Don’t Get Left in the Cold, Use Your Layers!

We’ve had a warm fall, but with winter the cold weather is coming. This doesn’t mean you have to put away your bike and stop riding, we were outside teaching at Bridges PCS this morning! However, the colder it gets, the more attention you have to give to what you and your children are wearing. We’ll cover some typical tips below, but the key is to find what make you feel comfortable riding and that your children stay warm enough.

Youth on bikes at Bridges PCS

Youth on bikes at Bridges PCS

If you are an experienced year-round rider, then you will know the secret to cold weather riding is layering. This is super helpful for days on the edges of winter, where your evening commute might be 20 degrees warmer than your morning. I’ll talk about three layers, base, warm, and outer.

Base Layer
This is the innermost layer you wear. Ideally, it will be a soft wool or a wicking fabric (often referred to as “tech fabric”) and not cotton. Cotton will not keep you warm if it gets wet from rain, snow, or sweat. I wear light leggings under my pants most days during winter. This layer is less important for your children if they are passengers and not pedaling.

Warm Layer
This is the layer(s) that (surprise!) will keep you warm by trapping air and your body heat. Again, wool is a top performer here, and wool sweaters come in a wide variety of thickness and warmth. Fleece is also a good option. (Budget tip: wool sweaters can be found for cheap at thrift shops, if only for commuting a hole won’t matter under your outer layer!) Passengers will need more warm layer than you, as you’ll be working to move the bike but they will just be sitting there in the cold breeze.

Outer Layer
The most important part for your outer layer is to block the wind, with a close second to be waterproof, to keep your warm layers dry. When you ride, you are in a constant breeze, and that can steal your heat fast. This is especially important for children as passengers. If they are in a seat on your handlebars, they will be catching the full force of the wind and need to be bundled up more than if they are on a rear seat riding behind you. Snow suits work as great outer layer for kids, and they are warm and waterproof, and can be easy to pull off when you arrive where you’re going. Another option for smaller children is to wrap them inside a blanket or use a stroller snuggle. A bungie cord can help keep these in place and out of your wheels and chain.

Head, hands, and feet
Don’t forget the rest of you! A balaclava is a great option for a child to wear over their head and neck, but under their helmet. A scarf can we wrapped around neck, face, and ears and held in place with the helmet straps. Waterproof (and therefore windproof) boots also work well with thick socks on inside of them, or even rain boots pulled on over the top of regular shoes. I use thicker hiking socks for winter riding. Windproof gloves are key, and as it gets colder or the rides get longer, than lobster gloves or mittens become more important to keep your hands warm. Make sure that your gloves are not so bulky that you can’t use your brakes!


If you are looking for a time to test your winter layering skills, the super fun Hains Point 100 is December 17th, and is a fundraiser for WABA’s Women and Bicycles Program.

Riding with younger folks

Looking to inspire the next generation of bicyclists? Or just get the next generation of bicyclists to dance class without having to hunt for a parking space?

We’ve got a number of youth and family biking events coming up, check them out!

How to Teach a Youth Learn to Ride Class

May 8, 6:00 PM
WABA Offices.
Have you wanted to teach your PE class or Girl Scout Troop how to ride bikes safely and confidently in the city? Come join members of WABAs education team for a two hour course on what you need to know to teach a group of young people how to ride. We will cover curriculum, common challenges, and provide you with the information you need to succeed.
Join Us

Be a Bike Camp! Counselor

WABA is looking for 2 Camp Counselors and 1 Lead Camp Counselor with a love of riding bikes, experience with youth, and exuberance to spare.
Apply Now

And we’ve got just a few camper spots left in the July sessions of Bike Camp!
July 10-14 and July 17-21
KIPP DC Shaw Campus, 421 P St NW.
Skills, confidence, and the freedom of two wheels. Only two weeks in July still available, register now!

Bike to School Day

May 10
Your school!
It’s time again for the annual Bike To School Day Competition. National Bike to School Day is Wednesday, May 10th.  For the last four years, DDOT and DCPS have sponsored a competition: the school with the highest percentage of students riding to school on that day wins the coveted golden bicycle trophy to proudly display for a year.

Family City Cycling

Riding with kids can be a lot of fun, but it comes with some extra considerations. Join us for a City Cycling class that’s specifically focused on riding with kids! We’ll help you ride more comfortably and confidently without getting melted popsicle goop all over your brake levers. No matter your skill level, you’ll improve your abilities on two (or more) wheels.

