Category Archives: rides

Western Addition Sunday Streets 2013

Looking down at City Hall from Alamo Square--Postcard Row is hidden behind the tree on the right.

Looking down at City Hall from Alamo Square–Postcard Row is hidden behind the tree on the right.

We went back to Western Addition Sunday Streets yesterday, mostly, I will admit, so that we could eat pie. Unfortunately for me, my camera was acting up, so here is a list of bikes I photographed but that my camera ate:

(1)    A Zigo (a stroller attachment bike-trike thingy that never hit our radar because my brother-in-law threatened to break into our garage and throw it into Stow Lake if we ever seriously considered buying one)

(2)    A red Bike Friday triple tandem, ridden by a dad and two daughters—ARGH! It was so awesome, I swear.

(3)    A Bay Area Bike Share bike whizzing down the hill from Alamo Square. At least that image would be easy to replicate.

Instead I had to settle for panda shots and some other oddities.

In words of my husband: "Look! It's gimpy on her death machine." Thank you very much.

In words of my husband: “Look! It’s Gimpy on her death machine.” Thank you very much.

Western Addition Sunday Streets is a bit quieter than Mission Sunday Streets. Overall it’s on less commercial streets, although I’m sure that the big hill up and down from Alamo Square helps keep the crowds down too. My leg is still way less than 100% so I didn’t ride the whole route this year, just the western approach and downhill for one block on the eastern side. Then we turned around and headed back. And from there we went to pick up some yogurt (returning the deposit glass jar, natch). I’m not usually a Sunday shopper but evidently all our neighbors are. Hi neighbors!

What's not to like about family bikes?

What’s not to like about family bikes?

Although I didn’t get to keep my photos of the most impressive family bike rigs (curse that camera) there were a lot of traditional family bikes out. Bikes with trailer-bikes, bikes with child seat—all the usual stuff that I tend not to post very often, but that I like seeing, especially en masse. It’s nice to feel like we’re not completely alone out there.

This assisted elliptical bike-thingy was new to me.

This assisted elliptical bike-thingy was new to me.

Per usual, the Bullitt got more than its fair share of attention. It can be weird to be out with it, because the novelty of our bike makes people massively curious even on a day that things aren’t going well. We are not always the role models we would like to be. Luckily for us San Francisco parents seem to be buying Bullitts, so with luck there will be less pressure as time goes on.

First aid by bicycle

First aid by bicycle

Sunday Streets in the Western Addition is not quite as car-free as it is in some other locations. We were stopped by go-carts escorting local drivers occasionally, and some church traffic drove out of a parking lot last year—that was really distressing, because there were little kids playing in the street, which is sort of the point of Sunday Streets. However I was impressed to see that the official presence is more and more in the spirit of the event, including these bicycle-riding EMTs. Nice!

Pie is a good enough reason to hit the streets.

Pie is a good enough reason to hit the streets.

Still coming up this year: Sunday Streets in the Excelsior on September 29th (which is likely to be too much of a haul for us, or at least, for me), and the inaugural Sunday Streets in the Richmond on October 27th which will be linked with the normal Golden Gate Park street closures (wouldn’t miss it for the world!) Richmond Sunday Streets will run along Clement Street. Mmm, dim sum.

Leave a comment

Filed under bike share, Bullitt, destinations, family biking, rides, San Francisco

Mission Sunday Streets 2013

We arrive at Sunday Streets. No more cover; it's spring in San Francisco.

We arrive at Sunday Streets. No more cover; it’s spring in San Francisco.

Last weekend we went to Sunday Streets again, and it was even more crowded than last year. Except right at the start, I think that the Mission site is so popular that walking the bike is no longer optional but required. It was still fun, however, with a caveat.

We went planning to meet another Bullitt family. Instead we met two! Even more amazing, although both rode red Bullitts, neither one of them was the one I recently spotted at our son’s after-school program (I asked).

This was the first red Bullitt.

This was the first red Bullitt.

