Let’s get together for our first tour of the year!
I’ll be handing out swag items to everyone that attends (and RSVPs for) the tour! A raffle item will be raffled off at the end of our ride. New riders, come join us for the first time! Riders from previous Meetups (Adolphus, Aian Neil, Anibal, Ben, Bob, Brandon, Chris, Connor, Dave, Declan, Edwin, Erwin, Gary, Geoff, Greg, Haitao, Heather, James, Jason, Jeff, Jeremy, Jessica, Joe, John, Jonathan, Kevin, Kris, Lam, LeRoy, Loren, Lutalo, Mark, Megan, Melissa, Michael, Nick, Phil, Rakesh, Raul, Richard, Riley, Rob, Robert, Rodney, Shelly, Steven, and Zoltan), come join us again!
Don’t own an ewheel? You can rent one (escooter, ebike) using your Uber or Lyft app. Rental cost may add up, but since the tours are free, the cost to you is significantly less than a comparable Segway tour (that uses older technology)!
We’ll tour the Dupont, U Street, Columbia Heights, Shaw, & Downtown neighborhoods and stop numerous times along the way to enjoy the sites, memorials, neighborhoods, landmarks, and to also let some of the slower riders catch up (if some of us decide to go at a quicker speed). Note that this route contains 90% bike lanes. I’ll read aloud the description of each site, memorial, neighborhood, and landmark along the way so that we all know what we’re looking at, and so that we can also learn more about these awesome treasures that exist in our own backyard! Ideally, we will all ride together and at the same speed, but that may or may not be possible with other pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, etc. sharing the same paths, but let’s do our best please. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic (see the “COVID-19” section for full details), everyone will be required to wear a face mask and to stay 6 feet apart. In total, it’s a ~7 mile trip that’s sure to be enjoyable!
We’ll meet up in the center of Washington Circle at 2pm. Then we’ll ride northeast along New Hampshire Ave NW for ~1.5 miles, at 2:30pm. Once we come across W Street NW, we’ll make a right and ride for ~0.1 miles.
Along the way, we’ll come across Sonny Bono Park (intersection of 20th Street NW, left hand side). Sonny Bono Memorial Park is a park named for Sonny Bono. The park was established in 1998, after Sonny Bono’s death, by Bono family friend Geary Simon, a local real estate developer. He approached the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation’s Park Partners program and paid to revitalize an unused 800-square-foot triangle of grass on a traffic island. “It was an abandoned, rat-infested, overgrown traffic triangle. It was horrible,” Simon says. He immediately went to work reviving the park, eventually pouring nearly $50,000 of his own money into it, he says. He installed a new sprinkler system, underground lights, stone benches, authentic Kentucky bluegrass, and a tree from Bono’s congressional district in Southern California. He also added a small, bronze, manhole-shaped plaque that read, “In Memory of My Friend Sonny Bono 1935-1998,” with the words “Entertainer, Entrepreneur, Statesman, Friend” circling the inscription. Under the plaque, Simon hid a vault, or time capsule, containing a mug from Bono’s restaurant, sheet music from the Sonny and Cher hit “The Beat Goes On,” and a pair of Congressional cufflinks that Bono had given Simon on his birthday.
After another block, we’ll come across Dupont Circle. The traffic circle is divided between two counterclockwise roads. The outer road serves all the intersecting streets, while access to the inner road is limited to through traffic on Massachusetts Avenue. The park within the circle is maintained by the National Park Service. The central fountain provides seating, and long, curved benches around the central area were installed in 1964. The upper basin of the fountain is adorned with three allegorical figures, the Arts of Ocean Navigation. The figures represent the Sea, the Stars, and the Wind. The Sea is represented by a female figure with long hair holding a boat in her right hand while caressing a seagull on her shoulder with her left hand. Her left foot rests on a dolphin. The Stars is a nude female figure with long hair holding a globe in her left hand and is faced downward. The Wind is a nude male figure draped with a ship sail. He is holding a conch shell with his left hand to use as a horn and is facing right. The water pours over the upper basin into a large lower basin. The park within the circle is a gathering place for those wishing to play chess on the permanent stone chessboards. Tom Murphy, a homeless championship chess player, is a resident. The park has also been the location of political rallies, such as those supporting gay rights and those protesting the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
After another 2 blocks, we’ll come across the Perry Belmont House (intersection of Corcoran Street NW, left hand side). The Perry Belmont House is the world headquarters of the General Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, one of several organizations affiliated with Freemasonry, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 8, 1973. Built in 1909 for the eponymous millionaire congressman from New York. The mansion was constructed for a cool $500,000 (more than $12 million in 2016 dollars). As far as private residences go, the house is enormous. The three story limestone facade occupies an entire (triangular) city block and sits atop an equally sized basement and subbasement, complete with an underground squash court. When it was built, reporters said that it made the White House look tiny. The residence’s primary function was for entertaining and the Belmonts only lived there during the winter, which was considered Washington’s “social season.” The Belmont’s relatively small living quarters on the first floor were dwarfed by the 25-foot second floor that housed dining rooms and ballrooms.
