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Trails Day Offers Bicycle Bonanza

National event comes to Arlington, emphasizing county bike trails, programs.

Mike Hancock thinks plenty of people know about Arlington’s bike trails. But very few of them know about all 38 miles of trails.

"There’s a lot of localized awareness," said Hancock, an Arlington park ranger based at Bluemont Park. "But we’re trying to promote a knowledge of the length of the trails system."

Hancock hopes to achieve that awareness with National Trails Day this Saturday, June 1, come rain or shine. Beginning at 11 a.m. and running until 3 p.m., events at six Arlington parks will emphasize an awareness of the county’s award-winning bicycle trail system.

On a normal weekend, about 20,000 bicyclists ride Arlington’s trails, Hancock said, some local and some commuting from as far as Reston and as near as DC. Trails Day in the county could raise awareness of the system, he said, putting another 5,000 riders on trails that weekend.

It will also showcase a variety of bicycle related programs offered by the county, including bicycle patrols by the Police Department, a bike-based EMS unit run by the Fire Department, and a program designed to put bicycles in the hands of low-income students at Arlington schools.

"We thought this would be a good opportunity to showcase the trails system, along with partnerships with local groups that use the trails," Hancock said.

Bluemont is just one of six stations in six county parks that will offer different activities and giveaways to Trails Day riders and walkers. Arlington Police will hold a free bike registration at Gateway Park, at 1300 Lee Highway, along with a display by the Fire Department’s bicycle-based paramedic unit.

At Barcroft Park, the county’s Community Spokes program will run a bike registration program, and try to raise awareness about the program, said Jennifer Cho, one of the managers of the program.

The National Park Service will also get in on the act, running a historical walk of the Arlington Woods behind Arlington House in the National Cemetery, looking at the full spectrum of the woods’ past, from prehistory to the occupation of the house by Robert E. Lee and his family. The walk will begin at 1 p.m. on June 1, said a spokeswoman for the park service.

More information about county celebrations of National Trails Day is available in the calendar at the Arlington county Web site, <a href="http://www.co.arlington.va.us/calendar">www.co.arlington.va.us/calendar</a>.