I was walking past Swanson Middle School in Arlington a shortly after school started in the fall and took note of the bike racks and bikes. There were thirteen bicycles parked on the bike racks,
which could potentially hold a maximum of twenty.
I think these are the smartest kids (and teachers) in the school. In
Arlington, students who live within 1.5 miles of a Middle School are in the walking zone; outside that zone they are provided bus service. A student who lives 1-1.5 miles away will take 15-30 minutes to walk, depending on pace and distance. On a bike, though, it shouldn't take
more than 10 minutes max to ride a mile and a half--providing that much extra sleep time in the morning.
Looking at the boundary map, it appears that one-third to one-half of the households in the Swanson District are within 1/2 mile of the Custis Trail and W&OD trails, which bring you within a block or two of the school. Kids who would have to catch the bus from 2-4 miles away and 45 minutes before school starts can save themselves as much as 30 minutes by riding over to school instead of taking the bus. By utilizing the trails, they can ride almost the whole way separated from traffic. At the end of the day they can be halfway home or to their friend's house (or wherever they go after school) before the bus is even loaded!
I hope these and many other students participated in Bike and Walk to School Day back in October. Let's give these bike riders an A for riding every day. They're smart.