WABA and PSI Family Services team up to host Learn to Ride Camp!

There was no shortage of smiles and excitement, as WABA teamed up with PSI Family Services to offer a week long Adult Learn to Ride camp! The five-day camp brought participants from all over DC and Maryland to try their hand at riding. With highly trained instructors, supportive staff and lots of encouragement, many of the participants learned to ride for the very first time.

This is the second year in a row that WABA has partnered with PSI to offer bicycle education to adults with developmental disabilities. With a modified curriculum and adaptive bicycle equipment, WABA Instructors were able to offer a fun, engaging and accessible class for all participants, regardless of their individual experience levels and needs.

The week-long class allowed participants ample time to practice the skills they learned each day. From tricycles to balance bikes and finally, pedals, participants scooted around the parking lot practicing their skills. Every accomplishment was celebrated by participants, Instructors and PSI staff alike.

All WABA Adult Education classes start with the basics. No matter what your experience level, our Instructors are prepared to offer attention and support to meet your needs. 

WABA is proud to partner with PSI to offer accessible bicycle education for all.

Check out a slideshow of some photos from Learn to Ride Camp below!

Ready to Roll?: Fall 2019 Adult Education Classes

Looking to improve your bike confidence? Eager to try your hand at navigating traffic? What about getting on a bicycle for the first time? Check out our Fall 2019 Adult Education classes!

WABA’s Adult Education classes are suited for all, regardless of experience level and provide intuitive, hands on learning in a supportive and encouraging environment. 

“But which class is right for me?” We’ve got a handy flow chart to help you out!

Adult Learn To Ride – For adults ages 18 and older who do not know how to ride a bike or who have tried to learn and have been unsuccessful. Give us three hours, and we’ll have you riding a bike!

Youth Learn to Ride – For children ages 6-12 who do not know how to ride a bike or who have tried to learn and have been unsuccessful. This season, our Youth Learn to Ride classes are special events hosted by the City of Alexandria.

Basic Skills Clinic – For cyclists who have recently learned to ride or who have not ridden a bike in some time. Our Basic Skills Clinics focus on fundamental skills such as starting, stopping, turning and braking. Great next step for those who have recently taken Learn to Ride! 

Confident City Cycling – Interested in learning to ride in traffic or on a bike path? This class is for you! Our City Cycling class is broken up into two groups, Fundamentals and Confidence, to accommodate riders of different experience levels. Fundamentals focuses on scanning, signaling and shifting, while Confidence teaches hazard avoidance maneuvers necessary for riding alongside motorists.

Community Education Rides – Fun for all! Our community education ride series is an inclusive space for riders of all levels to explore their city.  Each ride tackles different topics that urban riders use to get around the region. Our rides are always a good time, but they’re also a safe space to ask questions and practice riding in the city.

WABA is proud to partner with DC, Montgomery County, Arlington and Alexandria to offer a bicycle education class near you!

Our first Learn to Ride—¡en español!

Our first Learn to Ride in Spanish. Thank you to Casa Chirilagua and the City of Alexandria for partnering with us!

WABA recently partnered with Casa Chirilagua and the City of Alexandria to offer the first Adult Learn to Ride class in Spanish!

Casa Chirilagua is a community nonprofit in Arlandria, a predominantly Latin/x neighborhood of Alexandria. Their main offerings are for English Language Learners (ELL), with programs including after-school care, leadership development, and other community services. Casa Chirilagua is also near the Four Mile Run Park and Trail, which nearby families use for recreation—including biking!

Usually, WABA’s Adult Education programming is offered during the day on the weekends. WABA and Casa Chirilagua decided to offer this class in the evening to accommodate those who work during the day on weekends.

“We are proud to work with local community organizations to expand our programming and offer classes that meet the needs of different populations,” said Sydney Sotelo, WABA’s Adult Education Coordinator. “Luckily, the weather held out for us on Saturday night and our Instructors were able to run the full class, offering individualized instruction to our participants in Spanish. The class was lively with music and snacks and plenty of folks sitting in the park, enjoying the pre-storm sunshine.”

With determination, properly fitted helmets, and balance bikes, all class attendees  were riding on two pedals by the end of the Learn to Ride!

WABA is committed to practices and programming that ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout our work. Hopefully, this first Learn to Ride in Spanish is one of what could be more in the future.

