UPDATE #2: The Coronavirus pandemic is currently showing no signs of abating. As such, for everyone’s safety, I’ve rescheduled the ride for Sun. July 12th. Let’s hope we’re in a better place by then. If not, as we get closer to the event date (week of the ride), I’ll take another pulse of where we’re at with the pandemic, make an appropriate decision re: event status, and post another update accordingly.
UPDATE #1: The Coronavirus pandemic has taken on an exponential life of its own since I first announced this event a couple of weeks ago. Current CDC guidelines state to stay 6 feet apart from on another, and congregate in groups no larger than 10 (all of our rides for the past year have had fewer than that). Our ride is currently 5 weeks away. As we get closer to the event date (week of the ride), I’ll take a pulse of where we’re at with the pandemic, make an appropriate decision re: event status, and post another update accordingly.
Now that the weather is warming up, let’s get together for our first ride of the year!
New riders, come join us for the first time! Don’t have an ewheel? You can rent an e-scooter using your Lyft or Uber app! Riders from previous Meetups (Adolphus, Aian Neil, Anibal, Ben, Bob, Brandon, Chris, Connor, Dave, Declan, Edwin, Erwin, Geoff, Haitao, Heather, James, 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, and Steven), come join us again!
We’ll ride the Midtown, Mt. Vernon, Shaw, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, & Dupont 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. In total, it’s an ~8 mile trip that’s sure to be enjoyable!
We’ll meet up at Washington Circle at 2pm. Then we’ll ride northwest on New Hampshire Ave NW for ~500 feet, at 2:30pm. Once we come across L Street NW, we’ll make a right and ride east for ~1 mile.
When we arrive at 11th Street NW, we’ll make a left. We’ll then travel north ~150 feet, and turn right back onto L Street NW.
We’ll now be at Samuel Gompers Memorial, a bronze statue listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The statue is in memory of Samuel Gompers, an English-born American cigar maker, labor union leader and a key figure in American labor history. He was the founder and first president of the American Federation of Labor. Dedicated in 1933, the bronze seated portrait of Gompers is placed on a pedestal in front of a large granite plinth supporting six allegorical male and female figures representing aspects of the American labor movement: Justice, Unity and Cooperation of the Labor Movement, the Protection of the Home, and the Overthrow of Industrial Exploitation by Education.
Next, we’ll travel east ~1 mile on L Street NW. Once we arrive at 5th Street NW, we’ll turn left and travel north ~0.5 miles.
Once we arrive at R Street NW, we’ll make a left and travel west for ~1 mile.
When we arrive at 15th Street NW, we’ll make a right and travel north for ~0.5 miles.
Along the way, we’ll come across Meridian Hill Park (intersection of W Street NW).
Meridian Hill Park is a structured urban park located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. In 1819, John Porter erected a mansion on Meridian Hill. The site was called Meridian Hill because it is on the exact longitude of the original District of Columbia milestone marker, placed in 1791. In 1829, the mansion became departing President John Quincy Adams’ home. After its conversion to a public park, Union troops encamped on the grounds during the Civil War. The U.S. government purchased the grounds in 1910. Landscape architects George Burnap and Horace Peaslee planned an Italian style garden. The thirteen basin cascading fountain is the longest in North America. To some local residents, the park is known as “Malcolm X Park.” There are 3 sculptures we’ll get to visit within this park; the James Buchanan Memorial, Dante Statue, and the Serenity Sculpture.
The James Buchanan Memorial within Meridian Hill Park is a bronze and granite memorial. James Buchanan served as President from 1857-1861. The controversy over erecting a memorial statue for James Buchanan in Meridian Hill Park began immediately. For 15 years Congress debated or ignored voting about the statue. At issue was the question of Buchanan’s loyalty to the Union during his presidency, which immediately preceded Lincoln’s. Commissioned in 1916, but not completed and unveiled until 1930, the memorial features a statue of Buchanan bookended by male and female classical figures representing law and diplomacy, engraved with text from a member of Buchanan’s cabinet, Jeremiah S. Black: “The incorruptible statesman whose walk was upon the mountain ranges of the law.”
The next statue within Meridian Memorial Park we’ll come across is the Dante Statue. The monument is a tribute to Italian poet Dante Alighieri. Dante is a casting of a statue located at Dante Park in New York City. The founder of Dante Park and editor of Il Progresso Italiano-Americano, Carlo Barsotti, donated the replica in 1921 as a tribute to Italian Americans. The statue depicts Dante standing wearing a robe and a laurel wreath upon his head. At his proper right side he holds a copy of The Divine Comedy in his hands. The proper right side of the bronze is signed by Ximenes and the rear of the figure is stamped with the founders mark for Roman Bronze Works. The front of the base features the inscription: Dante. And on the back of the base is inscribed: Dante Aligheiri presented to the city of Washington in behalf of the Italians in the United States by Comm Carlo Barsotti.
