DC Biking 101

Washington Area Bicycle Association, WABA, is this city's well known advocate group on two wheels.  League of American Cyclists is their nationwide equivalent.   Transportation Alternatives is a powerful New York based sister organization. Every major city has an association promoting safe biking for transportation & pleasure (not mutually exclusive).

Knowing where to get help in relearning what our grandparents & family members before them knew about self propulsion in the community is the first step to developing a better cycling environment for all. 

We get all skill levels of cyclists as renters. All could use some of the expertise the groups above offer. For those without any town based group, the Bike League is a great start. In many cases they may inspire the birth of a local organization for likeminded local riders. 

WABA has classes for riders, and great materials for easing your way onto a saddle (not seat).  Free maps, membership discounts at shops around town along with popular events to socialize and energize you for the bigger world of cycling as a part of life.

In an ideal cycling world, separate lanes from cars would be everywhere. Study after study shows that the greatest action to improve the safety of riders is reducing and removing interactions with motorized vehicles. The second thing is improving rider skills and bike maintenance, which all of the previously mentioned groups provide.

Although we endorse helmet use to our adult renters, it is not mandated or legally required, unless you are under age 16 in DC. Experienced cyclists know there are billions who ride and have never donned a helmet. And in those countries of varying car driving densities, there is no epidemic of bike injuries. Sometimes anecdotal evidence can be taken as absolute fact. Listen to the European experts that American cities are slowly beginning to copy.

Copenhagenize is a site about one of the most cycle friendly cities in the world. 15th Street NW has a two way separated lane, north to south. By the end of October 2013, there will be a protected lane on M Street from 14th Street to 30th Street NW, east to west. The west to east protected lane exists on L Street NW. There are still learning curves for drivers on how to navigate, so be aware.

Now that there is a start in the Nation's Capital to improve and increase the routes for cyclists safety, knowledge must be dispersed, skills need to be honed, and fun must be had all around. Reddit has even gotten in on the fun in DC cycling. Please feel free to comment here or on any blog posts.


DC Cycling: Parking, Street Space & Education

The best thing the city can do for its growing transportation issue is copy, copy and copy some more. Take ideas from where success has been achieved. Europe and almost anywhere else in the world has better treatment of bike riders. They have an institutional respect for the bicycle. 

DC traffic has topped the nation's charts for 2 years. Thanks to the security from past economic downturns, construction and an increase in residents continues unabated in the Capital. So, how would a county deal with adding more citizens into the transportation soup? Adding more roads? Has that ever worked anywhere?

Sustainable DC may be formulating an answer. But it needs input from the community. The transportation sector is what we at Bikes to Borrow are most interested in, but all of the pieces matter.

We want more biking in the District. Our wishes have been coming true on that. But the infrastructure and respect has been slow to develop. Parking structures need to be implemented to give safety to citizens and more space on the sidewalks for walking and wheelchairs. The assumption that you can find a free sign or post in a popular area is not true anymore. To us this spells OPPORTUNITY! Underground automated parking for bikes is in Japan & Europe. When will we get it here? Hmm.

As for street space, studies show segregating the bikes from the autos will reduce 50% more injuries and improve traffic. If there are barriers between them, like parked cars on 15th Street NW, injury saving goes up to 90%. But we all know that it is easier to drop some white paint on a road and assume no one uses the bike lane as a skinny lane for cars

In education, there are steps to get at each generation. Children should definitely be given a curriculum of skills, laws, and etiquette. Driving tests should have at least ten percent of the exam dealing with bike interaction. In parts of Europe, they are taught as children to open the car door with the hand farthest from the door, forcing you to look over your shoulder before opening.  Adults need officials explaining to them that the change is for the better. "More cars are not the future" stated mayor Gray. And only so many can fit on the Metro. Bikes to the rescue!

Bikes to the future!

Bike laws in DC

The first thing many are concerned about are the laws of riding around the Nation's capital. There are portable resources listed below for your use.

A Nice Community Member made a smart phone ready page: http://bit.ly/bikelawdc

District Department of Transportation PDF: DDOT Pocket Bike Law Guide

WABA has a legal page: Washington Area Bicyclist Association *& a Mobile App (like NYC)

*UPDATE: The mobile apps give you great insight into what cops might forget, egal council, emergency contacts, etc. 

Side Note: Did you know there's bike insurance now? Aimed primarily at commuter or daily riders it seems. But it makes sense.

Bike Event Parking

As DC's inhabitants get more bicycle friendly, the businesses around town are a little slow to respond. Studies have shown more cyclists mean more foot traffic than if they were drivers. And more foot traffic means more business. Even going out on a Saturday night means riding your bike somewhere. But how much space will be available? How safe will it be? At a 9:30 club concert, every street sign within 2 blocks was occupied by at least 2 bikes. They had paid car parking in the rear, but no notice of if bikes could park there. I found out that they allow bikes. Should they promote it more? Should they have a special rack for their patrons? Not every event location can handle parking of any sort, so it might be where Bikes to Borrow contributes next. Valet bicycle parking at events would be a great way to contribute to an event's green prestige, takes a dent out of the potential traffic deluge that comes with events, and gives the customer a better experience (including the ones who didn't ride).

If you think bicycle parking at events is something that should be explored further by us, then let us know.

Image from Yellow Tent Adventures

Image from Yellow Tent Adventures

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