in Washington DC it was BIKE TO WORK DAY... at John Eaton Elementary School it was BIKE FRIDAY

earlier this season my family decided to "try" something
we "tried" to work a system where our kids got to ride their bicycles home from school
we "tried" it... it seemed to work... so we continued "doing it"

since riding "to" school may not be a feasible option for us due the madness of mornings, the long hills we would need to climb to get across town, and the question as to whether or not our kids would pass out and be unable to participate in school if they were to complete that cross town ride before school
so, we decided that we could work a system where we would drop the kids off at school with their bicycles three days a week then in the afternoon rather than driving to school to pick up my boys my wife Lisa or I would ride to school to meet our boys and then ride bikes home with them


the boys love it
the boys look forward to it
We love it and We look forward to it as well
it has been a great event in our day to day lives

it is like a mini adventure in our day to day lives

the bike route home is not always direct

the boys usually want a longer ride with a little "action" tossed in
there are moments where we stop at scenic overlooks to refuel with water and snacks
there are parks with stairs or other obstacles that get looped multiple times by the boys

there are short sections of dirt trails that the boys like to test their mountain bike skills on as well

it is AWESOME!
the post school bike ride is a FANTASTIC adventure as well as an AMAZING additive to our lives!

our actions on the bike seemed to elicit interest
the action of our family on bikes had other families thinking that the
y could ride their bikes to school and from school
it seemed that our efforts were inspiring people to consider a similar effort
seeing this interest I decided to organize a BIKE FRIDAY

I felt that hosting a post school bike ride may aid in taking these other families interests from thought to action

BIKE FRIDAY would be a day where other families "try" to ride their bikes to or from school with their kids

in this I shared our system of morning drop off with the car and the afternoon post school bike ride together
that idea seemed to work for a number of families
I selected a date where I would host a bicycle ride after school with parents and kids from our elementary sc

so... I approached the John Eaton principal Mrs Gartrell with my idea
she was in support of it
after a few more discussions and some email correspondence BIKE FRIDAY got Mrs Gartrell's stamp of approval
I was committed... I would make it happen... BIKE FRIDAY at John Eaton was scheduled
Bike Friday would happen on the same day as DC's Bike to Work Day

in the weeks leading up to BIKE FRIDAY I handed out flyers and talked to other parents about the idea of biking to school

I printed out small posters and placed them around the school
and of course I sent out electronic messages to various school email groups

honestly... I was not sure of the interest as very few people RSVPed as requested
this of course brought additional anxiety to the experience of the unknown which was going to be BIKE FRIDAY

the morning of BIKE FRIDAY I attended the Bike to Work Day Rally at Freedom Plaza
while at the Bike to Work Day festivities I thought about the afternoon Bike Frid
at a number of the BTW DAY sponsor tables I approached the people at the booths and told them about my afternoon ride and asked if they wanted donate some of their SWAG for the kids who participate at The John Eaton Elementary School Bike Friday

it was awesome... everybody I asked was happy to donate to the cause

there were colorful bicycle pins from The League of American Bicyclists
there were reflective leg bands donated by Embassy of Switzerland

the folks at SMART WOOL hooked me up with a handful of bicycle bells
and the Bike to Work Day hosts WABA gave me a stack of spoke cards with all sorts of helpful tips for cyclists



the SWAG would be an excellent additive to the juice boxes and fruit snacks that I would be bringing for the participants of our John Eaton BIKE FRIDAY

so.... after the mixing and mingling at Bike to Work Day I rode home and loaded the car with my kids' bikes, helmets, safety vests as well as the snacks and swag and then drove to my kid's school
when I arrived I was pleased to see that the bike racks were filled with far more bicycles than I had ever seen
at John Eaton Elementary School

after dropping off the goods for the event I drove home to get my bike so I could ride back to school to lead the ride

I arrived at John Eaton with plenty of time to set up
there was anxiety because I was not sure who would show up... how many people would show up... and ex
actly what I was going to say or where we would ride

my words and my actions would be determined by how many kids showed up

the ride would also be determined by the size of the group and the varying bicycle skills of the group