Five blocks later, we’ll come across Northumberland Apartments (intersection of U Street NW, right hand side). The Northumberland Apartments is a historic apartment building in the U Street Corridor. The Classical Revival building was constructed in 1909-10 by local real estate developer Harry Wardman and Albert H. Beers. In 1980, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Northumberland Apartments occupies a significant lot. The irregular shape of the lot, created by the intersection of a major diagonal avenue and the grid of L’Enfant’s 1791 plan for the Federal City, dictated the shape of the building. Its design and conception were French in origin, illustrating Beers’ familiarity with the current fashion in apartment design. The quality of construction, materials, and craftsmanship found in the building is exceptionally high. The Northumberland stands in its original state; this unaltered condition contributes significantly to the building’s importance. The Northumberland is perhaps the only such example of an early-twentieth century luxury apartment building left intact in Washington.
After another block, we’ll turn right on W Street NW and head east for 2 blocks (~0.1 miles). We’ll then turn left on 14th Street NW and travel north for ~1.2 miles.
Along the way we’ll come across Columbia Heights Civic Plaza (intersection of Girard Street NW, right hand side, ~12 blocks). The Columbia Heights Civic Plaza is a hub of community activity that includes a farmer’s market, holiday tree lighting and children’s theater. Its outdoor café seating and benches ensure it is a vibrant gathering space in the neighborhood. This vibrant market remains loyal to its mantra of local, healthy, and sustainable. On Saturdays from 9am to 1pm (May-December), as many as 20 different vendors offer typical farmers’ market fare here. Cooking demos by local chefs as well as live music and dance also take place here.
When we reach Spring Road NW, we’ll turn right and travel southeast for 4 blocks (~0.2 miles). We’ll then make a right on 11th Street NW and travel south for ~1.2 miles.
When we arrive at W Street NW, we’ll turn left and travel east 3 blocks. At Florida Avenue NW, we’ll turn right and travel south 1 block.
After 1 block, we’ll arrive at 9:30 Club. The 9:30 Club is a nightclub and concert venue. In 2018 the 9:30 Club was named one of the 10 best live music venues in America by Rolling Stone, and in 2019 the club was named “Venue of the Decade” by VenuesNow. The club was originally housed in the ground floor rear room of the Atlantic Building at 930 F Street NW, in the city’s downtown area, where it opened on May 31, 1980, with a legal standing capacity of only 199 patrons. In 1996, due to its increasing prominence, the club was moved to a roomier space, its current location where it anchors the eastern end of the U Street Corridor. The 9:30 Club’s name was derived from its original street address, which was also the reason to set the venue’s original opening time of 9:30 p.m. As a special feature, the club has a wheeled stage mounted on rails, which can be moved back and forth as needed. This way, the place can feel as packed with 500 people in attendance as it would during a sold-out, full capacity show. Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump once said of the 9:30, “it’s got so much character, you wonder if the locals know how lucky they are.”
From the 9:30 Club, Florida Avenue NW will turn into 9th Street NW, where we’ll ride south for ~1.1 miles.
Along the way, we’ll come across the American Federation of Labor Building (intersection of L Street NW, right hand side, 17 blocks). The American Federation of Labor Building is a seven-story brick and limestone building. Completed in 1916, it served as the headquarters of the American Federation of Labor until 1955, when it merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations to form the AFL-CIO. It remained a trade union headquarters until 2005, when it was sold. The building exterior, the only historical element remaining of the building, forms a corner portion of the massive Washington Marriott Marquis hotel, which serves as the main hotel for the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, which is located across the street. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974. It housed the American Federation of Labor for 40 years.
