In 2018, we added a third route to the offerings for the 50 States Ride. It was called Route 66, and, at about 35 miles, we created it to provide a good middle ground between the 50 States route (60 miles) and the 13 Colonies route (15 miles).
Route 66 leads you on the eight streets named for states that the original US Route 66 passed through. You’ll ride these states in geographical order, east to west, without riding on any other state streets in the District. There are still hills. You still see a ton of the city. And, it’s still a really fun time!
Take a look at this year’s draft route for Route 66!
This year, we’re bringing Route 66 back and making it part of the regular lineup of 50 States Ride routes. Why? You loved it!
Nearly a third of all 50 States Ride participants in 2018 chose to ride Route 66, which tells us there was significant demand for a middle-ground route like Route 66. And, we got a ton of great, positive feedback about the route:
“Loved the new Route 66 option. I’ve done 50 states in the past and, for lack of a better way of putting it, it was like a 50 states experience quite so many stupid hills :)”
“I loved the new route — 33 miles is the perfect distance. I feel accomplished, saw parts of the city I don’t usually see, and still had energy to enjoy the after party.”
“Bravo to those who designed The Route 66 course! A job well done!”
“I loved the middle distance option – it made inviting a “new-to-cycling” friend MUCH more enjoyable. 15 would have been too short, 60+ would have been way too long, but 35 was just right.”
This isn’t surprising. The 50 States route has a reputation for being incredibly difficult, and, while the challenge is part of the fun, sometimes you don’t want to go on a ride quite so…intense.
We’re hoping that continuing to provide a number of different route length options at our signature ride events will open them up to bicyclists of various comfort levels and styles of biking, and make our community bigger. And we hope you’re part of it!
WABA in the Wild is summer camp for grownups: biking the C&O Canal towpath over three-and-a-half days, 184.5 miles from Cumberland to Georgetown.
It’s fun, it’s challenging, and, this time, you can have as many snacks as you want. Let’s take this journey together—WABA will take care of everything so you can focus on the ride and cross this awesome experience off your bucket list.
You’ll show your support for WABA along the way by raising at least $1,000 for better bicycling in the months leading up to the trip.
Mud. Wildlife. Good company. Yummy food. Showers. What’s not to like?
Need to break up the $250 registration fee into smaller payments? Email Cyrus Chimento at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Start Date: Friday, October 11, ~1pm
End Date: Monday, October 14, ~6pm
Fundraising: $1,000+ by October 4th
Start Location: REI Rockville (910 Rose Avenue, North Bethesda, MD)
End Location: Thompson Boat Center (2900 Virginia Ave NW, Washington, DC)
Average Daily Mileage: 63.3
Number of Riders: 25
Level of Support: Fully supported
Surface: Unpaved bike path, gravel
Total Days: 4
Riding Days: 3
June – September Over the summer, you’ll engage with WABA and your fellow riders a few ways: —At a pre-ride orientation at the WABA office one evening; —During a group ride, followed by dinner or drinks; —Via phone and email, with the WABA in the Wild staff, who will support you with everything from what to pack to how to reach your fundraising goal; and —In a Google Group, where you can chat with fellow riders and ride alumni and organize additional meetups or plan fundraisers.
Day 1 Friday, October 11th. Cumberland. 0 miles.
We will gather as a group at REI in the early afternoon. You will meet the WABA tour staff, check in and review and finalize paperwork, pack your bike into a Uhaul, and get on a bus with the other riders to Cumberland. (You’ll have dropped off your gear at WABA earlier in the week.)
At camp, you’ll set up your tent and get to know the other riders before your first camp dinner, cooked by your friendly WABA tour staff! After dinner, we’ll have a fireside chat to talk about WABA’s work and the ride ahead.
Day 2 Saturday, October 12th. Cumberland to Hancock. ~62 miles.
After breakfast, we’ll hold our first safety circle, and head to the C&O Canal trailhead together to take a group photo. Our ride will begin with the beautiful Appalachian mountains as a backdrop. You’ll ride the whole morning, with a snack break, before you hit the lunch stop in Paw Paw. After a delicious meal, you’ll get back in the saddle and head through the Canal’s most famous feature: the Paw Paw Tunnel. After a full afternoon of riding (and another snack break) you’ll hit Hancock, one of the Canal Towns. After setting up camp, you’ll dine at the renowned local establishment, Buddy Lou’s Eats and Antiques, before heading back to camp.
