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Pump pedals, not petroleum

Smithsburg students protest gas prices by biking to school

Smithsburg students protest gas prices by biking to school

April 26, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

SMITHSBURG - The parking lot at Smithsburg High School was less crowded than usual Friday morning after several students opted to leave their cars at home and ride bicycles to school instead.

About 50 students participated in the ride, which was organized as a way to protest rising gas prices, students said.

"It's hard for teenagers to afford gas right now," said Josh Edwards, an 18-year-old Smithsburg senior who helped organize the ride. "We were looking for ways to save gas, and this seemed like a fun way to do it."

A sign at AC&T on Md. 66 read $3.69 for a gallon of gas Friday morning. The federal government recently said prices could climb as high as $4 per gallon this summer.

"Gas is so outrageous, this is a good way to save some money," 18-year-old senior Ryan Siefert said.

Friday's ride began at 8:20 a.m. at Edwards' house on Crystal Falls Drive, about a mile from the high school.

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Most riders were on mountain bikes, though a few had road bikes, and at least two trick bikes were part of the crowd.

Several students cheered as they rode up Crystal Falls Drive. A few honked air horns.

"It's a lot of fun to get people involved in something good like this," 18-year-old senior Meagan Bromley said.

Matt Plumley, one of the organizers of the ride, said the idea came up about a month ago during a discussion with friends.

"We were just reminiscing one day on what it was like to be a kid and ride bikes around all day. Then we said, 'Why not do it now?'" Plumley said. "It was kind of sparked in a way by these childhood memories."

Through word-of-mouth, the group's first ride April 18 drew 30 students.

Plumley said he thinks the camaraderie that the event creates is a big part of its popularity.

"Just being able to spend time with each other," Plumley said. "People feel like they're missing out on something if they don't participate."

The students were accompanied on their ride Friday by Smithsburg math teacher Joe Lane, who regularly rides his bicycle to work.

Lane said he was pleased that the idea has gained momentum among students.

"It makes me proud to be a teacher at Smithsburg High," Lane said.

Edwards said he hopes to continue the rides every Friday until the end of the school year.

"Hopefully, it will continue to grow," Edwards said. "We've gotten a lot of interest so far."

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