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!

Riding at Night

It’s bike light season again! Lights are one of the most important safety features on your bike. If you don’t have lights, get some lights! You can buy a good set of front and rear lights at any bike shop, most hardware stores, or your preferred online retailer. If you can’t afford lights, let us know and we’ll help. Most of the region requires bicyclists to have a front light and at least a rear reflector. We recommend full front and rear lights to improve visibility. Lights help you see ahead and be seen by others on roads and trails. Graphic of a bicycle with text above saying Bike Lights 101. The bike has a bright red beam coming from the back and a bright white beam coming from the front. Below is says, "Red light in the back. Reflectors are OK. A Light is better. Law requires at least a reflector." "Wheel reflectors are good! They increase your side visibility. Some tires also have reflective sidewalls." and a third text box says "White light in the front. Front lights are required by law. Angle down on trails."

Light tips

  • Keep a spare battery or a charger at work or in a little bag on your bike.
  • Make sure you have lights that meet your needs:
    • If you’re likely to be riding on an unlit road trail, make sure you have a light that’s bright enough to let you see where you’re going.
    • If you’re just riding on city streets, a small blinking light is probably enough.
  • When you’re riding on a trail, be aware of the angle of your front light. Modern LEDs can be quite bright, and you don’t want to blind oncoming trail users.
    • We generally recommend against strobing lights. Strobe makes it hard to judge how far away and how fast an object is moving.
    • Many people experience disorientation, headaches, migraines, and nausea from flashing LEDS.
  • Helmet light – An option that lets you see what you are looking at (vs. lights that are fixed to bar).
Same graphic of a bike as the image above but now the text reads "Good. Top of beam is roughly horizontal" in reference to how the light is illustrated coming (red and white) from front and back of the bike. Same graphic as previous but now the image says "Not so good. Brightest part of beam hits oncoming trail users rather than the trail in front of you."

Other tips and ways to stay visible

Reflectors are another safety device on a bicycle that uses retroreflection to alert another road user of the bicycle’s presence on the road. They reflect light in the direction it came from. Reflectors can come in many different forms and be added to various places on your bike or directly to the rider. Here are some examples:
  • Reflective vest – Usually found in bright fluorescent colors and brings attention to the rider
  • Wheel reflectors – Reflectors on moving parts like wheels or pedals help catch light and attention to movement. 
  • Tires with reflective strips on the sidewall 
  • Reflective bands the wrap around the riders ankle 
  • Backpacks 
  • Stickers/decals that can be added to your clothing or bike
Note: WABA gives away thousands of bike lights every year. We’ve found that we can get more lights into the hands of folks who don’t already have them if we do not announce times or locations in advance. Instead, we seek out places where we see lots of people riding without lights. If you see us out there, say hello! Pick up a set of lights only if you need them.

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

Bike to Explore

Biking allows us to go places and see sights that are impossible for other vehicles to reach. One of the best ways to explore is by biking on one of the many trails in the region. First, read about some Trail Basics and then get out to Explore our Regional Trails!

If you’re biking to explore nature, maybe to identify some trees or go bird watching, some of our trail favorites are the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, the Sligo Creek Trail, or Mount Vernon Trail. You can see the entire Capital Trail Network—existing and planned—mapped out here. You might be surprised where you’ll find little pockets of nature in our region!

We love nature pictures at WABA and want to see where you explored! Keep us updated with your bike adventures and BINGO card activities by using #BikeAnywhere or by tagging @wabadc on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Got a question? Drop a line at membership@waba.org.

Biking to Play

How can you make play time more fun? Incorporate biking! If you’re interested in finding your own biking community, or making friends to bike with, here is more information on how to find other people to ride with!

One of our favorite play activities to do outdoors is riding an ebike! Don’t have your own? Capital Bikeshare has ebikes available all over the region. Here is some information on how to get started on an ebike and how to safely ebike in a city

You know what else is fun? Bike tricks! Here is a two-part lesson (part 1, part 2) from our in-house expert on how to do a wheelie!

Did you know that WABA has youth education options to get the kiddos in your life riding? Sign up for Bike to Anywhere Week and join WABA today and help our programs reach further. 

Biking to Learn

Hopping on your bike to learn something could come in many forms: biking to school, to a museum, to read a book, or to finally reading all the historical markers in your neighborhood. Or maybe you’re biking to learn how to ride confidently, to help a friend learn, or staying home to learn more online—you choose in which ways you can learn! 

At WABA, we believe that it is important to learn about how the built environment—our streets, neighborhoods, and cities—around us benefits some communities over others. Communities of color suffer disproportionate burdens from inadequate transportation infrastructure and the direct effects of climate change. Visit waba.org/antiracism to find resources on how to promote justice with the changes to the transportation system that we seek to create. Or, if you want to learn a technical skill, did you know that our biking classes are free for all members? You can find more information on our Member Extras here, and when you’re ready, sign up for your Bike Anywhere Week membership!

Bike Tune-Up Tips

Dust off your bikes and let’s get rolling! Keeping your bike tuned-up and safe to ride isn’t difficult, but if you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help! 

For general biking resources, head on over to waba.og/tips. To get yourself ready to ride and your bike in tip top shape, I recommend  How to Fit a Bike, and How to Fit a Helmet. Here is a page of biking resources for new riders!

If you’re not a bike owner—and you don’t need to be one to participate in Bike Anywhere Week!—Capital Bikeshare is a great, affordable option. Check out some videos we made with them to learn how the system works.

Have you heard about the ABC quick check? It is an easy-to-remember, fast way to make sure your bike is ready to go every time you ride. It helps you identify upfront things that could be inconvenient problems if they crop up while you’re riding. Good news— we have a video to teach you how to do an ABC quick check!

Did you know that every WABA membership comes with a coupon for $15 off a bike tune-up at our participating bike shops? You can find more information on our Member Extras here, and when you’re ready, sign up for your Bike Anywhere Week membership!