The line of bicyclists winding its way through the streets of the Lee District made it clear that the sixth annual Tour de Lee was a family-oriented event. The bike ride included three generations of Rothermels; Fairfax County Police officer Steve Richards was riding with his son Lucas, 12; and even Supervisor Dana Kauffman, (D-Lee) who was with his son, touted it as a “fun event that brings families together.”
The goal of the event was to instill a sense of community and “it’s more than succeeding,” said Kauffman.
Lucas liked being able to ride alongside his father. “It’s almost like he’s not at work,” Lucas said.
This year, tour organizers changed the route “to show off the bike lanes,” along Beulah Street and the widened section of Telegraph Road, said route designer Bob Michie, an avid biker and resident of Lee District. In the past, “we weren’t accomplishing our mission,” Michie said. Adding designated bike lanes to Beulah Street when it was widened was a first for county roads.
“When we widen Telegraph, we’ll get one in there,” said Kauffman.
IN PAST YEARS, the Tour de Lee started at Lee District Park and went on a windy route through the neighborhoods. This year's ride, which was divided into two phases, started at Lane Elementary School, and went along Beulah Street to Franconia Road to Telegraph Road, and on the new part of South Van Dorn Street into Kingstowne. The second half went south to the Fairfax County Parkway, up Loisdale Road and around Springfield Mall.
One stretch of the trip did lead up a long hill along Kingstowne Village Parkway, just like on last year’s ride. Midway through, some opted to walk their bikes, but Reese Shaw, 10, had prepared for it.
“Before and after the hill, I take a little water break,” he said.
A long-term goal of the annual event is to highlight the bicycle facilities in the district as a means of getting people out of their cars and commuting by bike. Michie tries to commute three days a week to his job at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., and takes pride when he said “we are a one-car family.” Michie figured that his bicycle-commute saved his family $700 a month. Over the years, Michie has seen more people riding their bikes to work in the morning.
Susan Bleistein would like to be able to commute by bike. “I would if I could,” she said.
This was Bleistein’s first Tour de Lee. “It would be nice if you could bike to the grocery store,” she said.