Meet a PAL Ambassador: Leeann

Throughout January, we’ve been asking bicyclists, walkers, and drivers alike to share their new year’s resolutions to #BEaPAL.

Are you thinking about how to improve your own transportation behavior to make our roads, trails, and sidewalks safer? Consider becoming an ambassador like our friend, Leeann.

What’s it like to become a PAL Ambassador?

Meet Leeann Sinpatanasakul, whose amazing work and passion for her community make her a great PAL Ambassador.

How did you get in involved as an Arlington PAL Ambassador? What do you like about being a part of this program?

I became involved in the PAL ambassador program after meeting the coordinator, Ashley Blue, at a community event where she was tabling. What got me interested was that it wasn’t just for bicyclists—it was for drivers and pedestrians, too. I hope more residents will join our efforts and see PAL as something for more than just cyclists. After all, at some point we’re all pedestrians when we travel.

I like everything about the program! I like being involved and making a difference with our events, and I like that the program has encouraged me to be more civically engaged. It’s because of the program that I’ve been involved in Arlington’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

What does the PAL message mean to you? What do you think the program means to the community?

To me, PAL, which stands for “predictable, alert, lawful,” means that we all have a role to play in making Arlington a safer, more enjoyable place to live. PAL tries to educate residents on how to be a safe driver, cyclist, or pedestrian. In the future, I hope that more members of the community will learn about the PAL message and take it to heart.

What are your PAL resolutions for 2018? How will you be a more Predictable, Alert, and Lawful road and sidewalk user?

My resolution for 2018 is to be kinder and more courteous to other bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. While driving, this means giving at least three feet of space between myself and a person cycling and slowing down when passing safely. While walking, this means being visible and predictable to drivers, especially at night with low visibility. We share Arlington’s transportation infrastructure with our neighbors. It’s important to remember to be courteous to them in the shared community space.

What’s your #BEaPAL resolution for 2018?

Join our Outreach Party next week to share yours and collect ideas from the public!

Can’t make it to the party, don’t worry. Share your resolutions with us in other ways:


Tips for Being a PAL this Halloween

Happy PAL-oween from your friendly neighborhood Arlington PAL (Predictable, Alert, Lawful) Ambassadors! On October 31st, we’ll be out on N. Jackson Street near Virginia Square among trick-or-treaters to help everyone have fun and walk, bike, or drive safely during their night of spooky fun.

Join us, won’t you?

And keep reading for some tips that you can share for anyone going out on Halloween:

Drive and bike SLOWLY through your neighborhood and be extra aware of pedestrians.

Kids can be unpredictable humans, especially when they’re surrounded by the excitement of tricks and treats. There will be many more people of all ages walking around on Halloween than your typical weekday evening, so be sure to take extra care. Worst thing that can happen is that you’re delayed by an adorable parade of minions and goblins crossing the street. If you’re on your bike, make sure to let people walking and trick or treating know you’re around by calling your passes, ringing a bell or wishing them a Happy Halloween!

Walkers and bikers: lighten up!

Ashley and Annmarie sporting their #BEaPAL reflective vests during the Mardi Gras parade

While the onus is on drivers to take care around more vulnerable road users, like people walking, biking and trick or treating, there are things you can do to improve your visibility at night. Reflective accents can be added to costumes to help you be seen. Carrying glow sticks or flashlights can be helpful as they not only help others see you, but help you see in the dark as well.

For bicyclists, Arlington County requires that bicycles ridden at night have one white light at the front and a red reflector at the rear. A blinking red rear light and bonus reflective goodies, like vests or small stickers, can be even more helpful.

Luckily, the PAL Ambassadors will be there handing out bike lights, reflective vests and fun goodies that night to help keep your Halloween lit!

 

 

 

Everyone: be lawful at intersections

This goes for everyone! When walkers wait for the crosswalk signal, bikers stop at the stop sign or light and drivers always yield to pedestrians, we all get to the most important part of the night with less stress: Getting home to devour all of the candy!

Popsicle Pop-up makes for happy Arlington residents

With the temperature rising and the humidity, well…being humid, it was certainly harder to leave the AC and get outside in June.  For their monthly block party, the Arlington PAL Ambassadors decided to provide a little motivation and encouragement to trail users with some delicious frozen treats!