Day 3 Sunday, October 13th. Hancock to Brunswick. ~69 miles.
You’ll hit a rhythm on your second day of riding: breakfast, safety circle, ride, snack break, ride—of course, admiring the scenery and getting to know the riders along the way. For lunch, we will stop in unique Williamsport, another Canal Town that will make you want to return for second helping, before heading on towards Brunswick. Here, you’ll be thankful for a hot shower to wash the mud off you and a gourmet meal provided, once again, by your talented WABA tour staff.
Day 4: Monday, October 14th. Brunswick to Georgetown. ~55 miles.
Hopefully, you’ll rise on your final day well-rested, ready to take on the last stretch of the towpath. Touring will be old hat by this time: you’ll breeze through the safety circle and ride through the day, enjoying every last minute of your pedal-powered adventure. Once in Georgetown, you’ll feel like the trip both slipped by and lasted forever, but one thing’s for sure: you’ll be hooked on bicycling, and WABA, like never before.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does registration cost?
WABA in the Wild registration is $250. This covers all of the costs to put on the ride for you (transportation, lodging, and meals), meaning that 100% of what you fundraise directly supports WABA’s mission.
Will I have to take any time off of work to do this trip?
Probably. This trip takes three-and-a-half days: we will leave for Cumberland on Friday afternoon and return to Georgetown on Monday evening (which is Indigenous Peoples’ Day—a holiday). It will be worth the time off, though!
How much do I have to fundraise?
You must raise a minimum of $1,000 for WABA, but we will encourage you—and challenge you—to raise more! Everything raised directly supports WABA’s work to make bicycling better in the Washington region. In 2018, WABA in the Wild riders collectively raised $36,250.64, a huge accomplishment. (They can share their tips with you!)
Where do people send donations?
We will set up a personal fundraising page for you through the WABA website, using a photo and narrative that you provide. People who want to donate to your campaign can do so by credit card through this page. Fundraising through your page is not optional—this is how we track your progress towards your fundraising goal. While you may receive donations by cash, we ask that you make those donations through your own fundraising page in the name of the person, event, or group that provided them. We can work with you on any other logistics, including taking donations by check.
When is the fundraising deadline?
You must raise $1,000 by Friday, October 4th. If you sign up by the end of July, that gives you a little more than two months to fundraise the full amount.
What happens if I don’t meet my minimum fundraising goal?
We know that fundraising $1,000 might be an intimidating task for first-time fundraisers. We will do a lot to support you along the way. You can attend an in-person fundraising workshop, where we will walk you through developing a strategy; we’ll send you ample resources to help brainstorm how you will raise the money; and we will check-in with you personally at least once (and more if you’re eager to blow it out of the water).
We expect that everyone will meet, if not exceed, their fundraising goal. However, if you don’t fundraise the full amount by the start of the trip, you will complete a pledge form and your credit card will be charged for the difference after the trip.
How many miles per day will we ride?
You will ride about 65 miles per day. That adds up to more than 184.5 miles: you’ll bike a few extra miles over the course of the trip to get between the towpath and campsites, restaurants, and other sites.
I’m not used to biking that much—should I still register?
Most likely, yes! Our general rule is that if you have experience riding ~30 miles and you can do so a few days in a row, then, with a good pair of padded bike shorts, you can probably do ~65 miles a day. You also have plenty of time to get into shape for riding the distance (we’ll even provide a training plan!).
On the ride itself, people self-select into the “tortoise” or “hare” group based on their usual riding speed—the tortoise group will leave a little earlier in the morning to give you more time to reach each stop. Additionally, we will have a sweep rider to make sure that nobody gets left behind and give you a little extra encouragement if you need it to finish the last few miles.
And, keep in mind that over the trip, the only thing you have to do each day is ride—we’ll take care of almost everything else.
Do I have to carry all my stuff?
