Meet Sydney Sotelo, our Adult Education Coordinator

Hello! My name is Sydney Sotelo, and I am very excited to be joining WABA as the new Adult Education Coordinator.

A true lover of all things outside, in my free time you can usually find me biking, hiking, rock climbing, backpacking, camping and playing outside with my dog, Waffle. For the past six years, I have worked as an Outdoor Recreation educator, helping people to get outside, learn new skills and invest in the natural world around them. I believe that public lands, parks, trails and paths can teach us so much about ourselves, and I am passionate about using the outdoors as a catalyst for personal growth and change.

I come to WABA with an eagerness to inspire others to try a new skill. I believe that with a supportive, encouraging environment, effective teaching and a whole lot of stoke, anyone can learn to do anything. I value hands on teaching as an opportunity to engage with others and create meaningful, transformative experiences. So, try something new! You might learn a little bit more about yourself along the way.

If you would like to get to know me better, learn more about my teaching philosophy, or just need to get over the fear of taking that first step to getting on a bike, feel free to reach out to me by email. I am happy to sit down for a chat and brainstorm new ways to learn! Check out all of our Adult Education classes online and feel free to reach me at sydney.sotelo@waba.org.

Meet Trey Robinson, our DC Bike Ambassador Coordinator

I am Trey Robinson and I am the new DC Bike Ambassador Coordinator at WABA!

I began riding bikes in college to get to and from classes and now use biking for transportation, fitness and fun. As a Maryland native, I first started biking in DC as a Trail Ranger with WABA. I did not know my way around the city but soon learned how to navigate by using various trails and bike lanes. I now bike through the city with confidence while using the resources that keep people on bikes safe. I can now lead friends on bike rides throughout DC, showing them all the resources that make cycling a fun time.

In my free time, I ride bikes with kids in the neighborhood and help fix small bike repairs to keep people riding.  I’m always sharing information about the various bike rides and trails in DC because riding bikes in DC is so fun! I’ve formed some great relationships with many people because of our common joy of cycling.

WABA has showed me that riding bikes is more than an occasional ride on the weekend. Cycling is a great form of transportation, exercise, and fun way to enjoy the outdoors. DC has the best places to ride and you also get to pass some historical places with beautiful scenery on your route. Biking in DC is a rewarding experience when you realize how much more efficient it is than driving.

As a DC Bike Ambassador, I’m eager to interact with people and share the benefits of riding bikes. I’ll be reaching out to pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists to encourage shared road use. I’ll also continue to do my best to model good behavior and respectful, safe road use for everyone. I hope my encouragement helps get more people bicycling in their daily lives. The DC Bike Ambassadors will help educate more people about some of the ways to make biking easier, fun, and safer.

I’m looking forward to speaking with more people to help them learn more about biking in DC. If you have questions or would like to become a DC Bike Ambassador, you can reach me at trey.robinson@waba.org.

Meet Tessla Wilson, our new Business Partnerships Coordinator

I am Tessla Wilson and I am the new Business Partnerships Coordinator at WABA!

I was raised by an industrious and extremely hardworking single mother of two. Being that my mother’s time and resources were extremely limited, teaching me to ride a bike was at the very bottom of her list—and in the absence of an older sibling, I was left to my own devices to learn. I spent many years being envious of the freedom that the neighborhood kids enjoyed riding bikes. They were able to explore beyond our street and build friendships that I was unable to join in on due to my lack of mobility on two wheels.  

It wasn’t until thirteen that I turned to the younger kids to teach me to ride. Being that none of them were WABA instructors, I lost a lot of skin (and pride) that day, but eventually succeeded. As my little family grew older, riding bikes became a cherished family past time that allowed us to explore our city together.

My college and early career was shaped by my desire to be an advocate for those who were not afforded the same privilege that I grew to have. It became my mission to not only be a voice for the marginalized but also to take an active part in shaping the future to one of equity and access for all. That same desire brought me to WABA, and I am so excited to work towards WABA’s vision of a healthier region (for both our environment and our bodies) with our local and national business partners! If you own or work for a company that is looking for partnership or sponsorship opportunities, I would love to chat or meet up for coffee. You can reach me at tessla.wilson@waba.org.

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!

Meet James Ploeser, our new DC Bike Ambassador!

Hi. I’m James and I’m new here.

Prior to joining WABA as a part-time Bike Ambassador, I’ve been a lot of things. I’ve been a barista, a community organizer, and a truck driver. Recreationally, I’ve been a gardener, natural builder, and a musician. At present, I’m a yoga teacher, a religious educator working with high school students, and a seminarian training to become a Unitarian Universalist minister.

