WABA Honors the Best in Local Biking

Shane Farthing addresses a packed house at the WABA Awards

Shane Farthing, Executive Director of the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. addresses a packed house at the WABA Awards.

The tension was palpable at the 2015 Bicyclists’ Choice Awards. Washington area bike riders had nominated and voted on their favorite bike stuff in DC, MD and VA –  but who would win?

All was revealed on Friday night at the Thurgood Marshall Center in an action-packed evening put on by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA).

On a night when the temperature was in the teens, I wondered if people were going to show up for this. In fact, it was a packed house.

And people even biked there, despite the weather and the streets slippery with ice and snow.

Bikes parked outside the WABA Awards

Bikes parked in the snow outside the Thurgood Marshall Center in Shaw.

The City Paper’s bike advice columnist, Gear Prudence, aka Brian McEntee, was the host for the awards ceremony, which kicked off after everyone had a chance to mingle and get a drink from Port City.

It's @SharrowsDC, emcee of the WABA Awards

Gear Prudence rolled into the ceremonies on his Brompton.

But who won? These were the winners of the Bicyclists Choice Awards:

Best New Bike Infrastructure in the District of Columbia in 2014:
Winner: M Street protected bike lane

This surprised me because I think the M Street bike lane is a poorly-designed death trap. But there wasn’t a lot to choose from – the development of new bike lanes stalled under Mayor Grey.

Best New Bike Infrastructure in Maryland in 2014:
Winner: MARC train Bike Cars from DC to Baltimore

Now this is exciting! MARC is a cheap and easy way to get to Charm City and now I can take my bike there. Moreover, the MARC official who accepted the award revealed that they have plans for MARC train Bike Cars going out to West Virginia. That means you could take the train out to Harpers Ferry and bike back on the C&O Canal.

Best New Bike Infrastructure in Virginia in 2014:
Winner: King Street bike lanes in Alexandria, VA

The transportation officials who fought to get this done against a tide of wealthy NIMBYs deserve a hundred more awards.

Bike Friendliest Neighborhood or Business Improvement District
Winner: DowntownDC BID

Bike Friendliest Bar, Restaurant or Coffee Shop
Winner: District Taco, various locations in DC and VA

District Taco is good but I voted for Swings, since it’s home to Friday Coffee Club, where bike people meet every Friday morning.

Bike Friendliest Developer or Property Manager
Winner: Nationals Park

Best Bike Shop
Winner: BicycleSPACE

Bike Friendliest School
Winners (tie): School Without Walls High School, DC and the Washington & Lee High School, Arlington, VA

Bike Friendliest College or University
Winner: University of Maryland at College Park

Best Shop Ride
Winner: BicycleSPACE Hills of Anacostia

Best Use of Biking Data
Winner: Bike Arlington’s Freezing Saddles 

I voted for Bikeshare Visualizations, which is a fascinating look at how people use Bikeshare.

Best Media Coverage of Biking
Winner: Martin DiCaro for WAMU

Martin DiCaro covers the people who bike in this city like they’re real people, not a fringe group to be mocked or relentlessly trolled (I’m talking about you Washington Post).

Best Social Ride
Winner: BicycleSPACE’s 7th Street Social

What? DC Donut Crawl didn’t win?

Biggest Advocacy Win of 2014
Winner: Snow Removal on Arlington County Trails

Plowing the bike trails for the local citizenry doesn’t seem like a radical notion but the fact that Arlington County does it makes them unique and remarkable among local governments. Arlington County is innovative and amazing. They not only cleared their bike trails of snow they have cool videos and the best scarves.

I want to move to Arlington for this scarf

Bike Arlington believes in looking good while doing good.

Best Overall Trail or Bike Lane (anywhere in the region)

Winner: W&OD Trail

It’s easy to overlook this amazing trail, which stretches some 45 miles across urban, suburban and rural Virginia.

WABA also handed out special WABA Awards to honor bike advocates. See the complete list on their site.

It was a great evening, like the Oscars but without all the awkward patter (okay, there was some of that). They should call them “The Bikeys”next year.

And as someone who works in government myself… trust me, awards matter. If you’re a local official, being honored by the people you serve provides a cachet that you cannot get in the office. It will motivate you in the future. It’s a big deal. The WABA Awards may be in their infancy but they will prompt the development of Washington as a biking city.

About Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer and photographer from Washington, DC. He is the author of the mystery novel Murder on U Street, as well as articles, short stories and screenplays. In his spare time, he likes wandering about the city with a camera.