Absolutely not! Each morning, you’ll pack up your gear (in one soft-sided bag, such as a duffel, weighing no more than 50lbs) and pile it near the gear vehicle. We’ll load up your gear into the van each morning and have it ready for you each evening at the next campsite. You will need to carry water, snacks if you need to eat more than every 10-15 miles, and any other supplies you need to feel comfortable while riding.
What type of bike do I need?
You’ll need a bike that is comfortable for you, since you’ll be on your bike all day for three days—but it can be a hybrid, touring, road, cyclocross, or mountain bike! We don’t recommend using a racing, triathlon, BMX bicycle. E-bikes are not permitted on National Park Service trails, which includes the C&O Canal towpath. You may want to read about bike fit or get a professional bike fit before the trip. We also recommend you use wider tires (ideally 32mm or wider) that are a bit tougher and knobby. Although the Canal towpath is mostly smooth dirt and small crushed rocks, it does have larger rocks, potholes, wet spots, and ruts and wider, tougher, knobby tires will resist puncture and reduce slipping.
Can I bring multiple bikes?
No. Each rider can only bring one bicycle on WABA in the Wild.
Will there be a bike mechanic on the ride?
No. While there are bike shops in Cumberland, Hancock, and Brunswick, there will not be a mechanic associated with the trip. Because of this, it’s important to make sure your bike is in top condition before the ride. In the event of a mechanical failure, we will carry some basic supplies to fix it yourself or you can take your bike to one of the shops if necessary.
Do I have to wear a helmet?
Yes. You have to wear a helmet every moment you’re on your bike. WABA’s insurance requires it. This is standard for organized rides across the country.
What other major pieces of equipment will I need?
Other than a bike and helmet, you’ll need a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Read over our suggested packing list to see what else you might need!
What if I don’t have a bike, tent, sleeping bag, or sleeping pad?
You can rent the gear or borrow it from a friend! Let us know if you need some recommendations.
Will I need a lock?
We will lock all the bikes together each evening using a long cable lock and U-lock. However, if you prefer to use your own lock, please feel free to do so.
What does a typical day look like?
Quiet hours end; wake-up call, pack up camping gear
Bedtime; quiet hours begin (quiet hours until 7am)
Do I need to bring food and water?
No. WABA will provide all meals, snacks, and water. However, if you like having extra snacks while riding, like granola bars, or if you have specific tastes in food or drink when you ride, you may consider bringing those yourself.
Are there vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free food options?
Yes! Once you register, we’ll ask you for your dietary preferences and needs. Our menu is vegetarian, with gluten-free options.
Can I stay in a hotel?
No. WABA in the Wild is incredibly special as a shared experience between riders, volunteers, and staff, and we do not have the capacity to account for riders splitting off from the main group at camp.
Will I get to shower on this trip? What about bathrooms?
There are shower facilities on all nights. There are permanent bathrooms at each campsite and at some points along the way. There are portable bathrooms available consistently during the ride.
Will campsites have electricity?
All three campsites have limited electrical outlets that will be set up with a phone charging station (or other small electronics). We strongly discourage bringing any large electronics, such as laptops or tablets. Priority use of electrical outlets will be given to WABA staff for meal preparation and any riders who need electricity for medical reasons, such as CPAP machines.
How do I get to and from the start and end locations?
Can I drop off my bag beforehand at the WABA office?
Yes. In fact, any gear you want us to transport for you, you must drop off in one soft-sided bag, such as a duffel, weighing no more than 50lbs, at the WABA office (2599 Ontario Rd NW, Washington, DC) no later than Wednesday, October 9th at 6pm. We will transport your gear directly from the office, and you will not be able to access it until we arrive at camp in Cumberland on Friday evening.
Do I get anything to commemorate this huge personal challenge?
Each WABA in the Wild rider will receive a new, custom WABA in the Wild jersey, thanks to our friends at Primal Wear. Primal supports biking at all levels, from multi-day road races to advances in local bike infrastructure.
What is the cancellation policy?
