and farmers markets in the Phoenix metro area.

Before I knew it, I was embarking on incredible bike adventures – 65-, 75-, 125-mile rides through the Sonoran desert. In December 2012, I set out on my grandest bike adventure yet: a cross-country trip from Phoenix to Washington, D.C.

Joining WABA was one of the first things I did after arriving in D.C. I believe everyone benefits when biking is a viable transportation option. I am eager to help more people discover the joy of cycling and to promote a vibrant, safe, inclusive, and enduring bicycle culture in the nation’s capital.

Meet the next two BAs, Hamzat and Pete, below the jump. Continue reading

Meet the Bike Ambassadors! Part II

The D.C. Bike Ambassador outreach program relies heavily on the support of committed volunteers working to make bicycling safe and accessible for everyone in D.C. There are currently around 150 trained bike ambassadors riding through the District acting as role models in their community.

To put a face to our team, we are showcasing a few ambassadors who have gone above and beyond in volunteering their time, skills, and ideas to improve the program. Each of our featured volunteers has helped to extend our reach, forge new partnerships, and present bicycling in new and exciting ways. Our superstar ambassadors are helping make D.C. a more bike-friendly city. Check out the ambassadors we introduced last month here.

Bikes and Baseball  (14)Michael Murray, bike ambassador since  January 2013
While I first went car-free when I moved to Chicago in 2009, I only began using my bike as my primary mode of transportation when I moved to D.C. in 2011. Thanks to the great advocacy work done by WABA , the District has done a great job to make cyclists feel safe. These

improvements encourage many would-be cyclists to finally give biking a try. Like many other riders, I found that biking in D.C. was the most convenient and affordable way around the city, no matter where I was going.

There are people in every neighborhood in the city who are interested in riding, but many are not sure where to begin. The Bike Ambassador program is great way to provide encouragement, support and necessary information as they get started.

Introducing more people to biking will put more cyclists on our streets, making it safer for all users. Biking is naturally a social activity. Encouraging more people to ride is a great way to make new friends and make D.C. a better place to call home.

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Alex Zuckerman, bike ambassador since June 2013 
There’s a reason the phrase “it’s like riding a bicycle” is a cliché: Most people begin riding a bike as a kid around the neighborhood. I’m no different. For as long as I can remember I’ve known how to ride a bike, but it wasn’t until I moved to Syracuse, N.Y. for college that I started using one for transportation. Out of convenience and speed in my junior year of college, I began biking to class. In those days I had a rugged mountain bike to trek through Syracuse’s weather.

Living in D.C. allows for a sleeker bike, so I’ve since transitioned to a hybrid that’s perfect for getting around town or for long trail rides. Just because I’m a bike ambassador doesn’t mean I’m cycling expert. I still own a car, I love to walk around the city, and I take the bus to work most days. For me, part of being an ambassador is understanding the average city dweller. I’ve had success in getting friends to enjoy riding and pursue purchasing their own bike.

For me, riding is mostly about the freedom it provides to run errands, meet friends for a drink, catch a show at the 9:30 Club, and get some exercise. It’s important as a bike ambassador to help the average person understand that biking is both healthy and helpful. On a personal level, biking helps me to learn more about the city and the people who live here. The bike community is one of the friendliest I’ve met and I can’t image being here without a bike, and the bikers who share these roads.

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Pete Beers, bike ambassador since September 2012 
I started riding a bike when I was 6 years old. Mom thought I didn’t know how to use the brakes because I never stopped.  I knew how, I just didn’t ever want to slow down. Forty-two years later, things haven’t really changed much. Saying that a bike was the source for freedom has almost become cliché. In my case, it truly was.  Mom was working to keep the family together. I wanted to go places. I did!

Starting my riding so young and never stopping made it so I have virtually no barriers to my riding. I like doing what I can to help others find ways to overcome the barriers they encounter. It is empowering to everyone.

So often the things we face as cyclists in the city are confrontational. Interactions with vehicles and pedestrians are not always harmonious. It is easy to let the negative overshadow the sense of joy that we all get by moving through our day on two wheels. Being a WABA Bike Ambassador is all about turning the tables on that.  My goal every time I turn a pedal is to have positive interactions with everyone I encounter—even those who are not positive with me. That is the best weapon against confrontation and negativity.  If I can make someone smile on their ride or drive or by seeing a photo of me doing something goofy on a bicycle, then my day is complete.

