Pedal Pool, Washington Area Bicyclist Association, Suite A, 1520 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. 265-4317.

At this time of year, when thoughts turn to being outdoors, exercising and finding healthier and more affordable alternatives to using the old chariot to get to work or school, keep Pedal Pool in mind. A service of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), Pedal Pool exists to encourage people to forsake their four wheels for two and join the city's growing legions of bicycle commuters. Drawing on a force of 200 volunteers, Pedal Pool finds veteran commuters who are willing to ride with newcomers on their maiden voyage and help them plot the best and safest routes. To become a Pedal Pooler, call WABA's office and they'll put you in touch with a commuting companion, or stop by and they'll load you down with route maps, encouragement and lots of reasons why you should join their group for only $8 a year ($10 for a family), including member discounts at some area bike shops, a newsletter, some free legal services, access to a lending library of bicycle publications and ratings of bicycle repair shops and helmets, the camaraderie, and a chance to support an organization that's fighting to get better treatment for bicyclists.