Registration for WABA in the Wild, like our other signature events, is nonrefundable and happens rain or shine. If you cancel before registration is over (July 30), you are not liable for the $1,000 fundraising commitment. If you cancel after registration closes, you are liable for the $1,000 fundraising commitment, except in situations with extenuating circumstances. We’ll address these on a case-by-case basis. This ride will sell out, and dropping out will not only impact fundraising for WABA, but will take away another member’s opportunity to participate.
I have more questions.
Please ask us! Contact the WABA events team at email@example.com or 202-518-0524 x218 with any questions.
It’s been a long time since we wrote this round-up and it’s been a very busy 2019. In writing this, I want to give my sincerest thanks to those of you who have taken action, shown up, and fought for safer streets, more trails, and better bicycling. I know that it seems like an uphill climb at times, but the effort put into this year has already shown to be powerful. Between pending legislation, refreshed infrastructure planning (DC, Arlington, and Montgomery County), and organizing momentum—we are on our way to better biking in the region. For everyone.
If DC is serious about making streets safer, the DC Council needs to hold a hearing on the four bills presented this spring before July recess. Read more about the four bills presented by DC Councilmembers Cheh, Allen, Grosso and Todd here.
The Arboretum Bridge and Trail will not only connect Wards 5 and 7, but it will bring the Anacostia River Trail one step closer to completion! The bridge will serve a transportation function, connecting residents to jobs, local businesses, and much more. It will also connect the Arboretum to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, uniting two of DC’s most unique outdoor spaces. You can submit your comments on the project by July 31 here.
In a surprising and deeply disappointing decision, the Montgomery County Planning Board voted 4:1 to restore Little Falls Parkway to a four-lane road and detour the Capital Crescent Trail to cross at the traffic signal at Arlington Road. They rejected all three options, including the staff recommended one, which were thoroughly studied over the past 18 months. Removing the road diet contradicts county policy, best practices, staff expertise, and parks data, which showed that the road diet substantially reduced crashes and speeding. Read more about the Board’s decision and our thoughts here.
Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring has almost everything it needs to be the Silver Spring’s main street. It is lined by cafes, shops, entertainment and community spaces kept bustling by the tens of thousands of people who live and work nearby. But step off the curb and it’s chaos—unsafe crossings, aggressive drivers and a car-centric road design. Sign the petition to let Montgomery County leaders know that Fenton needs to change, for the better.
At a public meeting on June 25th, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced that protected bike lanes were not in the immediate future for the Connecticut Avenue Streetscape and Deckover Project. This came as a shock, as ANC 1B and 2C passed resolutions in support of the PBLs in this project. Following backlash from residents, 22 hours later, DDOT Director Jeff Marootian announced on Twitter that the protected bike lanes will be reinstated into the Connecticut Avenue NW project plans. Read a full recap of the second public meeting here.
On May 8 and May 29, WABA supported Safe Kids DC’s Bike to School Day Events at Garfield Preparatory Academy with Safe Routes to School National Partnership, the Metropolitan Police Department, DDOT, and Safe Kids World Wide. 301 youth riders from grades PreK to 5 rotated through three stations: a helmet fitting station, a bike obstacle safety course, and a bicycle license plate art project. Find pictures from the events and a quick recap here!
On Thursday, June 20, DDOT staff hosted a meeting to share their plans for immediate changes to Florida Ave NE to calm traffic, improve intersection safety, and add protected bike lanes on the corridor. Florida Ave NE has long been a dangerous corridor due to rampant speeding and outdated road design. More than 150 people attended to see the plans, ask questions, and share their stories about their ongoing experience with traffic violence.
DDOT’s plan will remove one or more travel lanes from the Avenue from 2nd St. NE to 14th St. NE, narrow travel lanes, and add dedicated turn lanes at intersections. New protected bike lanes, separated by paint, rubber wheel stops, and a new, more imposing kind of bollard, will run from 3rd St. to 14th NE. Changes are also coming to intersections, with new markings and turn restrictions, and to 6th St. NE, where it will become one way north of K St NE. Review the full plans here. DDOT staff will collect comments over the next month and start work in July. Planning continues for the complete reconstruction of the corridor.
