It’s time to speed into spring! The month of May is here and with that is National Bike Month. The Washington, D.C. area offers many great places to mount your bike and see the sites. From Bike to School Day on May 10th and the D.C. Bike Ride on May 14th, read on to find out more about how to see the city from a new perspective.
“We’ve got a great trail network in the D.C. area that makes for great riding,” says Jeff Wetzel, Family & Youth Education Coordinator at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). “Mt. Vernon has a great trail and the Anacostia River Trail is a gorgeous and protected place that is easy to ride. You can go from the Nationals Ball Park through Anacostia to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and you have no idea you’re in a city.”
Wetzel urges parents to get their kids on bikes for many reasons. “It helps kids develop healthy habits that will stay with them when they become adults. There are also the environmental benefits. Climate change is a thing and there are zero emissions when riding a bike,” says Wetzel.
Get the whole family in on the fun on May 10 for Bike to School Day. Check to see if your school is doing anything to celebrate the day. If not, grab your helmet and bike anyway!
“I know one family who takes two kids to school on the back of a bike and that two-mile trip is faster for them than in a car,” Wetzel says. “The chaos around pick-up and drop-off at a school can take five or 10 minutes and they just don’t have that problem on the bike.”
Another bonus to riding a bike to and from school? “It’s easier to interact with the people around you, too,” says Wetzel. “You’re not ensconced in the car so even as they are leaving the kids are able to interact with the world around them.”
Save May 14 as a date to hit the bikes with the annual D.C. Bike Ride (DCBR). DCBR is a scenic urban bike ride that spans nearly 20 miles of road on the streets of the city. Registration is free for children under eight and $60 for all other riders. Spend the day downtown seeing the city in a way you never have before. The event has entertainment stations along the way to keep your spirits high and hydration and aid stations to keep you at peak performance. Celebrate at the end with the Finish Festival! You can learn more about the event at dcbikeride.com.
Another great way to celebrate bike month is by renting bikes and seeing the sites. While Capital Bikeshare is an option, Wetzel reminds riders that they have a minimum age requirement. “It is also good to know that helmets are required if the rider is under 16 years of age,” he says. “There are places in the area that will rent bikes for the full day and will rent to kids, and some will even have trailers or ways to put younger children on the bike with the parent.”
In the end, Wetzel has just one thing to say about bike riding with kids. “Have you ever seen a sad kid on a bike? It is something that gives them a sense of independence and freedom and it just helps build their self-confidence.”
Here are resources to get your ride on: