What does Family Biking look like for you? Show us!

By Jeff Wetzel

I’m the official “Family Biking” person here at WABA, as the Family and Youth Education Coordinator. “How do I do this thing?” is a question I get a lot. Answers often turn into a conversation. This thing might be teaching a kid to ride, finding the best bike for a child, or  hauling kids to school by bike. There is no one-size-fits-all answer—it really depends on where you are riding, the age and ability of the child(ren), your budget, and more. 

To help illustrate the many, many great ways to bike with your family, we are curating a series of Family Bike Portraits from across the region. We want to see and hear what “Family Biking” looks like for you, whether you’re in Capitol Hill or Bowie or Herndon. Got trailers and child seats? Box bikes? Kids pedaling on their own? Mom or dad scoping out a new ebike? Whether you ride from your front door to school or hitch bikes to a car and drive to a safe trail to ride with an aunt or uncle, your story is important. 

We’d love to hear your stories and see your photos.

Below is what Family Biking looks like for me. We want to hear from and share what it looks like for you. A paragraph or two along with a few pictures won’t capture the entirety of your story, but will let people see some of your experience. If you are willing to share your Family Biking Portrait, send a brief description and a few photos to youth@waba.org. We plan to share them over the course of the next year.

I live with four girls between the ages of 6 and 11. They can all ride their bikes comfortably for 20 minutes without complaint, and do well with slow neighborhood streets in Northeast DC, but we take the sidewalk on busier roads. They all have their own bikes, but often ride in our box bike when I need to take them further, faster, or along places that I’m not comfortable having them ride. (Read about our 20×20 Campaign to bring safe places to communities across the District here)

¡Muéstranos cómo tu familia pasea en bicicleta!

Hola, soy Jeff y como el Coordinador de Educación para Familia y Juventud soy la persona oficial encargada del  “Ciclismo en Familia” en WABA. La pregunta que más recibo es “¿Cómo hago esta cosa?” y usualmente la pregunta se convierte en una larga conversación. Esta cosa va desde como enseñar a unx niñx como andar en bicicleta, preguntas sobre cuál es la mejor bicicleta para tu hijx, hasta cómo podemos irnos a la escuela en bicicleta. No hay una respuesta única y correcta para todas estas preguntas. Depende del lugar donde vayas andar en bici, la edad y capacidad de lxs niñxs, tu presupuesto y más.

Por eso, hemos decidido compilar una serie de Retratos de Ciclismo en Familia de la región de Washington, DC. Queremos ver y escuchar que es el “Ciclismo en Familia” para ti. Queremos oír de personas de toda la región, desde Capitol Hill hasta Bowie y Herndon, y más allá. Personas con remolques, asientos para niñxs, bicicletas con caja y niñxs que andan en sus propias bicis. Tu historia es importante, no importa si viajas desde la puerta de tu casa hasta la escuela o si ustedes suben las bicicletas en un coche y conducen hasta un sendero seguro para pasear. Nos encantaría escuchar tus historias y ver tus fotos. 

Abajo puedes leer cómo yo defino el ciclismo familiar para mí. Nosotrxs en WABA queremos escuchar y compartir cómo tu lo defines para tu familia. Sabemos que uno o dos párrafos junto con algunas fotos no pueden capturar la totalidad de tu historia, pero esperamos que puedan ayudar a otras personas a ver parte de tu experiencia en familia. Si estás dispuestx a compartir tu Retrato de Ciclismo en Familiaa, envíanos una breve descripción y algunas fotos a youth@waba.org. Planeamos compartirlos a lo largo del próximo año.

¿Qué es el ciclismo para ti, Jeff?

Yo vivo con cuatro niñas que tienen entre de 6 y 11 años. Todas saben andar en bicicleta cómodamente durante 20 minutos sin quejarse, y les va bien con las calles lentas y calmas en los barrios del noreste de DC. Pero también tomamos la acera en los caminos más transitados. Todas tienen sus propias bicicletas, pero a menudo viajan en nuestra bicicleta de caja cuando necesito llevarlas más lejos, más rápido, o por lugares en los que no me siento cómodo con ellas andando solas. (Lea sobre nuestra Campaña 20×20 para crear lugares seguros para andar en bici en todas las comunidades de el Distrito – enlace en inglés)

Youth Learn to Ride

Register Cost Location

Our Youth Learn to Ride class is fun, intuitive, and very successful! This class is for children aged 6-12* who have never ridden a bike before or have tried to learn and have not been successful. Our League certified instructors take students through a progressive curriculum, with the goal of riding with two pedals by the end of the session.

All students are responsible for bringing their own bicycle and helmet. All students are required to wear a helmet for the duration of the class. 

*If your child falls outside of the 6-12 age range, or you don’t have your own bike or helmet, please give us a call at 202-518-0524 ext. 222 or email us at youth@waba.org.