On Monday, June 24th, the City of Alexandria’s Traffic and Parking Board voted 3 to 2 to prioritize cars over people on Seminary Road. The vote was a surprise given that 46 of 68 speakers spoke about the need for safe accommodations on Seminary Road for pedestrians, bicyclists, and people of all ages and abilities. Despite overwhelming support for slower speeds and more people-focused design, the board voted (with little discussion) to recommend that City Council maintain four lanes for cars on Seminary Road between N. Howard Street and N. Quaker Lane. City Council will make the final decision about Seminary Road after a public hearing on Saturday, September 14th.
In November 2018, Montgomery County adopted a new Bicycle Master Plan, concluding more than three years of intensive analysis, public engagement, and advocacy. By adopting this plan, the County Council endorsed a dramatic shift in the County’s goals and approach to growing bicycling, committing MoCo to a convenient, inclusive, and low-stress bicycling future!
In April 2019, Advocacy Team members Katie and Jonathan presented at the East Coast Greenways Mid-Atlantic Trails and Greenways Summit in a session titled, “Public Engagement in Ways That Count”. Katie and Jonathan presented their unique approaches to engaging community members in their work. Watch their session presentationshere!
The third Vision Zero Summit was March 25 at the Milken Institute of Public Health. This year’s Summit had a new component: a Community Listening Session on Traffic Safety, held the evening prior to the Summit at the Anacostia Playhouse. Find the recap of this year’s Summit here. And browse the hashtag #VZSummitDC on Twitter for a full look at Summit highlights.
Rock Creek Far East 1 Livability Study – Public Workshops
DDOT has hosted two of three public events for the Rock Creek East I Livability Study. WABA staff and supporters have been in attendance to share their perspective on improvements to transportation safety in the area of the study. connections to destinations for all modes. At the first public workshop, DDOT introduced the project, shared data collection, and provided opportunities for participants to share existing concerns. In the second meeting, DDOT introduced the corridors that have been identified as focus areas, but are continuing to gather community input. Interested in attending a Ward 4 Community Meeting? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ward 8 Traffic Safety Meetings
WABA holds monthly Ward 8 Traffic Safety Meetings with community members, ANC commissioners, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Safe Kids DC, DDOT, MPD, Mayor’s Office Representatives, Capitol Bikeshare, private sector companies, and local businesses. The group discusses Ward 8 transportation trouble spots, shares ideas for how to make travelling on foot or bike safer, and advocates for safe walking and biking.
Recently, the group met with DDOT and community members for a High Crash Site Visit on South Capitol Street SW. DDOT data shows South Capitol Street to be one of the most dangerous corridors for pedestrians and bicyclists in Ward 8. The group identified safety issues including high speeds, missing signage, and crossing difficulties (to name a few). Interested in attending a Ward 8 Traffic Safety Meeting? Email email@example.com.
Are you on your local WABA Action Committee?
All across the region great people are working to fix our streets to make biking safe and popular. They meet each month to share ideas and work together for better places to bike. Whether you’re looking for a fun group, a new cause, or a wonky policy discussion, our Action Committees have it covered.
WABA recently partnered with Casa Chirilagua and the City of Alexandria to offer the first Adult Learn to Ride class in Spanish!
Casa Chirilagua is a community nonprofit in Arlandria, a predominantly Latin/x neighborhood of Alexandria. Their main offerings are for English Language Learners (ELL), with programs including after-school care, leadership development, and other community services. Casa Chirilagua is also near the Four Mile Run Park and Trail, which nearby families use for recreation—including biking!
Usually, WABA’s Adult Education programming is offered during the day on the weekends. WABA and Casa Chirilagua decided to offer this class in the evening to accommodate those who work during the day on weekends.
“We are proud to work with local community organizations to expand our programming and offer classes that meet the needs of different populations,” said Sydney Sotelo, WABA’s Adult Education Coordinator. “Luckily, the weather held out for us on Saturday night and our Instructors were able to run the full class, offering individualized instruction to our participants in Spanish. The class was lively with music and snacks and plenty of folks sitting in the park, enjoying the pre-storm sunshine.”
With determination, properly fitted helmets, and balance bikes, all class attendees were riding on two pedals by the end of the Learn to Ride!
