By Jonathan Krall, Alexandria
To the editor:
The Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library recently hosted a Bicycle Commuting 101 class. Residents shared information about commuting by bicycle and offered encouragement. With Bike to Work Day coming up on May 16, now is the time to learn the basics.
I’ve attended the venerable Bike to Work Day so many times that I’m looking forward to Bike to Retirement Day. Nevertheless, it remains a great party with lots of food, free tchotchkes and plenty of activities. B2WD will be hard to miss in Alexandria this year, with pit stops popping up at Market Square, Mark Center, Carlyle and now even Del Ray. The only downside of this highly recommended party is that when it ends, you are at work.
We have been celebrating Bike to Work Day for so many years in this region that I feel like it would be fun to branch out. And I don’t mean Bike to School Day, which is pretty much just B2WD for kids and already is 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 navigate 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 — if you have two bike baskets like me, at least — you only can carry enough food to feed two people for a week. There is no temptation to stock up on food that will outlast you or on healthy food that must be wolfed down before it spoils.
Another boon to our local economy would be Bike to the Coffee Shop Day. With B2CSD, we all would get a break from working or running 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 (pro tip: pack the cold stuff together in one bag).
Instead of dismounting at one pit stop and then biking to work, you can bike to the next pit stop (another pro tip: please don’t bike while holding coffee — I’ve done so and wish I hadn’t). If the coffee is good and strong, 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 at how few coffee shops have parking corrals for our pedal-powered rides. I lead groups of cyclists to many of these shops and know they benefit, and benefit from, our bikeways. Buzz and Perks serve the Mount Vernon Trail while Firehook is on the Wilkes Street Bikeway and Alexandria Pastry Shop is just a stone’s throw from 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 also enjoy Bike to the Library Day (last pro 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 offered in Alexandria to foster healthy minds and bodies. These events also would encourage people to visit all corners of our great city. Best yet, neither involves work.