The Baron Karl Von Drais Bikecentennial Velocipede Cup and Birthday Party - Sponsored by Proteus Bicycles

image from
2017 marks the 200th birthday of the bicycle, and we are going celebrate it with the only velocipede race/birthday party in the world.*

Festivities will occur on June 11th, 2017 starting at 3pm at the RFK parking lot where the velocipede (or "Laufmaschine" if you prefer) races will commence.

You don't actually have to find a 19th century dandy-horse to compete, as any bike will do. You just can't pedal the bike you do bring. Taking your pedals off will be allowed - and even encouraged, as will adjusting your seat heights. Bring your own bike to the race, though adults may race on standard bikes. We will have races and trophies for all ages - even among the Skoot group, so bring your kids and their bikes too. Though the race will be on a short course, helmets will be required.

Entry is free, but we will be encouraging a $5-$10 per entry donation (more is welcome) to Kingman and Heritage Islands Park. Race day registration is allowed, but registration is limited, so register early. Register for the race here.

This is meant to be more fun and silly than competitive. Because Karl Drais, the inventor of the bicycle and our race's namesake, was German we will be celebrating all things German. So wear a German racing kit, or lederhosen or a dirndl. Bring party hats for the birthday party.

In addition, Velocity Bicycle Cooperative will be there and can help with any simple bicycle repairs that you man need.

After the races we will head to Biergarten Haus at 1355 H Street for refreshments and a birthday party. If you're only interested in the party, we will aspire to be there by 5pm.

May the fastest scorcher win! 

Thanks to Proteus Bicycles in College Park for graciously sponsoring the race and Velocity for providing volunteers.

*That I know of. Please don't google to determine if that is true. 

What: The Baron Karl Von Drais Bikecentennial Velocipede Cup

Where: RFK Stadium Parking lot, beneath the East Capitol Street Bridge

When: June 11th, 3pm

Followed by 

What: The Bicycle's 200th Birthday Party 

Where: Biergarten Haus, 1335 H Street NE

When: June 11th, 5pm

Velocity image from

From the archives: Who hasn't been in a profane mood at times

From July 30, 1880

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DDOT changes to Jenifer Street won't make it more of a bikeway

DDOT intends to make some changes to 39th Street, Jenifer Street and Ingomar Street near Reno Road, NW to deal with the tricky intersection of 39th and Reno. There are trees and a crest that block sight lines making turns off 39th difficult and DDOT has recorded numerous crashes at the intersection of 39th, Reno and Ingomar. A few ideas were considered, and DDOT decided not to add a four-way stop sign or a traffic signal, because there was too much traffic on Reno.

Instead the changes they have planned are 

  • Convert 39th Street NW between Reno Road and Jenifer Street NW to one-way northbound;
  • Remove on-street parking on west side of 39th Street NW between Reno Road and Jenifer Street NW to allow for the installation of a contra-flow bike lane;
  • Convert Ingomar Street NW between 39th Street and Reno Road NW to one-way eastbound;
  • Convert the intersection of 39th Street and Jenifer Street NW from two-way to all-way stop control;
  • Remove on-street parking on north side of Jenifer Street NW between 39th Street and Reno Road NW to accommodate increase in vehicle trips on this segment; and
  • Install additional signing and marking improvements, including high-visibility crosswalks.

Jenifer Street is a "bicycle boulevard," though it doesn't have many of the features of one, that creates part of the connection between the Capitol Crescent and Rock Creek Park trails. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like enhancing Jenifer Street's boulevard status is part of the plan. The local ANC opposes the plan, and that may be why DDOT had a meeting on it last night. 

The ANC would like a 4-way stop installed, and while I don't agree that the contra-flow bike lane would put cyclists at risk, I do agree that this plan could be better (and that a 4-way stop might just be a simpler solution).

For starters, I don't like converting streets to one-way streets without a contraflow bike facility as their planning to do on Ingomar.

But in addition, they should take this opportunity to improve Jenifer Street. If they do what is planned and remove parking on Jenifer, they should use some of that space to add a bike lane or other pavement markings. They could also add some speed management items like a short center island at Reno and try to slow traffic on Reno itself.

The 30-day comment period on the Notice of Intent has long passed, but you can still write to Mary Cheh or Leif Dormsjo about the project if you have an opinion on it. Clearly, it's still being discussed. 

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City of Alexandria Seeks Community Input on Vision Zero Action Plan

Time to weigh in on a survey

The City of Alexandria is seeking public input on existing challenges to safely moving around city streets, in order to develop an action plan to achieve “Vision Zero.”  The goal of the plan is to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2028.

The public may provide input through June 5 via an online survey and interactive map, which can be accessed on the Vision Zero webpage. Vision Zero representatives will also have a presence at a variety of upcoming public events. This combination of feedback will allow the City to effectively address specific traffic safety challenges and inform strategies of the action plan. 

Construction of Phase I of South Shore Trail expected to start this year

After many years of waiting for funding and designs, it looks like key sections of the South Shore Trail in Anne Arundel county could be constructed over the next few years, with work on one section starting this fall.

The South Shore Trail is a 14.4 mile rail trail to be built primarily on the right-of-way of the old Annapolis and Elk Ridge railroad connecting (along with the existing Odenton Road Bike Path) the WB&A trail in Odenton to Annapolis and the B&A Trail. It will be part of both the East Coast Greenway and the American Discovery Trail. 

