ACPS has received a Safe Routes to School grant to expand last year’s Bicycling in the Schools (BITS) pilot to six more elementary schools and encourage students to walk and bike to school.
This fall, the program that began as a pilot at Mount Vernon Community School last fall and James K. Polk Elementary School in the spring, will be launched at Charles Barrett Elementary School, Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy, Matthew Maury Elementary School and Samuel Tucker Elementary School.
Francis Hammond Middle School, the only secondary school included in the Safe Routes to School grant, will also offer new walking and bicycling safety programs through the grant program.
The program has been expanded following the success of the pilots at Mount Vernon and James K. Polk. Mount Vernon saw a completion rate of 95 percent. Around 435 students participated in the pilot, 25 percent who had never ridden a bike before and 50 percent who rated themselves as “uneasy/uncomfortable.” The program resulted in students feeling able to ride competently and perform basic riding skills on campus and culminated in a bike ride around the Mount Vernon community. The program will be offered again at James K. Polk and Mount Vernon again this school year.
This program offers life-long benefits to students both in and out of school. We know that students who are healthy are better able to learn. This is one of the ways that we work to ensure the health and wellness of our students. The extensive collaboration with City agencies, nonprofit organizations, community groups and individual volunteers make this a tremendous win for the entire community,” said Interim Superintendent Lois F. Berlin.
The expansion of the BITS program has been made possible thanks to a $67,250 grant from Safe Routes to School, a Virginia Department of Transportation grant designed to improve the well-being of children by improving walking and bicycling conditions of the route to school and a $12,000 grant from RunningBrooke. $12,000 was raised last year by ACPS and the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC).
The Safe Routes to School grant will also support a part-time coordinator, 96 bicycles, two storage trailers and incentives to encourage walking and biking to school.