Photo by the author.
The annual Bike to Work Day is coming up on May 16. It offers a great annual opportunity to encourage people to try bicycling, but can’t we come up with somewhere else to bike to as well?
Personally, I’ve attended the venerable Bike to Work Day so many times that I’m looking forward to Bike to Retirement Day. Nevertheless, B2WD is a great party with lots of food, free tchotchkes and activities. This year’s B2WD will be hard to miss in Alexandria, with “pit stops” in Market Square, Carlyle, the Mark Center and a new stop in Del Ray. The only small weakness in this highly recommended party is that, when it ends, you are at work.
We in the DC area have been doing Bike to Work Day for so many years that I feel like it would be fun to branch out. By this I don’t mean Bike to School Day, which is pretty much just B2WD for kids and is already scheduled for May 7. We can do better.
How about Bike to the Grocery Store Day? The best thing about B2GSD is that it eliminates the need to jockey a car through a small parking lot. Parking a car in an over-engineered lot is no fun and can take as long as the drive to the grocery store. The second best thing about shopping by bike is that, in my two bike-baskets at least, you can only carry enough food to feed two people for a week. There is no temptation to “stock up” on “food” that will live longer than you will, especially if you eat it, or on healthy food that will need to be wolfed down before it spoils.
Another boon to our local economy would be Bike to the Coffee Shop Day. With B2CSD, we would all get a break from working or errands and delight in the twin joys of exercise and gastronomic indulgence. On Bike to the Coffee Shop Day there is no pressure to bike to work and no need to get the groceries home before the ice cream melts. (Tip: pack the cold stuff together in one bag).
Instead of stopping at one pit stop and then biking to work, you can bike to the next pit stop. (Tip: please don’t bike while holding coffee—I’ve done so and wish I hadn’t). If the coffee is good enough you might speed through every stop in town before you know it!
In fact, bicycling and coffee shops go together so well that I remain astounded that so few coffee shops have bicycle parking corrals. I lead groups of cyclists to many of these shops and know they are handy to our local bikeways. Buzz and Perks are both handy to the Mt. Vernon Trail, Firehook is on the Wilkes Street Bikeway and the Alexandria Pastry Shop is just a stones throw away from both bike-friendly Arlington and the Spokes Etc. bike shop. A bike parking corral is like a big sign that says “cyclists welcome,” deployable without input from the local architectural review board.
As an avid reader, I know I’d enjoy Bike to the Library Day. (Tip: please don’t start reading that book while biking home). I’d also enjoy Bike to the Park Day. Either B2LD or B2PD could show off the wonderful services that Alexandria provides to encourage healthy minds and bodies. These events would also encourage people to visit all corners of our great city. Best of all, neither involve work.
Meanwhile, Alexandria residents can prepare for Bike to Work Day at a free event this weekend, Bicycle Commuting 101, where citizens will share information and offer encouragement. It will take place on Saturday, April 5, 3 pm at the Alexandria Library, Barrett Branch, 717 Queen Street.