Arlington, VA

Arlington County is planning to test residents on how they might survive and take care of their families after a natural disaster — using bicycles.

Arlington’s second “Disaster Relief Trials” will simulate traversing the county by bike after a disaster wipes out crucial infrastructure. Participants on bicycles will compete for points by ferrying messages and medicine between checkpoints, filtering water, applying a tourniquet, and evacuating (fake) pets.

This year’s competition will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 14 and will start and end at Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) in Rosslyn.

“2018 was the costliest year on record for the US in terms of disasters,” the event page notes. “When roads became gridlocked or damaged during disasters, people turned to their bicycles to flee from danger, assist in the response, or to return to normal.”

Along the way, cyclists will have to cross high barriers that simulate downed trees over paths, dismount for rough terrain, and brave areas flooded up to 6 inches.

Despite the event helping the county’s emergency preparedness, participation requires paying a fee. Participants can register online for $90 for families until Aug. 11, after which the group price will jump to $125. Individuals can register for $40 until Aug. 11, and $55 after. Discounts are available for those receiving certain types of government assistance.

Participants are required to bring their own bikes, helmets, water bottles, and any racks, panniers, or backpacks they’d like to use. Cargo bikes with electric assists are allowed in the competition.

Disaster Relief Trials have been held for years in Portland and San Francisco.

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