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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get a Grip (Unlimited): Meet WABA’s newest business member

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach, and education. Our business members are committed to a creating a healthy, more livable region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today, meet Grip Unlimited.

WABA is thrilled to announce that Grip Unlimited is joining our network of bike-friendly businesses as a Local Leader business member. The DC-based Grip Unlimited makes expertly crafted ride and wear gear for the urban bicyclist.

Grip is the brainchild of CEO Paul Challan, who considers himself one of the least likely people to start a gear company centered around cycling—just a few years ago he couldn’t ride a bike!

In 2009, Challan signed up for Capital Bikeshare and taught himself how to ride (we’re just sorry he didn’t know about WABA’s Learn to Ride classes) in the back alleys of DC. Soon after, a friend offered to help Challan build his first bike: a sweet single speed made for the city streets.

When Challan’s u-lock holder broke, he couldn’t find anything that would hold his lock AND his essentials. Thoughtful, multi-functional design were at the top of his mind when Challan created the Grip Unlimited Frame Bag and tested his concept with a Kickstarter campaign. It was a success, and in April 2016, Challan launched Grip’s online store to offer an array of innovative bags that lighten your load.

All Grip Unlimited bags are designed in DC and made in the USA. They have a lifetime warranty and are made from premium, durable materials. Each bag is designed to quickly attach to the frame of your bike with no need for a rear bike rack or a basket.

Last year, Grip Unlimited was a sponsor of WABA in the Wild, and awarded its most popular commuter bag to one of last year’s top fundraisers who raised over $2,000 for WABA!

Grip Unlimited is proud to invest in WABA’s mission to make biking safer and more accessible to everyone. Challan hopes to amplify this message and get as many people biking as possible.

To learn more about Grip Unlimited, check out their story here and follow Grip on Instagram: @gripunlimitedbags.

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? Help show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Takoma Bicycle gets a fresh look

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach, and education. Our business members are committed to a creating a healthy, more livable region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today, meet Takoma Bicycle.

You know how you feel when you’re cruising down a protected bike lane? Wind in your hair (through your helmet, of course), smile on your face, not a worry to be bothered by? It’s pretty magical, right? That’s the beauty of design. Much like the layout of a street, the layout of a bike shop has the power to create the same effect as that protected bike laneleaving you with a smile on your face, and ready to start riding.

Bike industry veteran and Takoma Bicycle owner Bruce Sawtelle, has been thinking about bike retail since running around his father’s Schwinn shops as a kid. Bruce’s dad implemented the innovative retail model of Schwinn with a clean, well-lit and organized sales floor, and exceptional customer service.

But since the Schwinn retail revolution of the 1960s, not much has changed for shops. To drive that improvement, Bruce sends employees to retail training sessions each year. And as a member of the National Bicycle Dealers Association Profitability Project (a bike retailer group), Bruce has visited stores across the country to experience the best of various retail models.

Since opening Takoma Bicycle in 2010, Bruce has focused on welcoming all types of riders, from the commuter and the casual weekend rider to kids and families. In the spirit of innovation, Bruce wanted his shop’s layout and design to reflect Takoma Bicycle’s focus on customer experience.

Bruce worked with award-winning retail designers at 3 Dots Design in November 2017 to remodel his store. Some highlights are the new e-bike display, a remodeled kids accessory area, bright apparel section, signs for merchandise categories to orient shoppers, a brand new well-lit fitting room, and storage room that brings hundreds of helmet boxes off the retail floor. New elements clean up the small space and invite customers to stay, chat, and shop.

Whether or not you appreciate the intricacies of bicycle retail, you can appreciate a great bike shop experience, and Takoma Bicycle is worth a visit. While you’re there, make sure you say hi to Bruce who continues his father’s legacy and services the families and commuters in the lovely Takoma Park community.

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? Help show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Crystal City BID takes Bike to Work Day to the next level

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach, and education. Our business members are committed to a creating a healthy, more livable region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today, meet Crystal City Business Improvement District.