Building a sense of community with cyclists is the best way to make people’s riding experiences positive. People have questions, problems or flat tires. Being an active part of a cycling community lets me help people with all of those– whether in person or via the Washington Area Bicycle Forums.  (My name is Dirt on the forum. Stop by and say “hi” sometime: www.washingtonareabikeforum.com/)

Why do I love being a WABA Bike Ambassador? I became a bike ambassador at the age of 6. Things changed when I went pro with it for WABA. It opened me up to this amazing group of people who feel like I do and give so much of themselves to make our area a better place to ride a bicycle. Get involved with this community.  It is one of the best things I ever did!

Interested in getting involved with the Bike Ambassador program? Our next orientation session is Tues., Aug. 20th from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the WABA office. Contact Megan McCarty, the D.C. Bike Ambassador program coordinator, at megan.mccarty@waba.org for more details.

Participate in National Night Out Tomorrow

Night bicyclists in DC.

WABA is gearing up for National Night Out on Tues., Aug. 6! NNO was introduced in 1984 as “America’s Night Out Against Crime” with a mission to bring communities together and create a spirit of neighborhood safety. Feeling safe while getting around by bicycle is one way to enhance the lives of people in a community. WABA’s education staff, Bike Ambassadors, and Trail Rangers will be at two of this year’s events with friendly faces, safety info, and giveaways to share with. NNO events are family friendly, so bring the kids.

We need additional volunteers for our NNO events. Please sign up here!

RIVER TERRACE
Where: River Terrace Recreation Center, Benning and Anacostia roads NE
When: 5:15 p.m.: bike ride begins; 6-8 p.m.: NNO Event

The Metropolitan Police Department, National Park Service, and WABA’s Trail Rangers will be at this year’s NNO event at River Terrace. We are making a concentrated effort to get more Bike Ambassadors focused on doing outreach to the communities east of the Anacostia River. The theme of this year’s NNO event is “Trail Safety”, and we’ll be kicking it off with a trail ride. Join MPD and the trail rangers in leading a safe trail ride, followed by a helmet fit/demo, handing out bike maps, law guides, stickers, and other trail information.

COLUMBIA HEIGHTS
Where: Hiatt Place NW (behind DCUSA)
When: 6-9 p.m.

WABA, Target, and the Metropolitan Police Department invite you to the National Night Out Block Party in Columbia Heights! With games, giveaways, music and food, the National Night Out Block Party is all about enjoying the community after dark. WABA will have a bike challenge course for kids to ride (parents must sign a waiver) and great info and tips about biking at night!

What’s National Night Out? From the website: “Now in its 30th year, National Night Out is an effort to promote community involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.”

For more information about National Night Out, or to find an event in your neighborhood, check out: http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/national-night-out

Image by Flickr user DeusXFlorida

Bike Ambassadors Light Up Baseball Fans


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Bike ambassadors had a ball giving out lights after Tuesday’s game at Nationals Stadium.

The home team may have suffered a loss, but bike ambassadors saved the night with a major win for bicyclists leaving the game: free bike lights! In the district, bicycles are required to have a front white light and rear red reflector (or rear red light) after dark. See a complete list of bicycle laws and requirements here.

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Nationals Stadium has provided a free bike valet service for fans who ride to games. The valet is a great way to attract riders who might not have considered biking to games, which is a great option considering that Metro cars are often crammed with baseball fans on game days.

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Since games typically start before the sun goes down, fans who ride to the stadium may not realize they will be riding home in the dark. About 80 percent of riders leaving last night’s game did not have bikes equipped with both rear and front lights. Not only is it the law to have lights on your bike, it also makes you more visible to other riders, drivers, and pedestrians. Being visible is key to staying safe on your bike!

The goal of Tuesday’s lights giveaway was to raise awareness about bicycle safety and to encourage people to be as visible as possible while navigating D.C.’s streets. We passed out about 60 lights last night and had many more interactions with bicyclists about general safety. The bike ambassador team will be popping up at other places around the city, encouraging folks to be seen.

