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Kickstarter Saturday: myTask Bike

From a press release:

You want your phone to do it all and now it really can.  It's the Swiss Army knife of phone cases!  How many times do we find ourselves needing a bottle opener, mirror, nail file or screw driver?  What if you had the assurance of having these basic tools on hand in your phone case! No worries about a bulky cover while traveling, this slim attractive case is TSA compliant and weighs a feathery 65 grams.    It not only protects, but also has a hidden compartment with a range of tools designed to assist in times of need!  Below are the general features of the different cases:

  • myTask Bike includes tire patches, wrenches, a screw driver and a bottle opener. All of our tools are manufactured of the highest quality 440C stainless steel and Polycarbonate. 
  • myTask Urban is outfitted with an array of travel tools including: a pen/stylus, bottle opener, mirror, LED light, USB drive, large 2" scissors, eye-glass screwdrivers, nail file, ruler, tweezers and more.
  • myTask Stash features the slide-out tray that you can customize to hold whatever you want!

TaskOne is raising money for production of its case:   

I like the idea, but I worry about trying to fly with the thing (and I'd forget to take my phone out of the case before I travel).

Arlington budgets $300,000 to plow trails

NoVa winter bikers rejoice

The Board also funded ... $300,000 for plowing snow from bike trails.

The 1st Street NE Cycletrack in use


Bixi sold, will cancel most contracts

Bixi was recently sold as part of their bankruptcy

Last week, a judge approved the sale of Bixi’s international arm — which sells bike-sharing systems to cities around the world — to Longueuil furniture mogul Bruno Rodi for $4 million.

Soon after the sale was approved, Rodi received at least three offers to buy the international business but declined, a source said.

But it won't all be smooth for Alta/Capital Bikeshare

As owner of that business, he will get all of Bixi’s non-Montreal inventory, as well as its intellectual property (designs, drawings, specifications, patents and licenses).

Most of Bixi’s contracts with other cities will be cancelled. Rodi will only retain two contracts with cities that have yet to receive bikes.

It remains to be seen how this will affect CaBi. 

DC to start planning Benning Road transportation improvements

DDOT has announced a public meeting about improving Benning Road and Benning Road Bridge.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) are preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed Benning Road and Bridge Multi-Modal Transportation Improvements, per the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The project will also include evaluation of historic resources, as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act [PDF].

The study area is along Benning Road, NE, from Oklahoma Avenue to the Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road Metrorail Stations. This public meeting will serve to inform attendees about the project’s scope and discuss transportation issues.

What:  Benning Road Transportation Improvements Environmental Assessment

When:  Tuesday, April 22, 2014
             6:30 – 8 pm

Where:  Department of Employment Services (DOES) Building
             4058 Minnesota Avenue, NE        

This is probably more streetcar-oriented, but it's an opportunity for cyclists. 

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail connects to Benning Road at 3 places along this stretch. The bridge is the only place to legally cross DC-295/Anacostia Freeway by bike or on foot from Hayes St to Pennsylvania Ave (and Hayes is impossible to get to from Benning Road) making it a critical connection. Unfortunately the quality of that connection does not match its importance. This is an opportunity to create better connectivity on both sides of the Anacostia, between the ART and the Marvin Gaye Park Trail and between  River Terrace to the Minnesota Avenue Metro. 

Is Enough Being Done to Support Womens Bicycle Road Racing?

by Jonathan Krall

Early this month, race promoters announced the Tour of Washington County cycling stage race without inviting women to race, as in years past. By excluding women from this race, one of the four races that the Antietam Velo Club sponsors each year, race promoter Joe Jefferson inadvertently launched a minor on-line revolution. A discussion on the MABRA-USCF e-mail googlegroup, ongoing as I write this, is delivering near-term aggravation and raising awareness. Will it bring change?

In a stage race, riders compete in a series of races over several days (or even weeks, as in the Tour de France). With few opportunities to race, excluding women from a stage race is a major blow. Cyclists of both sexes expressed disappointment, while others noted that the mens junior (boys) category has a similar problem. If anyone mentioned the womens junior category, I didn't see it.

