Montgomery County Better Bicycling Advocacy Workshop

Are you interested in making Montgomery County more bikeable? Do you want to see streets redesigned to be safer to walk, bike, get to the bus, school, or store.

At this workshop we introduced some strategies for more effective safe streets advocacy including:

  • Review how the County sets priorities, collects input, and makes decisions about transportation needs. Learn about the process, timeframes, identifying decision makers, and our levers to steer them towards safer streets.
  • Ideas for making bicycling safe and other improvements that the County can make in your neighborhood or on your commute.
  • Setting WABA’s priorities in Montgomery County for 2023 and beyond!

Saving Trees from Invasive Weeds

by a DC Trail Ranger

Even in winter one of the first things that struck me about the trails we would be working on was how much green space DC has, and how much of that green space was being destroyed by invasive species.

One of the best things is that for a rare change, I was put in a position where I could actually do something about it. Trees are one of our most important resources. In a world that’s rapidly warming, they help absorb the carbon that’s heating up our planet, but they also help keep us cool with their shade. Even in 95 degrees, Marvin Gaye Trail was cool and comfortable with the shade of large trees while we worked. But to keep them, they need our help.


The sad part is many of these trees are dead or being ripped down by the weight of vines that were never meant to be here in the first place. River birches snapped in half by kudzu, branches of pines and sycamores being pulled down by porcelain berry or bittersweet, huge oaks covered in english ivy, and whole areas swamped by multiflora rose or bush honeysuckle crowding out everything and stealing the sunshine. 

The great part is, that I get to help fix it. Five minutes of snipping vines at the base of a tree means years of growth will die off and eventually fall off the trees. Sometimes I’ll find a small tree fighting for its life and with 15 minutes of careful work and it’s free to breathe and grow in the sunlight. It feels pretty great to see a tree you thought was likely dead start to bud and grow leaves.

How did we get here? 

One of the largest reasons for trees being overtaken by weed is due to the countries’ gilded age when gardens were all the rage. The more exotic the more they inspired the vision of wealth and luxury. The upper class showed wealth largely through lavish manor homes and their large estates with beautifully curated gardens. 150 years ago they simply didn’t realize that many of these plants would escape their gardens and reak havoc for the next century across the country. Many plants were spread by birds and pollinators, and many were spread by people wanting these plants in gardens of their own.

What can we do?

If you know you have an invasive plant in your yard you can remove it. Snip vines at the base and let them die off. Choose native plants for your garden and encourage your friends to do the same. Check out local programs in your area to volunteer with and encourage programs like the Trail Ranger Program to provide continuous vegetation maintenance, no one thing is a solution, but they all make a dent. 

Want to learn more about the issue? Check out these additional resources.

This Man Documented 5,000 Trees Being Killed By Vines In Takoma Park : NPR

Why Do DC’s Poorer Neighborhoods Have Fewer Trees? | WAMU

Bad berry or good berry? Porcelain Berry is a NO NO for our local forests | #CincyParks

Saving Your Neighborhood Trees from Invasive Vines

Bikeable, Walkable Workshop for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners

in early 2021, WABA hosted a Bikeable, Walkable Streets workshop for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. We explored some effective options for making streets more inclusive, how DC’s Department of Transportation moves forward street safety and redesign projects, how to participate in that process some tactics to get a good idea moving.

In the second half, a panel of past and current commissioners shared their experience and tips on workshopping ideas, building consensus among residents and stakeholders, and getting safe streets projects done.

Panelists

  • Salim Adofo – Commissioner 8C07
  • Monique Diop – Commissioner 8D04
  • Randy Downs – Former Commissioner 2B05
  • Erin Palmer – Commissioner 4B02

Questions? Email garrett.hennigan@waba.org. Click here to download the slides.

How to Do a Wheelie (Part 2)

Have you seen Part 1 of Trey’s How to do a Wheelie Series?

Well here’s Part 2 of How to do a Wheelie where Trey and a few friends will demonstrate how to get that front wheel off the ground while learning how to control and balance yourself. If you are up for the challenge, follow along and then take your bike outside to practice. With practice and determination, you’ll be able to wheelie your bike like a pro! (Starring Andre Cousart, Daiquan Medley and Trey Robinson)

How to Do a Wheelie (Part 1)

Do you want to challenge yourself to learn how to wheelie a bicycle? If the answer is yes, follow along with WABA’s Trey Robinson as he tells you everything you need to know about wheelies. Part 1 of a 2 part How to Wheelie Series will cover all the things you should know before you attempt this cool trick. Prepare yourself for a fun ride as you join us on your journey to learning how to wheelie!

Check out part 2 here.

Carrying Stuff on a Bike

Spoiler: We think bicycles are the bee’s knees. They efficiently help people move from place to place and excel at moving stuff. You can use your bike to carry your work or school essentials, your groceries, your child(ren), gardening supplies, or even construction materials. 

