4.28.2010

Let's Move! and the notion of making Mountain Biking in Rock Creek Park Legal!

Let's Move!
and the notion of making Mountain Biking in Rock Creek Park Legal!


this morning I spent a little time with my older son Dean's third grade class

I had been invited by their teacher Mrs. Ramsey to come speak with the kids about the idea of petitioning to have the hiking and horse trails of Rock Creek Park opened to bicycles
currently the natural surface trails of Rock Creek Park are marked NO BIKES

it was a nice little informal discussion that involved a slide show of various bicycle photographs
lots of photos of my kids and other kids riding on singletrack trails
some photos of kids doing BMX tricks... even some shots of my older son Dean catching a little air... even a few shots of my younger son on the trail-a-bike

I was pleased to see how many kids ride bikes and how many of the kids live near the park and use the trails of the park
it was also exciting to see how the kids responded to all the photos of people riding their bikes on natural surfaces

in this informal discussion I tried to educate the kids about mountain biking
about how mountain biking does not necessarily involve a mountain
in fact... mountain biking is really just riding a bicycle on natural surfaces
there was talk about the differences between a road bike and road cycling and the tires of a mountain bike or a kids bike that is usually modeled after a BMX bike with fatter tires knobbies
how the natural surface trails require the fatter tire and the more rugged bicycle

there was talk about sustainability and the myth that cycling on natural surface trails tears things up
there were some photographs of me racing in mud and splashing through puddles
I explained the to children responsible riding and not riding or abusing wet trails
there was also an effort to dispel the myth that bicyclists and hikers can not get along
talking about how Dean and his family are avid hikers and dog walkers and how we love to "scramble" and do "parkour" as well as ride our bikes on natural surface trails

mountain biking is a sport that involves an ethic and a code of respect
IMBA and MORE were mentioned... as well as some lines from their code of ethics
the respect is for other trail users as well as respect for the trails
there was discussion about how all over the country mountain bikers are able to share the trails with hikers, dog walkers, and horses... why not in Rock Creek Park?

there was also discussion about urban riding and the inherent dangers of riding a bicycle in the city with all the cars
but I did not want to scare kids with that talk about "the worst case scenario"

it was a good little discussion
the seed was planted
the kids are all going to work on a "persuasive essay" on the topic of mountain biking in Rock Creek Park
hopefully they have enough background information to develop their points

in this discussion I spoke about BMX tracks, Pump Courses, and Mountain Bike Trails
it was discussed that there are no natural surface bicycle options within an hour of our house
all of our mountain bike rides necessitate that we load the bicycles in the car and have to drive an hour or more... making what could be a three hour round trip when it would be more sensible to ride the local trails

I spoke about how the city offers facilities for basketball, soccer, swimming, and ice skating but there are no bicycle options
the only options are riding on the streets or in the alleyways
all the kids understood the risk of riding their bicycles in traffic around cars

I also talked about practice and achievement
and how if someone wants to be good at something they need to practice
I asked kids how often they practice for soccer... basketball... or football
the answers were 2-3 or 5 days a week
thus showing the impracticality of having to load the bikes on the car and drive that three hour round trip to get our ride in

there was discussion of the Michelle Obama Let's Move initiative as inspired by one of the students who did a biography on her a month prior
we talked about the hula hoop and the notion of childhood obesity
the kids knew that in this LET'S MOVE initiative Michelle Obama asks that kids exercise for a minimum of 60 minutes a day
we discussed that there just is not enough time in the day to do that drive and a ride so that kids could get their exercise on the bike
but that it would be simple enough if these trails were made legal in Washington DC

I said the NO BIKES sign in Rock Creek Park is like having a chain link fence around a basketball court forbidding kids to play basketball
I said... lets take down those signs
lets make it legal to ride our bikes on the trails in Rock Creek Park
those trails are for everyone... let them be open for everyone to enjoy... even people on their bikes

I am excited to get a chance to read some of their letters to the First Lady
I am equally excited to see what sort of response we get from Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama and her Let's Move Initiative
www.letsmove.gov

Let's Move Dances well with SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL
check out there blog
www.letsmove.gov/blog

5 comments:

chowder said...

Hey Qwadz - NPS did their big Let's Move event on May 14 at fort dupont and guess what the favorite activity there was with the 5th graders from kimball elementary the bike skills course from trailsforyouth.org

gwadzilla said...

thanks for that choice info

-gwadz

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pandaboy said...

On a run this evening through Rock Creek Park I ran in to TWO bikers on trails strictly prohibited to bikers. One biker was screaming down a hill I was running up. I got out of the way and he rode past, weaving across the entire path and well off it on both sides. I'm fit and able to move out of the way. What if I had a dog, or children or I was less quick on my feet? That jerk could have killed me. And then I run into another biker who was leisurly biking down the trail but I was about ready to rip his head off. I see trails throughout the park where bikers have gone off-roading. I'm a biker myself but there's no way the park should allow biking on non-paved surfaces. No way. The park barely has enough money to maintain the trails for users who DO follow the rules.

gwadzilla said...

@PANDABOY
opening the natural surface trails of Rock Creek Park would bring in the attention that these trails need...

IMBA and MORE have the man power and the know how on how to build SUSTAINABLE trails

as far as users of MULTI-USE trails getting along...

I have mountain bike all over the country and I have found that hikers... bikers... and equestrians are able to get along

close calls?

I have far more close calls with cars when on the road then people have with me when I am on my mountain bike on the trails

your point is well taken... and more than likely shared by others
but really... it is far from enlightened