WABA is committed to practices and programming that ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout our work. Hopefully, this first Learn to Ride in Spanish is one of what could be more in the future.
Interested in our Adult Education programs? Visit waba.org/classes to see our full schedule of classes, skills clinics, and community rides.
DDOT’s second project meeting for the Connecticut Avenue NW Streetscape and Deckover Project turned out to be much more contentious than most expected. Though DDOT presented concepts for protected bike lanes on Connecticut Ave at the previous project meeting, staff revealed that the proposed street design would not include bicycle improvements. Protected bike lanes, they said, could be added at a later time.
This revelation came as a shock because there was enthusiasm at the last public meeting for the protected bike lane concepts. Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 2B and 1C passed resolutions in support of protected bike lanes in this corridor and this project. And most critically, DDOT’s 20th Street protected bike lane project, which will be under construction next year, relies on a Connecticut Ave protected bike lane to safely connect to the bicycle corridors on Q St, R St, and Columbia Rd. In the brief Q&A, the majority of comments were from community members frustrated and baffled by the missing bicycle infrastructure.
DDOT project manager Ali Agahi agreed that the team would take a second look at the protected bike lanes. And the following day, DDOT Director Jeff Marootian announced by tweet that bike lanes would added into this project.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) seeks a creative, innovative and effective Advocacy Director to achieve the advocacy goals of the organization outlined in WABA’s 5-Year Strategic Plan. The Advocacy Director will lead a team of four+ staff members and our extensive volunteer grassroots advocacy network. WABA advocacy focuses on expanding the bicycling network and making the streets safer for people.
The Advocacy Director is a high-profile representative of the organization to communities, public officials and the media. As a member of the Senior Management Team, the Advocacy Director works directly with the Board of Directors, the Executive Director, and other key organizational staff to achieve WABA’s goals in line with our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. The ideal candidate must believe in empowering and organizing communities, share WABA’s vision for better biking in the region, and enjoy working in a fast-paced environment.
Lead, manage and inspire a growing advocacy team, including conducting weekly check-ins, performance reviews, and other managerial and administrative tasks.
Set advocacy department’s annual work plan, with input from staff and Board of Directors that is consistent with the organization’s mission and strategic plan.
Develop, execute and win transportation infrastructure, policy and legislative campaigns in line with the WABA Strategic Plan.
Develop WABA’s networks and relationships with other non-profit organizations, businesses, elected public officials, governmental agencies and community leaders.
Monitor and prioritize effective organizational involvement in major projects, public budgets and campaigns that impact bicycling .
Serve as the organizational representative to the media on advocacy issues.
Contribute to the organization’s fundraising and development efforts to grow advocacy capacity through membership growth, donation solicitation and grant writing.
Management of current and future grant funded projects necessary to fulfill grant obligations.
Demonstrated management experience including leading a team, strategic planning, and capacity building.
Proven ability to supervise, mentor, motivate and evaluate employees.
Experience advocating for change in a complex environment.
Knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, Washington regional politics.
Experience with 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations, PACs and the legal restrictions of each.
Must be able to write clearly and persuasively.
Highly organized, self-motivated and able to work closely with others.
Experience working in diverse communities and on diverse teams of staff and volunteers.
Bachelor’s Degree in communication, public policy, urban planning, transportation, political science, or a related field; or equivalent professional experience.
Masters or legal degree desired, though not required.
This position is full-time. Expected salary range is $60,000-$65,000. The position is based in the WABA Office in Adams Morgan, Washington, DC. All employees are expected to work some evenings and weekends with comp time in exchange. This position will report to WABA’s Executive Director.
Benefits include health/dental insurance (WABA covers 100% of the premium for full-time staff); flexible work schedule; vacation and sick leave; committed colleagues; fun working environment; optional voluntary accident/disability insurance; WABA’s 403(b) retirement program; indoor bike parking; and surprising amounts of ice cream.
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.
Send a cover letter and resume as one PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “Advocacy Director” in the subject line. No phone calls, please.
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis; the position will remain posted until filled. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply by or before Wednesday, July 17th, 2019. Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.