We were late to Dynamo Donuts because we got caught in all the street traffic, which is okay, because halfway there we spotted our first red Bullitt. What’s more, it was another Bullitt from Splendid Cycles! (Matt has been complaining that we need a bigger Splendid sticker on our bike because people keep stopping him to ask where we got it. The little sticker under the seat is easy enough to spot if you know where to look, and of course I do, but strangers on the street, not so much.) It was great to meet this family.

I am getting the skinny about Bullitt #2.

I am getting the skinny about Bullitt #2.

When we got to Dynamo we met Jim, as planned, with his red Bullitt, plus an Xtracycle (formerly assisted, before the battery died), a Kona Ute, and eventually a music trike. For all the attention that one Bullitt gets, it pales in comparison to the attention that two Bullitts get. This red Bullitt came from Blue Heron in Berkeley, and to my astonishment he got it back to San Francisco on BART, by standing it on end in the elevators. I’m still impressed by this story.

A Kona Ute set up for kids

A Kona Ute set up for kids

Unfortunately by this time Matt, who had ridden the Bullitt because this trip would be his only riding for two weeks thanks to all his business travel, noticed that the front cranks, which had failed once before, were starting to creak again. By the time we navigated back to Mission, they stopped working almost entirely. Matt had to use the throttle on the BionX to get the bike home. Using the assist this way drains the battery fast, but we were lucky to have it. Now the Bullitt is back in the shop. Sigh. And I have to figure out a way to get both kids to their respective schools without a two-kid bike while Matt is away.

It's an organic cargo bike roll call.

It’s an organic cargo bike roll call.

This left me with two kids to get home solo. I crossed my fingers, loaded my daughter in the front basket (which is not rated for that kind of load, nor is it a comfortable way for her to ride) and rode home with them very, very carefully. The good news is that we made it.

And the other good news is that Mission Sunday Streets is pretty cool. Our kids were completely impressed by all the music, as were we. And the dancing. Check it out!

2 Comments

Filed under Bullitt, electric assist, family biking, rides, San Francisco

Sunday Streeeeeeeets!

People keep asking, so here's proof: you can fit 2 kids side by side in a Bullitt under the canopy. They are four and seven and were discussing Antarctica.

People keep asking, so here’s proof: you can fit 2 kids side by side in a Bullitt under the canopy. They are four and seven and were discussing Antarctica.

We missed the opening bell of Sunday Streets at the Embarcadero this year—and how is this year different from any other year? But thankfully someone—a special someone, specifically another Bullitt family—reminded me that Mission Sunday Streets is this month, so we are heading southeast to the Mission this weekend for Dynamo Donuts and cargo bike spotting. Hope to see many families there! (Learn from our mistakes: we now head out early before the crowds get so insane that we have to walk the bikes.)

This is a big weekend in family biking: in addition to Sunday Streets, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is holding a Playground to Playground Ride from Duboce Park to Golden Gate Park on Saturday (4/13, 10:30am). I think this is supposed to be kind of a sub rosa Kidical Mass (things that sound like Critical Mass have a mixed reputation among many in the city). I’ve been lobbying our kids to come on this ride as well but they’ve been balking, probably because there are no donuts involved.  But adults who also prefer their rides to involve food might want to check out the simultaneous Western Lands Dumpling Tour (also 4/13, 10:30am), which I would totally do if I were riding solo this weekend, but that never happens. Oh well. Maybe we’ll do our own dumpling not-tour at the local hole in the wall. Or maybe not, at least not until I break myself of the habit of checking restaurants’ health department scores.

OMG! Bullitt meets Bullitt!

OMG! Bullitt meets Bullitt!