I had a little table set up by the bike rack with our juice boxes, fruit snacks, and BICYCLE SWAG

there was a Popsicle sale going on which fueled the chaos
kids were lining up trying to buy our stuff... I had to try to be polite and let all the kids know that our stuff was not for sale
and that
our table was for kids involved in the John Eaton Bike Friday

any and all kids with bikes were given a drink and snack to fuel up
there were some some families who rode their bikes but were not participating in our ride, they were also given snacks and bicycle SWAG

it was not fun turning the other kids away... but... our stuff was to reward the kids on bikes
our stuff was to make the BIKE FRIDAY more fun

the post school madness started to mellow out
the cluster of cars picking up kids had left the area
walking families had made their way towards home on the sidewalks
and the popsicle stand had finished it sales
with the ring of a cowbell I had the kid's attention

there was a short pep rally discussion
a little over view of our objective

it was decided that we would break up into two groups

a training wheel group that would take a short three block sidewalk ride to a neighborhood park lead by another parent
I would lead the second group through a neighborhood ride that would involve sidewalks and streets

we left off as a group and I tried to corral the kids
the event was parent-child which took some of the pressure of individual safety off my shoulders
I had two kids in addition to my kids under my win... which would be hard enough

within my group there was a bit of a rush to see who would lead the ride
while there were some families that were less experienced on the bike and trailed behind at a slower pace

I tried to dissuade the leading riders from racing ahead

as we rode I instructed the kids and families on the dangers of the road

trying to educate both parents and children about being alert when on the bike and the effort to put themselves where they are most safe
we were cautious of the cars around us
most of the cars were respectful of us and gave us our space

we rode as a group
when the children tried to race ahead they were instructed to stop at the stop sign or to stop at the corner allowing the whole group to catch up
the kids were having fun... the participating parents were having fun

we were all having fun

I rode with a cowbell dangling from my handlebars
as we rode down the sidewalks and streets of Cleveland Park I rang the cowbell to alert cars of our presence
at four way stops we gathered and waited for our turn to cross
I blocked car traffic so that the full group of bikes could pass

for the most part cars were pretty accepting of us
for the most part there were no cars that I felt did anything to put us in danger
there were no close calls... but there were a few moments of anxious frustration

our mini tour took us around the neighborhood of Cleveland Park on the streets

then on Wisconsin Avenue we took to the sidewalk
on the sidewalks I tried to instruct the children to be respectful of pedestrians

on our loop back we did a few loops out in front of The National Cathedral
then back to the streets of Cleveland Park then on back to John Eaton Elementary School
once back at Eaton the kids all got to refuel on the remaining juice boxes and fruit snacks


some of the families peeled off and rode on towards home
while other families rolled on to afternoon baseball and soccer practices
thanks and goodbyes were exchanged as some families loaded their bikes back in their cars
within the remaining kids and families there was a small group of people that had scheduled their day such that they would be doing a longer ride from Cleveland Park... down to Adams Morgan... and then onto my house in Mount Pleasant


the smaller group was easier to manage
this group was comprised of my two sons Dean and Grant and some of the kids from their class whose parents had asked if they could attend without their assistance
then one family of four
this was also the group of kids that was rolling in the front of the pack in our Cleveland Park Ride

the kids impressed me
they were able to complete both rides with minimal complaints
there were some tired kids with sore legs who asked the requistie "how much further?" and "are we there yet?"
luckily those questions came when we were just a few city blocks from my house
once at my house the kids got off the bikes and started to play
as the kids played I fired up the grill and cooked up some hot dogs


after the kids were refueled they all got back on the bikes and rode up and down the alley
the kids from the John Eaton Bike Friday joined in with the neighborhood kids on the block
I pulled out a wooden ramp for the kids to ride
on the first few attempts I spotted them as they rode
then once they showed comfort I left them alone

it was great... sure there was some chaos... but the kids were able to find some order
after a good number of races up and down the alley the kids took it upon themselves to make another wooden ramp
unlike the ramp I built that is a simple up and down
they built a classic ramp jump
I was really impressed

it pleased me to see the kids take it upon themselves to build the ramp
then it also pleased me to see the control to which they attacked the ramp

the kid rode their bikes until it was dark
parents started to pick kids up and the attention of the boys moved from bikes to water balloons

the kids left smiling

one of the kids approached me and asked me to start a Bicycle Club at their school
all the kids were polite and appreciative

it gave me joy to see the people on bikes who do not normally get on their bikes
it pleased me to see that people saw that the bike could be a bigger part of their lives
but most of all
it gave me satisfaction to see the kids having fun on the bikes
bicycles are fun!
we had fun