What Would You Do in a Disaster?

renee moore bikearlington program manager arlington county
Renée Moore Tweet Us @bikearlington@bikearlington September 23, 2019

Renée Moore is a former Program Manager for BikeArlington.

Facebook Tweet us @BikeArlington

The Disaster Relief Trials showed participants how resourceful they can be with their bikes if a natural disaster strikes.

Last week, I asked my friend what she would do if she had her bike with her if a natural disaster happened. She said, “drop it and run! That, in fact, may be the sentiment of many people you know. 

On September 14BikeArlington and Arlington County Emergency Management hosted the Disaster Relief Trials to help people like my friend learn just how resourceful bikes can be during a natural disaster. 

family crossing rocky stream

What Took Place at the Trials

We started setting up at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. Volunteers and staff from BikeArlingtonWalkArlingtonand Arlington County Emergency Management descended upon Gateway Park and the other five checkpoints to transform Arlington into a simulated disaster space.  

The 63 participants gathered at Gateway Park at 8:30 a.m. They listened intently as they learned where the checkpoints were and what they needed to do at each checkpoint. Then, they planned out their routes on the paper maps that were provided and off they went!  It was cool to see how many different types of bikes participants had to compete in the challenge.   


Checkpoint Activities

There isn’t a pre-determined route, so participants took off in a variety of directions. The first group arrived at Columbia Island 10 minutes from Gateway Park. At that checkpoint, they needed to gather water from the Boundary Channel in containersfilter it, and carry as much water as they could back to the finish line. 

Lidl, a new sponsor, provided 3,456 cans of peaches for the event that participants picked up from Quincy Park Checkpoint and delivered to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC)The Boy Scout troops helped distribute the food at Quincy Park and unload it at AFAC in order to earn their Emergency Preparedness Badge. They also assisted by demonstrating how to apply a life-saving tourniquet to participants and members of the public. 


After dropping off peaches, riders took on simulated pet evacuations. They could choose from carriers of varying sizes with a cute stuffed animal in it to transport with them throughout the remainder of the challenge. 


Perhaps the most laborious checkpoint was Zachary Taylor Park where participants had to cross rough terrain and waterThey also had to listen to a recorded message which they would later transmit and carefully transport Oreo cookies, which represented fragile medicine, and deliver them intact without damaging the cookies.  

DRT 2019

Finally, before crossing the finish line, participants had to go to the Gateway Park sandbox to cross some physical barriers and climb stairs with their bikes loaded with water, fragile medicine and other items. Volunteers could step in to help individuals and teams banded together to get the heavier bikes across the barriers.


At each checkpoint, individuals, teams, and families earned points for completing the critical element such as crossing rough terrain and completing the emergency preparedness challenge such as filtering the water. A trained team of volunteer HAM radio operators reported back to central command at Gateway Park, to let us know when people left the checkpoints. 

The Finish Line closed at 1:00 p.m. The volunteers took some time to count the points then the winners of each category were announced. 

The Finish Festival & Kiddie DRT

As families and teams were returning, the Finish Festival and Kiddie DRT began. Kids were able to participate in their own version of the Disaster Relief Trials. DRT2019

Meanwhile, the participants could visit the Finish Festival and interact with vendors to learn more about how to prepare for emergencies, biking, and organizations in Arlington who support both initiatives. Thank you to all of our vendors for sharing their expertise and knowledge with participants. 

  • Arlington County Department of Parks & Rec
  • Car-Free Diet
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Acme Pie
  • District Taco
  • RoRo’s Mediterranean Food Truck
  • Arlington County Public Health
  • CERT/tourniquet
  • WABA
  • League of American Bicyclists
  • American Red Cross
  • APS Kid with water bottles (Henry Gee)
  • Animal Welfare League
  • Hands 2 Heart
  • Kasper’s Cargos Bicycle Copilots program
  • Kiddie DRT
  • ReadyArlington
  • Spokes

Winners of the 2019 Disaster Relief Trials

Responder I (regular bike)

  • First Place: Carl Wortham
  • Second Place: Rebecca Mann
  • Third Place: Reynolds Wilson

Responder  II (cargo bike)

  • First Place: Robert Fox
  • Second Place: Yamaan Safady
  • Third Place: Erich Schwarz

E-Sponder I (electric-assist bike) </

  • First Place: Igor Scherbakov
  • Second Place: Peter Roof
  • Third Place: Don Tillson

E-Sponder II (electric cargo bike)

  • First Place: Christ Slatt

Team Responder (3 adults on any type of bike)

  • First Place: Kyle Goodwill/PJ Russello/David Nadrchal
  • Second Place: Judd Isbell/Jospehine Liu/Sarah Billington
  • Third Place: Stephen Claeys/Steve Offut/ Robyne McRey

Family Responder (family with 1-2 adults and up to 4 kids on any type of bike)

  • First Place: Sarah Husain/Christopher Smith/ Lena Husain-Smith
  • Second Place: Katherine Hawley/Ellie Pelaez
  • Third Place: Peter Bell/ Evan Bell

Family E-sponder (family with 1-2 adults and up to 4 kids on e-bikes)

  • First Place: Gillian Burgess/Grant Mandsanger family

Thank you to all of the families and teams that participated in the Disaster Relief Trials. We couldn’t have done this without all the volunteers and staff from Arlington County Emergency Management, the Boy Scouts of America Finish Festival partners.

Build Confidence on a Bike

So, what would you do in a natural disaster? Although we don’t teach classes on how to be prepared for an emergency on your bike, we do teach classes on how to feel confident on your bike so when an emergency does happen you can use your bike to rescue you and your family.
adult education bike classes in arlington virginia

Photo Credit: Ben Kristy/Dominion Cycling Photography

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