The most exciting news for me this week was spotting another Bullitt bike set up for kid-hauling at our son’s after-school program. Which: !!!! The security guards were as excited as I was when I rolled up in a matching bike to the brand-new cargo bike-sized racks that the internet gave us. Thanks again, internet! I don’t know whose bike this is, but between that and the Clockwork Orange kid-hauler my sister keeps spotting downtown, and the two families I have now actually communicated with who have Bullitts, our ranks are growing. That’s without even counting the guy I spotted on the Panhandle hauling his dog in a Milk, and the pink Bullitt I’ve seen parked around the Mission that always seems to be loaded with furniture.

And we are outclassed again.

And we are outclassed again.

Last but not least, Matt reminded me why we often ride the Panhandle, still, instead of taking Page: because the bikes on the Panhandle are awesome. Why not haul your boat with your bike? Why not indeed?

2 Comments

Filed under family biking, rides, San Francisco

You can’t win them all: 2012 Holiday Lights Ride

Last night we headed out on for the 2012 San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Holiday Lights Ride. We loved this ride in 2011. And we were feeling pretty good, as we were lighted up like Christmas trees. Literally. We’d picked up some light strings at Ikea on the way back from a Hanukkah party for $2 apiece. We’re hard to miss these days.

Light strings, dynamo front and tail lights, reflective sidewall tires and jackets: we like visibility.

Light strings, dynamo front and tail lights, reflective sidewall tires and jackets: we like visibility.

For the first time, we also set up the Bullitt with the Roland add+bike trailer bike. We may be one less minivan, but with that setup we’re almost as long as a minivan. But our son was really excited that he’d get to pedal on this ride without risking falling behind. He has complained about boredom when he’s riding as a passenger.  Our daughter was thrilled that she’d have room as the sole occupant of the box to stretch out and take a nap.

Even with our efforts to pack her in under a rain skirt, our preschooler was not enjoying this ride on the Bullitt.

Even with our efforts to pack her in under a rain skirt, our preschooler was not enjoying this ride on the Bullitt.

When we rolled outside, however, we realized that in the time it took to set up the kids and the bikes, it had started raining hard. Even with excellent rain gear, having rain driving into our faces was making us and the kids miserable. We headed over to the Panhandle statue anyway, figuring that we’d at least get a brief trip on the trailer-bike in for fun. Astonishingly, the ride was not called for rain. However instead of the hundreds of riders who’d showed up last year, there were maybe a dozen people.

The bedraggled riders slosh home.

American Gothic, in which the bedraggled riders decide discretion is the better part of valor and slosh home.

We didn’t make it far on that ride. Our son had rain pants, but had decided against boots, and although he was really enjoying pedaling he complained that his shoes were filled with water. We weren’t doing much better. When the ride headed into Golden Gate Park, we headed back up the hill toward home. We dried them off and took them out for udon noodles across the street as an apology. By then it had mostly stopped raining. Better luck next year.

Our son was actually so thrilled to be on the Roland trailer-bike he was willing to gut it out longer than anyone.

Our son was actually so thrilled to be on the Roland trailer-bike he was willing to gut it out longer than anyone.

2 Comments

Filed under Bullitt, family biking, rides, San Francisco

Upcoming: SFBC 9th Annual Holiday Lights Ride

Yeah, we're ready.

Yeah, we’re ready.

I just saw the posting: the 2012 San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Holiday Lights Ride will be on December 16, 2012. We loved this ride last year, even though we had to peel off early with dozing kids. This year with the Bullitt in our stable I’m hoping our daughter can pass out on the bike if necessary and we can make it the whole way through. Meet at the Panhandle statue at 6:30pm–details copied below from the Chain of Events. Hope to see you there!

9th Annual Holiday Lights Ride (and Potluck)*

Sun., Dec. 16 | 6:30 | Meet at the Panhandle Statue, Fell and Baker Sts.

Get festive on our lively, annual two-wheelin’ pilgrimage to visit some of the city’s most stellar light displays. Summon your creative holiday spirit and ring your silver bells, caroling all the way. Bring potluck treats to share at a super special secret endpoint.

*Approx 11 miles, with moderate hills. Heavy rain cancels.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bullitt, family biking, rides, San Francisco

Not another “hills of San Francisco” post!