Our approach is fun and intuitive, but it also requires hard work. Your child will be riding for nearly three hours. We take breaks every hour. This class is for your child if:

  • They are between the ages of 6 and 12 years old 
  • Your child has never tried to learn how to ride a bike; or
  • They have tried to learn and have not been successful.

All students are responsible for bringing their own bicycle and helmet. All students are required to wear a helmet for the duration of the class.  

Please ensure that your child comes to class wearing comfortable clothes and close-toed shoes. Please bring the following: water and snacks. This class will be indoors.

Only students who have reserved space in the class may attend. Unfortunately, walk-up students cannot be accommodated.

Register

Class is from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Before and after care is not available for this class.

Class Cost

This class is offered thanks to the generous support of the DC Department of Transportation.

$10! This class costs $10 and is available for WABA Members and Non-Members alike.

If you are a WABA Member, this class is free! Email us at youth@waba.org for a coupon code.

$65 Family Membership– Sign up for a WABA Family Membership and children under 18 are included at no additional cost! Learn more about the benefits of joining WABA here.

Location

Rita Bright Family and Youth Center

2500 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Please meet inside in the gym.

Getting There
Street parking in the area is limited and there is no off-street parking available.

The 52 and 54 buses serve 14th St in front of Rita Bright.

Rita Bright is about 6 blocks from both the Columbia Heights and U St-Cardozo metro stations on the Green and Yellow line.

Biking to High School (and Beyond)

William Diaz-Perez on his commute to school

William Diaz-Perez, a senior at Woodrow Wilson HS, on his commute to school.

Bike to School Day may be over, but for students in the District, biking can be an excellent, year-round way to get to wherever they’re going. We caught up with William Diaz-Perez, a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School who regularly bikes to school. His commute takes him from his home in Mount Pleasant to school in Tenleytown, as well as to his after-school job and elsewhere in the city. Riding from Mount Pleasant to Wilson involves crossing Rock Creek Park, meaning a steep descent and a long climb back out. Diaz-Perez usually uses Tilden St. NW, which is known as a long steep climb in the city.  Nevertheless, he doesn’t mind the uphill. “It’s hard,” he noted, “but I like it because every time I do it my legs get stronger.” Diaz-Perez uses his student Metro pass to occasionally take transit, but his preference is always to ride. “It saves time [to bike], I don’t waste time waiting for the bus or Metro.” His ride also helps him do better at school. “I feel different at school when I don’t ride. I feel lazy when I take the bus, but feel more energetic, more awake when I ride my bike.” That energy helps him pay better attention and do better in class. So how does Diaz-Perez carry all the books and supplies he needs for school, not to mention clothes for work? He uses a waterproof backpack, which when paired with a jacket, lets him ride in the rain and keep his important stuff dry. He enjoys riding to Wilson; it has plenty of bike parking available for him to ride up, park, and roll into class on time.   The thing that Diaz-Perez would most like to change about his commute?  The amount of car traffic he has to face. Nevertheless, he doesn’t let it faze him, and with any luck, he’s even inspiring other students to give biking a try. With youth like Diaz-Perez who are growing up riding, the future looks to be one with at least one less car causing traffic. Want your child to learn the skills needed to bike to school and beyond from experts?  Send them to WABA’s Bike Camp! where they will spend a week learning how to safely navigate the city from WABA counselors whilst having fun and exploring the city by bike.

Learn more!

Thanks for your patience. Bike Camp! Details Are Coming Soon

We could not be happier at how excited you all are for Bike Camp! this summer. Judging by the number of emails we’ve received asking about Bike Camp!, 2018 it’s going to be our most popular year yet! We are as excited as you are, if not more so. We’re mapping out new places to visit and new adventures to be had. But we’re not quite ready to open registrations, due to an unexpected speed bump in securing a space for the camp on the dates we’d like. It should be resolved soon, but until it is, we’re not going to accept registrations. We understand that many families are already working diligently to plan their summers and had hoped to have registration open before now, and we know that some folks have had to already make the decision to forego Bike Camp! this year. We are sorry for the delay, and for any extra hassle it has caused. As soon as we can lock in dates, we will share those and open registration up.

Support the 2017 Youth Bike Summit!