It might take some planning and logistics at first, but once you have your routine and gear down, you can carry (almost) anything on a bike! Here are some ways to turn your bike into a utilitarian hauler. 

Backpacks are a great place to start!

Bags

Backpacks or messenger bags are an easy way to start carrying light loads. You can carry a change of clothes, work or school supplies, or picnic snacks. They are great for short commutes and quick errands. 

Pro

  • You probably already have one. 
  • Great for using on a Capital Bikeshare bike!

Con

  • Can lead to sweaty backs 
  • May be uncomfortable on longer rides
A versatile front rack

Rack

Bicycle racks are perhaps the most utilitarian accessory for your bicycle and will help you carry even more things. The most common type attaches to the back of your bicycle over the rear wheel, but you can also attach them to your seat post or the front of your bicycle. Great racks cost as little as $25 and you can often find them used or second hand. Pair them with crates, bags, and bungees to help you secure your load and carry even more. 

Pro

  • Increases your carrying capacity

Con

  • They add some weight to your bike (but aren’t we talking about carrying things?)
A traditional rear rack and pannier setup

Panniers = Bag + Rack

Panniers come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and prices, but fundamentally they are bags that attach to your rack. They increase your capacity to carry things and transfer on and off your bike with ease. Look for handy features such as waterproofing, reflective material, and pockets, but ultimately you should decide what works for you based on your budget and needs. Here is a handy tutorial on attaching panniers to your shopping cart

Pro

  • Increases your carrying capacity
  • Keeps weight low to the ground
  • Often come with waterproofing and reflective material, great commuter features 

Con

  • Some models are pricey
  • Heavy loads require balanced packing
A classic front basket

Baskets

Baskets are an affordable and easy to install accessory. Front baskets can mount to your handlebars or front rack and are great for short errands or carrying your daily essentials. You can also attach a basket to the top or side of your rear rack, which is great for grocery runs and larger objects. Pair them with bungees, a cargo net, or straps to cinch down your load and keep your items safe and stable. 

Pro

  • Affordable and easy to attach
  • Pairs well with a bag – place it in the basket or wear it to add more carrying space

Con

  • Heavy loads on a front rack can change how your bike steers
  • Difficult to waterproof

Bike Trailer

Trailers attach to your bicycle allowing you to drag things behind you. Trailers are often designed with a specific use, such as for hauling gear or pets or kids. Kids trailers can work double-duty. You can use them to get groceries and some models allow you to use them as a jogging stroller.

Pro

  • Great for large loads like groceries, construction material, kids, and pets
  • Limited effects on steering

Con

  • Expensive
  • Require a decent amount of storage space

The key thing to remember when looking at gear for carrying things by bicycle is to assess your needs. Are you looking to replace all of your car grocery runs or just small ones? Do you plan to carry things for a small household or a large family? All of these options are possible and help to reduce car use and mitigate climate change impact. If you are not sure what works for you, borrow gear from a friend or look for second-hand options that will help you figure out what works for you. Or you can reach us at outreach@waba.org and we are happy to provide suggestions.

A few other tips:

Electric assist cargo bikes can carry a LOT. You can’t see it, but there’s a microwave under that air conditioner.
When loading your front basket, make sure you can see over the handlebars.
Harness the power of the bungee cord! For extra points, you can carry a car bike rack on your bike bike rack.
It’s helpful to have a good sense of how much you can fit in your panniers BEFORE you check out at the grocery store.

Reporting Road and Infrastructure Maintenance Issues

WABA Trail Rangers work to keep DC’s urban trails in great shape, both by fixing issues and reporting them. We’re reporting the issues we notice but we don’t see everything and you can join us.

In DC, city service and maintenance issues are reported through 311, the citywide call center, either by directly calling 311 or reporting through the mobile app available for iPhone and Android by searching “DC 311.” Issues are reported by service category, so the trick is to know what kind of issue you are reporting so that the report goes to the team that can fix the problem.

311 Categories

311 requests are broken down into categories that can be seen in the app. These make it easier to specify the nature of your issue and there are a few categories that will be more helpful than others.

Roadway Marking Maintenance:

  • Damaged Park-Its
  • Broken flexposts
  • Faded or missing lane markings

Once you’ve told the city what kind of issue and where it is, the next page will ask for specific details. All of the Roadway Marking Maintenance examples above can be categorized as a “bicycle line” on the page for additional information:

Potholes have their own category! Be as specific as you can about the location. Cars parked in bike lanes can be reported as a “No Parking Anytime” enforcement concern. Then add the details – what precisely the issue is and any details that will help the crew know what to bring out into the field and where to go. The more information, the better!

One important note

The trick for a prompt response is to report the issue to the folks who can fix it – those with the tools to fill in potholes, paint asphalt, write tickets. Therefore avoid the service type “Bicycle Issues” – these issue reports go directly to the bike planning team at DDOT. It adds extra steps and time for them to forward requests to the appropriate maintenance teams of DDOT.