See How People Learned to Respond to a Disaster by Bike

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Erin Potter Tweet Us @BikeArlington@BikeArlington October 24, 2018

Erin Potter is the former Program Manager for BikeArlington.

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Arlington County’s first Disaster Relief Trial was a success and riders learned just how vital bikes can be in responding to a disaster situation. If you missed the event, enjoy this recap!

During National Preparedness Month, Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management and BikeArlington hosted the region’s first Disaster Relief Trial (DRT). Over 40 riders took part in a simulation designed to teach them how to use bikes for disaster recovery efforts.

As in a real disaster, there wasn’t a lot of information disclosed ahead of time, so participants spent the early part of the morning determining where checkpoints were located, what supplies had to be picked up, and plotting their routes (with a paper map) to each checkpoint. Once they organized their information and routes, the challenge started.

Get a glimpse at the challenges riders’ faced once they hit the course!


Riders Tackled Four Check Point Locations

Zachary Taylor Park

Challenges: Water Crossing and Rough Terrain; Critical Message Relay; Medicine Pick-up

Riders were tasked with crossing water and rough terrain which required most riders to dismount. Riders also picked up medicine—represented by real, raw eggs—that required a delicate touch to transport and received a critical message to take to Central Place Plaza. Staff and volunteers from Spokes, Etc! managed the checkpoint.

Quincy Park

Challenges: Food Pick up Challenge; Fire Extinguisher

At this checkpoint, riders pick up food—simulated by mulch—and put out a virtual fire with assistance from NCI Emergency Management. Members left this checkpoint with some added weight to carry for the rest of the challenge. Members of Team Rubicon organized and hosted this pit stop.

Central Place Plaza

Challenges: Barrier Challenge; Critical Message Delivery

Perhaps one of the better locations for spectating, members of the Bike Rack Racing Team hosted a barrier challenge with plenty of over and under situations for riders to navigate. Riders also had to deliver the critical message picked up from Zachary Taylor Park. Most impressively, they had to get up the Lynn Street stairs!

Arlington Mill Community Center

Challenges: Water Pick Up Challenge; Wound Packing

The water fill-up station ended up being the last stop for most riders, since it added the most weight to carry. Riders brought their own containers for water, and we saw some creative uses of everything from 5-gallon buckets to camping showers. Riders also learned the proper technique for packing a wound. Members of the Team Sticky Fingers and Phoenix Bikes hosted the activities at checkpoint.

Riders were able to choose their own course between checkpoints, leading to a diversity of options and explorations of Arlington’s bike facilities.

The Finish Line

The fun continued at the finish line. Riders checked back in, kids participated in their very own DRT, people learned about preparing for an emergency, and winners were announced!

Weighing the Goods

Riders rolled to the finish line at Thomas Jefferson Community Center, where they had to weigh their water and food, count their medicine, and tally up their points. Bikenetic Racing and volunteers assisted the riders at this final stop of the challenge.

Disaster Preparedness Fair

Folks were able to stop by Thomas Jefferson Community Center and visit a Disaster Preparedness Fair with great partners sharing information about how to be prepared for emergencies when they happen.

Kiddie DRT

Scores Were Tallied and Winners Announced

There were four different categories of competitive racers, and each category was scored separately. Riders received points for completing each checkpoint challenge, one point per pound of food and water, five points for each unit of medicine (eggs, in this case), and a special bonus for visiting all checkpoints.

Congratulations to the winners:

Team Categories

Family Category

Individual Category

Events like these, especially new ones, can’t happen without an army of people. So, THANK YOU to all of the volunteers and partners who supported and helped with the Disaster Relief Trials!

If you missed this event, there are more opportunities for you to ride along with us this fall.

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