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Bike ambassadors made a tangible impact on the bicycling community by lighting up the streets! Funding for lights is provided by DDOT.

Interested in getting involved with the Bike Ambassador program? Contact Megan McCarty, the D.C. Bike Ambassador program coordinator, at megan.mccarty@waba.org for more details.

Meet the D.C. Bike Ambassadors!

The D.C. Bike Ambassador outreach program relies heavily on the support of committed volunteers working to make bicycling safe and accessible for everyone in D.C. There are currently around 150 trained bike ambassadors riding through the District acting as role models in their community.

To put a face to our team, we are showcasing a few ambassadors who have gone above and beyond in volunteering their time, skills, and ideas to improve the program. Each of our featured volunteers has helped to extend our reach, forge new partnerships, and present bicycling in new and exciting ways. Our superstar ambassadors are helping make D.C. a more bike-friendly city.

Interested in getting involved with the Bike Ambassador program? Our next orientation session is Tues., July 16th from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the WABA office. Contact Megan McCarty, the D.C. Bike Ambassador program coordinator, at megan.mccarty@waba.org for more details.

Moira McCauley, bike ambassador since January 2013
I’ve been riding my bike to get around D.C. for almost a decade, but more often in the last five years since more infrastructure has been put in place. It’s hands-down the cheapest, easiest, fastest, most direct way to get around the city. No more trying to find parking or waiting for the bus! I also like that I don’t need to do anything else to stay in shape because I get all my exercise in while I’m getting around town. And it’s fun!

WABA’s successes improve my quality of life in really tangible ways, so I wanted to support its projects and help other people figure out how to take advantage of living in such a bike-friendly city (while we work to make it even more bike-friendly!). I love the interactions I’ve had with cab drivers since I started volunteering as a bike ambassador. While we can sometimes seem to be at odds, I’ve met a lot of friendly drivers who care about our safety. Most recently a cab driver told me he was getting into cycling too, and asked me where he could find bicycle shorts! I love interactions like that.

Mark Sussman, bike ambassador since August 2012
I started biking primarily for transportation when I moved to D.C. after college.  I soon realized upon moving to D.C. that the fastest, least expensive, and most fun way to get around town was by bike.  Since then I have slowly been building my “fleet”, so I can tackle any
cycling challenge.  My most recent challenge was leading my dad, father-in-law-to-be, and a couple buddies on a ride from D.C. to Shepherdstown, W.Va. along the C&O for my bachelor party.

I became a D.C. bike ambassador a little over a year ago because I love biking in D.C. and sharing that gift with others is a worthwhile endeavor.  In addition to encouraging others to get on a bike, I believe a BA should exemplify safe cycling, be knowledgeable about regional events and infrastructure developments, and generally put a smiling face on bike advocacy.

My most meaningful BA experience thus far has been participating in the “Got Lights?” outreach this past winter.  I was able to pass out dozens of lights to people who would have otherwise been riding home in the dark and was able to help out in other ways as well—all while spreading the good name of WABA and biking in D.C.!

Dani Moore, bike ambassador since May 2013
My life as a cycling enthusiast began in 2006, when I moved to Tempe, Arizona to attend Arizona State University. I started by commuting the 1.5 miles between my apartment and campus. I continued to commute by bicycle when I moved 1.5 miles farther away from school. I made friends with other cyclists, and I found myself biking increasingly longer distances in their company. We biked to cupcake bakeries, hiking trailheads, and farmers markets in the Phoenix metro area.

Before I knew it, I was embarking on incredible bike adventures – 65, 75, 125 mile rides through the Sonoran desert. In December 2012, I set out on my grandest bike adventure yet: a cross-country trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Washington, D.C. My husband accompanied me as far as El Paso, Texas; I completed the journey on my own.

Joining WABA was one of the first things I did after arriving in Washington, D.C. I believe everyone benefits when biking is a viable transportation option. I am eager to help more people discover the joy of cycling and to promote a vibrant, safe, inclusive, and enduring bicycle culture in the nation’s capital.