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Bike-Sharing Catches On



Physical Education


--Physical Science

Social Studies
--Current Events


Grades 2-up

News Content

A new bike-sharing program in Washington, D.C., provides a healthy alternative to driving.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students the following question: What are some ways in which people are cutting back on the amount of gasoline they use? After a brief discussion, introduce this weeks News for Kids article.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: distance, public, select, transportation, pollute, increase, and popular. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • The _____ library in our community is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. (public)
  • At the restaurant, each of you can _____ an appetizer and an entre from the menu. (select)
  • Experts predict that the price of gasoline will _____ this winter. (increase)
  • The East River winds toward the ocean a _____ of about six miles. (distance)
  • Soapy water poured down a storm drain can _____ streams and harm fish. (pollute)
  • In New York City, taxi cabs and the subway are the two most _____ forms of _____. (popular, transportation)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Bike-Sharing Catches On.

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), an avid bicyclist, took great pride in kicking off the citys new bike-sharing program on August 13, 2008. He sees the program as one more step in making the District a world-class city."
  • Jim Sebastian, the Districts bicycle and pedestrian program manager, said participants will no longer need to hunt for parking places for their cars. The programs bikes, which can be picked up from and returned to one of ten bike stations around the city, offer a healthy alternative to driving. And it's fun," he added. It's a great way to get around the city on a nice day."
  • The three-speed bikes are designed for comfort, simplicity, and strength. Each docking point remotely tracks the pickup and return of bikes. That way, a service team can redistribute bikes to docking points as they are needed.
  • SmartBike members receive a safe-cycling guide, a pocket manual that outlines the District's cycling laws, and a map that charts the citys 34 miles of bike lanes.
  • In Washington, at least for now, the program is aimed at city residents, not tourists. "We want to start small and start slow," Sebastian said. "We're trying to keep this simple at first."
  • At this time, Washingtons SmartBike program is only open to people 18 years of age or older.
  • The bike-sharing program in Paris has become hugely popular in just a year of existence. In Paris, you dont need to be a member to borrow a bike (you can use a credit card) and bikes can be used for more than three hours at a stretch (by the day or week, for example).
  • In Paris, 1,400 bike pick-up stations are spaced 250 to 300 yards apart. We have four times more bike-rental stations than subway stations," Bernard Perisot told MSNBC. Perisot is president and co-CEO of JC Decaux North America, which operates the Paris program. The system is completely financed by advertising and rental charges, he added.
  • Some other U.S. communities have attempted to start bike programs. Cities such as Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas, have painted beater bikes" a recognizable color and made them available for public use. Unfortunately, most of those bikes were stolen or vandalized in a short time.
  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Paris last summer to learn about its program. He is considering the program, although he has expressed concern about safety and liability issues.
  • Some companies have started bike-sharing programs for their employees. Healthcare provider Humana, Inc., now has 2,500 employees registered for its program. The bikes can be used to run errands or just for fun. Each bike is equipped with a navigation system and mileage tracker. We encourage people to do things that are healthy and fun," Dr. Jack Lord, head of innovations at Humana, told CNN.

    Comprehension Check

    Recalling Detail

  • How many other U.S. cities have bike-sharing programs like the one in Washington, D.C.? (none; the program in D.C. is the first in the U.S.)
  • How much does it cost to join the SmartBike program in D.C.? ($40 a year)
  • How many bikes are available around the city for members to use? (120 bikes)
  • For how long can program participants rent a bike? (for three hours at a time)
  • Where else in the world can bike-sharing programs be found? (in Barcelona, Spain, and in Paris, France)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy,

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about where bike racks in your city might be located.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Geography reading a map. Print out for students this portion of the Washington, D.C., bike route map. To introduce some of the main streets and avenues in the city, have students point out and trace on their copies of the map the following locations:

  • Rhode Island Avenue
  • New York Avenue
  • Maryland Avenue
  • Massachusetts Avenue
  • Pennsylvania Avenue
    Then give students directions to some additional locations in the city. Have them circle the locations.
  • The White House. The White House is located near the intersection of Pennsylvania Ave. and New York Ave. Circle the location of the White House.
  • The U.S. Capitol. The United States Capitol building is located near the intersection of Pennsylvania Ave. and Maryland Ave. Circle the location of the U.S. Capitol.
  • Union Station (train station). Union Station is located near the intersection of Massachusetts Ave. and North (N.) Capitol St. Circle the location of Union Station.
  • Dupont Circle. Dupont Circle is located near the intersection of Massachusetts Ave. and Connecticut (Conn.) Ave. Circle the location of Dupont Circle.
  • The National Zoo. Take Connecticut Ave. from Dupont Circle out past Woodland Park. Circle the location of the National Zoo.
  • Convention Center. The Convention Center is just a block or two from the intersection of New York Ave. and Massachusetts Ave. Circle the location of the Convention Center.

    Bike Safety. Set aside time for a discussion of bike safety. A good resource for your discussion is the Kids and Bicycle Safety page from the National Highway Traffic Association (NHTA).

    Listening comprehension. Share with students this video news clip about the new SmartBike program in Washington, D.C. After viewing the video, read aloud each statement below. Ask students to identify each statement as true or false.

  • To become a SmartBike member, a person can sign up online. (true)
  • When you swipe your SmartBike card at one of the bike stations, a bike is unlocked for your use. (true)
  • Program organizers hope to expand the program. (true)
  • The SmartBikes are made to travel at speeds of 30 miles per hour or more. (false)
  • Riders must return the bike to the same location where they picked it up. (false, riders can return the bikes to any of the ten bike station locations around the city)
  • SmartBike riders are required to wear helmets. (false; the program cannot require riders to wear a helmet, but organizers strongly encourage them to do so)
  • Washington, D.C., is the first city in North America to have its own bike-sharing program. (true)
  • The SmartBike maintenance crew works around the clock. (false, the crew is on duty 10 hours a day)


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 12
    NPH.K-12.3 Physical Activity
    NPH.K-12.4 Physical Fitness
    NPH.K-12.5 Responsible Behavior
    NPH.K-12.6 Respect for Others

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.5 Science and Technology
    NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.5 Science and Technology
    NS.5-8.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.5 Science and Technology
    NS.9-12.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen

    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
    NSS-G.K-12.4 Human Systems
    NSS-G.K-12.5 Environment and Society

    GRADES K - 12
    NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
    NT.K-12.2 Social, Ethical, and Human Issues

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2008 Education World