by Eldon Boes
Nearly everyone remembers those first thrills of learning to ride a bicycle. And we frequent cyclists still relish the exhilaration of taking off for a ride, or cruising down an open trail on our favorite bikes.
BPAC is proud of our role in spreading that pleasure of bicycling to children and youth across Alexandria. When we wanted to put bicycling classes in Alexandria’s elementary schools, we found an eager partner in Mike Humphreys of Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS). Since starting with a pilot program at Mount Vernon Community School in the fall of 2016, we’ve helped ACPS expand this BITS (Bicycling in the Schools) program of bicycling skills and safety training to all 3rd grade PE students in 11 of Alexandria’s elementary schools. The rest will be added in the 2019-2020 school year. As regular BPAC volunteers will tell you, there is nothing more precious than watching a 3rd grader learn to balance and ride for the very first time – those triumphant grins are absolutely priceless!
We at BPAC are also very focused on bicycling safety, an especially important competence with today’s busy streets and heavy traffic. We organize and lead almost a dozen Bicycle Rodeos each year that provide children an opportunity to practice their bicycle riding and safety skills while having a load of fun. Our rodeos include helmet fittings, bicycle checks, and six stations that drill riders on such skills as hand signaling,