2013 WABA Membership Drive Special Offer

It's the 2013 WABA Membership Drive! Join WABA! Renew your WABA membership! Score some sweet loot! Change your various social media avatars! Stand outside of WABA headquarters with a boombox to win back WABA's love as if you were in an 80s movie! Write blog posts about WABA's membership drive and then write blog posts about those blog posts like you're some kind of media critic who only criticizes media about bike advocacy organization membership drives! Dubiously over-use exclamation points!

There are so many great reasons to be a WABA member, listing them would prove inordinately difficult and probably not even worth your time because there's really only one reason to be a WABA member and it's fairly self-evident: if you ride a bicycle in the greater Washington area, WABA is looking out for you. And not looking out for you in the "why is this guy outside of our headquarters with a boombox? Is he trying to win back our love?" sort of way. But in the "advocating for better bike infrastructure, better bicyclist laws and more bicycle-friendly communities" sort of way and they're the best at it. And the more members they have, the better they can do it.

So, join up.


As a special incentive, if you join WABA or renew your WABA membership and give them, I don't know, let's say $5 more than you would have otherwise,  you can get a a limited edition SharrowsDC button (for some reason- some reason called they're f*cking awesome)! Just email me at talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com averring to the fact that you gave WABA this extra money. You don't need to prove it (like, seriously, don't send me a receipt or a sworn affidavit or anything. I promise to believe you.), but I will need your address or a treasure map in which your mark your home with an X so I can deliver you this button. If you want more than one button, give more than $5 extra to WABA. Pretty straightforward. If you'd like to personally deliver me the $5 and have me give it to WABA, that's kind of circuitous, but I suppose we could make that happen, too. I'm around. I have a limited number of buttons and this is a limited-time offer, so first-donated, first-buttoned.

Button looks like this. 

To recap:

1. WABA is great.
2. Join WABA or renew your WABA membership.
3. Throw them $5 more than you would have otherwise
4. Tell me that you did that and give me your address.
5. Wait impatiently at mailbox everyday until your button arrives. It helps if you tap your foot and look at your watch.
6. Festoon bike bag or apparel with button.


On the New Mexico Avenue NW Bicycle Lanes

In spite of the recent sturm und drang (which I believe is German for last-ditch NIMBY effort), the bicycle lanes on New Mexico Avenue NW are currently being striped. That process looks like this:

I assume that they'll be done either this afternoon or by tomorrow and then there'll be bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue from roughly 42nd Street and Tunlaw to roughly the intersection with Nebraska Avenue.

Obviously, I care about this because it directly impacts my own bike commute. A climbing lane on New Mexico Avenue will give me considerable peace of mind as I lumber up the hill each morning. I think it'll also help provide more clarity for the drivers who wish to pass me and generally speaking, I think stripes will have a slimming effect on the roadway, which I've heard is quite self-conscious about its girth. It's a win-win-win, at least in my opinion. I assume that those who were rankled by the very idea of a bike lane being installed will now be rankled by that very installed bike lane and their rankling will continue for a while, but eventually everyone will stop being rankled because it'll turn out that the bike lane was and continues to be just a white stripe on some asphalt. Or maybe we'll get a Prospect Park West-style lawsuit because everyone knows that anti-bike lane opposition is soooooo much more litigious in New York. My hope is that the many people I see cycling on the sidewalks along New Mexico Avenue will now make the transition to cycling in the street and along with those of us who do currently cycle in the street, will benefit from the addition of this piece of very minor, but important, infrastructure.

One other thing, though. This is a map of the District of Columbia west of Rock Creek Park (except for maybe the northern most bits, so sorry). I've circled in red where there are bike lanes.

That's it. And that's not very much. Western DC (where presumably people wear boots with spurs with their khakis and blue blazers?) doesn't really have bike lanes. And it certainly doesn't have anything that you could call a bike lane network. There are some streets with sharrows and generally speaking, a lot of the streets here are fairly sedate and you don't really need dedicated infrastructure to make your way around safely on them. And there's the Capital Crescent Trail, but you can only access that a few places. The lack of bike lanes means two things:

1. The New Mexico Avenue bike lane is really, really, really important. The development pattern of upper NW is such that there aren't that many major connecting streets and roads like Wisconsin Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, Foxhall Road, Canal Road and much of MacArthur Boulevard are not accommodating to regular people trying to get around regularly on regular bikes. Improvements on New Mexico and hopefully eventually Tunlaw (?) might actually connect Georgetown to AU Park and Tenleytown and beyond and this is definitely a good thing.

2. There's lots of opportunities for bike advocates to push for more infrastructure! It's a blank-ish canvas and begs for paint. So, Ward 3 bike people, get out there and advocate for it. If you want. I mean, I'm not gonna tell you howto live your life. I just think that every bit helps and there's lot of little bits that could use help.

I plan to ride New Mexico Avenue home this afternoon and will maybe have some more pictures. Many thanks and congratulations for WABA (I heard somewhere recently that you can give them money) and the supportive members of ANC 3D for helping this much-needed project along. If you're not familiar with this part of town, feel free to ride over and check it out. Nothing a bike lane likes less than being empty. Except maybe for snakes because bike lanes are basically pretty much like Indiana Jones more or less.


Mind the wet leaves

Mind the wet leaves. 

Mind the wet leaves. 

Mind the wet leaves.

Mind the wet leaves. 

