BPAC’s Biking Initiatives in 2020: The Year in Review

by Josephine Liu

Vice-Chair for Bicyclists

In a year when so many things got disrupted, canceled, postponed, or moved online, the freedom of being able to get on a bike and enjoy some fresh air felt more important than ever. There was a noticeable uptick in the number of people biking in Alexandria during the spring, as people realized that biking was a safe, fun way of getting exercise and getting around. BPAC successfully adapted to the covid-19 era by changing to small-group rides, offering socially distanced bike education, and continuing to advocate for infrastructure improvements.

Small-group rides. BPAC’s first planned group ride, a women’s history ride organized in conjunction with the Alexandria Spokeswomen and Alexandria Celebrates Women, was canceled when the coronavirus began spreading across the nation in March. Our rescheduled ride in August highlighted various places in Alexandria associated with trailblazing women who fought for suffrage or served in government. We alsoimplemented a number of new protocols – including masks, staggered start times, groups of no more than ten people, physical distancing, and abundant hand sanitizer – to help keep everyone safe.

Following on the success of that ride, we hosted a public art ride in September, a Halloween ride in October, a ride to visit veterans’ memorials in November, and our annual holiday lights ride in December. Most of our rides filled up quickly, a testament to the demand for biking opportunities in Alexandria. We also published routes and detailed ride guides for people who preferred to bike the routes at their own time and pace.

Bike education. BPAC helped pioneer the pandemic version of the League of American Bicyclists’ seminar to train cycling instructors, providing logistical and on-site support for the coach who was working from New York. We also continued to offer bike mentoring, updated with precautions such as encouraging mentors and mentees to do their initial meeting virtually, and to stay physically distanced if they chose to meet in person. Some of our mentees had recently re-started bike riding due to the pandemic, or wanted to explore new ways of getting to work.

Continued advocacy. Although all opportunities to advocate and provide public comment went virtual after March, that didn’t stop BPAC from advocating for a number of equity and safety initiatives. For example, we supported the installation of new Capital Bikeshare stations in the West End, we encouraged people to stay engaged with the Alexandria Mobility Plan update, and we identified locations where bicycle detection for traffic signals would improve safety and worked with City staff to fix them.