The Arboretum Bridge and Trail is a once-in-a-lifetime connection

Rendering courtesy of DDOT and NPS.

The Arboretum Bridge and Trail is a project that will connect Wards 5 and 7 in DC for people who walk and bike. It is an incredible opportunity to improve access to some of the District’s most unique outdoor places, and it’s an important step to a better connection across the Anacostia River for everyone.

This project is one of the final pushes in a much larger vision called the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. Started in 2003, this initiative created the blueprint for the Anacostia River Trail, which is nearly complete. This bridge will be one of the final segments in the larger plan.

Connection is the main focus of this project. Currently, to cross the river without this bridge, people have to travel from Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens either 1.5 miles south, to Benning Road, or 2.5 miles north, to the pedestrian bridge at Bladensburg Waterfront Park. These distances make it impractical and difficult for residents of Eastland Gardens, Kenilworth or Deanwood to walk or bike across the Anacostia River. It’s important that we aren’t placing an undue burden on the communities adjacent to the trails if they are trying to cross the river.

National Park Service and DDOT have revisited and modified the plans for the bridge to accommodate the concerns of the rowing community, and maintain the navigability of the deepest part of the channel. While the compromises made have slowed the project a bit, we think that the redesigned bridge is a winning design that serves all users.

Support the Arboretum Bridge and Trail!

Oak View Elementary Excels Beyond the (Bike) Bell

Standing on the blacktop under a toasty May sun, the adults who had travelled to Oak View Elementary — parents, Montgomery County officials, local advocates — all asked the same question: “Where are the kids?!”

As if on cue, cheers erupted from the open door leading into Oak View’s gymnasium. Moments later, 31 third grade students, emerged onto the blacktop, greeted by applause and cheers. After six weeks of Excel Beyond the Bell’s Pilot Bike Safety Program, today was the day they would actually go on a two-mile bike ride!

EBB students wearing their helmets, donated by Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.

Back in April 2019, when Excel Beyond the Bell first began at Oak View, 70% of the kids in the program’s cohort did not know to ride a bike. It was a “unique challenge” that changed the dynamic of how this cohort would learn over the next six weeks, said Jeff Wetzel, Youth and Family Coordinator at WABA.

“At the beginning, only 30 percent of the kids had some ability to ride,” Wetzel said. “By the end, more than 50 percent of the kids were able to ride and competent to go on a 10-mile ride. Basically, they were ready for Bike Camp!

Joined by Councilmember Hans Riemer, Oak View Elementary Principal Jeffrey Cline, County officials, and other distinguished guests, each person had a similar, positive message for the students.

“Let’s keep working on this,” Councilmember Riemer said, “so that in the next couple of years, there’s the opportunity for every kid in Montgomery County to learn how to ride a bike and find that freedom for themselves!”

Excel Beyond the Bell as a program is not new to Montgomery County; it’s been around since 2010. The Bike Safety Program as an option for kids is a first. Not only did Oak View Elementary students learn how to ride, but the progressive curriculum included lessons on traffic rules, bike-handling skills and safe travel routes.

After the culminating bike ride, the Department of Recreation gave away eight bikes to students based on two criteria: progress in the EBB Bike Safety Program and a separate, essay contest where students wrote about what they would do if they had a bike. All the students went home with their own helmets, donated by Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.

One of the eight students who received a bike from of the Department of Recreation.

The day was a hit, and the program will expand to two sites next school year. As Montgomery County continues to expand its support for bicycling, we look forward to to the continued success of Excel Beyond the Bell’s Bike Safety Program!

Check out the Montgomery County Council’s video on Oak View Elementary’s EBB Ride!

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.

We’re Hiring! Bike Camp! 2019

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association seeks a Camp Counselor with a love of riding bikes, experience with youth, and exuberance to spare for our 2019 summer Bike Camp!

Position Overview

WABA’s Bike Camp! consists of six one-week sessions for kids to ride, explore, build, and have fun! Our Bike Camp! Counselor 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, the Counselor will be taken through a thorough 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 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.

This is a temporary, seasonal, full-time position (38 hours/week). The season runs from Wednesday, June 13th to Friday, August 9th. There will be no camp on the 4th of July.

Hourly rate: $15.50 per hour

Responsibilities

The Camp Counselor will:

  • Ensure the safety, well-being and health of Bike Campers (ages 8-14).
  • Lead and/or support bike rides ranging from 3 to 20 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.