First ride in a trailer

Parent Powered Family Bicycling Class

May 7, 9:30 AM
Anacostia Park 1500 Anacostia Dr. SE, Washington, DC

This class is designed for parents carrying kids on a bike or in a trailer.
Register here

learning bike handling skills

Youth Powered Family Bicycling Class

May 27, 9:30 AM
Anacostia Park 1500 Anacostia Dr. SE, Washington, DC

This class is designed for parents riding with kids who are pedaling their own bikes.
Register here

DC Public Schools Rolling into Year Two of Biking Program


Sterling Stone of Gearin’ Up Bicycles shows DCPS teachers how to check and maintain the kids’ bikes.

It’s not every day that you get to indirectly teach more than 4,000 public school students how to ride bikes safely, but last week, WABA’s youth education staff was lucky enough to do it for the second time. Youth & Family Education Coordinator Jeff Wetzel and Programs Director Daniel Hoagland were part of the team that trained and prepared more than 75 DCPS Physical Education teachers last week.

For the DC Public School system, the Biking in the Park program was something of a risk. But Director of Health and Physical Education Miriam Kenyon was unfazed. Here’s the recipe: Take six dozen teachers, every last second grader, 1,000 bright blue bikes, over 100 volunteers, and add wary administrators, warier parents, and the wildly unpredictable state of DC’s street and sidewalk infrastructure. Then shake it all together for a year, and see what happens.

The result? Kids rode bikes. A lot. Some learned how to ride for the first time in their lives. Others learned how to ride in a group, how to ride on sidewalks or streets, and how to look after one another on a bike ride. In short, the program was an overwhelming success. So when WABA was asked to help get the DCPS teachers ready for year two, we jumped at the chance.

We shared our best helmet-fitting and obstacle-course tips, and demonstrated how to arrange and manage a youth group ride. We helped them find the answers to each other’s questions, and we encouraged them to share the things they learned over the course of the first year.

The teachers–some of whom hadn’t been on a bike in decades prior to the program–were eager to get back to work. They told us about kids who said the bike riding lesson was their favorite school experience ever, and about parents who have dug their own bikes out of garages and basements after their kids came home full of enthusiasm for riding.

DC Public Schools’ Biking in the Park program is ongoing during the school year. Every second grader will get a chance to participate in five lessons that build skills and confidence before going on a half-day field trip by bike. Schools throughout the District are looking for volunteers to help ride with the kids all year long. If you’re interested, please contact Elizabeth Pandaya with DCPS.

Meet Jeff, our new Youth & Family Education Coordinator

Jeff Wetzel Staff Photo

Hi! I’m Jeff, your new Youth & Family Education Coordinator.  I’m super excited to be working to educate children, adults, and motorists about safe bicycling to create a healthy, more livable region.  (Sound familiar? It’s part of WABA’s mission statement!) 

I’m looking forward to being an advocate for families here at WABA. From planning parent and child classes about how to ride together safely in the city to providing resources to new parents on riding with their children, I’m eager to help get things rolling.

 I’m already digging into how I can bring quality experiences teaching bike handling and safety skills to youth across the metro area.  I’ve worked with youth as a teacher, mentor, employer, and robotics team coach and thrive on watching young people grow and develop; I’m excited now to be able to do that through bicycles. From learn to ride classes to bike safety rodeos to advocating for themselves, these are important skills for our youth, who will soon be young adults.

Do you have great ideas for youth (particularly if you are youth!) or family biking needs?  You can email me at

 To see some of the upcoming programming, check out our summer Bike Camp!

What we learned at the Family Biking Town Hall

WABA's Family Biking Town Hall  (8)
Back in December we took small steps toward something big. We hosted our first-ever Family Biking Town Hall where we met with parents, members of youth-serving organizations, WABA members, and community stakeholders.

We talked about making our work serve youth and families better, and we learned a lot.

The meeting resulted in the following recommendations to make our programming more inclusive.

In all our programming, we’ll cultivate more consciousness around scheduling at family-friendly times and choosing routes and event spaces that are appropriate for children.

In our outreach:

We’re pleased to offer more Family Biking Workshops with Kidical Mass this spring. The first one is this Saturday, May 2, at 10:30 a.m. at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library.

Click here for more info. See you there?

With additional funding, ideas for future programming include:

  • Creating a neighborhood family bike ambassador program
  • Family-friendly community nights
  • Roundtable discussions with youth and family biking groups around the region to share best practices and develop ideas

In education, we learned that our stakeholders are interested in:

  • Afterschool bike clubs for youth
  • Classes where parents can learn how to ride with and alongside their kids
  • More ABCs of Family Biking events throughout the region
  • Summer Bike Camp

We’re happy to be implementing a number of those suggestions this spring. We’re leading an afterschool Bike Club at Benning Park Recreation Center through the month of May, and we’re partnering up with Gearin’ Up Bicycles to hold our first-ever summer camp in July. We hope that the summer and fall will bring more opportunities to plan ABCs of Family Biking events and to schedule inclusive biking classes for youth and families.