Interested in our Adult Education programs? Visit waba.org/classes to see our full schedule of classes, skills clinics, and community rides.

Meet Jonathan Oliver, our new Education Coordinator

Hello! I’m Jonathan Oliver, WABA’s new Education Coordinator responsible for running our adult education programs serving adults in the DC/MD/VA metropolitan region. I’m excited to join WABA’s mission to improve bicycling in our area. My primary goal is to help both new and current adult riders achieve their riding goals while having fun and being safe. About me: Riding BMX bikes as a kid with my neighborhood friends was when I first understood the sense of community, freedom, fun, and health benefits that bicycling can provide. I’ve always been interested in learning, helping people, and solving problems so it seemed natural to share knowledge through bicycle and fitness-related organizations and activities. Before coming to WABA, I worked in research & development engineering and program management. My focus was always learning and doing new things that might help people. For several years I’ve been an active volunteer with bike organizations, including WABA, doing rider and Ride Marshal training, working with newer riders to achieve their goals, developing and executing ride events, and pretty much anything bike-related. You’ll find me on everything from casual social rides and bike commuting to faster-paced long distance rides. Looking ahead: Imagine if everyone that wanted to ride could ride? If every rider had the comfort and skill level that they needed to safely ride on streets and trails? If every driver was safe and friendly to bicycles and always shared the roads? To help achieve these visions, I’m working with WABA’s excellent team of instructors to help adults learn to ride bikes and all riders to ride safely and comfortably on city streets, suburban and rural roads, trails, and while bike commuting to and from work. My efforts include planning, coordinating, and implementing several key WABA programs such as our Adult Learn to Ride classes, City Cycling classes, Community rides, Everyday Biking seminars, Bicycle Friendly Driver seminars, and other great offerings. I’m also working to bring bicycle education to areas not already served, identifying areas of need, and helping to implement effective programs to meet those needs. There’s a lot of work to do and a lot of biking fun to be had. If you or someone you know wants to learn how to ride, improve riding skills, and generally have fun on two wheels in a safe and supportive environment, please contact us at education@waba.org. Hope to see you on two wheels!

I’d Like to Bike, But…

People have their reasons for not biking. We’re here to change some perspectives!

Since becoming the Outreach Coordinator at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), I have attended a lot of expos, wellness events and festivals. I love meeting new people and talking with them about what we do at WABA. I also like hearing from people about why they do or don’t bike in the city. So I decided to create two boards to take with me to my events. One of the boards says, “I bike because…” and the other says, “ I’d like to bike but…”. Although I love reading the responses about why people bike, I am even more intrigued by why people don’t. I read each one as people write them and use those responses as a way to jump-start a conversation about what we do and how we can help them. Here are the top reasons I see and hear about why people don’t bike and how WABA can make you a little less apprehensive to biking.

#1 – “I don’t know how to ride a bike.”

I learned to ride as an adult (as did one of my co-workers), so I completely understand how that hinders someone from riding a bike. And as you get older, you realize that you are further from the ground so falling off a bike becomes pretty scary. If you or someone you know is in this situation, we can help. WABA offers adult Learn to Ride classes throughout the year. We have certified instructors who will spend time with each student getting them comfortable on a bicycle and learning to ride in under 3 hours. And you are never to old to learn. Last season, we had a 76 year old woman learn to ride so you have no excuse! You can learn more about our Adult Learn to Ride Classes here.

#2 – “I’m scared of being hit by cars.”

I must admit, I always find this answer funny. These are drivers who are afraid to bike because of…drivers? But I also get it because I was in their shoes. After I learned to ride, I always rode on trails. I was terrified of being hit by a car, or more specifically, by a taxi cab. I overcame that by taking a City Cycling class with WABA! I learned to not ride in the gutter, how to signal for turns and how to confidently take the lane when biking to make sure I’m seen by cars. Amazingly, these and other simple steps really do make you feel so much more confident on the road. You can learn how to ride confidently in the city too by taking our City Cycling class.

#3 – “I live too far away.”

This is a legitimate reason to not bike the entire way to work. However, you may be able to do multi-modal riding. For example, maybe you can take the Metro part of the way and take bikeshare the rest of the way. Or perhaps you bike rather than drive to the store or to run errands near where you live. Thinking of biking in these small ways can help build your confidence and get you biking more often.

#4 – “I’m out of shape.”

