Biking to the mall

I don’t get to the mall often. The last time we went was almost three years ago, on the bus. Unable to find yellow kid pants at the thrift store, I broke down and ordered new. I’m a sucker for the “in-store pickup” option so that’s what drew me to the mall. When having things mailed, I use regular post, but reading “Has the Rise of Online Shopping Made Traffic Worse?” makes me feel in the minority. I probably encounter ten delivery trucks parked in bike lanes per week, by the way. Often very close to available parking spots.

I had the luxury of biking over solo on my road bike so I didn’t mind that I hadn’t bothered looking into a friendly route. From Green Lake, it was just a straight shot up 5th:

It was very quiet at midmorning, both on the street and in the mall. A delivery driver in the parking lot gave me a “We’ve never seen a bike here before!” look, but someone had thought about bikes because I found a bike rack at the entrance I needed on the southeast side of the building.

Bike rack at Northgate Mall

I didn’t have time to take pictures along the way, but the hills provided for some nice scenic city views. Instead, here’s inside the mall. Uh oh, aren’t empty mannequins a no-no? Right after I snapped the picture, the whole display was whisked away. Thank goodness.

Empty mannequins at the mall

Heading back from the mall I decided I really didn’t like the first few blocks south on 5th Avenue NE. It was still a quiet time of day, but I felt very exposed on the four-lane road with no shoulder or bike markings. I know it’s just paint, but I would have felt safer with bike lane or sharrows. And this was traveling uphill at fast-bike-running-late speed, not slow-bike-with-kids speed.

So I came home and asked for advice on the Seattle Family Biking Facebook group. But rather than leave the knowledge buried there, where I’ll have trouble searching for it when I need it, I’m going to share it here. I’d also love any additional advice!

Here’s family-bike-friendly route advice #1:

“To avoid the hill from the South, take Wallingford Ave N from Greenlake then right on 92nd. Left on 1st though it is really narrow in that stretch. I ride on the sidewalk on 1st from Northgate to 102nd? when coming from the North, but don’t think there is sidewalk any further South.”

Family-bike-friendly route advice #2:

“Try taking 8th NE once you cross the freeway. Nice residential street.”

And family-bike-friendly route advice #3, from Ballard, which looks nice and I’m happy to go this much out of the way out of the way for a nice route:

“From my house, it’s Interurban trail to 125th, cross Aurora at the light, 125th to Haller Lake. There’s a nice, circular road around the lake, then south on first ave north. At Northgate elementary, turn left and take the overpass over the freeway. There’s a bike lane that splits off down the hill into the neighbourhood. From there you just need to cross Northgate way.”

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