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Parking


On the calendar: Parking! Walking! Bicycling! Controversy!

Whether you care about parking, bicycling, walking, or all three, in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, there are some important events coming up, from a parking meeting tonight in Georgetown to a forum on upcounty Montgomery pedestrian safety to a bike rally in Richmond.


Photo by HogueLikeWoah on Flickr.

Talk parking in Georgetown: Tonight (Wednesday, January 16) is a Georgetown community meeting about parking. Topher Mathews reports Georgetown is likely to get some form of performance parking, but before it does, leaders want to hear from residents about their parking needs and desires. The meeting starts at 6:30 at Hardy Middle School.

Make walkable neighborhoods for everyone: Many DC neighborhoods like H Street are becoming desirable, walkable places, but also increasingly unaffordable for many. How can we ensure these places serve everyone, including long-time residents, rather than one small segment of the population?

The Coalition for Smarter Growth, the most influential smart growth group in the Washington region, organized a panel with Chris Leinberger of Brookings, David Bowers from Enterprise Community Partners, and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute's Ed Lazere. It's Tuesday, January 22, 6:30-8:30 (with some refreshments beginning at 6) at NCPC, 401 9th St NW, suite 500 North. RSVP here.

Talk pedestrians in upcounty: After a spate of pedestrian injuries and deaths in upcounty Montgomery, the Action Committee for Transit put together a forum on pedestrian safety at the Germantown Public Library, 2-4 pm on Saturday, January 26. Barbara McCann from the National Complete Streets Coalition will talk about the area's pedestrian safety problems and possible solutions.

Support biking in DC, Maryland: WABA is inviting folks to its offices on Wednesday, January 23 to talk about bicycle planning in DC and Maryland. The MoveDC initiative and a transportation planning process in Maryland will be collecting a lot of public input.

Stop by WABA's offices in Adams Morgan, 2599 Ontario Road NW, between 5:30 and 9:30 to talk with WABA staff and fellow cycling advocates about how to best weigh in during these processes and what to say when you do.

Support biking in Virginia: In the Commonwealth, the biggest bicycling issues are in the state legislature, where advocates are pushing for 6 specific bills that will make roads safer for cyclists. They are organizing a Bicycling Action Day in Richmond on Tuesday, January 29, starting at 10:30 at the "compass" plaza at Virginia Commonwealth University, followed by a bicycle ride to the state capitol for a rally.

Zoning update! And don't forget the Ward 4 zoning update information session, 6:30 tonight (again, Wednesdaysorry daily email readers) at Takoma Education Campus.

Bicycling


Capital Bikeshare needs more bike lanes to work in MoCo

Capital Bikeshare will expand into Montgomery County next year, but bicycling advocates say the infrastructure isn't ready for it. If the county's serious about making bikeshare work, they need to make bicycling safe and comfortable as soon as the first bikes are out.


Rendering of bike lanes on Second Avenue by Dan Reed.

This week, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and MoBike recommended that almost 20 miles of bike paths should be built inside the Beltway before bikeshare opens.

Bicycling has become more popular as a form of transportation in Montgomery County in recent years, but there are very few bike lanes, and the county's wide, busy roads deter all except the most fearless cyclists. As a result, bikeshare users might be tempted to ride on the sidewalk, which could be dangerous for pedestrians.


Proposed Montgomery County bike lanes. Blue represents bike lanes and separated paths, while orange represents sharrows. Click for interactive version.

In this report, the two groups suggest a network of bike lanes in Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Bethesda and Friendship Heights. They proposed having dedicated bike lanes on major roads like Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring and business district streets like Arlington Road in Bethesda.

Streets that were too narrow or too congested for bike lanes, like Elm Street in Bethesda, would get sharrows, which help drivers and cyclists share the road.

They also asked the county to complete major regional trails, like the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which currently stops half a mile short of its proposed terminus at the Silver Spring Metro station.