Mind the wet leaves. 


It's allegedly autumn now and there are wet leaves all over the place and since all over the place includes bike lanes, there are wet leaves there too. Admittedly, they're not always wet, but they are sometimes wet and not because these leaves have access to a kickass water park with wave pools and water slides and one of those lazy rivers. Instead, they're wet because of rain and because of latent humidity and puddles and the fact that DDOT hasn't yet adopted my wildly profligate plan to equip Foliage Rangers with little towels and hair dryers to dry the leaves ("Why not just give Foliage Rangers rakes?" you might ask, indulging me). Generally, it's from rain, which does tend to happen this time of year. Anyway, wet leaves can create a hazard for cyclists and that's why you should be mindful of them and try not to ride your bike over them unnecessarily. This might mean riding on the outer edges of the bike lane or riding entirely outside of the bike lane and I'm here to remind you that this is ok. Just try to give yourself some lead time before leaving a bike lane and be mindful of any approaching car/truck/bus/yak traffic, as it's no good to trade one hazard for another. I find that looking over my shoulder helps, both in seeing any approaching traffic and signaling to that traffic that I might be moving over. Some sort of hand or arm gesture wouldn't hurt either.If you do happen to find yourself riding over wet leaves, I have little advice other than to not panic and try not to make any dramatic turns or harsh braking or anything. If you find yourself fallen atop wet leaves and the asphalt thereunder, I hope it wasn't very bad.

So, that's my advice for autumnal biking, at least as far as avoiding wet leaves is concerned. I have other advice for autumnal biking (switch up your regular chain lube for pumpkin spice chain lube!), but I'll save that for a future post when it's more unrelentingly autumnal.


ANC 3D, New Mexico Avenue Bike Lanes, Drama, DOOM, and my letter to Mary Cheh

So, even though DDOT announced that they're ready to install the bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue and that they've even put down temporary paint, opponents have rallied once more to try to stop the project

I wrote a letter to CM Mary Cheh (and the ANC commissioners who supported the bike lane in July) and it's below. If you have some time this afternoon, I encourage you to do the same. It's important to speak out and I'd hate to see this project stopped at the 1 yard line after all of the very hard work that many people have put into making it finally come to fruition.

Dear Councilmember Cheh, 
My name is Brian McEntee and I'm a daily bike commuter to American University, where I work. I am writing to ask for your support for the immediate installation of bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue, NW.

As you are doubtless aware, New Mexico Avenue is a key bike connection between Georgetown, Glover Park and American University. It is currently a signed bike route and bike lanes have been long planned. The ANC 3D voted in July to endorse these bike lanes and installation was announced by DDOT to begin this week. However, ANC representatives and community members who disagree with the ANC's previous decision have recently undertaken a last-ditch attempt to stop the lanes from finally being striped. To be perfectly honest, I don't really understand their opposition to this project. The bike lanes neither reduce the total number of traffic lanes, nor do they result in the loss of any street parking. What they do accomplish, however, is denoting a safe space for cyclists on the road as they make their way up the rather steep hill. This safe space is especially important due to the disparity in speeds between the climbing cyclists and the car traffic that surrounds them.

There is little doubt in my mind that calls for a traffic study serve no additional function than to the delay the project unnecessarily. Would a traffic study conclude that it's safer for cyclists to ride on New Mexico Avenue without a bike lane than within one? Would a traffic study assuage the (in my opinion, unfounded) concerns of opponents who have taken every single opportunity to oppose this project in the absence of any evidence that it would negatively impact their neighborhood? I am extraordinarily doubtful. As we have seen with other bike lanes across the District and with the launch of Capital Bikeshare, predictions of "chaos" and "traffic nightmares" have thudded resoundingly and time after time, the addition of bike infrastructure and bicycle access has not only not proven deleterious, but has, in fact, improved the overall quality of transportation options. The way people get around DC is changing and we are obligated to acknowledge that and adjust our transportation priorities accordingly.
The facts of the matter are abundantly clear. As the representative of Ward 3 and the current chair of the Council Transportation Committee, I believe it is incumbent upon you to support this project. Knee-jerk opposition to vital projects serves no purpose and is of great harm to our community. The District can remain on its trajectory as an ever-improving place for cyclists, but only if we let it. I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your careful concern of this matter.



Arlington FUN ride on 10/5!

Let's say that you're the kind of person who likes riding bikes and also the kind of person who likes fun and also the kind of person who lives in or near Arlington, Virginia. Let's also say that you're free this Saturday and let's also posit that you like sandwiches, even though nothing I'm about to post below has anything to do with sandwiches, but frankly, I'd feel a lot better knowing that you enjoy sandwiches because if you are the kind of person who isn't, well, I just don't know about you. It doesn't have to be any kind of sandwich in particular that you have to like and it could even be a wrap or some kind of sandwich where lettuce acts as the bread- again, not important to anything related the Arlington Fun Ride, but it's important to me personally and I'd like to think that you'd care about that, having taken the time to visit this blog and all.

The Arlington Fun Ride is a scenic, family-friendly 17 mile ride taking you on the paved multi-use trails that make up the Arlington Loop. 

There's also a Family Ride (which an emphasis on biking with kids)which is shorter and not longer. To the best of my knowledge, there not an All in the Family Ride with an emphasis with biking with Meathead. 

You can register to ride here. You can register to volunteer here