Happily, we don’t live on any of the hills featured in this movie short. But I definitely recognize them (and avoid them). “Russian Hill Roulette” is now several years old, and since it was made, people have identified many steeper streets. Now, nothing in it would make the top six list of steepest hills in San Francisco.

Welcome to San Francisco, and remember: going up can be difficult, but going down can be dangerous, so always maintain those brakes.

If watching this seems like a dream come true to you, head to San Francisco next July for the Seven Hells of San Francisco ride. I won’t be there.

3 Comments

Filed under rides, San Francisco

Western Addition Sunday Streets

Looking north up Baker Street

Last weekend we went to the second annual Western Addition Sunday Streets. Mission Sunday Streets is an institution at this point, packed with crowds and activities. Western Addition Sunday Streets has a mellower vibe. It’s also a lot closer to home.

My son shows off his new skills, weaving through a cone course.

This was the first Sunday Streets we’ve attended where our son could ride his own bike. Over the summer he’s progressed from the back of the MinUte to the trailer-bike to finally riding on his own. From his perspective, this was the best Sunday Streets ever.

Heading west on Fulton Street. Most people walked their bikes here.

Unlike the Mission route, the Western Addition route is hilly. It heads up over Alamo Square and over to the Fillmore and Japantown. Our son handled the western approach to Alamo Square on his own, which was amazing to watch. He couldn’t manage the eastern approach, and his ever-more-insistent demands for a bike with gears are pretty understandable.

Bicycle obstacles for us and our neighbors

The Western Addition feels less like an event along much of the route, and more like a neighborhood enjoying the weekend. There were rummage sales and lemonade stands and some families put out balls and toys for passing kids. The bicycle teeter-totter was a big attraction, and the neighborhood friends we saw over Labor Day in Golden Gate Park were there with their bikes as well, in addition to our son’s Japanese teacher and her daughter. We never see these kinds of things in San Francisco (lemonade stands!) unless the street is closed to cars.

“I’m a baby kitty cat!”

This route covers many of the same streets that we travel when we take our son to school, but it feels completely different. One of the things I like about the Western Addition is that it is one of the most integrated neighborhoods in the city. We stopped by a YMCA booth for face painting right outside a housing project. The projects sometimes look scary from a car, but on Sunday it was just a place to stop and talk with the neighbors.

The pies were a hit.

We stopped for lunch at the homemade pie shop that Matt has passed dozens of times on the way to school or on the way home from work, but had yet to visit. I had fears that a restaurant with a name like “Chili Pies” wouldn’t have any food our kids would eat given that they shun all things spicy. But no worries, they had fruit-only pies as well. And there were three kinds of kale salad. San Francisco, you never disappoint.

This bike isn’t in the Public Bikes catalog, which saddens me.

There are a lot more cargo bikes on the streets now. Music bikes, people carrying friends on Xtracycles, a mamachari, and all kinds of kid-carrying rigs (except a Bakfiets! And also no piano bike. This route was hilly.)

Food trucks are so over. Food bikes are the future.

Although these two bikes couldn’t go through most of the route due to the hills, I thought it was so clever that these people were able to capitalize on the popularity of food trucks by setting up food bikes! It’s not the greatest photo, but one bike is welded to a shopping cart and the other is welded to a wheelbarrow. The man is making pad thai in the wok while the woman takes orders.

It’s hard to get a sense of what it’s really like at Sunday Streets from pictures. So I took a video.

2 Comments

Filed under family biking, rides, San Francisco

Riding to the Bicycle Music Festival

The Bicycle Music Festival at Log Cabin Meadow

On Saturday, Matt headed off to China for work again. Saturday was also the last day I spent with my son before his departure for grandma (and grandpa) camp in Berkeley. After three weeks at wheelkids, what he wanted to do with the day was show off his new bike riding skills. Okay by me! So after the morning rush of seeing Matt off, and my daughter’s afternoon nap, we rode down to Golden Gate Park for the Bicycle Music Festival.