The proposed lanes make a lot of sense, focusing on compact downcounty neighborhoods where everything's already within biking distance. I've written before that more on-street bike routes can make bicycling more practical as a form of transportation by bringing riders to shops, jobs and other activities. And bikes take up a lot less space than cars, meaning we can fit more bicyclists on a congested street than we can drivers.

Some of the proposed routes, like Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road, may face resistance from the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration, which have been reluctant to take away space from cars. But WABA and MoBike weren't the first to propose bike lanes for them: earlier this year, County Councilmember Nancy Floreen asked that the state paint lanes on several major roads that they're scheduled to repave anyway next year.

Creating a countywide bicycling network will take a lot of time and planning, but there are things we can do to improve the biking experience sooner rather than later. As more people take up bicycling, they may find that they don't have safe places to ride. As a result, Capital Bikeshare could help build a constituency for bike lanes that doesn't exist now.

Capital Bikeshare is ready to expand into Montgomery County. The question is whether our streets will be ready for Capital Bikeshare.

Bicycling


"War on cars" lives as AAA knocks L St. bike lane

It's progress, at least. AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend no longer says a new bike lane means "a war on cars." Now, in criticizing a bike lane on L Street NW, he says, "I'm not saying it's a war on cars, but..."


Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

Townsend is very good at getting quoted in the press. After taking a lot of flack for the "war on cars" meme, he seems to have found a way to have it both ways with Examiner columnist Harry Jaffe.

Townsend was objecting to the new L Street bike lane, which DDOT started installing this week. The lane will provide a protected path for cyclists from New Hampshire Avenue to 12th Street. AAA Mid-Atlantic apparently isn't happy that only 3 of the 4 lanes will be designed around cars, rather than all of them.

"[The bike lane] fails to recognize that the vast majority of people still rely on cars," said Townsend. Townsend's statement fails to recognize that the vast majority of street space is still devoted to cars as well. The few bike lanes DC has installed to date fall far short of allocating street infrastructure fairly.

Jaffe wrote:

As a cyclist, I am overjoyed. When the city creates a matching bike lane on M Street, perhaps in early 2013, I will be able to commute from home to work in dedicated bike lanes. But as a driver, I question whether it's fair to autos. I see it creating miles of traffic if cops allow double parking, and I fear accidents if cyclists and drivers don't respect one another. Bikers always lose.
He seems to be saying we shouldn't install any bike lanes because the city might not enforce the laws, or drivers might drive dangerously. Maybe bikers do always loseif we can't try to make streets safer for them because other people might misbehave.

Brian attended a lunch briefing yesterday with Martha Roskowski of the Green Lane Project and officials from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). Jim Sebastian and Mike Godono of DDOT said that bicycle use on 15th Street NW has increased 272% since they installed the cycle track there, and 200% on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Bike crashes have remained steady, in spite of the increased numbers of riders, and there have been no additional pedestrian or car crashes as a result of the protected lanes. According to DDOT's evaluation, the lanes' impact on car traffic on 15th Street and on Pennsylvania Avenue has been negligible.

The Green Lane Project supports cities building separated "cycle tracks," like the one on L. Unlike standard familiar bike lanes, separated cycle tracks place some kind of barrier between cyclists and other road users, such as plastic bollards, raised curbs, parked cars and more. The group believes that providing a protected space for bicyclists on the roadway will make streets safer and also entice the 60% of potential cyclists who are "interested but concerned."

Furthermore, by separating bicyclists from car traffic, these kinds of lanes will create a predictable place for drivers to expect to see cyclists. Separating bike traffic from car traffic will reduce conflicts between drivers and cyclists and allowing each kind of vehicle to travel at its appropriate speed. With more road users on bicycles, this should reduce congestion for drivers as well.

These reasons show why the bikes-vs-cars tradeoff Jaffe and Townsend set out is a false one. More people bicycling means that drivers have fewer other cars to compete with. Bikes take up far less space, even when they get a lane-wide cycletrack on a few roads. Bike lanes even get bikes out of drivers' way in many cases.