Biking is great exercise and helps to get you in shape. I often suggest just biking a mile or around the block. Or join one of our community rides so you can be social and ride with others. Often people don’t even realize they have biked 10 miles when they bike in a social ride. And it’s a great way to build up your endurance!

And #5? – “Hills!”

Hills are no joke. I grew up in Anacostia and it is HILLY. It can definitely prevent people from wanting to ride. But there are a couple of ways to conquer hills. One way is to bike down the hill and take Metro or the bus up the hilly part. The other way is to buy or rent an e-bike. These incredible bikes make hills seem flat by giving you the boost you need to roll up any hill with ease. Now you know the most common objections I hear about why people aren’t biking. But we all have to start somewhere – consider this a step in the bike direction!

One Pedal at a Time

Couldn’t wipe that smile off my face!

A Sunday afternoon, mostly cloudy with an occasional break in the clouds for some sun. Warm, with a light breeze coming off the Anacostia River. Kids zooming past on their scooters, while a nervous group of adults shifted their weight back and forth beside their balance bikes. I was in that group of nervous adults, trying to itch my head through a helmet. It wasn’t working. So, I focused on other things: a short mantra that I repeated in my head. Today, I’m going to learn to ride a bike. I want to attribute successfully learning how to ride a bike to my sheer determination. I really do. I want to believe that because I’m 23 and tenacious, anything I put my mind to, I will do. (I mean, there’s truth to that.) But to say that I learned how to ride a bike because of me, and only me, would be a lie. I learned because of everyone else around me that day. Let’s back up a moment, shall we? My name is Carm Saimbre and I’m the new communications coordinator at WABA. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, they hired me knowing that I couldn’t ride a bike. Yes, I’m surprised they hired me, too.) When I started working here in February, I just knew that I had to learn to ride. I didn’t feel pressured; the opportunity was simply perfect. Girl doesn’t know how to ride a bike, girl gets hired by bike organization, bike organization offers Learn to Ride classes. Natural order of things, no? In a Learn to Ride class, everyone starts with a balance bike without pedals. Until our lead League Cycling Instructor (LCI) Mike told us that our bikes didn’t have pedals, I hadn’t noticed. At that moment, I was confused. Was I actually going to learn how to ride…without…pedals? And the answer was, yes. Yes, I was. We walked our bikes to one end of a parking lot at Anacostia Park. Our instructors had blocked off a portion of the lot with bright orange cones, providing us with plenty of room to glide. And glide we didwith our legs out in a triangle shape, we rolled up and down, without a care in the world. Slowly, we shed our nerves and embraced the freedom of two wheels. I watched as women older than me propelled forward and threw all caution to the wind, laughing and cheering each other on. I found myself laughing, too. After the first break, Mike taught us how we would use the first pedal. I would use my non-pedal leg to steady myself and push off with my pedal leg. Same ideaglide until I needed to stop. For someone who was learning to ride, the skills came naturally. I even thought to myself, “Hey, you might actually ride with two pedals today!” Ambitious, I know. After riding around with one pedal, Steve (one of the LCIs present) said I was ready for two pedals. Whoa. I was? Steve installed the second pedal and adjusted my seat again. I hopped back on my bike. This time, a weird buzz zipped through my body. “Pedal at two o’clock,” I said to myself, putting my right foot on top of the right pedal. My left leg was steady on the ground. “Push, and….” One rotation turned into two. I found the left pedal with my left foot. The wheels kept turning. My hands never left the handlebars. Any worries, fears, doubtsgone. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t scared. I was light. I was free. I was riding a bike! Behind me, I could hear the LCIs cheering me on, but they were distant in my ears. It felt like I was moving in slow motion, as I saw the park through my own eyes, not through a car windshield. I was moving myself by own strength. And I wanted to live in that moment forever. When the class ended, we gave ourselves a round of applause, thanked the instructors and went our separate ways. Once I got back to my car, I sat there for a little bit. Three hours on a Sunday afternoon and I’d successfully learned to ride a bike. Even some of the instructors couldn’t believe it. I could hardly believe it. But why does my particular Learn to Ride experience matter? You could argue it doesn’tother adults learned to ride that day, too. From the moment I took off my helmet for the day, I knew I had a responsibility to share my experience. WABA took a risk in hiring me, a person who couldn’t ride a bike. Sure, communications work is by no means tied to my ability to pedal, but knowing how to ride definitely provides insight as to how to do my work better. How can we reach people like myself? People who wish to learn, but don’t know about our Learn to Ride classes? People who think it’s too late to learn? Risks are what it takes to grow, and I’m willing to take all the risks to inspire more people to learn how to ride a bike. It’s never too late, there’s always enough time, and someone is ready to teach you!