Beyond Bike to Work Day, how can businesses encourage more people to enjoy their business by bike? Longtime WABA Business Member Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) is a great place to look for inspiration.

For the eighth consecutive year, the Crystal City BID is taking its Bike to Work Day celebration to the next level by challenging local bicyclists to commute all week long! Every morning from May 14th to May 18th, bicyclists are invited to stop by the Crystal City Bike to Work Week pit stop at the Stand in the Crystal City Water Park for snacks, coffee, and good old-fashioned encouragement. The stop will be open 7:00am to 9:00am, rain or shine.

The first 125 riders who visit the pit stop all five days will be rewarded with a custom Crystal City Cycling jersey (see below). Special dispensation is provided to anyone who volunteers at other Bike to Work Day pit stops and cannot visit Crystal City. Earning the jersey puts riders into a coveted community of bicyclists and conquering the Bike to Work Week challenge is the only way to obtain it—it’s not for sale.

“Be prepared for frequent trail head nods and fellow cyclist chit chats when sporting the Crystal City jersey,” said Robert Mandle, Chief Operating Officer for the Crystal City BID. “But our goal of building community amongst bicyclists extends well beyond the jersey with many friendships, partnerships, and love affairs with bicycling with roots in Crystal City.”

Interested in taking the challenge to commute by bike all week? Register online for the Crystal City Bike to Work Week pit stop and be sure to also sign up for the region-wide Bike to Work Day.

For additional information, visit www.crystalcity.org.

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? Help show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Introducing the American Diabetes Association, a WABA Business Member

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach and education. Our business members are committed to a sustainable future of our region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today meet the American Diabetes Association.

The American Diabetes Association will hold its annual Northern Virginia Tour de Cure at the Reston Town Center on May 13, 2017.   The Tour features a variety of routes for people of all ages and skill sets.   The Tour is one of the Association’s signature fundraising events, supporting its mission to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.  By participating in the Tour you become a critical part of this mission and community.  Register or volunteer for the Northern Virginia Tour de Cure here- www.diabetes.org/novatourdecure.

Locally, the Association works in the community to increase awareness around diabetes.  They train ambassadors who can work in their community to encourage healthy lifestyles.  They also have program like the Senior Signature Series that trains senior citizens in healthy habits.  The Association is constantly at work in the community to provide education and awareness in an effort to help everyone in our area who is affected by diabetes.  You can learn more about the local chapter here.

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Introducing EYA, WABA Business Member and 2016 Cider Ride Title Sponsor

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach and education. Our business members are committed to a sustainable future of our region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today meet EYA.

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EYA is proud to join the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) as a new business member. In 2016, EYA became WABA’s largest event supporter as the title sponsor of The Cider Ride. EYA’s support helps WABA bring people together to celebrate cycling and raise awareness of and support for cycling safety.

EYA is a local developer with a focus on smart growth communities where residents can enjoy an active lifestyle with easy access to the region’s many amenities and transit options––including metro, bus, bicycle, and walking. EYA shares common goals with WABA members to reduce dependence on cars and encourage new opportunities for more sustainable living.

Since 1992, EYA has earned recognition for introducing innovative and thoughtfully designed new homes in DC metro area neighborhoods. Learn more about EYA’s commitment to life within walking distance ® and all of their bicycle and pedestrian friendly neighborhoods at EYA.com.

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 Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Introducing Better Backs Athletic & Physical Therapy , A WABA Business Member

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach and education. Our business members are committed to a sustainable future of our region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA.

Today meet Better Backs Athletic & Physical Therapy!

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We are excited to welcome Better Backs Athletic & Physical Therapy into the Washington area and into the vast and friendly WABA community. Better Backs is the newest business to support WABA’s mission as a Business Member.