Pedal!

The Bicycle Music Festival has amplified music, but it’s all bicycle-powered. I had hoped that kids would have the opportunity to ride the generator-bikes, but they all seemed custom, and sized only for adults. And incidentally, I have never seen so many electric assist bicycles in one place in my life. If they’re electric-assist bicycles, is the festival really human-powered? Certainly I can’t imagine any other way to manage the musical parade across town, but it’s an interesting philosophical question.

Is it a picnic or a bicycle festival? Even hundreds of bicycles are unobtrusive.

Pretty much everyone came to the Bicycle Music Festival by bicycle, and brought them onto the Log Cabin Meadow with them. And yet, although the numbers of bicycles were visually impressive, it looked nothing like its closest automobile equivalent, which to me would be tailgating. A group of people with an equal number of bicycles looks like a big picnic. A group of people with an equal number of cars looks like a parking lot full of cars.

Haven’t we seen you somewhere before?

These days we are starting to recognize some of our neighborhood bikes and we’re in that odd place where we nod to acquaintances when we recognize their bikes, although we don’t really know them. It’s like that weird relationship you end up having with other dog owners at the dog park or other parents at the children’s playground.

Riding in the JFK bike lane (the portion open to cars)

It turned out that the actual music at the Bicycle Music Festival was not that attractive to kids, or at least it wasn’t at the time we came. My son could not have less interest in spoken word/rap, even if it was ostensibly about bicycles. Instead he rode around for a while through the field, winding around other bicycles in a self-guided obstacle course. I had no idea he’d picked up off-road riding at camp.

The kids did like this Mundo converted to sound stage. I wouldn’t ride it without an electric assist either.

He quickly grew tired of the festival and asked to ride around the park more. Now that it’s summer, most of JFK Drive is closed off to cars on both Saturday and Sunday, so no problem. We rode to the waterfall and back, and then headed home.

I was initially nervous about taking our son on actual streets to and from Golden Gate Park, but three weeks at wheelkids seems to have worked something close to a miracle. He now rides a straight line, stops at stop signs before the line without falling over, uses hand signals, and watches oncoming traffic. He’s not perfect (he’s six!) but I was impressed.  On hills he stands to get leverage, and although he couldn’t make it home without walking—it’s a single-speed bicycle—he rode a good portion of it. And he got back on the bike for the last stretch near home. He’s not ready for the traffic and hills on the route to school, but he’s closer than I would have hoped. I give full props to wheelkids for this, because we came nowhere near teaching him this stuff on our own. And he loved it.

Check it out! Stopped at a stop sign all by himself!

When we got home, we headed out for sushi and noodles at our neighborhood joint. And who showed up but Adrienne from Change Your Life, Ride A Bike! It was great to meet her; reading her stories about riding with her youngest in San Francisco is part of what gave us the confidence to try riding with our kids in the city. Big city, small world.

2 Comments

Filed under destinations, electric assist, family biking, rides, San Francisco, Yuba Mundo

Vacation: all I ever wanted

In 1st grade, our son learned to love reading

Last week my son finished first grade (this beggars belief, but is nonetheless good). When he finished kindergarten last year, we learned that summer camps in San Francisco typically take a week’s breather between the end of the school year and the first week of camp, which left us scrambling. This year we decided to sidestep this issue by staying home with our kids and goofing off all week.

Here comes trouble.

Matt and our son started the weekend off with a bang by driving to Reno for a martial arts tournament on Friday afternoon. My daughter and I headed to the 2nd annual Rosa Parks end-of-the-school-year Parental Happy Hour at the Park Chalet in Golden Gate Park. Although it was odd to be there without my son, we had a great time. My daughter spent most of the time there filching French fries from other families’ baskets and feeding them to unwitting toddlers. Then she ran out into the road (not closed to cars on Fridays) and I decided it was time to head home.

