Blue bikes, pink bikes, tricycles and trailers far outnumbered the cars along the rolling hills in neighborhoods near Wolftrap Elementary School on Wednesday morning.
The 80 students and their families who showed up to ride in the school's largest bike train to date were some of the thousands across the country expected to participate in the inaugural National Bike to School Day, a celebration that aims to create more excitement about using two wheels to get to school.
The national event is organized by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which sponsors International Walk to School Day each October, and the League of American Bicyclists, which plans programming in May for Biking Month, including Bike to Work Day on May 18.
More than 700 events were planned in 49 states and Washington D.C. on Wednesday. Virginia was among the states with the most participation with 26 schools or groups planning events across the state.
Six of those schools were in Vienna.
At Marshall Road Elementary School, more than 50 students parked their bikes outside the school. At Vienna Elementary, which holds weekly "Walking Wednesdays" for its students, more than 30 children rode two-wheelers to class and another five rode scooters, said Safe Routes to School coordinator Sean McCall -- nearly 8 percent of the student population.
The amount of participation in town has grown significantly in the past three years. When Wolftrap parent Jeff Anderson started "Wolfie's Bike Train," named for the school's mascott, in 2009, the school had no bike racks.
Children in Fairfax County Public Schools weren't allowed to bike to or from class, Principal Anita Blain said, unless administrators made a site-specific decision.
Blain did, and Wolftrap Elementary forged ahead with the bike train, running one monthly at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.
What was once an event that attracted a few handfuls of kids -- and as few as four in freezing weather -- is now a tradition that's become part of many families routines, Anderson said. The school has four permanent bike racks, and could probably fill more on days like Wednesday, he said.
This year, the school board voted to amend its policy to include biking and walking as a means of school transportation.
That kind of momentum prompted Anderson to team up with McCall and others for the Vienna Bike/Walk Challenge, held each year in the week leading up to Bike to Work week. Schools count the number of walkers, bike riders and scooter-ists every day for a week. There three categories; winners receive trophies.
Wolftrap, Vienna and Cunningham Park Elementary Schools have done the challenge since 2009; this year, Louise Archer and Marshall Road Elementary School will join as well. It runs May 14 to 18. Check Vienna Patch next week for daily tallies and the winners.
For a video from this morning's event at Wolftrap Elementary, and photos from other schools, click through the media player above.