The PAL Popsicle Pop-up took place where the Custis Trail meets North Quincy Street near Washington-Lee High School in Ballston.  It was also Father’s’ Day, which meant a lot of families spending time outside with their kids! It was great seeing how happy people were to stumble upon our party, especially with the heat in the high 80’s that day.  Some folks followed our chalk signage on the trail, while some PALs made it a point to stop by while on their Sunday adventure.

The bike lanes on Quincy St serve as great connectors to not only the Custis Trail, but to Washington-Lee High School, downtown Ballston and several other Arlington connections, as well.  Quincy has been a central piece of the Bike Friendly Ballston campaign, which we hope to continue improving to enhance safety and comfort getting around town.

With more and more people, including families, getting out on the trails in the summer months, it’s never a bad idea to remind cyclists and walkers to be predictable, alert and lawful!  It was a lovely afternoon connecting with friends and neighbors, as well as meeting some new PALs. 

Want to become an Arlington PAL Ambassador?  Sign up

Meet a PAL Ambassador: Crash

All of the PAL Ambassadors call you Crash…what kind of name is that?!

I once T-boned a police car on my bicycle in the rain. No one was seriously injured.

That’s…not really an answer. What are your favorite things about Arlington? What do you like to do?

I’ve lived here for about six years and it’s a vibrant community with so much diversity and things going on. As small as it is, each corner has a different feel and culture to it. Ballston, Crystal City, West Columbia Pike, Rosslyn. What makes Arlington really unique though is the “Arlington loop”. The 17-mile interconnected connected trail system for walking, bicycling, rollerblading, stroller-pushing, etc, whatever you want to use it for. I don’t imagine many other areas have such a well used and well maintained trail system.  There are also lots of outdoor events, but one of my favorites is the free outdoor movies. Lots of people come out to them.

The Predictable, Alert and Lawful (PAL) message is aimed at everyone in the community: bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers.  Which do you see yourself as?

I’m definitely all three. I own a car but I commute to and from work by bicycle. Being in all three roles definitely makes you better at all three. When I’m driving, pedestrians will illegally cross in the crosswalk when I’m going through the intersection! What are they thinking? When I’m bicycling, cars will change lanes or turn without using their turn signal! What are they thinking? When I’m walking, bicycles will pass me with little room to spare without notifying me with an audible signal! What are they thinking? Using each mode makes me understand what I can do better in the others.

Describe your involvement as a PAL Ambassador and what you enjoy about volunteering.

Not going to lie, I saw something in a bicycle newsletter about a pizza party and I can’t turn down food. That was many years ago and now the advocacy is more interesting than the pizza to me. Being a PAL Ambassador is pretty simple, the most important thing is to practice the PAL principles. The aspect I like the most is seeing people from the community being brought together. Volunteering at a big event like Bike To Work Day is amazing because you see how massive the bicycle community is. Volunteering at smaller events like our block parties is amazing because you get to meet families with young children who genuinely enjoy spending wholesome, quality time together outside.

Why do you think the PAL program is important and relevant to the Arlington community?

Arlington is a perfect intersection of cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. Commuters going into DC by car go through Arlington. Arlington is dense enough that Arlingtonians can easily walk to restaurants and bars. We have fantastic bicycle infrastructure and services so that most of us can either bicycle the complete distance to where we want to go or use it for some of our journey. These three modes of transportation aren’t separate; cars share the lane with bicycles, bicycles may need to share the sidewalk with pedestrians, and pedestrians cross streets used by cars and bikes. Where there’s a feeling of disconnect between the modes is where problems can happen, and the PAL Ambassadors are out there to remind people to put more thought into their behavior.

You can meet Crash and more PAL Ambassadors at our Block Party this Saturday!

Meet Ashley, the new Arlington PAL Ambassador Coordinator!

Ashley Blue

Hello PALs! I’m so excited to be the new PAL Ambassador program coordinator. Spring is in the air and as we all know, Arlingtonians will be out and about. Let’s go remind them to be Predictable, Alert and Lawful!

While I’ve been biking since I was a kid, I really embraced it as a new way to explore in Alexandria. Biking made me feel so much more connected to the world around me than I had before. I started biking everywhere – the grocery store, friend’s places…I couldn’t get enough!