After another 1/2 block, we’ll come across the Carnegie Library (intersection of Mt. Vernon Place NW, left hand side). The Carnegie Library, now known as the Apple Carnegie Library, is situated in Mount Vernon Square. Donated to the public by entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie, it was dedicated on January 7, 1903. It was the first Carnegie library in Washington, D.C. and D.C.’s first desegregated public building. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as “Central Public Library”, in 1969. It was used as the central public library for Washington, D.C. for almost 70 years before it became overcrowded. The central library was then moved to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The building was renamed the Apple Carnegie Library, and the Apple Store within opened on May 11, 2019. Apple hosts free daily sessions focused on photography, filmmaking, music creation, coding, design and more. The building also now houses the DC History Center on the second floor, and the Carnegie Gallery (featuring historic photographs and documents about the origins and history of the building) in the basement.
After another 1/2 block, we’ll turn right on New York Avenue NW and travel southwest. We’ll ride another 2 blocks, make a right on I (Eye) Street NW, and ride west for ~1 mile.
Next we’ll come across McPherson Square (intersection of 15th Street NW, right hand side, 5 blocks). McPherson Square is a square named after James B. McPherson, a major general who fought in the Union Army during the American Civil War before he was killed at the Battle of Atlanta. The Society of the Army of the Tennessee dedicated an equestrian statue of McPherson here on October 18, 1876. The sculpture represents McPherson surveying a battlefield. Located in the central downtown commercial and business district, the square is frequented by area workers and street vendors, and restaurant-goers and the homeless at night. Owing to its proximity to the White House, it is also the site of political rallies and falls on the path of various protest marches. On October 1, 2011, Occupy D.C. encamped in McPherson Square. On February 4, 2012, United States Park Police officers, citing no-camping statutes, evicted the occupiers.
After another 2 blocks, we’ll come across Farragut Square (intersection of 17th Street NW, right hand side). Farragut Square is a hub of downtown DC, at the center of a bustling daytime commercial and business district. Sometimes events are scheduled for the lunchtime crowds, such as the free Farragut Fridays series, held from July through September, which features outdoor work and relaxation spaces, among other attractions. The park is the scene of popular DC pastimes like outdoor movies and yoga in the park. It also serves as a popular site for food trucks, leafleting, TV camera opinion polls, and for commercial promotions and political activity such as canvassing and demonstrations. In the center of the square is a statue of David G. Farragut, famous for rallying his fleet with the cry, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” during the American Civil War. He was the “First Admiral in the Navy” who first saw combat during the War of 1812 at the age of 9. Although Farragut and his wife were Southerners, they remained loyal to the United States during the Civil War. The statue was the first monument erected in DC in honor of a naval war hero. Farragut is depicted in his military uniform and standing on the deck of his ship, facing south towards the White House. His right knee is bent as his right foot rests on a capstan. He is holding a telescope with both hands. Inside the base is a box containing documents related to Farragut’s career, a history of the sculpture, a copy of the Army and Navy Register, and a bronze model of the propeller used to cast the statue and mortars.
When we arrive at Pennsylvania Avenue NW (right hand side, 4 blocks), we’ll turn right and ride a final 2 blocks back to Washington Circle, our starting point.
Come join us as we spend an afternoon together exploring the sites, memorials, and landmarks Dupont, U Street, Columbia Heights, Shaw, & downtown DC have to offer! Please also help spread the word of our group and the ride!
I look forward to seeing you there!
Due to the current state of the pandemic (as of the announcement of this event), everyone will be required to wear a face mask and to maintain 6 feet of distance between everyone else. This is the group’s requirement for attending the event and it also meets DC’s Phase 2 Order https://bit.ly/2WeNTTQ . (The Phase 2 Order also places a 25-person cap on outdoor gatherings.) If you do not agree with these requirements, you will be disallowed from joining us. Ordinarily, for those riders with short-range ewheels, we would typically plan a charging stop halfway through the ride if needed, but for the safety of everyone, unfortunately we’ll not be doing so.