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. 6,000 dues-paying members and thousands more generous supporters have helped WABA transform bicycling in the region again and again over its 47 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.
In an unprecedented move this week, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) removed southbound bike lanes on Alabama Avenue SE between Stanton Road SE and Bruce Place SE. The lanes, which were installed less than a month ago, are a small portion of the larger Alabama Avenue Corridor Rebuild through Wards 7 and 8. In 2019, half of the traffic fatalities in DC have happened in Ward 8. A safer, slower Alabama Avenue is critical to achieving the District’s Vision Zero goal—ending fatal crashes by 2024.
This project has been in the works for many years. It is part of the City’s long range transportation master plan MoveDC, which calls for protected bike lanes for the entire Alabama Avenue SE Corridor. WABA submitted public comments on the Alabama Avenue study more than two years ago. Our concern then, as now, was that the agency was compromising safety and to accommodate faster driving and more car parking.
Last year, DDOT hosted a community meeting to discuss the proposed design for this section of Alabama Ave. At that meeting, some community members raised concerns about lost parking spaces. Agency staff responded by further compromising and an already compromised design in order to decrease the impact on parking (with a corresponding decrease in safety for bicyclists and pedestrians).
Because the paint used to mark streets requires warm weather, DDOT could not install the bike lanes immediately after that meeting and waited to paint them until this spring. The delay meant that by the time construction started, newly elected ANC commissioners were not part of the agency’s initial ANC outreach process, and a number of complaints got picked up in the press.
DDOT, rather than making the case for the safety improvements it had just built, simply removed half of them.
“When I first saw this modification I was in the car with my 11 year-old,” Beale said. “When I saw it I was excited. I said it’s great they are taking multi-model transportation in Ward 8 seriously.”
Beale, who had been attending meetings since the initial study in 2017, knew the modifications would take time. So would the time it takes for the community to adjust to the changes.
“I’m always saying there is no difference between a dude on a bike and a cyclist. We have to stop believing that cycling is a white thing or that making traffic improvements are a white or gentrification issue,” Beale said. He does hope the bike lanes will be get a barrier to protect them from cars though: “I feel in order for it to be adequate it needs to be protected,” he says.
At monthly Ward 8 Traffic Safety meetings, many community members have shared their support for the bike lanes and some expressed disappointment that better safety measures like protected bike lanes weren’t implemented in the first place.
Throughout this process, one thing that most everyone can agree with is that speeding is a huge problem.
DDOT’s speed and crash data confirms an alarming pattern of speeding and crash frequency. On some blocks, 85th percentile vehicle speeds reach 42 mph, meaning that 15% of vehicle traffic is traveling faster than 42 mph.
As we know from considerable research, 90 percent of pedestrians hit by a car traveling at 40 mph will die, whereas 90 percent of pedestrians hit by a car traveling 20 mph will live. And crashes happen every week: between 2013 and 2015, there were 875 total crashes in the 4.2 mile corridor (8.5 per week). 312 involved injuries (3 per week) and 4 resulted in a fatality. In a similar period, 45 pedestrians and 5 people on bikes were hit by cars.
Alabama Ave has an unacceptable speeding problem and it stems from bad road design. As an agency committed to eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries on DC’s roads by 2024, DDOT must make safety the priority on Alabama Ave.
Stay tuned for opportunities to get involved with this project.
I was hardly fourteen when I “learned” to drive. I gained my experience through countless hours of virtual training lessons of Mario Kart, Need for Speed and Gran Turismo. My mom would let me run grocery errands when she got home from work. Feeding dinner to a family of seven is a daunting task to anyone on any given day. Throw in a self-employed, laborious, house-keeping, full-time working mom with an hour commute, and the thought becomes a daily stress bubble. My mom would trust me enough to drive out of our four-bedroom apartment in the hispanic ghettos of Atlanta, a simple mile to the plaza containing our fancy grocery store, Publix. Miraculously, I did this almost daily errand for two years without being caught by the police or having any sort of trouble.
When I was seventeen, my dad taught me how to drive a manual transmission. A few weeks later, he helped me purchase my first vehicle. I totaled my vehicle three months after purchase. Through our parents best intentions, we are handed the keys to a three-thousand pound chunk of metal and plastics with the ability to reach over one-hundred miles an hour. A life-altering decision that most of us don’t think about on a daily basis.
