Fangirl Friday is going to be a semi-regular feature so this blog is not All About Me. I’m calling it this because I’m a total eco-nerd (and a regular nerd, too). Anyone who knows me knows that asking me about some ecological issue or another can be as dangerous as asking a comic book fan about her favorite Superman storyline. Although I also love graphic novels, so you may want to be careful about that as well. In this feature, I’ll be highlighting my favorite non-profit groups (and possibly for-profit businesses), in the Washington D.C. area and beyond. If you have a favorite group that you would like to see highlighted, let me know! If I think they’re doing good work, I may write up a summary.
Last week, I mentioned the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s (WABA) Resolution to Ride Responsibly. Besides reminding people of the importance of following the rules and having common courtesy, WABA does a fantastic job serving the Washington, D.C. area bicycling community. In fact, they’re so good at what they do that they’re known across the country for it. Just before I moved to D.C., I attended a New York State legislature breakfast on bicycling issues. When I mentioned I was soon moving to D.C. to the Albany Bicycle Coalition organizer, she exclaimed, “Oh, the bicycle group down there is great!” So it’s not just me speaking here.
In my opinion, one of the most important things WABA does is their bicycle education. For children, they teach bicycle safety classes in area schools and recreation centers. They also provide this curriculum and training for free to teachers who would like to extend its reach. In addition, they work with local governments to implement Safe Routes to School, a U.S. Department of Transportation program that works to enable more kids to ride or bike to school. Considering that walking and riding serve multiple purposes – bringing kids outside, helping them exercise in a fun way, and actually getting them somewhere they need to be – you can’t get better than this program. WABA even conducts bicycle “rodeos” with kids, where they teach them the rules of the road via an obstacle course. Apparently, the course isn’t too hard for kids, but because their bicycles are bigger, stumps even the best adults!
But just as learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from school, bicycle education continues on as well. For adult newbies, WABA offers a “Learn to Ride” class for those who have never gotten on a bike and Commuting Seminars for those who enjoy recreational cycling and want to ride for transportation. For those who have been doing it for a while, they offer the Confident City Cycling and Traffic Skills series. I’m a pretty experienced cyclist, and still want to take these classes. You can always improve on your skills!
Beyond education, WABA does a lot of fun stuff as well. They provide bike valets for big events all over the city, with their work during President Obama’s inauguration being a particularly shining moment. (I Metro-ed and walked, so I didn’t get a nifty card, sadly.) They advocate for bicycle-friendly policy on the regional and national levels. They also organize the local Bike to Work Day, with all sorts of prizes and good stops with food. I’ve managed to miss it every single year, but will actually make it this year. Unfortunately, it’s three days after the Climate Ride, but my legs can recover in two days, right? After all, it will be worth it to ride with a Nobel Prize winner.
So if you’re a bicyclist or just approve of carbon-free transportation, I recommend supporting WABA. They’re our voice as bicyclists in Washington, and we need to make it loud!