Headed to dinner and a movie in the Tenderloin

On Sunday we rode to the Golden Gate Bridge’s birthday party. On Monday we rode down the Great Highway to the zoo and back. On Tuesday we walked to the children’s playground at Golden Gate Park and rode the carrousel, and then headed out for the first date night we’ve had in, uh, a really long time. During which time a couple of bikes went back to the shop again. So on Wednesday we went back to the beach to build sandcastles—by that point, only the southbound side of the Great Highway was closed.

Taking a break from the swans at the Palace of Fine Arts

On Thursday we went to the Palace of Fine Arts and the Exploratorium—by car, this time, as Matt was not yet ready to face the Presidio hill again. After a long afternoon spent playing with sand and fog and building PythagoraSwitch, we finally talked the kids into heading home. Our daughter was thrilled on the way out to see “A PINK PRINCESS!” It was a lovely young lady celebrating her quinceanera, who was indeed dressed up like a princess, right down to the tiara.

Alas, we did not get the bike-in discount on this trip.

On Friday we drove with one of our son’s friends from school and his sister to Pescadero to pick strawberries. The boys were diligent pickers, and filled up three flats between them. Their sisters took a more relaxed approach. My daughter’s strategy was to walk up to me and ask me to give her some berries to fill her basket. Then she would sit down and eat them all. I have to admit that this was efficient.

Demonstrating the commitment to eating strawberries.

Ultimately we ended up with five flats of strawberries, only two of which we managed to pass off to our friends, and despite making freezer jam, a strawberry cake, strawberry mimosas, and freezing an entire flat of strawberries for some to-be-determined future use, in addition to serving strawberries at every meal and for random snacks, we still have unbelievable quantities of strawberries lying around, not to mention two boys that will not stop asking when we can go berry picking again, and who will eat strawberries until they gag and clench their stomachs in agony if you make the mistake of saying, “Not until we finish the ones we have already.”

Excavating the back yard with a jackhammer

On Saturday we went to visit another of my son’s classmates, who was celebrating his seventh birthday. Like my office, his home is located on the site of one of San Francisco’s former cemeteries, and over spring break, while digging in the back yard at random, he found a big rock that father identified as marble. For his birthday party, he wanted to dig up what he had decided was his tombstone. So that’s what we did. Another dad from school, who works at a major construction rental firm, brought a jackhammer, and everyone dug out the rock.

This is unquestionably from the former cemetery.

It turned out that it was in fact a grave marker. Random tombstones are evidently not uncommon in the city. When San Francisco moved all the graves to Colma, the workers at the time evidently often chose the move-the-bodies-but-leave-the-big-heavy-rocks-in-the-ground approach. The kids spent the rest of the party cleaning out the inscription, while the birthday dad began researching the identity of the deceased and the question of what exactly you do with a tombstone dug up for your son’s seventh birthday. This was unquestionably the most memorable birthday party I have ever attended.

Spotted at Sunday Streets: kid sleeping in Xtracycle FreeLoader

Our last day of vacation was a return to Mission Sunday Streets. This is always great by itself, but was even better with a visit from Jen of Loop-Frame Love, who was visiting San Francisco for a conference. Our son was delighted to see another classmate’s family performing in the capoeira demonstration (and some friends watching from the sidelines), and as usual we hit the doughnut shop. Our PTA president, who was there with their triple tandem, took my mamachari for a test ride and loved it (ha!) Sunday Streets was even more packed than last month, and it was sad to see the party on the streets die off as cars appeared again at the end of the afternoon. So we rode home to catch a last dinner with some of our favorite neighbors, who are, alas, moving to Marin.

Capoeira!

Although I stayed up too late most nights, I am not sure, after this week, that I will ever be able to convince myself to leave San Francisco again. This city is unmatchable. This week, our son starts bike camp. And on the weekend we are going camping with the tombstone family and some other friends from school—we will of course haul our supplies to the campsite by cargo bike. And I can’t wait to find out what will happen next.

