This week I’m launching a new set of interviews featuring some of the women who live and ride in the Washington, D.C., area.
The Women BikeDC series delves into the experiences and perspectives of women who ride around the Washington, D.C., area and explores how the city can improve as a cycling-friendly environment. While bicycles are not exactly the focus of these conversations, there is also some discussion of bikes and gear.
Because the interviews cover such a variety of areas, I’ve divided each of them into two parts.
Our first Women BikeDC interview is with Jackie N., an avid mountain biker and transportation cyclist who currently resides in Capitol Hill. Thank you, Jackie, for leading off our series and for sharing your cycling story with us.
1. Tell me a little about yourself and when you started riding.
I am a 40-year-old woman originally from upstate NY. I moved to D.C. in 2003 after finishing med school in Syracuse, New York.
I was into biking as a teen and young adult, but stopped due to school. After school and residency, I went on a trip with my husband to California. He’s been a lifelong cyclist and asked me to try mountain biking again in Lake Tahoe.
I rode the legendary Flume trail then we met up with a friend from high school and toured around Napa on bikes. That was in 2009 and I have been hooked ever since!
2. What sorts of things do you do by bike?
We do nearly everything by bike, except I do not bike commute for work due to the distance. I live on Capitol Hill and work in Annapolis, Maryland.
We mountain bike as much as possible on the weekend, mostly at the local trails, Rosaryville, Patapsco, and Schaeffer Farms.
We road ride nearly every night after work, weather permitting. We have taken a vow to try not to drive to anything within three miles of our house so we shop by bike and go to dinner usually by bike.
On vacation we do destination bike travel. We’ve visited Moab, Utah; Phoenix and Sedona, Arizona; Santa Cruz, California; Bend and Portland, Oregon; Livigno, Italy; Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island in Hawaii; Nevis; Aruba; the Grand Canyon; Lake Champlain; and Vail, Colorado.
3. How has riding a bicycle influenced your life?
Cycling is my life. It is part of me. I have become much more healthy and so appreciative of my mobility.
I’m trying to maintain my youth, too. Use it or lose it!
4. What features do you think make a city bike-friendly and why?
Bike lanes and/or bike paths, particularly if they are all interconnected.
The attitude of the drivers also help make a place bike-friendly. For example, in Nevis there were no bike lanes and the roads were tight and curvy, but the drivers were used to cyclists and usually passed safely and respected the cyclists.
Availability of bike rentals is also a big factor.
5. What do you like about riding in the D.C. area?
The existing bike paths are great and I’m so happy to be around in this era of expansion for cyclists. The scenery here is awesome and the city never lets you forget all the history.
When people visit, we frequently take them on a night tour of the monuments by bike. The Mall clears out at night and the monuments are so different at night.
6. What suggestions do you have for employers who want to be friendly to bike riders?
Bike racks in a safe and protected area. Showers would also be great too.
7. How could the D.C. area improve for cyclists?
We can always use more protected cycle lanes and multiuse paths. The Met Branch Trail needs to be finished as well as the connections between the Anacostia trails that are East of the river. I thank the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) for all their work on this!
Acceptance by drivers would be great. Tensions between cyclists and drivers seemed to peak last year and I hope there is some way to move on and to find some mutual respect.
Whether I’m in a car, walking, or biking, I think that drivers are way too distracted. They need to understand that a car is a 2000+ pound deadly weapon if they aren’t paying attention.
Stay tuned. We’re back tomorrow with Part 2 of Jackie’s interview!