BITS – Empowering Students Through Biking

Reprinted with permission from ACPS Express,

Learning how to ride a bike has long been a rite of passage for young people, giving them a sense of accomplishment and freedom. The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Bicycles in the Schools program (BITS) provides that opportunity for ACPS students; many of whom do not have a bike at home or a safe place to ride.

SRTS BITS supports ACPS physical education instructors to teach biking in our elementary and middle schools during their Physical Education (PE) classes. The program runs in the fall and spring to provide students with important safety lessons and road safety skills.

“There is nothing quite like the children learning to balance and ride for the first time and those triumphant grins and supportive cheers amongst classmates as they take off,” said BITS volunteer Eldon Boes.

BITS is supported by volunteers from Alexandria’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) who travel among ACPS schools to assist division instructors. ACPS has a fleet of bikes and trailers that rotate between schools to allow every child from third grade and above the opportunity to learn cycling skills. ACPS also has a variety of adapted bikes to allow our students with special needs to fully participate with their peers.

“We want to ensure equity with the program across all schools within ACPS,” Kristin Donley, Health, Physical Education, and Family Life Education instructional specialist said. “The BITS program helps achieve one of ACPS’ core strategic objectives: to promote lifelong commitments to active healthy lifestyles,” added Donley.

The program was established in 2016 at Mount Vernon Community School (MVCS) in partnership with BPAC. Kristin Donley was a physical education teacher at MVCS at the time and helped launch the BITS program. She now supervises it across all ACPS schools.

Thanks to the BITS program, students have conquered another life skill during PE class. “I am so proud of myself, I feel like I can fly,” one third-grade student said after taking part in BITS at Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School.

To help support funding for the program, visit the ACPS donation webpage. For more information about the BITS program, contact ACPS Safe Routes to School Specialist