On May 22 (this Sunday!), nearly 8,000 cyclists from the D.C. area and beyond will participate in the inaugural 17-mile DC Bike Ride (DCBR). These bike riders will take to the streets of the Nation’s Capital, which has grown significantly to handle the increasing cycling interest and bicycle traffic in the city. Over the past five years the country has seen a rise in bike ridership of 42% to an estimated total of nearly 68 million bike riders overall. This boom in biking and bike safety awareness is being celebrated via events like DC Bike Ride, and, if all goes according to plan, this weekend’s event is the first of what will be an annual tradition. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) Deputy Director Nelle Pierson and DC Bike Ride organizer Capital Sports Ventures‘ Tassika Fulmer, are both excited about the forthcoming event and cycling’s future in DC is both palpable and significant.
DCBR has spent two years studying the D.C. marketplace and feels “confident” about their initial offering. The bicycling landscape in the region is evolving, and WABA’s role in that community is key. “We made partnerships with key stakeholders like WABA, and wanted to focus on developing an event that was near and dear to our sports-based focus,” Fulmer said. “Everyone in DC these days is into fitness and loves being outside. Whenever we walk around outside, what we continue to see is that our sight lines are interrupted by two wheels! Taking a look at the event landscape, we wanted to create a participatory bike ride that wasn’t a race, but would showcase the Nation’s Capital in a different way.”
Part of showcasing D.C. involves its’ involvement in the Swiss-developed Vision Zero traffic safety project, which DC Mayor Muriel Bowser hopes will end traffic-based fatalities in urban areas. The streets will be blocked off for cyclists on the 22nd, but in regards to Vision Zero, WABA states, “As our region moves forward with initiatives like Vision Zero and updating bike master plans and doing more and more to prioritize active transportation, our decision-makers need more input, more buy-in, and more celebration. Through DCBR we get to do both, we get to celebrate on our city streets, and we get to inspire more people to help make our streets better. We hope folks join us at the WABA table at the finish line festival to learn about Vision Zero, tell us what changes they want to see in their neighborhood.”
“This is the ‘Super Bowl’ event of DC’s involvement in National Bike Month,” says Fulmer. Riders ages three and up will be on the streets, with a “finish line festival” at the end of the event featuring acts including DJ Questlove, local cover band favorites White Ford Bronco as well as youth-based cycling activities, too. “We’d like to make next year’s bike ride longer so that people can see more of the region,” Fulmer noted, adding that Capital Sports Ventures is hopeful to “eventually” expand this concept in a manner similar to the Rock N Roll Marathon, an event that has evolved into a 30-date “tour” of music and fitness in cities worldwide.
Since 2000, D.C. has made significant inroads towards creating protected bike lanes, embracing DC Bikeshare, and now with Vision Zero and DC Bike Ride, the city may be making the turn towards a more sustainable bike culture overall. As Nelle Pierson says, “Bikes need to be integrated into having the same level of respect as any mode of transportation on our streets. Bikes should be protected because they work for everyone, are accessible to all, and are practical [modes of transportation].” Pierson notes, “it’s such a nice treat [of late] to be riding and have a driver wave me on when I need to pass them and make a left turn at an intersection. It’s great not to be honked at, too!” When 8,000 people likely agree with Pierson’s sentiments and are strapping on helmets and cruising for 17 miles on a Sunday morning, past all the iconic Washington sites, it’s a sign of a movement pedaling swiftly along the course continued growth, greater respect, and increased sustainability.
If interested in partaking in DC Bike Ride to show your support for the evolution of bike culture in the Nation’s Capital, registration is $60 for a not-so-traffic laden and entirely relaxed city ride.
JOIN THE RIDE:
Sign up online HERE. Online registration ends tonight at midnight, if spots remain available, registration will take place at packet pickup Friday at Saturday at NoMa Junction at Storey Park, 1005 First St. NE. Join not just the ride, but the conversation and follow DCBR on twitter / facebook / instagram and #DCBR for updates leading up to the event.