Leave a comment

Filed under Brompton, cargo, destinations, family biking, rides, San Francisco

Parking a bike in San Francisco’s Tenderloin

It’s hard to see, but this new Tenderloin building has vertical wind turbines along the side to generate its own power–it was very cool.

Earlier this week the stars aligned and my husband and I headed out for a rare date night. Tuesday is not exactly the romantic night of choice in the city and the first restaurant we’d hoped to visit was not even open. Although riding our bikes through the Tenderloin was not our first choice, there was an open restaurant and a nearby movie theater, so to the Tenderloin we went.

The thought of parking a bike on the street in that neighborhood was unappealing. The Brompton was still in the shop. We were hoping that San Francisco’s law that all garages open to the public must provide bike parking would come through for us. It totally did.

This parklet on Polk Street was new to us. Note the electric bike parked in the racks alongside!

Riding to the Tenderloin turned out to be pretty easy; we had to cross over Alamo Square but the rest of the route was pretty flat. The main drag over is on McAllister, which goes through several blocks of public housing projects, but they are not the kinds of public housing projects that draw a lot of shootings (those are further south) although property crime rates are high. It turns out that riding through the Tenderloin feels much safer than driving through it; we both commented on this. I’m not sure why that is. The dedicated bike lanes certainly helped, but in the past driving on those same streets felt more intimidating.

The hotel had one tiny bike rack next to a dumpster, but no complaints! No one else was using it.

We went to a Moroccan restaurant in a hotel, which is surprisingly good. We hoped that we might be able to put the bikes in the bell room, as I’ve done in hotels in other cities. No such luck here, but they did have a garage below the hotel, and they did indeed meet the legal requirement for bike parking. The garage didn’t hold any actual cars; it was used for deliveries and storage. The tiny bike rack was next to a dumpster filled with rolls of carpet on one side and several dozen fold-up beds and portable cribs on the other. They closed the garage door after us, thankfully, because I realized I had forgotten my lock, a San Francisco disaster. Matt had his and was able to lock my bike with his cable, but total security fail on my part. But with the garage door locked behind us we felt we would have been safe no matter what.

The restaurant was more appealing than the garage, happily.

When we walked upstairs to the restaurant, I got the feeling we may have been the first people ever to use those racks, because the host was completely blown away that we’d ridden our bikes there, evident when we popped up through the garage door, not the typical entrance. “Let me get you some water right away! You must be thirsty after you RODE YOUR BIKES!” And then, “Do you want some more bread? You’re probably really hungry! After all, you RODE YOUR BIKES!” I appreciated the attentiveness but it started to get a little weird.

These are the bike racks at the AMC Van Ness parking garage (also unclaimed).

Feeling pretty lucky, we picked up our bikes, waited for them to unlock the garage, then headed to the movie theater. Matt really, really wanted to see The Avengers. I think this may have been the first movie we’ve seen in a theater since our son was born over six years ago. We had no idea that the theater garage now charges $17 to park a car during a movie. This is the validated rate! It’s higher if you’re just dropping by. But another score: per city ordinance, AMC Van Ness has a bike rack, right across from the staffed parking office and behind the limos. Again, this was a weird place to park a bike, and the racks themselves were crappy. But with only one lock between us, we couldn’t have asked for a safer place than next to a bunch of limo drivers waiting for their passengers and the parking attendant.  And it was free, an unbeatable price.

We both liked the Polk Street bike lanes; very mild uphill grades and lots of company.

We have found that there are often these unexpected great places to park bikes around the city, particularly in garages. I kind of wish there were a map that showed them all, because we always feel a bit uncertain. But so far so good.

Of course we had to ride home after the movie, and the eastern approach to Alamo Square is brutal, and then it’s followed by the usual slog up Mt. Sutro to get home. But it was a good night, better on the bikes that it would have been in a car, and unquestionably cheaper. It’s like a discount plan: ride your bike on four dates, and the cost of the babysitter for the fifth date is free.

3 Comments

Filed under rides, San Francisco