A lone bike near the Boro Metro Station in Tysons by the author.

Life has changed for many since COVID-19 wreaked havoc on people and the economy. This is no different for cyclists who used to commute into and around Tysons.

Last year, I asked some people who bike in Tysons what their experiences were like. I recently followed-up with some folks to see what it’s like for them to ride the roads during the pandemic. Here is what they had to say.

Kelley Westenhoff, a League of American Bicyclists certified trainer and Reston resident, was able to see what cycling in Tysons looked like firsthand before and after the pandemic hit.

Last fall, Westenhoff was asked to lead a ride for several new commuters learning to navigate on bikes from a Tysons area Metro station to their job. In preparation for the class, Westenhoff said, “I pre-rode the route and I went, ‘Oh my God, I would only ever do this if I had to.’”

She was able to take the class on their ride, but felt uneasy about the journey saying about Tysons, “it’s just not a bike-friendly place as much as they want to make it that way.”

“When you’ve got, you know, six, eight lanes of traffic and people going and signs and all of that, and no separate infrastructure for bikes, it’s just crazy.”

The moment made such an impact on Westenhoff that during the pandemic she decided to venture out and try the roads in Tysons again, on April 7 (she remembered because she marked the date on her calendar). She said she was able to ride on International Drive and Route 7, places she would normally not feel comfortable riding on.

“It was less scary than it would be normally because there were far fewer cars, but it still didn’t feel welcome,” Westenhoff said. “It didn’t feel like you’ve reached a place here that prioritizes biking as a transportation choice.”

Elizabeth MacGregor, a Vienna resident who normally commutes by bike to DC, said her recent excursions through Tysons gave her access to roads she would normally not ride on. Since the pandemic, she has rode through Tysons both on the weekend and during the week.

“I would be going at morning rush time if there was a morning rush, which there isn’t,” MacGregor said. “Before, that would have been cars everywhere, going really fast.”

“I’m able to ride on the biggest of the major roads. I’m able to ride on Gallows. I’m able to ride on Chain Bridge Road, Route 23. I’m able to ride on Route 7. There’s not really any roads I’m avoiding,” MacGregor said.

In the future, she said she would like to see “more connections between things. Better connections between the WO&D and Tysons. More connections across the beltway.”

Chip Boyd, who normally commutes from Herndon into Tysons, said he has seen some improvement as far as infrastructure in the area since September. “Riding in Tysons did get better since we last spoke,” Boyd said. “They’ve added some additional bike lanes, in particular on some previously scary roads.”

“The bridge on Kidwell Drive is now much less harrowing, and connects a number of other bike lanes (Gallows, Ring Road) together to make a much easier transition. They also finished the Jones Branch Connector bridge, which includes bike lanes, and provides another option for crossing the Beltway.”

Recently Boyd said, “I haven’t been riding as much since COVID-19, as the main thoroughfare in and out of Tysons is the W&OD trail, and it is so crowded with folks trying to get some sun that its impossible to stay six feet apart.”

He says with less traffic he has done a lot more riding on roads than he did before.

“Hopefully we’ll get through the COVID situation before too long, as I look forward to biking to work more soon,” Boyd said.

What has your biking experience in Tysons been like during this time?

  • Tysons Partnership

This article is part of our ongoing coverage of Tysons underwritten by the Tysons Partnership and community partners. Greater Greater Washington maintains full editorial independence over its content.

George Kevin Jordan was GGWash's Editor-in-Chief. He is a proud resident of Hillcrest in DC's Ward 7. He was born and raised in Milwaukee and has written for many publications, most recently the AFRO and about HIV/AIDS issues for TheBody.com.