WASHINGTON — For D.C.-area commuters tired of sitting in traffic, Friday may be the day to try something different.
Friday is the region’s annual bike to work day, which includes dozens of pit stops from Indian Head and Frederick to Fairfax and Manassas that feature giveaways, food, entertainment and educational stations.
Around 18,000 people have signed up (and get a free T-shirt), Commuter Connections Director Nick Ramfos said.
“Regionwide it’s probably about 1 to 2 percent of the commuters are bicycling to work every day, so we want to bring more recognition to that mode of travel on Bike to Work Day and really encourage first time riders to participate,” he said.
If the trip goes well, he said he hopes people consider riding on the region’s trail, bike-lane and road network in the future since switching to a bike can lower commuting costs, provide a good workout and help the region reduce air quality and traffic issues.
“Our overall goal is to help reduce congestion, and bicycling is one way of doing that and with the added infrastructure — particularly in the inner core area, as well as programs like Capital BikeShare — we think that bicycling is definitely a viable mode to commute to and from work,” Ramfos said.
For first-timers with some concerns, the Washington Area Bicyclists Association will guide convoys of cyclists on major routes to show the way.
“If you’re a little skittish about ‘well, how do I really do this? WABA’s going to be out there in full force and have those convoys available for anybody who is a little bit on the edge and not really sure,” Ramfos said.
Both people on bikes and people driving need to know the rules of the road.
“Both for bicyclists and for motorists, I think there needs to be a mutual respect of sharing the road, and there are rules on both sides,” Ramfos said.
For people in cars, Ramfos said some of the most common issues are opening doors without looking after parking, which can put people on bikes at serious risk, and not leaving cyclists enough room on the road. Drivers who cannot leave plenty of space when passing a person on a bike to pass responsibly should wait, he said.
For people on bikes, he reminds riders to always signal turns and to stop at red lights.
People who are planning to bike on Friday can register at biketoworkmetrodc.org to get a free T-shirt and to be eligible for prizes.
If you plan to participate in the pedaling Friday, check out this interactive map of more than 85 pits stops around the region.