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As was noted in last week’s blog, RIDE Solutions has kicked off its Drive Small campaign, which encourages folks in our region to use alternative means of travel this holiday season – such as carpooling, walking, and transit – while making local trips, especially for shopping.  As was noted in that blog, about 90 percent of money spent on gas leaves the region, and using alternative modes is better for our environment than driving alone.  This week’s blog blends the Drive Small campaign with the Shop Small campaign, which encourages shoppers to purchase gifts from independent “mom and pop” retailers in the region.

In a recent press release, Jeremy Holmes, director of RIDE Solutions, stated that “Drive Small is a reminder that the money we save by using sustainable transportation modes is money that goes right back into those same local businesses.” This means that when we carpool, use transit, walk, or bike to do our holiday shopping, we are saving money by not putting gas in our tanks, which can then be used to purchase gifts for our friends and loved ones.

A CityLab article from 2012 noted that a study from Oregon revealed that pedestrians and bicyclists spent more at local businesses that they biked and walked by daily than people who traveled by automobile.  Holmes added that, “We hope shoppers will choose to Drive Small while they Shop Small this holiday season.”

How can you Drive Small while you Shop Small?  Local farmers’ markets often have vendors that sell unique gift items.  As an example, you can use transit to get to the Danville Farmers’ Market at Crossing at the Dan, to the Martinsville Farmers’ Market, or to a more limited extent the Rocky Mount Farmers’ Market.  Another possibility is to stroll through one of our local downtowns and browse through different stores; experience has taught me that a day out looking through independent stores can yield many surprises not found in the big chains.  Before you go, you may want to check out some of the local retail establishments available in Martinsville/Henry County at   Likewise, in Danville’s River District, you can find a variety of unique retailers; see a list of them here:  Even in our more rural areas, you can find unique shops; for these, carpooling with family or friends may be a good options.  In Franklin County, visit to learn about shopping opportunities.  In Patrick County, offers a list of unique places to shop for the holidays.  As another resource, see the West Piedmont Local Foods Guide, which provides a list of farmers’ markets, farms, local artisan establishments, and more that offer unique gifts throughout our region.

Whether you may choose to carpool, use transit, bike, or walk to do your holiday shopping this year, don’t forget to log these trips into the RIDE Solutions app.  If you don’t yet have this free app, download it today at!