In a discipline where mens categories either fill to capacity or can be grouped together to fill each race start, partially-filled womens categories are a source of frustration. Promoters wishing to maximize profit and organizations running a race to raise money for charity sometimes feel the need to choose between inclusion and the bottom line.

Reached via telephone, Joe Jefferson stated that, “the numbers have continually gone down. Only 19 women entered the stage race last year.” In a post to MABRA-UCSF, Jefferson added “we do our best to balance the needs of the competitors with fiscal responsibility to our team and sponsors,” and that the decline “has continued despite the fact that we have tried to spur these numbers by offering free and/or discounted entry and other incentives such has free housing.”

Suggestions abound. One commenter pointed out that, per USA Cycling Rule Book, women are allowed to ride in men's races for which they would otherwise qualify, and are allowed to race one category lower (easier) than their women's racing category. “Maybe not ideal but you're not totally excluded from this event.” However, most people prefer to race with their peers and few women want to be classified as lesser men. “I'd never give … 110 dollars to a promoter who doesn't think my category is important enough to support” was the response from one woman. Jefferson expressed concern that “an angry racer who asks a sponsor to stop supporting racing is hurting the community.”

Many simply asked for more womens races, possibly enforced by changing Mid-Atlantic Bicycle Racing Association rules to require womens categories or to require prize-money parity. Others argued that this would be overly taxing to race promoters. Promoters could include women by setting registration targets for each category and deadlines by which they must be met (or be dropped), but this puts the onus back on women racers and racing programs.

Some suggest that it is up to the women to drive change, by organizing specific race series for women. This has certainly happened in the past.  Linda Mack and Evelyn Egizi kept the mid-Atlantic Cat 3 and Cat 4 Womens Race Series running for over 10 years, but it was dropped in 2011. Artemis Racing has grown womens racing since 1999 and teams like the Bike Rack and Sticky Fingers are doing their part, but women shouldn't be expected to do all the work.

My own opinion is that, if everybody benefits from a more diverse racing community, then everybody should make a positive effort. Women can help by showing up and racing. Everyone can help by bringing volunteers and spectators to events, and by making sure that race promoters know why those volunteers are present. Buttons and stickers anyone?

Social change speeds up when people make an effort and even the most embarrassing, tin-eared promotion can keep the conversation going. Those who support diversity in road racing deserve the support of the rest of us, even if all we do is post a link to a local womens race or racing promotion on the Internet.

Personally, I enjoy watching the womens World Champion and Olympic road races and wish there was more video to be found. So what am I doing about it? I'm writing this article. Until last week I didn't know jack about race programs or race promotion, perhaps I still don't. I am confident that I've hit a few wrong notes here, but at least I am doing something. I encourage you to do something too.


Open house on Susquehanna River Bridge this month

Maryland is planning to build a new railroad bridge over the Susquehanna River by 2023, and is hosting an open house later this month about it. 

That will include discussion of a pedestrian and bicycle path across the river.

“We have about 7,500 signatures on a petition to support this effort,” said Andy Hamilton, mid-Atlantic coordinator for East Coast Greenway Alliance. “Our goal is, in the planning process, that bicycle and pedestrian use be considered and included either on the new bridge or an existing bridge.”

“We’re trying to link Cecil County to the rest of Maryland for alternative transportation,” Hamilton said Tuesday.

Pointing to the crammed parking lots connected to the MARC rail station in Perryville, and other large employers in the area, Hamilton said the need for an eco-friendly commute is obvious.

“We have so many commuters from IKEA, the Veterans Administration Medical Center (at Perry Point) and all the cars that have to park at the railroad station,” he said. “Imagine if half of those commuted to work by bike. It really could change things a lot.”

Not only would this trail become part of the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, but also part of a national trail system remembering the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. in 2001.

According to Hamilton, this Susquehanna River trail is included in the Sept. 11 Greenway.

“It needs this bridge too. It will link all three crash sites,” he said.

[Harry Romano, project manager for the Maryland Department of Transportation] said for now the project is “simply a railroad bridge.”

Mount Vernon Trail Safety Improvement Project

Coincidentally, GGW has a post on this same subject, so for another review of it, go here.

