Thursday, May 29, 2014

Post article on WABA bike safety classes and local efforts to improve cycling conditions

Photo: Washington Post
Today the Post carried a good article on bicycling in the DC Metro area. The online and print titles sum up the content: How Washington cyclists can stay safe as more bikes hit city streets (online) or the print title "Investments by Arlington and D.C. set the pace for a cyclist-friendly region."

WABA's bicycle education program is featured in the first part of the article. Our parent organization is doing a great job teaching safe cycling skills in DC, Arlington Co, and Montgomery Co., with affordable or free classes that fill up on a regular basis.
[Dan] Hoagland [WABA's education coordinator] and his 40 part-time instructors teach people to ride “with the most knowledge and forethought, and to bring their entire perspective and attention to it.”

The instruction is not about the bicyclist alone, he noted. “Everything from where you position yourself in the lane to the body language you use communicates to drivers. You can actually prevent crashes and influence driver behavior.”

“It’s when bicyclists do things that are unexpected and act unpredictably, I feel, that the conflict arises.”

Enrollment is steadily increasing, Hoagland said. “A lot of folks have had a bad experience out there. A lot of them don’t know if it was caused by their actions or not. They just had a close call, and they want to know what they do to prevent that from happening.”
The second part of the article highlights the investments that Arlington and DC are making to make cycling more accessible to everyone:
In addition to helping teach people to bike, Arlington has added routes to make biking safer. The county has “about 50 miles of off-street trails, 36 miles of bike lanes and 78 miles of recommended street routes,” Leach said. “We’re also going to be doing our first protected bike lane in Pentagon City and Crystal City.”

In the District, the first local jurisdiction to create protected lanes, a new one recently opened on M Street, boosting the well-used “cycle tracks,” as they are sometimes called, on 15th and L streets and Pennsylvania Avenue, all in Northwest.
One more sign of how popular bicycling is becoming in our area.

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The WABA adult learn to ride classes are also constantly filled. Is there a demand that folks in Fairfax County should be helping to alleviate?
I know from personal experience that there is a demand for learn to ride classes. Through I receive one or two requests a week for private lessons. That tells me that there are many more people who could potentially benefit from learn to ride classes.

There is almost no bicycle education available for adults in Fairfax. Even so, I was teaching bike safety classes through the Park Authority (ParkTakes) but so few people signed up that most classes were never held. One barrier is cost. Most of WABA's classes are subsidized by local governments. Fairfax has never done so to my knowledge.

There are now several League of American Bicyclist certified instructors in this area and after the next women's only instructor seminar, there will likely be more. What is needed is support from the county.

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