Making PALs at H-B Woodlawn

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Coordinator Catherine Frum with some of the members of the H-B Woodlawn Bike Club.

As the PAL Ambassador, one of my favorite opportunities is assisting with the incredible community organizations here in Arlington. One of the most interesting and innovative groups I’ve discovered is the Bike Club at H-B Woodlawn, a very small magnet secondary school in North Arlington.

H-B Woodlawn is a unique program, with a student’s choice and self-motivation being the values at the core of the institution. I may be a bit biased when I say I’m very proud of this organization, because I am, in fact, an alumni!

Catherine Frum teaches English at Woodlawn most of the time, but after school, she runs the Bike Club. She agreed to tell us about the club and herself.

Annmarie Dinan Hansen: How long Have you been a WABA member for?

Catherine Frum: I’ve been a WABA member for about 5 years.

ADH: And how long have you been at H-B Woodlawn?

CF: I was a student at HB for 6 years and am currently in my 15th year teaching.

ADH: What made you want to start a bike club at HBW?

CF: I’ve been commuting by bike for the last 5 years [Frum lives in Glover Park, DC and commutes 5 miles to Cherrydale, Arlington] … I always try to convince my colleagues to bike to work. They are hesitant for a variety of reasons, but I figure that if I can get kids biking (safely and as advocates) they might become adults who bike more and drive less, and a great way to do this is within the context of a bike club!

ADH: Has it been successful? If so, What do you attribute to its success?

CF: This is its first year and it’s a small but very committed group. I’m surprised that most members show up most of the time!  I think they enjoy the camaraderie and learning about biking. We have one 10th grader who has never biked before and another who bikes everyday, but they are all having fun learning anything from how to change a flat to finding a new route to bike to their friend’s house.

ADH: What do you think is a good way to encourage young adults to be Predictable, Alert, and Lawful (#BEaPAL), while getting around whether it be by bike/metro/driving/walking?

CF: As often as I can, I tell the group about my own biking experiences and demonstrate best practices for cycling. They often don’t know the best ways to be predictable to cars since some of them aren’t drivers yet.  If we can teach this generation to be better PAL’s, then the roads will be full of smarter, safer cyclists in the next few years.

ADH: Awesome, Catherine. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, and keep up the good work!

CF: Thanks for having me!