She won a free bike, will you?

You may not know Celeste, but she was a WABA bike education student last year. By attending a bicycle education class in 2017, Celeste was automatically entered to win the sweet bicycle you see above. Celeste signed up for a WABA Learn to Ride class because the time was finally right. She had lived long enough without being able to ride a bike. She was proud of her great life surrounded by friends, working as a professor and staying active within her community. What she didn’t have was the experience of enjoying life on two wheels. This is where WABA came in. In the span of three hours, Celeste was introduced to wearing a helmet properly, how to make sure her bike was properly fitted for her, and finally all about how to balance. After meticulous practice pushing with her feet, Flintstones-style, Celeste was ready for pedals. After a few wobbles and shakes (from nerves and still being new at the whole balance thing), Celeste was pedaling a bicycle all by herself for the first time in her life! She walked away from the class with a new found skill and the feeling of success. Little did she know that she was also walking away with a brand new bicycle. Due to the generous support of a WABA member, the Adult Education team received a bicycle to raffle off during the Fall 2017 season. Anyone that learned to ride for the first time in a learn to ride class, brushed up on their riding skills in a city cycling class; or discovered the greater bicycling community in a community ride was eligible to win the bike. By participating in a class you’re guaranteed to win (just not guaranteed to win a bike). You will win the feeling of being connected to an awesome community–the incredible local biking community! You will win new skills and tricks to find more joy and comfort while riding a bicycle. And, maybe, just maybe, you could win a bike. So, what’s stopping you? Come and win in a class this spring. Check this space in the next couple of weeks to view the schedule. Or, enter your email address here and be notified when the schedule goes live. Happy riding!

Everyday Bicycling Program Year in Review

The Everyday Bicycling program rode with a lot of bicyclists in 2017. Since the weather is supposed to turn colder this time of year the adult education team doesn’t offer many classes. Instead, we take a brief pause to scan behind and discover what worked in 2017, then set our sights on 2018 and beyond. Below are some highlights from the year. A few hundred new bicyclists This year our team of instructors led 30 adult Learn to Ride classes across DC, Arlington, and (for the first time!) Prince George’s County, and the City of Falls Church.
  • More than 400 folks attended a class and 80% of them were riding by the end of the morning!
  • That means 320 new riders are enjoying the trails and roads on two-wheels today!
Our season has wrapped up for the year, but if you know someone that still wants to learn how to ride, consider sharing the joy of life on two wheels by setting up a private class—many of WABA’s instructors enjoy teaching one-on-one.

Students learning to ride in Arlington

Riding confidently More than 200 people (mostly grown ups, but also kids) attended a City Cycling class in 2017. In 3 hours time participants learned some skills and tips to enjoy the great trails and also how to make the commute with traffic less stressful and more fun. In addition to the confidence learned, community building was gained.
  • WABA ran 25 City Cycling classes in Montgomery County, DC, Alexandria and Arlington in Virginia.
  • WABA ran two family biking classes in DC – one discussing the challenges of riding with youth attached to the bike, while the other focused on the joys of riding with youth on their own bike in the city.
  • WABA ran a youth bike rodeo in Montgomery County.
  • WABA trained National Park Service Rangers that work along the Anacostia River Trail.
Want to bring a City Cycling class to your office for your employees? Email us: education@waba.org. Building community Navigating the streets in the region on a bicycle can be tricky, which is why WABA offers slow, no-drop community rides.
  • To date, WABA led 220 community members through the neighborhoods discussing ways to avoid the door zone and how to deal with tricky intersections.
  • We shared thousands of fun facts and trivia questions.
  • For the first time, WABA led a Community Ride in Fairfax County.
  • We’ve got one ride left on the calendar for 2017 – come and ride with us!
Bringing biking to work The Everyday Bicycling team worked off of the bike too.
  • WABA shared the key components to start commuting by bike with more than 300 people in Everyday Biking Seminars at workplaces across the region. The point of this seminar is to encourage people to try a regular trip by bike instead of car.
  • WABA met with and had honest conversations with the supervisors and safety trainers of DC Circulator buses about using the road with pedestrians and bicyclists, through the creation and launch of WABA’s Bicycle Friendly Driver program.
Training the trainers WABA welcomed 14 new certified bicycling teachers. The League of American Bicyclists certifies cycling instructors across the country, but about once a year, we run a special certification course to help us ensure that we have a varied and exciting team of instructors that are connected to the communities in which we teach.  Planning for 2018 WABA is excited for all the work the team did in 2017 to make bicycling better for everyone in the region. By taking advantage of the best practices of this year and working from some new ideas to improve the program in 2018 – the Everyday Bicycling Program can’t wait for the weather to turn warmer. Hopefully, we’ll see you (or a friend) in a class or on a ride next year!