In a video report for NBC Washington that also plays up the conflict, Adam Tuss quotes a driver who complains about how he was driving down L Street "behind a bicyclist going 5 miles an hour dead in the middle of the lane, and traffic is backed up all behind him." Later, the same driver suggests ticketing bicyclists who don't use the bike lanes, and then, "I'm saying a lot of bicyclists don't follow the rules."

Actually, it's completely legal to drive in the middle of the lane, and in fact that's the recommended safest practice. Riding in a bike lane is also not required. Perhaps it's the driver who needs to learn the rules, but building this bike lane could move a lot of cyclists out of car lanes, just what this driver wants.

It's time to not just stop with the "war on cars" theme, but also its cousins, Townsend's "I'm not saying war on cars but ..." and "bikes are squeezing out cars" from Jaffe's headline.

WABA put out an action alert asking residents to email Mayor Gray, DDOT Director Terry Bellamy, and Sebastian to thank them for building the L Street bike lane. It can't hurt to also encourage them to quickly follow up with its planned twin on M Street. Please send them that message, and prevent the cars vs. bikes false choice from jeopardizing a very important project.

Bicycling


Can we make Bike to Work Day more diverse?

Bike to Work Day coaxes people of all stripes to make the commute on two wheels instead of four. As Bike to Work Day continues to grow, we must think about how to expand it not just in numbers, but to people in a wider range of economic circumstances and demographic groups.


They're black, white, and Asian, but all look like experienced cyclists. Photo by M.V. Jantzen on Flickr

Bike to Work Day is a great chance to get people involved in cycling and bike advocacy who aren't otherwise. Last Friday, 12,000 people officially participated in Bike to Work Day, checking in to one of 58 pit stops across the region.

However, at the pit stops I've passed through in the last 3 years, most cyclists appear affluent and ex­per­i­enced, judging by their equipment. Even most non-white participants look like they work professional jobs and have upscale gear.

How can we get a more diverse group of participants, not just by race or gender but also economically?

There is no question that Bike to Work Day is a hugely successful event, growing every year. The organizers, and WABA in particular, deserve serious thanks and congratulations for the enormous undertaking of BTWD. It's done a great deal to raise the visibility of cycling and to expand the reach of cycling to more women, younger and older age groups, and beyond the MAMIL stereotype.

While we can revel in these growing levels of success, it's important not to be complacent. It may be time to start thinking about how to reach the current and future "invisible cyclists" through this event.

We can gauge participation by the numbers of people who checked in at the 58 pit stops across the region, and estimate very roughly the socioeconomic status of participants by where the pit stops are located. Total check-ins ranged from nearly 1,000 at the 2 most central, in Rosslyn and downtown DC, all the way down to 5 people in Takoma at Langley Crossroads.

2012 Bike to Work Day pit stop attendance
(data courtesy of WABA)
VA - Arlington - Rosslyn968
DC - Downtown at Reagan Building923
MD - Bethesda - Downtown685
VA - Alexandria - Old Town580
VA - Arlington - Ballston513
VA - Arlington - Crystal City Water Park508
VA - Reston449
DC - Golden Triangle, Farragut Square448
MD - National Institutes of Health Bldg One432
DC - Adams Morgan376
VA - Sterling375
DC - National Geographic358
MD - Silver Spring - One Discovery Place325
VA - Vienna324
DC - Capitol Hill at Eastern Market324
DC - Columbia Heights294
VA - Herndon291
DC - Mt. Vernon Triangle280
DC - NoMa280
VA - Falls Church261
MD - Frederick255
VA - Leesburg234
MD - Rockville - Rockville Town Center202
VA - Alexandria - Carlyle199
MD - Naval Support Activity Bethesda196
MD - North Bethesda - White Flint Mall190
MD - Rockville - Falls Grove Transportation Ctr.170
DC - Capitol Riverfront at Yards Park164
VA - Fairfax Corner151
MD - Rock Springs Business Park137
VA - Merrifield132
MD - College Park - City Hall130
MD - Takoma Park - Downtown126
VA - Alexandria - Mark Center / BRAC 133117
MD - NIH Executive Blvd107
Unassigned104
MD - Hyattsville - Magruder Park101
DC - Golden Triangle, Murrow Park88
VA - Tysons Corner86
VA - Springfield/Metro Park at Walker Lane79
VA - Fairfax City Downtown62
DC - Buzzard Point-U.S. Coast Guard HQ55
VA - Manassas - George Mason University55
MD - Oxon Hill54
MD - Greenbelt54
VA - Manassas - VRE Station53
VA - Burke51
MD - Takoma Park - Silgo Creek Trail44
MD - FDA White Oak43
Unknown41
MD - Bowie Town Center38
DC - Anacostia34
VA - Woodbridge - Chinn Center29
MD - Indian Head26
VA - Manassas - Kelly Leadership Center21
MD - Bowie Old Town19
VA - Haymarket14
VA - Rippon Landing VRE14
VA - Woodbridge - VRE12
MD - Takoma/Langley Crossroads5

