Workers on Wheels

Thursday, May 17, 2012

By DowntownDC

Bike to Work Day, the annual bike fest promoting a fun, healthy and eco-friendly way to get to work, went off without a hitch at Woodrow Wilson Plaza at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (1300 Pennsylvania Avenue) on Friday, May 18, attracting hundreds of bikers from around the region as well as congressional and city dignitaries. The DowntownDC BID partnered with the Reagan Building to sponsor this year’s pit stop, one of 58 throughout the Washington Metropolitan area—and a lively one at that, with prizes and plenty of food and drinks for all!

“Burn calories instead of fossil fuels,” Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, a passionate cyclist and founder of the Congressional Bike Caucus, urged the crowd that convened on the Plaza from 7:00 am to 9:00 am from points throughout the city and beyond. Blumenauer commended the bicyclists for being “part of something that is very special in this community.”

He pointed to center median bike lanes on nearby Pennsylvania Avenue as something that was nonexistent less than two years ago. A two-way cycle track on 15th Street runs between E and V streets, and an L Street protected bike lane between 12th and 25th streets is planned for installation this summer.

DC Councilman Tommy Wells (Ward 6), who advocates for a liveable and walkable city and champions the next generation of public transit, told cyclists decked out in biker shorts, helmets and even work clothes that DC is growing to be the beacon of bike infrastructure because of the mounting number of bike lanes, trails and parking spaces in the city.

Indeed, DC is ahead of many American cities when it comes to biking infrastructure and support. In September 2010, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Arlington County partnered to form Capital Bikeshare (CaBi), the nation’s largest bikesharing program. CaBi features more than 1,525 red bikes at 160-plus stations.  On May 17, it announced a milestone--riders have taken two million trips since the system went online.

Councilmembers Mary Cheh (Ward 3) and Muriel Bowser (Ward 4), also present at Bike to Work Day, encouraged everyone to get more children and employers involved in biking, which is exactly what the DowntownDC BID is doing. To provide long-term parking, the BID continues to work with employers and property owners and managers to encourage more parking spaces or cages in Downtown parking garages.

The BID also has joined with public partners to provide expanded and improved bicycle facilities and has purchased and installed several dozen sidewalk bicycle racks in Downtown.  Currently, the BID area has more than 350 bicycle racks in public space and provides five curbside bike corrals, each of which holds 10 bikes instead of one car. Terry Bellamy, DDOT’s director, told the cyclists that the city will continue to add bike racks, lanes and trails—all good news for the 12,700 people, a record number of participants, who pedaled to work throughout the region for Bike to Work Day (more than 900 registered at the Downtown DC pit stop).

Kudos to all who represented at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza pit stop with display tables chock-full of biking and informational literature and freebies galore: the DowntownDC ecoDistrict; National Park Service (NPS); representatives from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s (WABA) DC Bike Ambassador program—created with input from DDOT; Bike and Roll (1100 Pennsylvania Avenue); REI; goDCgo; BicycleSPACE; and the League of American BicyclistsWhole Foods, another corporate sponsor, was a welcomed presence, as it dished out a continental breakfast for dozens of hungry cyclists.

Bike to Work Day is part of the DowntownDC ecoDistrict program, as it celebrates and promotes bicycling as a sustainable and healthy transportation mode. The regional event is supported by WABA and Commuter Connections, the regional network of transportation organizations coordinated by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). Bike to Work Day takes place during National Bike Month.