Qualifications

  • 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 in city traffic with competence and confidence enough to pay attention to the actions and well-being of other riders.
  • Understanding of and ability to communicate safe biking practices.
  • Must be able to pass a criminal background check.
  • High school diploma or equivalent preferred.

About WABA

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is working 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.

WABA’s programs, from youth education to grassroots community organizing, engage residents in Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, and Washington, DC. Six thousand dues-paying members and thousands more generous supporters have helped WABA transform bicycling in the region again and again over its 46 year history.

WABA is building a region where, in 2020, we’ll see three times the number of people riding bikes. And, by 2035, every single person will live within one mile of a dedicated safe place to bike. We envision a region in which biking is joyful, safe, popular, and liberating; supported by the necessary infrastructure, laws, activities, and investments; and where bicycle ridership mirrors the incredible diversity of our communities.

Employment

WABA is committed to providing equal employment opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, arrest record or criminal convictions, political affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, sex, or age.

How to Apply

Please submit a one-page resume 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 application materials to jobs@waba.org and include “Bike Camp Counselor” in the subject line. No phone calls, please.

Meet the Sweet Ride & Shindig

After a successful first Sprouts Ride, the Sweet Ride & Shindig, presented by Conte’s Bike Shop, is our second new signature event launching this spring. Hopefully we’ll see you there on June 15th in Crystal City!

There are two main parts to this event.

First, the Sweet Ride. Riders will get to choose from four routes around Northern Virginia: approximately, 5-miles, 15-miles, 30-miles, and 50-miles. (We’re still working on them, but we’ll update you as we get the routes pinned down.) Whichever one you choose, you’ll get the classic WABA signature ride experience: bustling check-in, ride marshals, snack-filled pit stops, and nice people. It’s a great ride to bring your friends, throw together a picnic to share at a pit stop, and enjoy the ride!

You can register for the Sweet Ride here.

Register today!

But, the fun doesn’t stop when you get off your bike. When you arrive at the Shindig, you’ll check-in with WABA to pick up your free ride swag and a ticket (this will get you a freebie—either beer or ice cream!). Then, you can enjoy the rest of the afternoon jamming out to a live band, grab snacks at a food truck, sample offerings from a local brewery (the proceeds will support WABA!), engage with other local organizations and businesses, and continue basking in the glow of an awesome summer ride.

Oh, one more thing: the Shindig is open to public. You won’t get all the great freebies if you don’t sign up for the ride, but you can still be part of the event, meet some neighbors, enjoy the afternoon with your friends, and support WABA!

As with all WABA signature rides, the Sweet Ride & Shindig is a fundraiser for WABA. We organize five big rides per year to convene our bike community, have a good time riding together, and raise money for WABA’s advocacy, education, and outreach across the region.

So, let’s recap:

  1. You can ride…or not. Anyone is welcome to come have fun.
  2. Spend the afternoon with us—there’ll be plenty of stuff to do.
  3. Give money to help WABA make bicycling better for everyone.

Sound like a sweet deal? We think so, too. Register for the Sweet Ride & Shindig today!

Register today!


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.

The Sprouts Ride was full of joy

On Sunday, April 28th, WABA hosted the first annual Sprouts Ride!

A dreary start to the morning broke open to reveal balmy sunshine and the grins of riders as they discovered—or rediscovered—how much fun it is to go for a low-stress, casual bike ride around the city.

Riders on WABA’s first Sprouts Ride!
Photo Credit: Jas Sanchez

Riders could choose from two routes: the 6-mile “Bean Sprout Root” and the 14-mile “Sapling Root”. Many riders enjoyed that the routes showed them how to ride their bikes to and from local destinations that they would visit in the course of everyday life: Kingman Island Park, Audi and Nationals Stadiums (Stadia?), and Anacostia Park, while also showcasing the federal DC, with views of the Capitol and the mall.

After a fun ride, participants returned to REI to catch live music from Roan Gap, a local bluegrass band, play games and learn about bike maintenance from REI staff, pick up a free beer or kombucha, and eat tacos! Some riders also took action: after having ridden nearby the K St corridor, riders signed a petition to make K St a better place to bike, walk, and live.

To all the riders: thank you for supporting WABA! Like all signature rides, the proceeds from the Sprouts Ride directly fund the hard work that WABA is doing to make bicycling better for everyone in the region. Your support helps us advocate for better trails and more bike lanes—safer conditions for all. Thank you.

We’ve collected some photos from the ride below, but, first, a final shoutout to our sponsors:

Find the full album of Sprouts Ride photos here!

