Bike to Work Day Demystified Courtesy of WABA

Happy Bike Month! We’re all about this mode of transportation, and the many ways we’ll celebrate our bicycles this month. To kick things off, we asked the Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA) to send us tips for participating in Bike to Work Day on May 17th. Not only is it a great day celebrating biking in DC, MD and VA, but it’s also a primary way to tally bike commuters. So check out these tips, and we’ll see you May 17th!

What is Bike to Work Day?

Bike to Work Day is a yearly event that encourages commuters to bike to work. BTWD is a free event and open to everyone in the DC and Baltimore area. It’s a celebration of biking in our region! This year, it’s on Friday, May 17.

Why should someone who has never biked to work give it a try?

Besides being one of the most convenient, least expensive ways to get around town, it’s fun! Bike commuting is better for the environment, your wallet, and your waistline.

You’re interested in, or already, biking. Why register?

This is our best chance to tally bicycle commuters in the city each year, and every cyclist counts. Plus, Bike to Work Day is a giant party spread across 70 pit stops with food, drinks, and free giveaways!

How do you register?

It’s easy and free!

So, what’s a pit stop and what happens there?

When you sign up, you’ll be asked to select your pit stop location. Pit stops are organized meetups in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia where you can drop in on your commute to enjoy Bike to Work Day festivities. Each of the 70 pit stops provides free T-shirts for pre-registered participants, food and drinks, and friendly staff and volunteers.

Pit stops are hosted by a variety of organizations and individuals. Clean Currents will be on hand at the Discovery Center in Silver Spring, in Downtown Bethesda, and at NIH! Find your pit stop here.

What if you can’t make it to a pit stop. Should you still register?

Do you work the third shift or an otherwise nontraditional schedule? Do you bike to meetings from your home office? Bike to run errands? Bike to work some days, but not Fridays? Can’t get away from your duties while the nearest pit stop is open? This is still your chance to be counted. Register now.

How do you prepare for Bike to Work Day?

You’ve signed up. Now what? If you don’t have a bike at your disposal, you’ll need to track down, rent, repair, or purchase a bike. There are tons of bike shops in the Washington region, and WABA members get a discount at many of them. Bike and Roll is providing complimentary rentals for BTWD riders on May 17. Additionally, if you’re looking to rent a bike, Capital Bikeshare also has short-term memberships available.

If you normally drive or take public transportation, planning a bike-friendly route to work is essential. Several tools are available online, including Google Maps’ bicycling directions and

Scope out the area near your office or school prior to riding to find out where bike parking is available. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and consider the weather before heading out. Additionally, D.C. law requires cyclists under 16 years of age to wear a helmet.

Want company during your Bike to Work Day commute?

Biking is more fun with good company, so invite colleagues, neighbors, friends, or family to sign up and ride along with you. Consider it a challenge to get others out on the road with you.

Join or lead a convoy! BTWD convoys are led by experienced bicycle commuters throughout the region. Convoy leaders announce a route and designate pick-up points along the way. Most end at Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C. but all are open to anyone who wants to join them. A running list will be posted on the Bike to Work Day website. Contact Greg at WABA to have your convoy listed.

Organize your office. Invite your coworkers to bike to work, too! We have postersready for you to print and hang around the office. Try coaxing incentives out of your administrators or tying it to your other office initiatives. At the very least, you might meet some of the folks you lock up beside every day.

Need to get your bike in proper riding condition?

If it’s been a while since you’ve been on your bike, that’s OK! Start off by doing a basic “ABC” check. Check for any small problems in your air, brakes, and chain. Have it looked at by a mechanic if you’re unsure if it’s safe to ride or if you need assistance with flat tires. There are lots of good bike shops in the Washington region, and WABA members get a discount at many of them.

Should I ride on the road or the sidewalks?

Riding on the sidewalks is legal in D.C., except in the downtown central business district south of Massachusetts Avenue. While it is not recommended to ride on sidewalks, do whatever feels safe to you. Plan on using a route with bicycle lanes or if you’re comfortable, take the car lane. Still unsure about biking on the streets? Take a Confident City Cycling class with WABA!

What if it rains/snows/hurricanes/earthquakes?!

Bike to Work Day is a rain or shine event. Plan accordingly.

What next?

As you may know by now, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association is your regional education and advocacy organization for bicycles, and Bike to Work Day is WABA’s best opportunity to reach out to bicyclists across the region. Join WABA for only $25 for one year (normally $35)–that’s a $10 discount for Bike to Work Day participants! Support better biking in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, and enjoy discounts at local bike shops, deals with many community partners, and so much more.

See you out on the road or trail May 17th!