In planning large-scale events, we learned:

  • We should work toward including shorter, family-friendly ride routes as part of our large ride events.
  • We should work on diversifying our ride themes — think Tour de Playground and Cargo Bike Race. Youth and family-friendly theme ideas, anyone?
  • Making events accessible to all makes the world go around! More snack breaks, family-friendly start times, teen rides, off-bike activities, and childcare at events.

In advocacy we’re working on:

Teaching advocacy at schools and in afterschool programs

  • Creating traffic gardens and bike schools
  • Creating more bike parking at schools, libraries, and other institutions used by youth and families

With additional funding and resources, we learned that we should tackle:

  • Consistent wayfinding that highlights comfortable routes that are ideal for families
  • Trail advocacy that focuses on amenities for families
  • Holding advocacy meetings at local high schools
  • Including youth perspectives in testimony
  • Securing subsidized Capital Bikeshare memberships for high school students

And, we learned about all the existing Family Biking groups:

  • Black Women Bike DC: Workshops, rides, forum all year long
  • Kidical Mass Arlington: Family-friendly group rides monthly
  • Kidical Mass DC: Family-friendly group rides monthly
  • Kidical Mass Falls Church: Family-friendly group rides monthly
  • Kidical Mass Gaithersburg: Family-friendly group rides monthly
  • Kidical Mass Rockville: Family-friendly group rides monthly

We owe a big thank you to all the folks who participated in our Town Hall in December, and to those who filled out our Family Biking Survey. Because of your dedication, we were able to open an important discussion.

And don’t forget, next Wednesday is Bike to School Day! You can check here to see if your school is participating. If they aren’t you can still ride by yourself or with friends and neighbors.

Join the conversation by coming out to our Family Biking Workshop with DCPL this Saturday. Or sign up here to join our Youth & Family Biking email list. You can always drop us a line at There are so many ways to be involved, and we’d love to have you on board.


Our Family Biking Town Hall in Photos

Sunday’s Family Biking Town Hall provided us with lots of important feedback on how WABA can better integrate family biking priorities in our events, outreach, education, and advocacy work. Thanks so much to the WABA supporters and family biking aficionados who were able to join us!

If you have suggestions on how WABA can make our region a better place for families to ride, please click here to complete our short survey by January 1st.

Check out WABA’s Family Biking Town Hall this Sunday


Future of Family Biking Picture
Here at WABA, we are trying to do more to support families who bike and inspire more families to bike. Our first step requires your help. We need your input on family biking priorities and how we can better include them in our advocacy, events, and education.

Join us for our Family Biking Town Hall!
Date: Sunday, December 14th
Time: 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Location: Mt. Pleasant Library, 3160 16th St NW, Washington D.C.
Expect: childcare in the reading room! Balloons! Over a dozen input-gathering games (for you- the adults)! Expect snacks and drinks!

Using input activities and a facilitated discussion we’ll gather information from families and those who work with youth in the Washington area. With the information you provide, we can set realistic goals, raise funds, hire staff, and implement family biking programming and priorities.

Click here for more event information and to register, and tell your friends. Interested in volunteering? We’re in need of help, click here to sign up.

If you can’t participate in-person, we encourage you to participate online. Please click here to take our 10-minute survey.

Bike With Your Children This Fall

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwIThis is part of our Women & Bicycles blog series,  part of WABA’s initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes.  These posts aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming.
Click here to learn more and get involved.

Last week we partnered with Kidical Mass DC organizer Megan Odett to host a Family Bike Workshop at the Georgetown Neighborhood Library.

Families from around the region joined us to glean Megan’s expertise on family biking equipment, safety, weather, and the most important: snacking & napping strategies! And conveniently, there were blocks and books galore in the library’s nearby children’s room.

Tuffo Muddy BuddyOf all the tips and skills shared, a salient concern stuck out: how do I keep my children warm and dry?

You can protect your children from wind and moisture using a DIY canopy, or covered trailer, or fancy cargo bike with built-in canopy (click here for ideas).  And obviously, clothing matters. Megan’s rule of thumb? Dress her children as if it’s ten degrees colder then it really is outside.

She raved about the Tuffo Muddy Buddy, a $36 rain/snow/mudpuddle/fountain suit. It ranges in sizes from 12 month olds to 5 year olds and lightweight packability allow you to stow it away in your bag until you need it.

Want to learn more about biking with your children? Come to our City Cycling Class for parents and kids this weekend and click here to join Kidical Mass DC’s mailing list.

There are now FIVE Kidical Mass groups in the region. Join the fun!