And all that time, I’ve always been a bike-rider.

I feel very fortunate to have grown up in Madison, WI, one of the best and safest cities for cycling in the country. Its downtown lies between two lakes, so shoreline nature trails are many people’s paths to work. That, plus an extensive network of protected bike lanes made it relatively easy to become comfortable biking most anywhere.

For the last 11 years, DC has been my home. Through prioritizing being a good neighbor in my immediate surroundings in NW, I’ve also been lucky to explore most parts of the city rather extensively- and not only by bike. In addition to cycling, here I’ve spent nearly equal time as a driver and a train- or bus-rider. Coincidentally, a recent part-time job had me driving a vegetable truck for a local food access organization, and my route took me along one of my favorite cycling destinations beyond the beltway, adjacent to the Custis and W&OD trails, into the horse and wine country of Loudoun County, VA.

I see cycling as not only healthy, sustainable and affordable (though it is all those things!), but as a means of empowerment and social change. Learning that you can take yourself great distances on just two wheels, and with just your own two legs, offers an embodied experience that we are more free and more capable than we often think. In 2010, a friend and I rode to the UN Climate Talks in Cancun. Along the way we not only promoted sustainable transportation but also highlighted local efforts to transition to a people-powered global economy.

That and other such experiences are why it’s important for me that safe, enjoyable cycling be available to everyone in the D.C. region. My belief in inclusion aligns with WABA’s vision for the region. In fact, it’s partly why I’ve been invited to join the team. I’m a fluent Spanish speaker, having spent time not only in Latin America where I studied and volunteered with social movement organizations, but also working as an organizer in Spanish-speaking communities back in the midwest and here in the DMV.

If you are also interested in expanding the accessibility of WABA’s program offerings to Spanish-speaking communities, and have the language skills to assist, email me at james.ploeser@waba.org to let me know.

So that’s me. I hope to meet many of you before and during upcoming activities, and that we’ll continue welcoming more new folks into the lovely and growing WABAverse. 🙂

Meet Hannah Anderson-Dana, our new Membership and Development Coordinator.

I’m Hannah Anderson-Dana, the new Membership and Development Coordinator at WABA. I’m so excited to be part of the Development team and get to know our great members!

Growing up in the very bike friendly Portland, OR and attending college in the equally bikeable Twin Cities meant that biking was my main form of transportation, from getting to school to riding around the lakes on a nice day. After I moved to DC, I joined WABA as a member on Bike to Work Day in 2015 and I’ve had the best time learning about the bike community in the region and exploring different neighborhoods on rides. Exploring DC by bike made the city really feel like home!

I most recently worked at a civics non-profit, where I was always trying to convince my coworkers to bike to work or on the weekends. Needless to say, that’s taken care of at WABA!

I hope to enhance and expand WABA’s already amazing membership program and to continue making connections in our community through biking. If you have thoughts or feedback about our membership program and how we can grow it, please reach out to me at hannah.anderson-dana@waba.org. I can’t wait to meet you!

Meet Robert Gardner, our new Advocacy Director

Hello!

I’m Robert Gardner, the new Advocacy Director here at WABA. I feel so privileged to be able to be back home here in the DMV and work with WABA to make the region a fun, safe and exciting place to bike for everyone!

I’ve spent the past 10 years working on national and international advocacy campaigns based in DC and in Brooklyn, NY. It was during my time doing environmental advocacy, that I was lucky enough to live and work for a time in Amsterdam — it is was there that I really caught the bicycling bug. The culture of biking for everyone really blew me away. Having braved the Georgia Avenue commute between Takoma Park and Gallery Place for years, I always felt like I was competing for space — racing cars to try and stay safe. I’m so happy to have had that education and to see the importance of urban planning in changing the way that people use public space.

I hope to continue the progress WABA has made over the past 46 years, and I’ll work hard with our incredible advocacy team to make our region the safest, most enjoyable place to ride in the country.

As Advocacy Director, I am thrilled to work with our community organizers on the Vision Zero campaign, with the Capital Trails Coalition, our action committees and in partnership with advocates across the region. Looking forward to the road ahead!

Bike trivia about me:

My ideal commute: A leisurely pace on protected bike lanes!

My style of riding: I commute to work, grocery shop, and run errands on my bike, so I am generally in an urban setting. I take safety very seriously, so you’ll always find me stopped at red lights.