Driving advocates mount petition campaign opposing safer streets in Alexandria.

Safe enough! (according to driving advocates.)
photo: google

The city of Alexandria is repaving Seminary Road. As part of its new Complete Streets policy, the City proposed engineering changes to make it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and ultimately all road users.

These changes, including turn lanes, better crosswalks, and buffered bike lanes, are predicted to add ten whole secondsto driving times during rush hour.

The driving advocacy community is outraged, and has been petitioning the city to abandon the changes.

Right now, the City of Alexandria is facing a critical decision: build a safer street that’s required by its own laws, or don’t, because driving advocates are complaining about it. Help the city make the right decision by signing the petition below:

You can read a detailed explanation of the proposed changes in this Greater Greater Washington post.

Announcing the 2019 Trail Ranger Team!

Meet beth, Rebecca, Gabriel, Blake and Matthew! The Trail Rangers are all about providing a consistent and helpful presence on DC’s mixed-use paved trails. We help trail users, engage with trailside neighborhoods, improve trail conditions, and work with city agencies to keep the trails clean, bright, and clear of obstacles.

Keep an eye out for them on the Marvin Gaye, Anacostia River, Suitland Parkway and Metropolitan Branch Trails (Click here to see where these awesome trails are!).

beth
Rebecca
Gabriel
Blake
Matthew

Favorite snack?

“This is a tough question…I love hummus, vegan cheese, and avocados with crackers. I also love a handful of trail mix – without chocolate – don’t’ get me wrong I love chocolate – just not in trail mix. :)” – beth

“Marzipan Chocolate!” – Blake

“Any snacks with dark chocolate!” – Gabriel

Cheese and crackers – Matthew

“Key lime pie” – Rebecca

What is your bike story – how did you start and what has the journey been?

“I started biking in San Diego when a friend of mine encouraged me to ride. I was reluctant (it had been years!) and a little wobbly at first but then I felt like a kid again. I bought a bike and started riding to work and the beach. When I loved out of San Diego and back to my hometown, I left my car in the driveway and rode my bike everywhere. When I got married we decided to honeymoon by biking across the country. We arrived in DC in November 2015 and have been biking in DC since.”  – beth

“I started biking at a young age riding BMX bikes with my brother and friends around town. My first job was a bike mechanic at 16 year old. As i got older, I eventually progressed to mountain and road bikes. It’s been a non-stop addiction!” – Blake

“After tricycle, I got a long and shiny banana seat and role like “Bajito y Suavecito.” – Gabriel

“I learned to bike a long time ago but I never regularly biked anywhere in the city until I bought my first $40 Flying Pigeon bike while living in Beijing. I loved biking in the city – there were protected bike lanes even before America had them! When I moved back to DC after China, I was determined to continue biking. I’ve since lived without a car, relying on my two legs or my bike to get around DC, and I love it so much! I’ll never go back to driving!” – Matthew

“Have been biking since a kid. Always enjoyed roller blading, skateboarding and scottergin etc. But biking on trails and long distance was always my favorite.” – Rebecca

Favorite thing about biking?

“My favorite thing about biking…I get there faster. When I need to get across the city it is likely to be faster by bike then public transportation, personal vehicle, or ride share.”  – beth

“The freedom cycling provides. Cycling allows you to explore cities and parks at a relaxed pace with a 1st class view. Traffic and parking is never a problem! It also allows you to see places that you otherwise never would in a car.” – Blake

“Get going without having my feet on the ground.” – Gabriel

“I feel so free! There’s just something about knowing that I can hop onto this machine and go anywhere with my own body. And when I’m on a trail in the middle of a forest, it feels so great to exercise and connect to nature!” – Matthew

“Outdoors” – Rebecca

What are you excited to do as a Trail Ranger this summer?

“I’m excited to be outside on a bike. I’m excited to get a little dirty while clearing vegetation. I’m excited to see the trail that I’m less familiar with.”  – beth

“I’m excited about being outdoors a lot and helping improve cycling conditions in the greater Washington DC area!” – Blake

“Team up with Trail Rangers of diverse backgrounds and interact with the communities of all DC!!!” – Gabriel

“I’m excited to meet new people and show them how awesome our trails are. I can’t wait to get out there and make sure our trails are safe and enjoyable for everyone. Bring on the summer heat!” – Matthew

“Expand my knowledge about the trails.” – Rebecca

Working hard on the MBT!
Stop by for Trail Ranger Coffee Hour on Friday mornings!