The best response that I got when I proposed this ride was "Ho Ho NO. I'll follow you to Certain Death, Pete, but not to Tyson's Corner (a fate worse than . . . )."
I think many people dread crowds and parking problems associated with holiday shopping at the mall the week before Christmas. The mall can get a bit crazy this time of year. My goal was to make it fun. I did this by getting there by bicycle and by bringing along as many friends as I could. I've also wanted to share how amazingly easy it is to ride to Tyson's Corner by bicycle. That was the genesis of the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB) / Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) Holiday Shopping Ride. Both FABB and WABA are all about showing people that it is easy to live by bicycle.
Tyson's Corner Center jumped in immediately as a sponsor. Mosaic District enthusiastically supported this too. Freshbikes Mosaic provided both shopping bags and bicycle security services (me with a bunch of U-locks and cables) to make this all possible. I rode the cargo bike with buckets on the back to help people with transporting their purchases. In the end, I was the only one filling the buckets with stuff that I'd bought. It wasn't that others didn't shop. They brought their own means for carrying their purchases home.
The route was simple. Nine of us rode from Vienna, Virginia to Tyson's Corner and completely bypassed the lines of cars waiting to get into the parking garage. We picked up two more riders along the way. Bicycle Parking is right next to the mall entrance in spot that had Mall Security and a police officer right next door for added bicycle security. The outdoor German Market was really nice! The local artisans and bakeries were the backbone of my shopping for the day. We got a lot of shopping done before even setting foot in the mall. We enjoyed two hours of shopping inside and a nice lunch before loading up our purchases and heading south.
The second stop on our shopping ride is the Mosaic District. This eclectic group of shops and restaurants is quickly becoming one of my favorite hangouts. In addition to being home to my favorite local bike shop (Freshbikes) there are many small local shops, MOM's Organic Market and plenty of restaurants, Target and the movie theater make it a great place to be. It is quite easy to get to by bicycle and has good bike parking in the garages and out on the street. We spent an hour there shopping and getting coffee before heading back to Vienna.
What was my favorite reaction after the ride? "Thanks for organizing and leading the ride, we got a lot of shopping done. We'll be riding to Tysons instead of driving again in the near future."
This was the first of many, many rides of this kind. Many thanks to Tyson's Corner Center, Mosaic District and Freshbikes for making it possible.