WABA is committed to building the capacity of our communities to advocate for themselves.  The Youth Bike Summit helps our community of youth to find their voice to speak up for their needs now, and develop their skills for a lifetime of civic betterment. This year, the National Youth Bike Summit will be held in Crystal City October 6-8.  The Youth Bike Summit is a three-day conference geared toward youth, bikes, education, advocacy, and leadership. People from across disciplines, backgrounds, and ages gather to learn, share, network, and explore how bicycling can be a catalyst for positive social change. The Youth Bike Summit will feature keynote speakers, hands-on workshops, panel presentations, and other opportunities for youth and adults to exchange ideas about what biking can mean for children, teens, families, schools, communities, and our planet.  This national event will also feature a dynamic and thought-provoking visioning session where youth and adults can articulate, share, and develop new ideas to bring back to their local communities.  By creating a space where voices of all bicyclists can be heard, the Youth Bike Summit fosters an inclusive national dialogue that address the issues, rights, and concerns of all bicyclists. Learn more about how to attend or volunteer here: youthbikesummit.org/support-ybs17/

Work for WABA: Bike Camp! Counselor Openings

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association seeks 2 Camp Counselors and 1 Lead Camp Counselor with a love of riding bikes, experience with youth, and exuberance to spare.

Positions Overview

WABA’s Bike Camp! is four one-week sessions for kids to ride, explore, build, and have fun! Our Bike Camp! Counselor team will keep things running smoothly, help the campers ride and work together as a team, build rapport and community, and make this summer one to remember. During training, Counselors will be taken through an intensive ride-safety course to learn the ins-and-outs of leading and supporting youths on bikes. Further training will include: security and safety procedures, emergency planning and management, behavior management, food and health safety, team training, and more. The Counselor team will be the primary staff responsible for the day-to-day operations of Bike Camp! and will report to our Camp Director, Jeff Wetzel. These are temporary, seasonal, full-time positions (40 hours/week). The season runs from Monday, June 12th to Friday, July 21st. There will be no camp the week of July 3rd, and the counselor team will not be paid for that week. Hourly rate: $15-17 per hour

Brake adjustments during Bike Build Camp

Responsibilities

Camp Counselors:
  • Ensure the safety, well-being and health of Bike Campers (ages 8-14).
  • Lead and/or support bike rides ranging from 1 mile to 15 miles in length in summer weather.
  • Organize group activities and team-building exercises.
  • Provide engagement, humor, and positive spirits as a role model for the Campers.
  • Evaluate and provide feedback on Bike Camp! afterwords.
Lead Counselor:
  • All of the above, plus:
  • With the Camp Director, plan safe routes for bike rides and adapt to changing on-road conditions.
  • Provide detailed daily reports of Camp Activities with input from the Camp Counselors, including incident/injury reports.
  • Act as the primary point of contact on-site for activity/program partners.

Qualifications

Camp Counselors:
  • 0-2 years experience working with youth, preferably in a summer camp environment or similar.
  • Must be able to provide a working bike and helmet.
  • Must be able to ride a bike with competence and confidence enough to pay attention to other riders.
  • Understanding of and ability to communicate safe biking practices.
  • Some bicycle maintenance knowledge preferred.
  • Must be able to pass a criminal background check.
  • High school diploma or equivalent strongly preferred.
Lead Counselor:
  • All of the above, plus:
  • Group bike riding and/or ride leader experience preferred.
  • Staff supervision experience preferred.
  • Must be CPR and First Aid certified, or willing to obtain a certification prior to camp.

How to Apply

Please submit a one-page résumé and briefly answer the following questions:
  • How you meet the qualifications listed above
  • What makes you a great Bike Camp! Counselor
  • A positive experience you had while working with youth
Send to jobs@waba.org

Bike Back to School

Family Portrait by Matilda R, age 5

Family Portrait by Matilda R, age 5

It’s back-to-school time, and for some of our members back-to-school means regular bike trips with their child(ren). We spoke with one of members who regularly takes his children to school on a bicycle, you can read the conversation below. Hiya! Who are you and your passengers? I’m Jon Renaut. I’ve lived in Columbia Heights since 2007. My passengers are my daughters, a third grader and a first grader What’s been the biggest challenge biking with kids? I’m not sure I can pick one biggest challenge. Sometimes it’s the weather. Sometimes it’s just being tired at the end of a long week. Sometimes the girls won’t stop fighting on the back of the bike. Often it’s bad drivers not paying attention, and DDOT refusing to enforce the Safe Accommodations Act. Where and when do you ride? Everywhere and all the time. Unless we’re leaving the city (and sometimes even then), our Xtracycle is our primary means of transportation. Sometimes we have to take the sidewalk (slowly and carefully), like if we go to Brookland and have to pass the hospital. Sometimes we take the long way or the flat way because it’s safer or easier. Where and when don’t you ride? Snow and ice usually keep me off the bike (except for the big snowstorm last winter. I left the kids at home for that, though). There’s pretty much no place I won’t ride, but I’m definitely more likely to take a sidewalk on a road I don’t feel is safe when I’m riding with the kids. Why do you bike your children to school? When my older daughter started school, the building was in a temporary space at 20th and S, which meant a bus ride and a long walk for 3 year old legs. We bought a trailer from some friends who had outgrown it and I started biking the kids to school and daycare. It was mostly because it was easy and because getting two kids under 4 onto the 16th Street bus at rush hour isn’t a lot of fun. Eventually the kids outgrew the trailer and we upgraded to the Xtracycle. We bike to school because it’s faster than driving or the bus (the school’s new location requires a bus transfer for us). One day I had to pick up my wife from DCA right after school dropoff so I took the car. We had gone a block before the kids started complaining how slow it was. And all the neighborhood groups around the school love the school except for one big complaint – parents parking illegally at dropoff and pickup. So we’re also doing our part to be good neighbors. Even on a bike, you are still a parent. The bags on the Xtracycle are exactly like the complaints you hear about the back seat of a minivan. Old snack wrappers, odd bits of clothing, random treasures the kids forgot about. I probably have more bungee cords in there than most minivans. Does WABA made a difference in your bike experience? In a broad sense, WABA makes a difference by being a voice of reason and having the ear of politicians to get changes made to how we do bike things in the area. In a specific sense, it’s little things like Greg Billing reaching out to me after I’ve been begging DDOT for literally months to enforce Safe Accommodations and being ignored. Greg talked to me on the phone, reassured me of some things WABA is doing to make things better, and made me feel a lot better about the whole process.   If you are interested in riding with your children and have questions, WABA can help!  Visit our Family Biking page  to learn more and sign up for email updates!  

