Bike to Work Day registration is now open, so mark your calendar for Friday, May 20! This awesome event, sponsored by WABA, is a great way to get your feet wet riding your bike around the city. At last year’s event, when I had just started out commuting by bike, I won a raffle for a fantastic messenger bag, got all sorts of great bike gear, and enjoyed free food all before 10 AM– all things that made it a bit easier to integrate biking into my daily commute. And no matter where you live or work you’ll probably be close to one pit stop, where you can pick up your free t-shirt and other bike-related goodies. And best of all, it’s free!
If you need more reasons to dust off that bike and ride it to work, I’ve got ‘em. The past year of riding my bike to work has been fantastic, so here are my five favorite reasons to bike to work:
Now that it really feels like fall here in DC, it’s the perfect time to start riding your bike to work. But doing so can be a little intimidating for a first-timer having to negotiate potentially bike-unfriendly roads alone. If you live in Silver Spring, Takoma, Brightwood, Brookland, Fort Totten, Edgewood, or Eckington, you’re in luck– the Metropolitan Branch Trail is a great way to bike right to downtown DC.
And even better, Rails to Trails is organizing Monday Morning Commute Convoys on the Metropolitan Branch Trail every Monday morning in October (except for Columbus Day). Rails to Trails folks will lead bike convoys from designated locations along the Metropolitan Branch Trail and head off to Dupont/Shaw, NoMa/Judiciary Square, and Chinatown/L’Enfant Plaza. It’s a great way to ease into bike commuting and see how well the trail connects these DC neighborhoods with downtown. If you’re interested in joining the convoy, sign up here (registration is required). And even if you can’t join the convoy, check out the Metropolitan Branch Trail sometime– even though it’s not yet 100% complete, it already offers a great link through some of DC’s beautiful historic neighborhoods.
HOT Lanes Delayed: While the Beltway HOT Lane construction continues forward, Virigina has decided to delay building additional HOT lanes on I-395 and I-95. The economy is the answer that’s been trotted out; state leaders fear that they won’t be able to get money from the bond market and the state has no more money to spend. The Beltway project is expected to be completed by 2012, with the outer lanes opening as early as next year.
Officials were pretty specific in stating the project has been delayed, not abandoned, though there is still a lot of concern with local officials, who feel the proposed project will adversely affect their communities and neighborhood traffic patterns.
Construction was supposed to begin next summer.
ICC & I-95: This week began a traffic pattern shift along I-95 as construction continues on the Intercounty Connector in Prince George’s County. Several lanes are being closed or shifted in both northbound and southbound directions from Route 198 to Route 212. Closures begin as early as 8 p.m. and re-open before morning rush. The closures will be in effect until Sept. 29.
VRE Gets Stimulated: The federal government has awarded $9.8 million to the Virginia Railway Express, money needed to purchase 12 more locomotives. The funds fall under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will be administered by the Federal Transit Administration.
The current locomotive fleet consists of 20 engines that can pull an average of six cars; the new engines the VRE is purchasing are more powerful and efficient, capable of pulling 10 cars each (at 144 passengers a car) and will help the service expand its current capacity.