“Who knew I would get a PhD before learning to ride a bike?”

Did you know that WABA offers classes to teach adults how to ride a bike? The classes are only 3 hours long and are offered almost every weekend in the spring and fall, in different locations throughout the region. You can view the schedule of remaining classes by here.

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Nervous about signing up for a class? Each class is taught by instructors that have been certified by the League of American Bicyclists. In addition, each instructor has gone through additional training in our nationally acclaimed approach to Learn to Ride classes. Here’s recent success story:

Who knew I would get a PhD before learning to ride a bike? There was always an excuse… I grew up on a hill in the country without access to a bike… I was traveling… I saw too many people get hit by cars to want to ride a bike. And then I felt too old, every time a man asked me on a date to go bike riding I would make up an excuse. Finally, at 33, on a beautiful Sunday I joined WABA for an adult bike riding class. We all trickled in nervously, as if not knowing how to ride a bike was shameful and a secret we’ve carried for years. The instructors were kind and enthusiastic and people started talking and making jokes. I decided there and then this was the day I was going to learn! My new friend Greg and I posted up at the end of the line, under the excellent instruction of Jeff, a kind older man who reminded me of my magnificent hippie parents. He taught us how to glide, we laughed through the awkwardness. We gradually got pedals for practice, and then got a taste for speed. By the end of the three hours I was weaving through the obstacle course, wanted to buy a bike, take new classes and become part of the club. Two new friends from class and I walked to brunch and talked about how excited we were. It felt like the first day of camp (in a great way). While I am still afraid of hills and cars I am excited for the next step. Thank you WABA – I encourage everyone to go out and give it a whirl!

So far this year we’ve taught more than 500 adults how to ride a bike. You can already ride a bike? Can your friend or neighbor or colleague? Wouldn’t it be great to go ride bikes together on the weekend? Send them to WABA—one of the ways we work to make bicycling better in the region is by putting more people on bikes in the first place!

 

Yep! We’re Finally Getting Our Region’s First Bike Campus!

Have you seen our plan to convert an unused parking lot into a next-generation classroom for biking? With your help, we’re finally bringing our region its first-ever Bike Campus!

We’re asking you to help us raise funds to create the region’s first Bike Campus.

If you’ve donated to WABA, you know you’ve contributed to concrete change in our built environment and a tangible shift in the way we all interact on the road. You’ve made a lasting impact in our region. Thank you for continuing to back us. Thank you for driving our mission to make our region the best place to ride a bike.

Donate today to create a safe and vibrant place for people to learn about biking.

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  For two and half years we’ve worked with National Park Service to take Jones Point Park, in the heart of Alexandria, to the next level as a place for bike education. With your help, we’ll have the funds to convert an unused parking lot into a vibrant skills course and replica streetscape so we can teach you and your children how to safely and confidently navigate city streets. And so you can take your children out on the weekends and teach them how to ride. But we can’t do it without your help.

Donate today to show your support for the next generation of bicyclists.

Bike Camp 2Over a dozen cities across the country have bike campuses, and it’s time we get one ourselves! Your support will pay for actual supplies so we can clean and re-seal the surface, lay out and paint the campus, and post new signage around the park! Your support will pay for our maintenance fund, so that we can help cover the costs of ownership over the new park. With your backing we’ll have a template to pressure other counties to adopt, and with your help we’ll eventually have bike campuses across Northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland.

Chip in today so we can create a Bike Campus our region deserves.

Alexandria-Bike-Campus-Mockup-animated