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  • Bike to School Day volunteers (l-r) Richard Marshall, Laura Derrendinger, Mary van Andel and Arjan van Andel received their Volunteer of the Month awards from Voice staff reporter Gracie Fairfax.
    Dylan Roche
    Bike to School Day volunteers (l-r) Richard Marshall, Laura Derrendinger, Mary van Andel and Arjan van Andel received their Volunteer of the Month awards from Voice staff reporter Gracie Fairfax.

Area Parents Rally Community For Bike To School Day

Gracie Fairfax
Gracie Fairfax's picture
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May 3, 2017

In an era where local school parking lots are crowded with minivans, SUVs and school buses, a group of local parents want to bring back the bikes – beginning with National Bike to School Day on May 10.

Arnold Elementary, Broadneck Elementary, Jones Elementary, Chesapeake Montessori, Severn Lower School, Shipley’s Choice Elementary and the Montessori International Children’s House all plan to participate.

Arjan van Andel, Mary van Andel, Laura Derrendinger and Richard Marshall have worked together with local police to make the event a reality at area schools, complete with detailed bike route maps. Derrendinger spearheaded the initiative and reached out to parents from the various schools. Shipley’s Choice had done Bike to School Day in the past, while this is the first year many schools are participating in the national event. Arjan and Mary are coordinators for Broadneck Elementary, and Marshall is a coordinator for Arnold Elementary.

“A lot of the families really can’t safely [bike to school] because there’s no way to get there,” Marshall said. “This is an opportunity to give them a chance to do it but also highlight the need to be able to do it more often.”

Arjan, Mary, Derrendinger and Marshall share something in common.

“Each of us has spent a fair amount of time living away from here in places where the idea of a bike-to-school day is silly because every day is a bike-to-school day,” Marshall said.

Previously, the van Andel family lived in Switzerland, as well as Arjan’s home country of the Netherlands. Marshall, who lived in the area about 10 years ago, recently moved back from Germany. Laura, who most recently lived in Washington, D.C., also lived in France.

As a part of Bike to School Day, Arjan, Mary, Derrendinger and Marshall have coordinated bike trains in which students will bike together in groups to school. The police and crossing guards have worked with the team to ensure the safety of children who choose to participate.

The parents hope that this initiative will expedite the process of putting bike paths in the area and raise awareness for the interest in biking to school.

“When people show up and bike to school on Bike to School Day, this will show a need for pedestrian and bike infrastructure,” Derrendinger said.

Arjan previously participated in Bike to Work Day and noticed between 50 and 70 adults took part. However, he noticed that kids are even more excited to bike than adults.

“We already have 100 kids signed up just from Broadneck,” Arjan said. “The participation from the kids is so much higher than people who bike to work.”

The community has rallied behind those organizing Bike to School Day in order to make it possible. Corporal Dave Bellis is arranging a police escort for each bike train to the various schools.

“We have to thank him because he’s the one facilitating all of this,” Derrendinger said.

Anne Arundel County Traffic Engineer Nestor Flores is also contributing to Bike to School Day by putting up electronic signs to alert drivers of the upcoming event a week in advance.

Phelma Swigert has coordinated with the crossing guards to provide added safety for the day.

On May 10, at least 300 students from the seven schools will bike to school, an effort that the parents hope will be just the beginning of making biking to school a regular occurrence.


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