Pit stop location

One way to increase diversity could be to add more pit stops in different parts of the region. Despite significant work by WABA over the last year to reach out to Wards 7 & 8, there was only one pit stop in the whole of both wards. That stop, in downtown Anacostia, saw 14 people. Ward 7 had no pit stops at all.

In fact, with the exception of National Harbor and Indian Head, right on the Potomac, there were no pit stops in southern Prince George's county either, leaving the entire southeast quadrant of the region without a place to participate.

We shouldn't expect new cyclists to take on a major ride beyond a couple of miles. Even if some newcomers were feeling ambitious, many areas in the suburban counties don't offer safe biking routes in employment districts. Therefore, biking to transit has to be a key strategy to Bike to Work Day.

There were pit stops at many VRE and MARC stations to the south and north of the District, enabling commuters to potentially ride shorter distances to their local train station. Of course, MARC & VRE ridership is itself relatively homogenous.

Wards 7 and 8, as well as much of Prince George's, are not bike friendly. Anacostia River crossings are often downright dangerous on a bike. So promoting biking to work in these communities depends all the more on the first/last mile connection to transit. Yet no Metro stations on the southern Green Line or eastern Blue and Orange Lines had pit stops.

Many of these stations are located in relatively residential neighborhoods, meaning the comfort and safety barrier to biking is relatively low. Why not have pit stops at them?

Obviously it takes resources and volunteers to set up pit stops. Businesses often host stops in hopes of driving sales. Most volunteers want to host pit stops in their communities instead of traveling across the region to some other location they don't know well.

But perhaps in the future, some supporters could sponsor pit stops in neighborhoods where there may not be such natural hosts. We could also look beyond the WABA members and the cycling community for volunteers. Perhaps community action organizations could help address the challenge of volunteers?

These stops may have relatively low attendance, but I think the benefit of a few people participating in these areas would be much greater than the marginal benefit of a few more people checking in in upper Montgomery County.

Pit stop timing

Another way to increase diversity would be to schedule pit stops for more time periods. The vast majority of stops were set up for 2-3 hours between from 6 and 9 am. Only 4 pit stops were open later. 3 stuck it out until 10 am, and the Indian Head, Maryland stop on the east bank of the Potomac was open until 11.

In Columbia Heights and Falls Church, organizers set up an afternoon "Bike from Work Day" pit stop from 4-7 pm. Even with that one exception, Bike to Work Day clearly catered primarily to those people starting work by 9:30am and leaving by 6:30.

Many low-income workers work at other times, like a shift job from 5 am to 2 pm. Many may already be riding a bike to work out of necessity. And if they aren't, they may be spending significant portions of their income on more expensive modes of transportation. Being introduced to cycling could help keep more money in these workers' pockets.

Those that are riding, frequently ride any bike they can get a hold of, not the median-priced $1,000 bike you see mostly at Bike to Work Day pit stops. Of any cyclists on the road, they likely could most use a tune-up, a new light, pant leg strap, or other safety schwag typically being given away at BTWD. Lastly, they are a population group that could be much better represented in bike planning and advocacy.