Lastly, we’ll come across the Joan of Arc Memorial within Meridian Hill Park. Joan of Arc is an equestrian statue, with Joan of Arc riding a trotting horse. It is the only equestrian statue of a woman in DC. Her body is twisted slightly, and her right arm is raised behind her. She is wearing a helmet with a raised visor and she looks skywards. In her left hand she holds the reins to her horse. The sword she originally held in her right hand was stolen in 1978, and not replaced until December 2011. The piece was first proposed in May 1916 by Mme Polifème to the Commission of Fine Arts in order to celebrate the friendship between France and the United States. The statue was completed in 1922 in Paris; the original was cast in three copies, currently located respectively in Reims (1890), Paris (1895) and Strasbourg (1897). The replica in Washington was donated by Le Lyceum Société des Femmes de France to the women of the United States of America.
From here, we’ll continue north on 15th Street NW. When we reach Columbia Road NW, we’ll turn left and travel southwest for ~1 mile.
Next, we’ll come across Kalorama Park (intersection of Belmont Road NW), 3-acre park featuring a recreational center, community garden, playground, basketball courts & green space in an urban setting. The name Kalorama, meaning ‘beautiful view’ in Greek, comes from the 19th century estate of the same name.
We’ll continue on Columbia Road NW for 1 block and then turn left onto 19th Street NW. We’ll travel south for ~0.5 miles.
When we reach Q Street NW, we’ll turn left and travel east for ~1 mile.
Along the way, we’ll come across the Watermelon House (intersection of 12th Street NW). A bright, cheerful mural of a watermelon adorns the side of this row house, a popular photo-op site. The story behind the Watermelon House sounds too good to be true, but who knows? Supposedly the owners hired someone to paint the house red, but instead got a color closer to pink. Turning Pepto-Bismol into lemonade, the owners added some black “seeds” and a green “rind” and turned their pink house into the Watermelon House. As of 2018, the Watermelon House has an updated paint job, which includes some kiwi slices on a smaller wall toward the back of the property.
We’ll travel another block and when we reach 11th Street NW, we’ll come across Shaw Skate Park, an outdoor concrete skateboard park plus basketball courts. Open year-round daily from dusk to dawn, this 11,000 sq. ft. concrete park was renovated by the Department of Parks and Recreation in 2011. It’s famous for its precast concrete ramps, stairs, grind boxes and half-pipes. The vibe is chill and the people are friendly, according to a Palace 5ive skate shop employee. It is free to skateboard, but since it is an unsupervised site users are warned to skate at their own risk. The city recommends that all skaters use safety equipment.
From here, we’ll travel south on 11th Street NW for ~0.5 miles.
When we reach M Street NW, we’ll turn right and travel 3 blocks.
Along the way, we’ll come across Thomas Circle. Thomas Circle is named for George Henry Thomas, a Union Army general in the American Civil War. In October 2006, the D.C. Department of Transportation completed a 2.5-year, $6 million reconstruction of the Thomas Circle. The project included the addition of bike lanes, pedestrian crosswalks mid-circle (which hadn’t previously existed), new in-circle traffic lights, better street lighting, and new sidewalks and landscaping. The biggest change, however, came with the elimination of the 14th Street through-lanes. The circle was restored to its original design according to the L’Enfant Plan, which allowed for a larger landscaped area inside the circle. The rehabilitation of Thomas Circle won an Honorable Mention in the “Historic Preservation” category of the Federal Highway Administration’s Excellence in Highway Design awards for 2006.
We’ll continue west on M Street NW for ~0.5 miles, where we’ll come upon the Nuns of the Battlefield Civil War Nurses Monument (intersection of Connecticut Ave NW, a public artwork made in 1924. A tribute to the more than 600 nuns who nursed soldiers of both armies during the American Civil War, it is one of two monuments in the District that mark women’s roles in the conflict. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The face of the sculpture has a large bronze bas relief panel showing 12 nuns dressed in traditional habit. Each end of the granite slab has a bronze female figure seated. The proper right-side figure has wings, a helmet, robes, and armor to look like an angel, representing patriotism. Sitting, she holds a shield in her proper left hand and a scroll in her lap with her proper right hand. She is weaponless, to represent peace. On the proper left side of the slab, another winged figure sits wearing a long dress, a bodice, and a scarf around her head to represent the angel of Peace. Her hands are folded on her lap.
We’ll continue west on M Street NW for another ~0.25 miles. When we reach New Hampshire Ave NW, we’ll turn left and travel southwest for 2 block and return to our starting point.
Come join us as we spend an afternoon together exploring the sites, memorials, and landmarks Midtown, Mt. Vernon, Shaw, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, & Dupont have to offer! Please also help spread the word of our group and the ride!
I look forward to seeing you there!
METRO & PARKING
We’ll meet at Washington Circle. The closest Metro is Foggy Bottom (Orange, Blue, Silver lines). I suggest taking Metro / taxi / ride-share services if you can. I also 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)
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.