The National Park Service has been working on alternatives for a project to improve the Mount Vernon Trail at Theodore Roosevelt Island Parking Lot. They've worked up four of them, of which two have already been dismissed. They are accepting comments on the remaining two through April 22nd. After the comments have been analyzed, they'll choose a preferred alternative this summer, and settle on a design by the end of the year, with work to begin next year. 

All of the alternatives are designed to:

  • Discourage trail users traveling through parking lot
  • Widen northern segment of Mount Vernon Trail to 9 ft. width with 2 ft. shoulders
  • Install stop signs for motorists to define right of way at trail crossing
  • Separation of activities at entry to Theodore Roosevelt Island (TRI)
  • Install water fountain near trail and entry to Theodore Roosevelt Island (TRI)
  • Install various directional and site interpretive signage

On the northern end, both alternatives widen the trail, but alt 2 (seen below) includes a separate pedestrian path


In the middle, both alternatives change the trail crossing of the parking lot. Currently the trail crosses perpendicularly at street level, requiring two very sharp 90 degree turns (which is why many cyclists use the parking lot), but the proposed designs have the trail cross the parking lot at an angle, allowing for more gentle turns. In alt 1, the trail crosses at the middle of the bottleneck on a speed table.

Alt1MVT crossing


In alt. 2, the pedestrian path follows the route of the current trail and the bike trail crosses at the northern end of the bottleneck. The trail drops down to street level and is protected by speed bumps in the roadway. 

Alt2MVT Crossing

At the entrance to TR Island, both designs use trees and walls, as well as a more circuitous path, to discourage cyclists from heading through the parking lot. Alt. 2 is shown below. 


Personally, I prefer the speed table crossing, but like the alternative 2 TR Island bridge entry better. On the north end, I like the idea of the pedestrian path, but I wonder if it is necessary.

Both alternatives increase impervious surfaces (though alt 2 by almost twice as much) and require cutting down a tree. Alternative 2 will remove 2 parking spaces, have no shoulders on the pedestrian path and will require a below standard turn of less than 20' radius. It's also likely to be more expensive. 

Women on a Roll

Alexandria women will be heading out on two wheels from Jones Point Park onSunday, May 4th, to let the local bike shops know that they are an important and rapidly growing market for them. "Women are a powerful consumer force," says the League of American Bicyclists in its August 2013 "Women on a Roll" report on women's cycling, "but too often they do not feel welcome in bike shops or do not feel products address their desires and needs."
The ride is being organized by the Alexandria Spokeswomen, a group that formed in September 2013 out of a city focus group on women's cycling. One of the key issues discussed was that many women bike riders do not feel comfortable in shops and on rides, which are often dominated by men. The League's report, which had just been released, validated that sentiment. It also showed that bike shops might be wise to provide a wider selection of women's clothing and more women-targeted classes, events and rides:
  • From 2013 to 2012, the number of women and girls participating in bicycling rose 20 percent, while the number of men and boys dropped 0.5 percent.
  • Sixty percent of bicycle owners aged 17- to 28-years-old are women.
Any women who live in or ride in Alexandria are invited to participate in the Women on a Roll Ride, a leisurely ride for all levels of fitness. The group will meet up at Jones Point Park (just south of Old Town on the Potomac and under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge) at 9:30 a.m. and then head out on their bikes at 10 a.m. Riders are encouraged to wear green -- a not-so-subtle reminder that this up-and-coming market can make shops some green of their own. All of the shops have offered to provide refreshments and snacks for the riders. The group will visit shops in the following order: 
  1. Bicycle Pro Shop
  2. Spokes, Etc. (Quaker Lane)
  3. Velocity Bicycle Co-op
  4. Wheel Nuts
  5. Big Wheel Bikes
There is no cost to ride, but all participants must wear a helmet. Online registration is available at For more information about the ride and the Alexandria Spokeswomen, visit Below is the letter that the Alexandria Spokeswomen sent to each of the Alexandria bike shops.

Snapping turtle on the Capital Crescent Trail just upstream of Key Bridge

For all the herpatologists out there.


Photo by SJE

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