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The Social Cycle

In Arlington, bikes are increasingly not just a means of transportation, but a means of connection.

As I write this, there’s a flurry of activity in the Washington Area Bike Forum. Members from across the D.C. area are trying to figure out where to hold regular happy hours and it’s getting complicated. The problem is that there’s just so much demand, it’s tricky to satisfy it all. 

Most of the participants have only joined the forum in the last year and very few knew each other from elsewhere. So what brought them together?

Bikes.

Like softball leagues and bar trivia, bikes are becoming a social catalyst in the Washington area. Bikes provide a common point of reference for a fairly diverse array of people, and make getting together with strangers for a drink an inviting way to spend a couple of hours after work.

In the past year, I’ve hit bike happy hours that have filled the patio at Jay’s Saloon, used all the available outside chairs at Capital City Brewery, and probably took the bar at Brasserie Beck beyond the fire code. These gatherings are filled with a reliable mix of new and old faces, often belonging to people who otherwise would rarely cross paths with each other. But they always end up smiling.

While bikes and beer do seem to have a natural affinity for each other, it goes well beyond drinks. Every year the proprietor of the WashCycle blog collects his audience of transportation policy aficionados for a ride around the old Boundary Stone perimeter of the district. Dandies and Quaintrelles throws amazing ride-party events where cyclists get so dressed up it makes you want to light your closet on fire and start over. Arlington cyclists regularly find a way to insert themselves in local parades under one banner or another.

Bikes don’t just get people places, they bring them together.

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Want to give the bike social thing a go? Try the following:

Bike Prom is happening at the Black Cat this Friday. Yes, Bike Prom.

Next Tuesday, Bike Arlington is screening the movie Chasing Legends at the Central Library at 7 p.m. Immediately afterward an informal happy hour gathers at Car Pool.

The Washington Area Bike Forum thread on planning the next member gathering is here.  It may take 14 more pages of discussion, but I'm confident there will be another one.

Need something a little further out on the calendar? Dandies and Quaintrelles, in partnership with the Crystal City Business Improvement District, is holding a second Diamond Derby on Sept. 29. Believe me, unless you were at the first one, you’ve never seen anything like it. Check it out

Mark Blacknell is chair of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, President of the board of directors of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and a League Cycling Instructor.

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