Of course, the lack of pit stops in the poorest areas of the region is a challenge to getting these cyclists, whether seasoned or new, to participate. However, the map above shows that, despite the blank space east of the river and in southern Prince George's, many pit stops are already in higher-poverty areas. This is all the more reason to explore ways to diversify the pit stop hours.

Pit stops with different hours would also face challenges in recruiting volunteers. Again this is where we need to think creatively about making alliances beyond the existing cycling community.

BTWD organizers collected a lot of information about participants. It would be interesting to do some analysis on this data to see where the people who checked in at the biggest, most central pit stops were coming from. This could give us a better idea of how lopsided the participation truly is.

Bike to Work Day is a very valuable part of cycling advocacy. Reaching the invisible cyclist is no easy task. It won't be easy, but with some planning and effort, Bike to Work Day could be a major opportunity to better include these current and potential cyclists.

Events


Support CSG and WABA this spring

Many nonprofits hold major fundraisers in the spring, and that includes the 2 advocacy groups whose work most closely aligns with the Greater Greater Washington community: the Coalition for Smarter Growth and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Both have fundraisers coming up, so please consider attending or just making a donation.


Image from WABA.

CSG's annual gala is its Livable Communities Leadership Award. This year, they are giving the award to Evan Goldman of Federal Realty, for his efforts to design and win community support for the transformative White Flint project in Montgomery County, and Riger Diedrich, longtime smart growth and transportation advocate with the Virginia Sierra Club.

Tickets cost $100. The event is on Wendesday, May 2, 6:30-8 pm at one of my favorite buildings, the Parisian-looking National Trust for Historic Preservation at 18th and Massachusetts, NW in Dupont Circle.

Friday, May 11 is BikeFest, WABA's big spring party. Eastern Market will become an old-fashioned speakeasy for bicyclists. Jazz music, a silent auction, a bike-building contest and more will make for a great party.

It costs $55, or $45 for WABA members. Buy your tickets here!

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Bicycling


Ideas rule the roost at the Ward 7 transportation summit

Sometimes it's the little things that need the most attention. At last Saturday's Ward 7 transportation summit, residents offered many productive ideas. One recurring theme was to pay more attention to the low-hanging fruit, small projects that could make a big impact.


Ward 7 discusses bus performance. Photo by Neha Bhatt on Twitter.

The summit, planned and organized by Ward 7 residents Veronica Davis, Neha Bhatt, Kelsi Bracmort, Gregori Stewart, and Sherrie Lawson, focused on ideas from the community to improve transportation.

Attendees left energized and hopeful that more progress is coming regarding pedestrian and bicycle safety, equitable bus service, and better streets.

One of the best-received presentations came from students participating in the mayor's Youth Leadership Institute, who brought up a number of specific, solvable problems. They recommended reintroducing driver education classes in schools, and having WMATA meet with students to help them understand how the Metro budget works.

Crime against SYEP youth: The pay days for students participating in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) are well-known around the community, which has led to youth being targeted for robbery outside of Metro stations like Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue.

In response to this problem, the students said they would like to see an increased police presence. They also noted that police have a tendency to clump together and talk to each other rather than fully patrol the stations, so the students suggested that police spread out to cover a larger area.

Subsidized fares: SYEP paychecks will be cut by $2 per hour this summer. Therefore, the students recommended having WMATA or the District subsidize transit fares for SYEP participants. At the very least, the presenters asked for subsidized fares during the first two weeks of the program while participants wait for their first paycheck.

Councilmembers Tommy Wells (ward 6) and Muriel Bowser (ward 4, the Council's representative on the WMATA Board) asked DDOT and WMATA about the cost of a subsidy and what its fiscal impact would be, noting that youth who go to summer school already get a similar transit subsidy.

Youth advisory council: After last year's summit, WMATA was interested in establishing a youth advisory council to discuss activity on buses. Unfortunately, there had not been follow-up from the local councilmember, Yvette Alexander, to move this forward. At this year's summit, WMATA reaffirmed their interest in a youth advisory council.