I went on to a technical college and eventually I immersed myself in a shop that took a chance on me. I was working sixty hours and six days a week but it was great!
But repairing vehicles wasn’t my end game. I witnessed my dad’s body as it grew tired of his construction contracting career. Up at six every morning to come back home at eight in the evening.
After five years of repairing vehicles for mom and pop shops, I decided to enter a corporation in order to climb the ladder. I had no management experience, hardly any meaningful secondary education, but what I did have was the tenaciousness to get there, along with spousal and family support that encouraged me to push myself to my limits. And so I did. I broke past my ceiling and pushed myself into a high-pressure, stress-filled, sixty hour work week for five years. Production, payroll, logistics, in-bound, out-bound, communications, human resources, hiring, terminating, implementation of ideas passed down the ladder.
The daily rigamarole coupled with my necessity to do more for my fellows lead me to seek a part-time job, if anything just to break the monotony. I found it one late night by going through a worm-hole of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Two Wheel Valet is the service provider of bike valet to the ABC. Bike valet is like coat check, but for bikes. Sounded simple and loose enough for me, and it was a shift from automobiles to a more personal and affordable means of transportation. Not to mention a healthier option that would get you to places you actually wanted to be and bring back nostalgic childhood memories of bike riding with friends. This was it! This was what I needed!
I started spending my weekends working for Two Wheel Valet in Atlanta. Some weekends were longer than others, but I looked forward to every minute! The exhaustion of a sixty-hour Monday through Friday became a passive thought as the smile on cyclists faces and their words of appreciation kept me going. A few months of my dedication lead the owner, Jonathan Weidman, to have a sit down with me about a possible career shift and an enhanced role in the company. I couldn’t turn it down.
I would move away from the production of vehicles to an eco-friendly means of commuting. I’d be helping out the community by easing their minds of their transportations’ security and their ease of access to events. It would break me free of the corporate world and start all over with a smaller yet somehow larger crowd. I was all in! It was an amazing introduction to truly feel the interactions of the cycling community upon our free bike valet services. The voices of this community to push transportation mode shift were incredible.
Working from home allowed me to get rid of my vehicle and open my mind to the closeness of where I live, South Atlanta. The coffee shop, the elementary and high school, the colleges, the library, the grocery store, the park, the gym, the movie production studios, the amphitheater, the baseball stadium, the zoo are all within a 20 minute bike ride. This was where I’d been living for a few years, yet I had no idea!
Now, within one year of the decision to transition from vehicles to community, I ask myself how I can combine and re-introduce cycling as a commuting option to my South Atlanta neighbors. Growing up as most of us do, we think of bikes as toys, something you get as a gift, ride around for a few weeks then forget about. How can I continue on my path to a closer community? A much more meaningful question.
Ultimately, I see the commons in community, communication, and commuting. This is what will make the world a better place to live in. We all desire an aspect of these. I’m living proof that the three can be “comm-bined.”
On Saturday, June 15th, WABA hosted the first annual Sweet Ride & Shindig, presented by Conte’s Bike Shop.
Friends: it doesn’t get any better than this. Perfect weather, ideal location, and great company conspired to make this an incredibly fun bike ride and party. (And, we gave out some pretty great bandanas.)
Riders chose from 5, 15, 30, or 50 mile routes that many described as full of discovery, with new trails to learn about and unfamiliar connections to find that stitched together a picture of how to get around Northern Virginia by bike. (Depending on the route, there may have been some surprise hills, too.)
After the ride, attendees returned to the Shindig. With token from WABA in hand, they were treated to either a beer from Port City Brewing or an ice cream cone. With tunes from Chasing Autumn, yard games, and a mini-expo of bike-related businesses onsite, the Grounds in Crystal City provided the perfect setting to while away the afternoon, hanging out with old friends, making new ones, and basking in the glow of a great summer day.
To all the riders: thank you for supporting WABA! Like all signature rides, the proceeds from the Sweet Ride & Shindig 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: