Bike Tour Shows Off D.C. Infrastructure at Policy and Advocacy Conference

“So, how many of you have seen Field of Dreams?”

Baseball and bicycles may not seem like natural complements, but Douglas Smith, everyday bicycling coordinator for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, had a point to make. A few helmet-clad policy conference attendees raised their hands and chuckled.

“I like to use a quote from that movie when talking about bike infrastructure,” Smith said: “‘If you build it, they will come.’”

Policy conference attendees line up for the bike tour. Photo by Samantha Schipani.

With hundreds of planners congregating in one of the best cycling cities in the country on a warm September afternoon, it is almost inevitable that some of them would want to explore on two wheels. On Sunday of the 2016 APA Policy and Advocacy Conference, 20 excited conference-goers joined Bike and Roll DC for a tour around the neighborhood.

Smith kicked off the event by extolling the progress Washington, D.C., has made in cycling infrastructure. The challenge moving forward? “Keep building!” he said.

Equity has come to the forefront in planning new city cycling infrastructure — by 2034, the association hopes that everyone in the Washington area will live within one mile of dedicated bicycling space.

The pedaling planners departed from the corner of M and 15th Streets and headed uptown towards the Shaw neighborhood, whizzing along protected lanes and sharrows. Between navigating through traffic and managing tricky turns, the group happily chatted about the city cycling experiences in their hometowns.

The Policy and Advocacy Conference bicycle tour stops at the Howard Theater. Photo by Samantha Schipani.

After about 15 minutes of riding, the crew stopped at the historic Howard Theater. Jim Sebastian, bicycle and planning program manager at the District Department of Transportation, fielded questions about parking, two-way traffic, and infrastructure maintenance. Inspired by the informative Q&A, the planners discussed the similarities in the processes for planning D.C.’s cycling infrastructure and for their own cities across the country.

Kristin Haldeman discusses the DC Metro's impact on city biking at the Shaw Metro station. Photo by Samantha Schipani.

The next stop was the Shaw Metro station a few blocks over. Kristin Haldeman, manager of access planning and policy analysis at WMATA, talked to the group about the D.C. Metro’s Safe Surge program, which shuts down sections of the train system for fixed periods of time in order to address the aging infrastructure. One shining light over the course of the Metro system repairs has been the increase in cycling commuters, as well as the flourishing bike and ride programs at various stations across the D.C. metro area.

The group headed back to the Loews Madison, sweaty but satisfied. The first-hand experience of the city’s cycling infrastructure left everyone with their own insights and impressions. 

About the Author

Samantha Schipani is APA's Great Places in America communications intern.

Top photo: Policy and Advocacy Conference attendees whiz by on the bicycle tour. Photo by Samantha Schipani.

September 19, 2016

By Samantha Schipani