The most enriching part of my newfound love was becoming a part of such a fun, supportive community of cyclists. As I started attending Women & Bicycles events and local community rides, I really found a sense of belonging in my new city.

I then moved to Arlington where I began getting involved with BikeArlington as a volunteer and regular community ride participant. I met the lovely Annmarie Hansen after a taco-themed ride where we bonded over our love of both biking and dancing. She then told me all about the PAL Ambassador program, and I soon became a regular PAL – attending pizza parties, block parties, and even pulling the trailer around town!

As a year-long PAL volunteer, I experienced first-hand the positive impact that Annmarie and the PAL Ambassadors have had on the Arlington community. I’m thrilled to contribute my own enthusiasm to the program and continue to build on our message to help people stay safe on our sidewalks and streets.

To become an Arlington PAL Ambassador, sign up here!

What Predictable Alert Lawful (PAL) means to me

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Three months ago, I took a job as the Arlington PAL ambassador coordinator. Since then I have reminded more people than I can possibly count to be more Predictable, Alert, and Lawful on our roadways. This message is simple. We’re asking people to practice common courtesy and awareness when they are walking, driving and biking on the streets of Arlington.

When I first started, I assumed my work would be as simple as biking around at a leisurely pace, smiling, waving, and being nice to people. But it turned out to take an incredible amount of self awareness. I learned to really interact and connect with people. This work and my regular everyday experiences have had a profound impact on me.

I learned that we have constant opportunities to have positive interactions with people, and that sharing our personal stories is the most reliable way to build empathy and understanding.

It amazed me to realize that before this job I was biking inside of my own bubble. I didn’t really interact with people and didn’t know what I was missing. When I started to bike around and actively engage with my community, I had a totally different experience. The streets of Arlington are crowded, crowded with our neighbors and community members doing what they need to do to get around town.

I went from just seeing a car in front of me or a bicyclist beside me, to seeing actual people. I began to really feel connected to people- and every one of these people presented an opportunity to share the PAL message and a smile.

This human connectedness is what the PAL program is all about. We’re all neighbors, we’re all going in the same direction, and we all just want to get home safely.

We have a fun Block Party next week! Join and help us remind folks to be a little more Predictable, Alert, and Lawful! Click here to learn more.

Tonight’s PAL Ambassador Block Party!

You ready for our monthly Arlington Block Party? Meet us at the corner of N. Sycamore St. and Lee Highway between 4:30pm and 6:30pm. The PAL Ambassadors will have signs, giveaways, and some surprises!

Click here for more information.


BikeArlington launched the PAL campaign 2 years ago with the strong sentiment that no matter who we are or how we choose to get around town, our roadways depend on a social contract that everyone is following the rules and paying attention. Whether we’re walking, driving, or biking we rely on our fellow road-users to be PALs; Predictable. Alert. Lawful.

The mission of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association is to create a healthy, more livable region by promoting bicycling for fun, fitness, and affordable transportation; advocating for better bicycling conditions and transportation choices for a healthier environment; and educating children, adults, and motorists about safe bicycling.

 

PAL-logo

Meet Annmarie Hansen, our new PAL Ambassador Coordinator!

 

The PAL Ambassadors had fun with the Burma Shave Signs today.

Annmarie Hansen (far right) and the PAL Ambassador team doing some streetcorner outreach. Photo by Pete Beers.

Hello! My name is Annmarie, and I am so excited to be WABA’s new PAL Ambassador Coordinator! (PAL stands for Predictable, Alert and Lawful).  I was drawn to this job because I have lived most of my life in Arlington and Washington. I’ve been riding here since I was a kid, and I’m passionate about safe cycling all over the area. I feel so fortunate that my job involves being nice to people, and helping them feel safe.

On Wednesdays growing up, my father, inventor of the “powerboost”, (which, he said, gave me no excuse to walk my single speed up hills) would pick me up from school and I’d perch myself on the seat of his road bike and he would wheel me home. I rode my first bike as much and as far as I could, and spray painted the purple thing black when I decided I wanted to be a tomboy.