Back in 2013, a short section - Phase Va - opened between Westfield Shopping and the Anne Arundel Medical Center, but so far that's the only construction. But that could change this fall. Phase I Design is complete and construction is anticipated for Fall 2017. This section will be in Millersville from Crain Highway to Waterbury Road.


Meanwhile the Feasibility Study for the MD Route 3 Crossing is expected to begin in the Spring/Summer 2017 and for Phase III and IV this Summer.  The Design of Phase II is ongoing. And more is scheduled for 2018.

The proposed fiscal year 2018 capital budget has money set aside for multiple trails, including the Broadneck Peninsula Trail, which would run along College Parkway, South Shore Trail and the WB&A Trail.

Cyclist in Rockville, crashes and dies minutes after birthday

Sad news

A man who just turned 26-year-old is dead after crashing his bike early Thursday morning in Rockville, officials said. 

The crash happened around 12:09 a.m. in the area of Baltimore Road at Twinbrook Parkway. Officials said he crashed his bike and then hit his head on the pavement. 

His friends who were following him in a car called 911. 

Officials said Thomas Randolph Bell, 26, of Rockville was taken to the hospital, however died from his injuries. 

His funeral is today.

As a bike enthusiast, Bell invited friends to join him for rides and recently expressed his pleasure at biking from Silver Spring into DC.

This fatality will not show up in the annual report of traffic fatalities because no car was involved.

Purple Line ruling bad for biking in Maryland

Judge Leon ruled against the Purple Line yesterday.

Last August, US District Judge Richard Leon revoked environmental approval for the Purple Line, saying there had not been sufficient study of how declining Metro ridership might affect the light rail line. The Federal Transit Administration said it had looked at the matter closely enough and that Metro would have only a small impact on Purple Line use. But on Monday, after months of waiting and repeated requests for a ruling, Leon doubled down, ruling that the line can’t move forward without further study.

This is bad for transit in suburban Maryland, but it's also bad for biking because the Purple Line is also a bike project. In fact this is THE most important project in the Maryland counties. Not only is this key to the Capital Crescent Trail extension to Silver Spring but it would also build or improve parts of 6 trails, build 10 bike lanes, and rebuild three bridges with bike facilities on them. 

The "Friends" of the Capitol Crescent trail might like quiet back yards, but they're no friends to cyclists. 

Help build bikes for unaccompanied refugee children

The Lutheran Social Services refugee program located in Petworth is in possession of around 30 kids Huffy bikes that need assembly and trouble shooting.  The bikes need things like brake adjustments, pedals installed, tubes patched or replaced.
Once assembled and QCed, the bikes can go to refugee kids.  They need 4-6 people to help for about 2 - 3 hours to get it done. If you'd like to help, they're going to be working this Wednesday night 5/24 at 6pm. Contact to let him know you're available.
Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA)
4406 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20011

Work starts on base asphalt for Klingle Valley Trail

DDOT recently gave a progress report on the Klingle Valley Trail project.

Stream restoration, sewer rehab and retaining wall construction is complete. Installation of the trail lights, which are approved by the International Dark Skies Association, has begun. And the bioretention ponds are done as well. 

As for the trail, they've done the excavation and porous stone.

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Asphault paving began in early May, by mid-May 

Field crews laid the base asphalt for approximately half of the trail from Courtland Place to the Connecticut Avenue bridge as well as the asphalt sidewalk connecting the Klingle Valley Trail to the Rock Creek Trail.

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Completion can't be too far away.


From the Archives: Biking to work

 The League of American Bicyclists organized the first Bike to Work Day in 1956, but WABA organized the first one in DC in April 1977, about 5 years after it was formed. Of course people had been biking to work in DC for far longer than that. 

By 1898 ...a division head in the Treasury Department noted that there were 400 Treasury Department workers riding daily to work, for whom the department was building a bicycle stable.

In 1980, the federal government saw real potential in bike commuting (this was during the 1970's energy crises that spawned movies like the Road Warrior)

A study released by the DOT estimates that by 1985 the number of bike commuters could reach one to two million nationwide. In 1975 there were only about 470,000 such riders. DOT has launched the study to find ways of increasing bike riders,hip as a form of transportation. Bill Wilkinson of DOT's Environmental Safety Office, says the department will now attempt to find out "what the obstacles to bike use for transportation are, what the potentials are and how much energy can. be saved through wide-spread bike use." The study found that the country could save between 300 and 600 million gallons of fuel per year and significiantly reduce air pollution if the number of bikers continues to increase.

It didn't quite work out that way. In 1980 there were about 530,000 bike commuters and by 1990 the bike commuting rate would actually drop from 0.5% to 0.4% and the total number down to 500,000. But starting in 2000 that began to turn around. Nonetheless, there still aren't quite one million bike commuters in the US, let alone two million

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While cheap gas probably played a part in that, a lack of investment didn't hurt.

As a result of the study, Secretary of Transportation Neil Goldschmidt has announced a program to make bicycle commuting easier and safer and raise it to the level of a "full-fledged" transportation mode. The DOT program will work toward the elimination of hazards such as narrow traffic lanes and inadequate shoulders, provide training in bicycle skills, promote increased enforcement of traffic laws related to bike accidents, provide more bike parking facilities and work toward increased bicycle use in conjunction with mass transit. 

Much of this wouldn't start until the late 1990's, which is when bike commuting did start to pick up. 

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City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


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