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Video: Students Ride for National Bike to School Day

Vienna elementary schools among those participating in inaugural event nationwide

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 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 more than 50 students parked their bikes outside the school. At , which holds weekly 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.

and and s also planned activities for the day.

The amount of participation in town has grown significantly in the past three years. When Wolftrap parent Jeff Anderson started 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 , held each year in the week leading up to 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 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.

J J Madden May 11, 2012 at 01:50 PM
BTW - Wolftrap Elementary went the extra mile for safety by holding a pedestrian and bicycle rules-of-the-road training event for kids at the school last Sunday morning. See the story here: http://lastgenerationbc.com/2012/05/bike-rodeo-rustles-up-kid-safety/
J Anderson May 11, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Ok...this is my last comment. Kids are kids and riding as you describe is what kids do.....no hands, feet off the pedals, riding off curbs, popping wheelies, etc etc. I did it, my parents did it and my kids will likely do it and so on. That can't be patrolled nor should it. What's next - climbing trees? I understand safety as much as anyone - and tragedies happen as the one in Vienna last year - but at what cost do we squash kids being kids. I think we are getting into area that is not worth commenting on much anymore......because it's emotional. Life is good!
Craig K. Hassler May 14, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Thanks for all your work in making this happen. Crazy how times have changed. When I was a 5th grader in 1975 at Lewis Carrol Elementary School in Merritt Island, FL there was a large grassy area where all the kids who bicycled to school parked parked our bikes. Now, driving by any school in Carteret County, NC there are traffic jams of autos driven by parents and students. No wonder NC is considering offshore drilling. Too bad we can't use more paths that aren't impervious cement or asphalt...may even be less expensive to use other renewable materials like wood chips...we certainly have lots of those piling up at the State Port in Morehead City thanks to Weyerhauser Corporation and their $1,000 and $2,000 donations to Pat McElraft and Jean Preston our NC state house and senate representatives.
Amelie Krikorian May 14, 2012 at 10:27 AM
Louise Archer is having a bike to school event this week. Safety talks? Zero. Parents involved in guiding groups? None that I am aware of. Police involvement to get the kids across Lawyers or down the feeder streets like Lewis that are almost too narrow for two cars to pass and have no sidewalks? None that I have heard of. Even in a small town like this, the approaches to an event like this can vary enormously. I have a friend whose son will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life thanks to a biking accident, so this makes me extra concerned about safety for kids while biking. And while it's true in many areas we have gone off the deep end with regards to protecting our kids -- getting rid of see saws, merry go rounds, and metal slides in playgrounds, for example -- I don't think that providing bicycle safety training (not at Wolftrap, where you seem to have it covered) is going overboard.
Amelie Krikorian May 14, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Louise Archer has now contacted the FCPD regarding the safety issue and they have said their patrols on Lawyers and Abbotsford will increase.

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