Aging in place: One resident noted that the very young and the very old have unique needs when it comes to transportation, and asked how WMATA can help residents age in place, and how it can better accommodate strollers on buses.

Deaf riders: Other participants said that Ward 7 has an increasing population of the hearing impaired and deaf, and that transit employees should be trained to both recognize deaf customers and help them use the system.

Pedestrian safety: Organizer Neha Bhatt discussed pedestrian safety concerns at Benning Road's intersections with Minnesota Avenue and East Capitol Street. She had organized a recent walking tour with Ward 3 councilmember Mary Cheh, chair of the committee overseeing transportation, to look at problem intersections.

Capital Bikeshare: WABA executive director Shane Farthing raised the idea of subsidizing bike sharing for residents east of the river, and suggested changing Capital Bikeshare rules to allow younger members. Currently, one must be at least 16 years old to use Capital Bikeshare.

There was also an open house where community members could find information from DDOT, WMATA, Capital Bikeshare, and WABA, as well as discuss ideas with representatives from these groups.

The summit's two-hour timeframe turned out to be somewhat too short, so presentations and discussion were rushed at the end. The organizers are hoping to reformat for next year to avoid this issue.

Overall, residents came away with a widespread belief that working to pick the low-hanging fruit is a smart way to move forward and begin to bring positive change to Ward 7.

Bicycling


It takes a village to become a bicycle commuter

After four months in my new, inside-the-beltway job, I'm firmly entrenched within the ranks of DC-area bicycle commuters. The local bicycling and transportation community deserves much of the credit for giving me the information, support and confidence to bike to work every day.


Photo by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious on Flickr.

With nearly 500 miles of riding to and from work under my belt to date, I've saved money, benefited from a great new workout routine and developed an appreciation for some additional daily outdoor time. And, keeping my car off the road means that I've also made a drop more room on crowded transportation routes for traditional car users.

Looking back, I know that none of this would have been possible without an extensive and multifaceted network of resources available to bicyclists, and bicycle commuters, in particular, throughout the Washington region.

Last year at this time, I commuted by car 22 miles each way from Glover Park to Fort Belvoir. My three-day-a-week compressed shift schedule took me along the Key Bridge, Route 110, Route 395 and Route 95. There was rarely any traffic driving outbound for most of my oddly timed shifts, but on my return trip when shifts ended at breakfast or dinner time, I participated in and contributed to congestion on both Route 110 and the Key Bridge.

My work at Fort Belvoir consisted of three, one-year mobilizations by the Army Reserve. Some time ago, the temporary need for my expertise and labor started to wind down. I started my job search with a basic requirement to work inside the Beltway. Ideally, I wanted a position in downtown DC or Arlington where I could at least bicycle to work once in a while. At the time, riding a bicycle to and from work everyday was only a dream.

When the pieces fell into place and I accepted a challenging position in Arlington along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, I wasted no time breaking the news to my wife: with this change, at the very least, the car would become a last resort for my commute. In fact, I decided that the bus and Metro would play second fiddle to my leg-powered two wheeler.

My wife's concerns mounted as she peppered me with questions of safety and "What if?" scenarios at the dinner table. I had a number of concerns of my own. Luckily, the bicycle community in and around DC was integral in making me a smart, safe and road-ready bicyclist.

The initial inspiration for trying my hand at bicycle commuting came from a blog, of all places. With great admiration and awe, I started reading Brian McEntee's Tales From The Sharrows and following @SharrowsDC for his tidbits on Twitter. He didn't portray his daily rides as always easy or relaxing. Brian identified problems, some caused by others and some by him, and how he overcame them. I figuratively took notes as I plotted changing my commuting method.

I took my remaining questions to Gil Nissey at the free bike clinic he provides to patrons of the Glover Park-Burleith Farmers' Market. Beyond basic bike maintenance, I needed to know what it was like to rely on a bike for work everyday. Gil put my concerns to rest with one simple fact.

