Tag Archives: kidical mass

Kidical Mass, Critical Mass

Getting to Critical Mass involved some serious traffic maneuvering. This bus was stopped completely, so we had to squeeze between it and the curb. And that is why I like narrow bikes.

It was a busy weekend for our bikes. On Friday, we attended San Francisco’s first Kidical Mass, which was an auxiliary of the 20th anniversary Critical Mass. We don’t live anywhere near the Financial District where the ride starts, plus we have little kids and almost never go out on Friday nights. As a result it had been years since we had any exposure to Critical Mass whatsoever, and we’d never ridden in one.

To make things more complicated, Matt had rented a car for a work meeting in the South Bay in the morning, had left late, and was caught in traffic returning to the city. He didn’t make it home until 40 minutes after we were supposed to leave. It is fair to say that his delay caused a modicum of tension in in the Hum household. If I had had the new cargo bike already, I would have taken both kids myself, but I had no way of doing that with our current bikes and I couldn’t take one kid and leave one home either. The list of things we could do if we had the new bike has reached the point where I now wonder a couple of times a week if waiting until October in exchange for free delivery was my best decision ever.

This woman had both a kid on the back and a dog in front!

So anyway, we got there late. Luckily for us, the ride started late too. Although many families had apparently left, pleading bedtimes, there were still a few people there with kids, and it was wonderful to meet them. I was particularly enamored of the family with stuffed animals zip tied to their helmets (who were understandably featured in all the local news coverage). The families riding in San Francisco are absolutely fabulous. Mostly I hang with the Rosa Parks parent crew, so I sometimes forget how many more people are out there.

This was a huge, huge ride, and as a result, there was about as much walking as there was riding. I was surprised at how philosophical many of the drivers caught in traffic were about the event. On some level, I suppose it is much like getting caught in traffic for any other event—game day, Occupy protest, whatever—just part of driving in the city. I am happy to have left this all far behind us.

Yes, there is a flaming broomstick on the back of that bike. It’s something to consider now that Jerry Brown has vetoed the 3-foot passing rule.

Although it was a new experience, and a slow ride, my daughter and I were having fun being around all the bikes, especially the unusual ones: tall bikes, conference bike, music bikes. We also saw a Yuba elMundo with two kids on board (not part of the Kidical Mass crew) stopped on the hill up Market Street because the motor had overheated. Unfortunately my son, who had spent the day running around for Undokai (Japanese Sports Day), was hungry, tired and frustrated and started crying and demanding to leave. We told him we would leave early and take him to a Mexican restaurant off the Wiggle on the way home, which improved his mood.

The conference bike had a little kid in the middle (a bad shot I realize).

And this is when the ride got funny. We peeled off from the main ride to the Market Street bike lanes heading west. “Where are all the bikes?” my daughter asked sadly. A few blocks later, the mass rushed into the lanes ahead of us. “Yay!” she said. We turned off from the ride and headed up another street. “Where are all the bikes?” A few minutes later, the mass rushed through the same street we turned onto. “Yay!” When we got onto the Wiggle, we rode for a few blocks on our own again, then whoosh! Critical Mass returned. We finally lost the ride for good when we headed directly up Page Street, which is far too steep for the fixie crew.

When we got home, my daughter was still missing all the bikes, and wondering at bedtime when they would come back. At the rate our ride was going, I think she expected them to show up in her room. But stuffed as she was on avocados and fried plantains, she fell asleep before she found out.

Our trip with the neighbors through Golden Gate Park seemed like a good potential Kidical Mass route.

I would love to try another Kidical Mass ride, independent of other rides on a more child-friendly schedule. We had a lovely ride with some neighbors on Labor Day in Golden Gate Park, which started with the kids running around at Koret Playground. From there were headed through the closed streets to the food trucks on the Music Concourse for ice cream and onward from there down JFK Drive. For kids on their bikes, practicing on streets closed to cars is very nice. Matt suggested that a future ride go along JFK all the way to the Park Chalet at Ocean Beach, which despite its horrific service and indifferent food has extensive bike parking, a huge open yard and seating, and interesting woods behind the yard where kids can play and parents can practice their free-range parenting skills. Any interest? If so, perhaps one of these upcoming Sundays could be another Kidical Mass.


Filed under advocacy, San Francisco, traffic, Yuba Mundo

Upcoming family biking events, in San Francisco and a bit yonder

San Francisco residents rejoice, for there are many exciting family biking events to attend as the weather clears up for fall. This week is a two-fer.

First, on Friday, September 28th, San Francisco families (or anyone who can make it here!) can join the city’s first-ever Kidical Mass ride, organized by the cheerful folks at sfbikingfamilies on Yahoo.

Rolling out with the Portland Kidical Mass crew. After six days in the high 90s to low 100s, it rained for the ride just as everyone headed to the ice cream stand. Surely we can do better than this.

From the Kidical Mass website: “The birthplace of Critical Mass, is holding our first Kidical Mass ride! Kidical Mass will be a contingent within the 20th Anniversary Critical Mass ride. Meet between 5:45 and 6pm, 9/28/12 at the SE corner of the big fountain in Justin Herman Plaza, where the fountain is closest to the grass. http://goo.gl/maps/0C3Ur . The plan is to peel off to end at Dolores Park around 6:45pm for an after-ride picnic.” The Hum of the city crew will be there for our own second Kidical Mass—we hit Portland’s party-rific afternoon ride in August.

Second, on Saturday, September 29th, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is hosting its 6th annual Family Day Celebration from 10am-2pm in Golden Gate Park, off JFK Drive at the 14th Avenue E picnic area (north of Stow Lake and east of the Transverse Drive overpass). Interested families can register online to get information about bike trains to the event and sign up for classes. We will be arriving late due to a critical ballet class, but will nonetheless be there in time for the 11:30am Family Biking Showcase, designed for those who are still on the fence about which rig might best suit their needs. Check out how to can carry multiple kids and fear no San Francisco hills! For those who have bikes already, the closing Family Bike Parade starts at 1:30pm.

Here’s part of the lineup at Portland’s Cargo Bike Roll Call. I’m assuming a similar scene in Fairfax.

Two weeks later, up in Fairfax, cargo bike enthusiasts can attend the Marin Biketoberfest’s Cargo Bike Jubilee. The event is on Saturday, October 13th, from 11am-6pm at the Fair/Anselm Plaza. Last year’s Jubilee included a bike art table, bike parade, bouncy house, and kid bike skills course, as well as the predictable display of cargo bikes. Attendees will include Splendid Cycles, traveling down the coast from Portland. We are unlikely to make it to the Jubilee because Matt will have just returned from Brazil. However our new cargo bike, a Bullitt Bluebird ’71 (“it’s superfly”), will be in attendance, so visitors can see it even before we do! Splendid Cycles offered to ship the bike to us in mid- to late-September, but given that they were planning to be here anyway in October, I chose the “free-to-me shipping because Joel and Barb are driving down anyway” option. Because our bike is occupying a space on their travel rack, it must pay its passage by spending a day entertaining the masses. I am already envying those will catch the first look.

Ride on, families!


Filed under family biking, San Francisco