12 Apr 2023

Building community:

Hill Family Biking: Advocating for the joy and safety of biking around the neighborhood

Mark Sussman is a Capitol Hill neighbor, safe-streets advocate and faithful friend of THIH. Thank you for spearheading this incredible project, Mark! –Maria Helena Carey

Photo by Robb Dooling

The Hill is my home. When my wife and I were looking to buy a house for our growing family after nearly a decade of living near Potomac Avenue Metro, there was never a question about where we would focus our search. We ended up buying a house close to Lincoln Park, partially because we were excited to be close to the C St NE Rehabilitation Project, which would soon bring world-class protected bike lanes steps from my new front door. 

As a safe streets advocate, I became deeply engaged in ensuring that the 1300 block of North Carolina Avenue NE, which connects the C Street project to Lincoln Park, remained on the DDOT project roadmap. The planning for this block’s protected bike lanes and one-way conversion resulted in dozens of public meetings, constant social media chatter and many conflicted feelings about the changes, which culminated in a recall effort of the area’s ANC commissioner, Amber Gove, as well as a challenge to her re-election bid. As the recall and re-election effectively became a referendum on the plans for 1300 NC Ave, several pro-biking advocates and I organized a family-oriented bike ride and canvassing event in the week leading up to the recall and general elections. We wanted to bring together neighbors and friends and rally around someone who had helped make Capitol Hill streets safer for everyone. The ride was an incredible success. Throughout the event, I was constantly asked, “Why can’t we do this all the time?” 

Now I’m proud to answer, “We can!” 

Introducing Hill Family Biking

It’s my honor to introduce Hill Family Biking, a newly-formed group with the mission of supporting all things family biking on Capitol Hill and the surrounding areas. We have many plans in the works. To kick things off, we’ll be primarily focused on taking monthly family-oriented Kidical Mass-style rides. We’ll usually start at Lincoln Park on Saturday afternoons and will highlight some of the great new bike infrastructure in our neighborhood, like the C St NE project or the Pennsylvania Ave SE protected bike lanes, or go to an event like a Nats or Washington Spirit game. Rides will be at a casual pace, accessible to all ages and abilities, and will usually end at a local, kid-friendly business. All are welcome!

Our Inaugural Ride

Our first ride will be on April 29th at 4 p.m. starting at the triangle park bound by A St NE and North Carolina Ave NE. We’ll hold an unofficial ribbon cutting for the C Street project, followed by a 4-mile ride along C St NE and some adjacent streets and trails and then circle back to the Capital Candy Jar for some ice cream. MPD bike officers will be escorting our ride and volunteers will ensure we stay together as a group. If your family’s bikes need some TLC, please come 30 minutes early to get some assistance: We will have bike maintenance tools available, as well as some experienced amateur bike mechanics on hand to assist. 

Inaugural ride map courtesy of Mark Sussman

Our Mission

The mission of Hill Family Biking is simple: To create a fun, accessible bike ride for families on and around Capitol Hill and to highlight the benefits to cycling in our neighborhood for everyone. We hope build a strong community around our shared love of biking as a family.

Why Capitol Hill?

Many of our organizers cycle all over the District, taking advantage of its ever-expanding bike infrastructure; however, we focused on our neighborhood for several reasons,

  1. There are many families based on Capitol Hill who travel by bicycle
  2. Capitol Hill in particular has a lot of new bike infrastructure and it is generally a very bike-friendly neighborhood
  3. Keeping a Hill focus provides more predictability and accessibility
  4. Past bike-friendly events such as Bike-to-School Day and Bike-to-Work Day have been extremely successful on the Hill, suggesting that there is a lot of interest in our community.

Although our rides will primarily be on/around Capitol Hill, everyone is welcome! 

What’s Next?

If this sounds like something you and/or your family will enjoy, do the following to stay connected:

  1. RSVP for our first ride on April 29th. It’s not required, but helps us plan accordingly.
  2. Sign up for our email list
  3. Follow us on social media. We’re on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Mastodon!
  4. Save the date for our second ride on May 20th 

We can’t wait to ride together! 

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