In a soft voice, and without an ounce of bragging, Gil stated that he had biked to work during every day of Snowmageddon except for one. I think that at least 10 times I asked him to recount his technique and equipment so that my novice mind could digest it all.

I obtained free printed bike maps from the District Department of Transportation and Arlington County. I also spent considerable time with Google Transit working through bicycle and WMATA routes. I needed to know all my options.

For better or worse, one of my shift rotations would begin earlier in the morning than Metro buses started to run. That meant that the bike would serve as my only choice for transportation to work during those times. I also mapped out several different routes because I knew that some of my rides would occur along side commuting traffic and some during the darkness of night.

On the DC side, it was a no-brainer straight route from Glover Park to the Key Bridge through Burleith and Georgetown. In Arlington, I selected two routes mostly based on bike accessibility, hills and scenery. Going to work, I take the Custis Trail uphill, pass through some neighborhood streets parallel to Wilson Boulevard and finish on the Fairfax Drive bike lanes. Coming home, I return on the Fairfax Drive bike lanes and turn onto the Clarendon Boulevard bike lanes.

After several rides, I had more questions than answers. I consulted the Washington Area Bike Forum to work through what I did not know about biking etiquette, traffic laws and rain gear. This supplemented what I had learned last year in WABA's Confident City Cycling part 2 course.

To address my wife's numerous "What if?" scenarios, I signed up for Capital Bikeshare and the free Guaranteed Ride Home program. I also carry a WMATA SmarTrip card and taxi fare. I have taken my bike on Metrorail a few times when I have had to run more distant errands after work.

I religiously track each trip with the free My Tracks app. This has enabled me to reliably predict the end-to-end time for my entire routine. Depending on weather, time of day and route, I know how long the bike ride should take give or take a couple minutes. I add in sufficient time to put on and take off all my gear.

For winter biking, I have up to seven thin layers for my upper body laid out and ready to go to compensate for the exact temperature. I also purchased inexpensive rain gear and a back fender for wet days. I'm close to purchasing studded bike tires to help me safely traverse winter hazards.

We have retained my car for now, which I still need for my monthly Army Reserve service. Its motorized four wheels remain as backup transportation, though the vehicle now sits unused most days. And, as my biking experience continues to broaden, with every workday, I can swap stories, good and bad, with the bike commuters in Glover Park who continue to encourage me with their many years of biking to and from work.

This transition into the world of bicycle commuters was a combination of luck, research, inspiration and encouragement. My small payback so far has been to coordinate a bike and pedestrian safety program at our local elementary school.

I'm almost beyond being a newbie among bicycle commuters. My gratitude towards the bicycle and transportation community grows with every pedal.

Bicycling


"Rack Attack" hits Near Southeast with new bike parking

It only takes about half an hour to install a bike rack. So, very soon, DDOT and WABA will have placed 36 new bike racks in Near Southeast as part of a new initiative called "Rack Attack."


Photo by DDOTDC on Flickr.

ANC Commissioner David Garber brought attention to the lack of bicycle parking at new retail establishments in the area. Along with DDOT and WABA staff, he was on hand to witness the first rack being installed at Cornercopia in the rapidly growing neighborhood.

New bicycle racks are fairly inexpensive and provide a great incentive for cycling in a neighborhood. U-shaped "staple" racks cost about $100 in bulk, and DDOT provides a grant to WABA for installation. DDOT Bicycle Program Specialist Chris Holben estimated the total cost of a new bike rack at around $300. WABA Bike Parking Program Coordinator Megan Van de Mark installs most of the racks, using a bicycle and trailer to carry the racks and tools to each installation site.

Are there places you know that could use more bike parking? Maybe a “Rack Attack” could come to your neighborhood soon. DDOT installs about 250 bike racks a year and takes requests from the business community for possible locations. Post your suggestions in the comments and we'll get the nominations to DDOT.

Check out the full set of photos provided by DDOT.

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