Wave when you see us out and about!

Jon and his two daughters riding on 14th Street NW

Jon and his two daughters riding on 14th Street NW.

     

That’s a wrap for the 2016 Bike Camp!

Bike Camp 2016

Bike Camp! 2016 wrapped up last week. Over the 10 days of the City Explorers program, we rode over 120 miles, visited sites in all four quadrants of the city (and beyond!). Our team of students developed a better understanding of D.C. geography and history, and learned how to navigate the city, taking advantage of protected bike infrastructure like on 15th St NW, trails like the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, and to identify lower stress streets and when to use the sidewalk to arrive safely at where we were going.

We took tours of the Kennedy Center, Frederick Douglass’s House, RFK Stadium, the National Zoo and more. We had lunch under the airplanes at Gravelly Point, on a boat on the Anacostia and under the tree canopy at the National Arboretum.  We rode here and there, nearly melted in the heat, and ran through more than one sprinkler.

We had so much fun and can’t wait for Bike Camp! 2017.  There may be changes for 2017, with the potential for a younger camp and an older camp. To get Bike Camp! Updates sent directly to you, sign up below!


Want to get updates about Bike Camp 2017? Yes!

Bike Camp 2016 climbing Einstein

Bike Camp 2016 at the Einstein Statue

Bike Camp 2016 Anacostia

Bike Camp 2016 looking at the  Anacostia River

Bike Camp 2016 R St

Bike Camp 2016 R St

Bike Camp 2016 Gravelly Point

Bike Camp 2016 at Gravelly Point

See you next year!

To commemorate the life and history of civil rights advocate Frederick Douglass, WABA partnered with local community members and organizations to co-host the first “Lion Ride” through historic Anacostia and Anacostia Park. The heat and humidity of early August Washington weather didn’t deter the hundreds of attendees who roamed the grounds of the Frederick Douglass Historic Sitebeing treated to free ice cream and popcorn, dancing, music, games, tours, and family bicycle portraits with none other than Frederick Douglass himself. Local cyclists had the opportunity to comment on cycling infrastructure and where improvements might be made in their neighborhoods on an enlarged DC Bicycle map. “The Lion Ride” was a new component of the National Parks Service’s 5th annual Frederick Douglas Family Day. With help from local community members Kellie Armstead and Adrienne McCray who inspired and sparked this event, WABA helped to bring Capital Bikeshare and Bike and Roll bicycles to the community of Anacostia. Nearly 100 cyclists cruised down the majestic streets, homes and businesses of MLK Ave to the breezy banks of the Anacostia Riverwalk trail. Metropolitan Police officers helped escort the caravan to and from the Anacostia Skating Pavilion. Over a dozen riders from Artemis Bicycle Racing Team provided integral support to help riders navigate the route as well as lend a hand in the intense summer heat. Volunteers from the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative helped our bike check out run smoothly and efficiently. Residents got a chance to see just how close natural outdoor amenities are to their homes via bicycle. Older residents remarked on how this event helped them get back on a bicycle for the first time in years. Younger residents remarked on how this event helped them to get on a bicycle for the first time in their lives. The Lion Ride, named after Frederick Douglass’ moniker, the Lion of Anacostia, marks a tremendous achievement of advocacy and community support for cycling East of the River as a safe, viable, affordable and sustainable form of transportation. To echo the sentiments of Mr. Douglass’ thoughts on reading, “Once you learn how to [cycle], you will forever be free.” Please join WABA August 25th at St. Elizabeths East for a day of cycling, education, repairs and more.