Due to DC’s COVID-19 Phase 2 Order placing a 25-person cap on outdoor activities (see COVID-19 section of the event posting for full details), please RSVP only if you have good intentions of attending. If you need to unRSVP, do so as soon as you are aware of the change. Please don’t wait until the final 24 hours before the event to do so. Otherwise, you may be unfairly taking a spot away from someone else who would have planned to attend.
METRO & PARKING
We’ll meet at Washington Circle. The closest Metro is Foggy Bottom (Orange, Blue, Silver lines). I recommend using wmata.com for travel planning. Don’t forget to account for Metro, traffic, and parking delays. If you are driving, you will need to find street parking or a garage. I recommend using parkopedia.com for garage parking planning.
Please dress appropriately for the weather. For those with problems having their feet go numb or tired during long rides, I recommend wearing shoes with a stiff and flat sole.
RIDING ETIQUETTE / RULES
Since e-wheels are relatively new technology, please be as courteous as possible to other pedestrians, bicyclists, etc. Based on personal experience (I’ve been riding daily since 2015), I’ve noticed some general good practices and rules to follow. 1) ALWAYS give pedestrians the right of way. 2) When riding on a narrow sidewalk, and you’re coming up behind a pedestrian and you need to pass them, either a) wait until there’s an opening, or b) clear your throat and say “excuse me” or “on your left” in a *gentle* manner (I’ve noticed people tend to get startled / surprised when they see and hear a tall figure behind them on a wheel) before passing them. 3) SLOW DOWN to a pedestrian’s walking pace (until you are completely clear of them) whenever approaching or passing (whichever direction they are walking). Only after passing a pedestrian for a little distance is it a good idea to go faster than walking pace. Whatever you do, please do NOT wiz by them. 4) Thank the pedestrian as you are passing. 5) Slow down as you are going around a turn (whether there are other pedestrians in sight or not) with a lot of bushes or other obstacles next to the sidewalk, as they can be coming from the other end of the turn (and not be visible initially). 6) Ride single file whenever pedestrians are around (on the sidewalk), or cars are around (in the bike lane) 7) Dismount when in the official memorial areas, such as the FDR Memorial (it’s the law) 8) Please stay behind me since I know the route and may be turning left or right at any time
For the safety of others and ourselves, we will all be required to be able to perform all of the following: (1) comfortably balance on the wheel while riding straight and turning left or right (2) ride at a snail’s pace and (3) start and stop comfortably without the need to hold onto any wall, post, or similar structure.
People have asked me questions regarding the laws pertaining to riding our e-wheels in the DC metro area. I did a lot of research before purchasing my e-wheel to ensure I could make use of it. In short, they are considered Personal Mobility Devices or Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device. (1) Virginia: “An electric personal assistive mobility device or motorized skateboard or foot-scooter may be operated on any highway with a maximum speed limit of twenty-five miles per hour or less. An electric personal assistive mobility device shall only operate on any highway authorized by this section if a sidewalk is not provided along such highway…” See link here. (2) Washington DC: “Personal Mobility Device (“PMD”) means a motorized propulsion device designed to transport one person, OR a self-balancing, two non-tandem wheeled device, designed to transport only one person with an electric propulsion system. Permitted on Sidewalk – Yes, except PMDs are generally not permitted on sidewalk space in the Central Business District. Permitted on Bike Lanes – Yes.” See link here. (3) Maryland: “‘Electric personal assistive mobility device’ or ‘EPAMD’ means a pedestrian device that: (1) has two nontandem wheels; (2) is self-balancing; (3) is powered by an electric propulsion system; (4) has a maximum speed capability of 15 miles per hour; and (5) is designed to transport one person” and “At an intersection, a person using an EPAMD is subject to all traffic control signals, as provided in §§ 21-202 and 21-203 of this title. However, at any other place, a person using an EPAMD has the rights and is subject to the restrictions applicable to pedestrians under this title.” De jure, the law applies to devices with 2 wheels, as the law was written when only Segways existed and electric unicycles, et al. did not. De facto, for practical purposes, and based on our members’ interaction with law enforcement officers thusfar, our devices have been treated as being covered under this statute (they are explicitly covered under DC and Virginia law). See link here and here. “Green” devices for the win!
If there’s a greater than a 35% chance of rain, we’ll cancel or reschedule. I’ll post an update to the top of the event posting by 11:30am on the day of the event, and also send an email out to the yes RSVPs.