As bike riding, bike commuting and bike sharing are growing quickly in the DC area, somebody noticed that some kids in the city were getting left behind. In wards “with high concentrations of low-income families,” officials noticed that “less access to bicycles, fewer bike lanes and no bike shops means that fewer children there are learning how to ride.” (I’ll add to that list the fact that there are relatively fewer safe places to ride as compared to the suburbs.) As a result, a surprisingly high number of kids in the city did not know how to ride, especially in schools serving the poorest neighborhoods.
With help from the District Department of Transportation and private donations, the school system purchased 1,000 bikes that it is loaning out on a rotating basis to each of the DC public elementary schools for use in a four-week training unit.
I have seen the kids out learning at parks around town and on the National Mall. The sentiments expressed by the kids in this article express the feelings of my own DCPS first grader on Capitol Hill- she has the (unsubstantiated) notion that all of the other kids know how to ride a bike except for her. We’re so glad that DCPS is making sure that none of the students grow up feeling that way for long. This is a fantastic program to equip students, no matter their neighborhood or background, with the tools for a healthy lifestyle and lifelong eco-friendly, urban-friendly fitness habits!