Rachel Davis-Stewart just opened the practice in May 2015 and also supports the biking community by offering a 15% off all products and services to current WABA members. (Yet another reason for you to become a WABA member!) Davis-Stewart is a Certified Athletic Trainer and Massage Therapist. She has also studied Athletic Training and Exercise Physiology and, like you, loves riding her bike.

Better Backs Therapy is located inside the Anacostia Arts Center at 1231 Good Hope Rd in Southeast, Washington, DC. They are open Tuesday-Friday 11-7, and Sunday 11-2. (Please note that appointments after 5pm, and on Sundays require prepayment.)

How it works: You pay for a session with the therapist and receive a same day custom treatment plan. Better Backs uses a range of contemporary rehabilitative techniques including, but not limited to, moist heat, ice packs, soft tissue mobilization, electrical therapy, physical reconditioning, supportive taping, wrapping, and padding procedures.

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Don’t forget to mention you’re a WABA Member!

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Introducing Wingfield & Ginsburg, PC, a WABA Business Member

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach and education. Our business members are committed to a sustainable future of our region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today meet Wingfield & Ginsburg, PC.

Wingfield & Ginsburg, PC is a law firm located in Washington D.C. is dedicated to representing injured clients and their families. Staff members are multilingual and can speak English, Spanish, and Tagalog. The office is actually located right next door to fellow WABA Business Member BicycleSPACE.

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David Ginsburg is an avid cyclist himself

David Ginsburg is an avid bicyclist along with his wife. They have participated in various rides and sprint triathlons around the area. He understands many of the issues associated with biking in and around a city, and the firm recently posted a blog about contributory negligence. We are proud to call Wingfield & Ginsburg, PC, a WABA Business Member!

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Introducing Schultz & Trombly, PLLC, a WABA Business Member

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach and education. Our business members are committed to a sustainable future of our region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today meet Schultz & Trombly, PLLC.

Kenneth M. Trombly, a partner in the firm of Schultz & Trombly, PLLC,  is a trial lawyer who has devoted his career to representing seriously injured people in DC and Maryland courts. The firm was one of our first WABA Business Members and continues to support WABA and bicyclist around the region. Ken is a committed transportation safety advocate. Over the years, he has represented many cyclists who have been seriously injured as a result of inattentive or aggressive motorists, including cases where cyclists were unnecessarily injured in trucking collisions.  In addition to motor vehicle collision cases, he represents individuals who have sustained injury as a result of dangerous products; defective or irresponsibly-maintained walkways, sidewalks and buildings; personal injuries on account of negligent security; medical negligence; and police brutality.

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Ken Trombly

A former Trial Lawyer of the Year (DC Trial Lawyers Association, 2010) and an active member of the DC and Maryland Bars, he has lectured before numerous attorney groups on effective techniques for representing injured persons. A Law Review graduate of Catholic University Law school, he has handled numerous cases on behalf of seriously injured persons, from seven figure settlements to noteworthy cases that have resulted in local or national publicity. The firm was listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of DC’s  “Best Law Firms” in 2015 for Plaintiff Personal Injury Litigation. We are proud to call Shultz & Trombly, PLLC a WABA Business Member!

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

Introducing Takoma Bicycle, a WABA Business Leader Member

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach and education. Our business members are committed to a sustainable future of our region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today meet Takoma Bicycle.

Takoma Bicycle is a full service bicycle shop located in Takoma Park, Maryland. Voted one of America’s Best Bike Shops by The National Bicycle Dealers Association, Takoma Bicycle has built a loyal following, which it appreciates and acknowledges with its rewards program. The full-service bike shop carries bicycles for the whole family, bicycle accessories and repair parts. And you can also find indoor trainers if you need that extra bit of training. Takoma Bicycle is a neighborhood bike shop with a neighborhood feel.

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Takoma Bicycles was rated one of America’s Best Bike Shops in 2013 and 2014. The shop holds periodic classes as well. We are happy to call Takoma Bicycles a Business Leader Member!

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.