When I became a grown-up, I didn’t ride my bike for fun anymore. I had places to go, and people to see. And riding a bike was the best way to do all those things. Riding a metro was okay. the bus was always too slow. And cars, well, it didn’t seems to be all it was cracked up to be. But riding a bike? Now that let me feel truly free. I felt in control of my body and my destiny when I was on a bike, and it was awesome.

When I was eighteen, I started riding a pedicab, which, at the time was a fun way to make money while riding a tricycle. It’s an exhausting job however, and after 5 years, I decided I wanted to work in bike advocacy. I did this by volunteering a bit with WABA and then all the time at Gearin Up Bicycles.

Pete Beers left me some big shoes to fill, but I’m excited to share my own enthusiasm with Arlington and the WABA community. I hope you’ll join me in making the streets of Arlington safe for everybody.

If you want to be a PAL Ambassador, sign up here: arlingtonpals.waba.org.

This Thursday’s Block Party With Your PALs!

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Want to reach your
Destination faster?
Be a PAL
Avoid disaster!

Join us for our next PAL Block Party and show off our Burma Shave signs!  We’ll be holding our awesome series of signs at the intersection of Lee, Old Dominion, Military and Quincy.

Join us for 20 minutes or full the full 2 hours. It will be a good time. After the event, we’ll ride up the road a little and get a beer at Cowboy Cafe.

Click here for more details and to RSVP.

Hope to see you there,
Pete.


BikeArlington launched the PAL campaign 2 years ago with the strong sentiment that no matter who we are or how we choose to get around town, our roadways depend on a social contract that everyone is following the rules and paying attention. Whether we’re walking, driving, or biking we rely on our fellow road-users to be PALs; Predictable. Alert. Lawful.

The mission of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association is to create a healthy, more livable region by promoting bicycling for fun, fitness, and affordable transportation; advocating for better bicycling conditions and transportation choices for a healthier environment; and educating children, adults, and motorists about safe bicycling.

Negatives into Positives: A PAL Story

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Preface
I lead a wonderful group called the PAL Ambassadors. PAL stands for Predictable, Alert, Lawful. It is a cooperative program between Washington Area Bicyclist Association and BikeArlington to promote street safety and responsible behavior, while building a fun, volunteer-based community of ambassadors. It is fun and EXTREMELY effective at making the region more safe. You should join us!

At our monthly PAL Outreach Block Party we were talking pedestrian and cyclist safety issues at one of the more dangerous intersections in Arlington County… Lee Highway and Lynn Street in Rosslyn.

Now to my story
A woman who works nearby and walks to and from work daily was quite angry and a little bit confrontational about how cyclists behave around pedestrians. Often times people expect me to reply to aggressive comments “with attitude”, so they open up with confrontational words and hands on their hips. She is more afraid of cyclists than she is of cars in that intersection. This fear and anger had built up over years! Now she’s got someone to point it at…. ME!

Over the years I’ve developed a very good technique for making this kind of interaction positive. Listen —> Find common ground —> Share the solution —> Enlist their help = WIN!

Here’s how it went
Listen: Pretty easy. Be attentive. Make eye contact. Listen… I mean really listen. Don’t interrupt. Just listen! She talked for almost a minute non-stop. It seemed like a lot longer. It always does. I just listened and waited for her to relax a little and breathe. She felt MUCH better when she got to the end of her talk. I could see her visibly relax.

Find common ground: I totally agreed with her, so common ground was easy to find. Many cyclists behave badly in and around that intersection. I slipped in a little comment that many of us in that intersection could behave a lot better. I was helped by a pedestrian that ran out into busy traffic and a motorist that ran the red light. SHE brought up that pedestrians are horrible there too. We have common ground and she helped find it!

Share the solution: I gave a 15 second pitch for the PAL Ambassador program. I had 6 amazing volunteers talking the talk and walking the walk all around me. She could see people talking to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. She liked it!

Enlist their help: I handed her a Kind Bar that had a PAL Ambassador sticker on it with all the info she needed to get involved. She got a snack and the ball is in her court to become a force for good!

WIN! I got a smile, a sincere handshake and a new force for good in the PAL Ambassador program. I hope she follows through.

Everyone wins!

You should come out and join us! We have our monthly PAL Pizza Night on April 16th, and our next big block party on April 23rd!

—Pete
This entry was originally posted on my blog