Walk and Bike to School Day at Oakridge Elementary School
Every October, children across the nation celebrate people powered transportation by walking or biking to school. We know that for some children, this is how they get to and from school every day. But for many, it's a chance to experience something new that's safe, fun and healthy! This year, in collaboration with WalkArlington and the Arlington Public Schools (APS), we highlighted Oakridge Elementary School to recognize their commitment to encouraging students to walk or bike to school.
We at BikeArlington lead a bike train of about 25 students from the Historical Hume School to the school grounds. The bike train had the support of the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) to stop traffic to allow the anxious and giddy kids to cross the street on S. Arlington Ridge Rd. to then proudly take the lane and continue our brisk half mile ride down the street.
Fans, families and friends littered the sidewalks and gave congratulatory smiles and waves as we breezed past them. The ACPD also made sure to stop cars from entering the roadway while the bike train was in action to ensure a smooth and safe bike ride to school. Hundreds of children arrived to school on two feet, two wheels and even on three wheels (scooters)! All of the students gathered at the back of the school for an outdoor Health Pep Rally with special guests including Ultra Marathoner and local Arlingtonian Mike Wardian. The students followed Mike in a warm-up where they jumped around and pretended to swim laps. The rally ended with a choreographed dance lead by the Physical Education Teacher, Katie Doh. The students filed back into school with giant smiles on their faces, ready to face the day after a fun and active morning!
If you haven't realized it yet, Walk and Bike to School Day is a fun event for kids. The beauty of it is the first class treatment the highlighted school gets with support and cooperation from ACPD, extra temporary bike racks, free goodies from WalkArlington, BikeArlington, and Clif Bar, and an outdoor pep rally with local celebrities. We realize that the kids who bike to school everyday don't get special treatment everyday. It is possible to cross the street without help from the ACPD, however their support and assistance was greatly appreciated. It is possible for kids to lock their bikes up outside the school, however the permanent bike racks were not enough for the 50+ kids who biked to school. It is also possible to walk and bike to school without an outdoor assembly with guest speakers, however getting children outdoors and excited about exercise is beneficial to their health.
So what's the point? The point I'm trying to make is that the streets should be safe enough for parents to feel comfortable letting their kids bike to school. The school should provide plenty of bike racks so the students don't have to worry about their bikes being stolen. And finally, an outdoor assembly is fun and engaging, but the fact is, biking and walking to school not only gets the children active and moving, but it gets them to spend time outdoors.
A little girl, no more then 7 years old, came up to me after she locked up her bike and said "This was fun! I wish I could do this every day!" Kids want to ride their bikes and walk to school. We should foster their ability to do so by driving safe and being a PAL, by providing the facilities they need (like bike racks) and finally by supporting their decision to do so with organized bike trains, walking school buses and general education and encouragement.
For more photos of the event, check out our Facebook page!
Zanna is the Events and Outreach Coordinator for BikeArlington. She wishes there was a Walk and Bike to School Day when she was a kid.
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