That one bike do I wish I still owned: I had a mid-70s Schwinn Le Tour that was canary yellow that I commuted on for a year — someone must have “borrowed” it from a Metro stop because I haven’t seen it in a few years.

I look forward to meeting many of you at Bike to Work Day!

Meet Elijah, our new Operations Coordinator

Greetings!

I’m Elijah Minter, the new Operations Coordinator here at WABA. My introduction to the organization was this past summer as a Bike Camp! counselor. Prior to Bike Camp, I’d heard of WABA, but didn’t know a lot about what they did. After spending half of the summer biking around the city with a bunch of 8 – 14 year olds, I thought I had a better idea. Seeing some of those kids go from biking around their neighborhood to biking 20 miles in one day, or feeling confident navigating city traffic, was pretty awesome. Programs like Bike Camp! are educating and encouraging the next generation of bicyclists.

Growing up, my family mostly lived in the suburbs or on the outskirts of the city. My parents weren’t too comfortable with me riding in the street, so I didn’t do much biking in the city until a few years ago. Now I love biking around the city! I love the adrenaline rush, the stress release after a long day at work…I’m making up for lost time.

My family relocated to Tennessee when I was about 16. While there, I worked at a christian camp during the summers as a biking instructor. After I moved back to DC in 2014, I began searching for ways to get involved in the community and meet new people.

I started volunteering with a bicycle repair co-op to hone my repair skills and get plugged into the cycling scene. I started out riding Capital Bikeshare, but soon I was searching Craigslist for my own set of wheels. I found an early 70’s Raleigh Grand Prix that I fixed up, and well, the rest is history.

It’s been really exciting for me to witness the expansion of the biking infrastructure in DC since I was a kid, and to see the growing number of people who choose to bike.

Most of my cycling adventures happen in rush hour traffic or while dodging tourists on the mall, but I’ve done some trail rides and I plan to do many more. I really want to try bike camping and do some touring. In short, I love bicycling! I’m really excited to be a part of WABA and I’m looking forward to our continued growth.

See you on the trails!

Meet Jonathan Stafford, our new Vision Zero Campaign Coordinator

Hello!

I’m Jonathan Stafford, one of the new Vision Zero Campaign Coordinators. Back in 2016 I worked as an intern at WABA, exploring the intersection between Faith and Public Policy in transportation. I am extremely blessed to return to WABA and to take up the important work that connects each of us to D.C.’s plan for zero traffic related deaths in all of our communities.

While serving as a police officer in Texas, I found that I really enjoyed being assigned to the bike patrol for Mardi Gras festivals. After I left the police department and moved to Nashville, I began cycling more often – eventually commuting to school and work by bike. Social justice was my focus and cycling became my passion. Putting on a suit and getting around town by bike was just a way of life. In Rochester, NY, where I’ve lived for the past few years, I‘m know as the minister who rides his bike to Sunday worship services.

As a Vision Zero Campaign Coordinator here at WABA, I get to mix my love of bicycles and social justice work, advancing conversations about race, gentrification, injurious policing, and other justice related issues. This is work that can not be done alone and I look forward to working with residents of DC to make our streets safer for everyone.

Bike trivia about me:

My ideal commute: Trees, fresh air, not too many hills and less than 15 miles.

My style of riding: I mostly commute. But I have started bike camping and look forward to taking a few trips when the Spring arrives.

That one bike do I wish I still owned: my Panasonic Tourist named “Forrester”. Vintage styling, full fenders, and British racing green. Named after the title character from the film Finding Forrester!

Meet Hannah Neagle, our new Vision Zero Campaign Coordinator

Hello everyone, I’m Hannah Neagle, one of the new Vision Zero Campaign Coordinators. I’m thrilled to join the WABA team and family!

While I have always enjoyed bicycling, I didn’t fall in love with it until I joined the Peace Corps in 2008. My only means of transportation was a pink and silver Trek mountain bike, and I became a true bicycle commuter.

Back in the states I pursued a Master’s degree in Sustainable Development in Washington, DC and commuted on our region’s bikeways everyday. It has been exciting to see the transportation system evolve as protected bike lanes and trail connections spring-up.

I recently returned to D.C. from Hawaii where I worked with a bicycle organization on grassroots community outreach, pedestrian and bicycle safety education, and a Vision Zero campaign. I believe Vision Zero—the idea that traffic injuries and deaths are 100% preventable—links directly to equity, complete streets, and livable communities. I’m very much looking forward to collaborating with community members and partners to achieve our shared Vision Zero plans and goals.