Tag Archives: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

Upcoming bicycle events in San Francisco

If I had any sense I’d post local bicycling-related events on some kind of schedule, but alas, I don’t. However I occasionally get my act together and this is one of those times.

Intro to Urban Bicycling Workshops

  • November 12th at 4117 Judah Street, 6:00-7:00pm
  • November 15th at 610 Old Mason Street, 11:00am-12:00pm (Adults 50+)
  • November 18th at 739 Bryant Street, 6:30-7:30pm

Sometimes people ask me how to they can learn to feel more comfortable riding on city streets, especially if they haven’t been on a bike in a while. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has your back on this, and this month they’re offering three Intro to Urban Bicycling workshops to people who’d like to develop more confidence. Get more information and register at their Events website. No bicycle is necessary for the class.

Urban Street Skills 101: Classroom

  • November 13th at 1135 Powell Street (Chinatown Library), 6:00-8:00pm

Same idea as the intro class above but it’s twice as long, and presumably twice as helpful. Participants will leave qualified to take future on-road classes. Again, no bicycle is necessary.

Winterfest

  • November 16th, City View at Metreon, 135 4th Street, 6:00-10:30pm

For years I’ve wanted to go to Winterfest, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s annual member party and auction, and yet I’ve never quite managed it. November is usually a heavy travel month for Matt, so in previous years I’ve always been solo-parenting. I suppose I could have hired a sitter for the kids and gone alone, but (despite the impression that the blog might give) I am relatively introverted in real life and thus I would rather rip out my own toenails with pliers than head unaccompanied into a room full of strangers. But this year is different: we’re both in town and barring a spanner in the works like an unexpectedly sick kid, we’ll be partying with the people of the bike in a week or so. Free valet bike parking is provided (duh, but still). See you there!

As an aside, all of these events are sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC). We’ve been members of the SFBC for years now, and it is outranked only by our kids’ school as the one of the organizations we are most happy to support. Every time we see another bike lane striped in the city or green paint on the street, our memberships feel like money well-spent. If you enjoy riding a bike in San Francisco, please consider supporting the SFBC! Getting out and riding is easier every year thanks to their efforts. They’re awesome.

 

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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?

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San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Family Bike Day

I spotted this amazing red Onderwater right away. What a beauty!

There are some insanely awesome family bikes in San Francisco. Granted, to the best of my knowledge no one in the city is hauling seven kids on a Bakfiets (although I hear there are a couple of Bakfietsen in San Francisco, in the Mission). However the fabulously varied terrain of the city has led to all kinds of family bikes on the move. We saw many of them at the SFBC Family Bike Day last Saturday.

My kids’ lust for a tandem has not dimmed in the last year, so we were all very excited to see our second Onderwater family tandem, now roaming the streets of San Francisco. This bike is so cool. The dad who rode it had gotten it from My Dutch Bike, and said that having the kids in front made a world of difference in riding with them. This was their school commute bike. It was amazing.

This is the rare and elusive Joe Bike, now discontinued

Almost as obscure was the now-discontinued Joe Bike Boxbike, which was evidently purchased sight unseen two years ago and shipped to the city from Portland. Most of the family bikes, like ours, were basically bikes with a child seat slapped on the back: child seats are a cheap and effective way to get a kid from here to there, but they lack some style when stacked up next to the dedicated family haulers.

The Rosa Parks crew was also there in force, some with bikes and some looking for bikes. Over the course of the day, as bikes came and went, I must have seen a dozen orange Yuba Mundos; a couple were assisted, including the unstoppable BionX Mundo that we see most days on the way to school. I am continually impressed at the way that Yuba has hit a price/functionality point that is getting so many families on bikes.

The Metrofiets had it all.

In the One Family Bike to Rule Them All category was the Metrofiets that showed up later in the afternoon, complete with (now discontinued) Stokemonkey assist and Follow-Me tandem. Jaws dropped. There is nowhere that bike cannot go. It got so much attention that I realized it must be a real burden sometimes to ride a bike that is such a work of art. I get enough attention as it is just on the mamachari and the Brompton, which are pretty weird by themselves, but they aren’t in the same class.

My son was a little short for the blender bike, but pedaled on for the promise of smoothies.

The Family Bike Day was partly about showcasing family bikes, but it wasn’t just a roll call. The SFBC had brought a bike blender, and my son was so delighted that he made four smoothies on it, stopping only when he got so tired that he smashed his crotch on the top tube. That was a bad moment. There were classes on Biking While Pregnant (pro tip: raise your handlebars) and Biking with Toddlers (world’s easiest class to teach: “Let’s go look at all the bikes people brought”). At one point attendees were asked to organize by neighborhood as a way to make friends—alas, we were the only representatives of the Inner Sunset, so ultimately we formed an unofficial alliance with Rosa Parks parents from the Haight and the Presidio. My kids bought t-shirts and played in the grass.

Bike parking for prospective family riders

I ended up talking with a lot of the volunteers from SFBC, one of whom commented that it was frustrating that San Francisco was so far behind Portland in family biking. “Half the people here bought their bikes in Portland,” she sighed. “Uh, we just did the same thing,” I admitted. The reason why is pretty obvious: Portland has three bike shops targeting family biking, and San Francisco, well, doesn’t. We went into one bike shop that got annoyed when we tried to try out their demo child seat by putting my daughter into it (*cough* PUBLIC! *cough*) However I think that child-friendly bike shops are the result of the city becoming friendly to family biking rather than the cause of it. Several years ago, Portland started aggressively putting in bicycle infrastructure that felt safe enough to draw families. (Plus it’s mostly pretty flat. Yes, there are some hills in Portland, but not on the same scale.) If San Francisco continues on the same path, why wouldn’t the results be similar?

“I go so fast! Whee!” San Francisco still lacks routes that she could ride.

Even so I see many, many more families riding in the city than there were even a year ago. I see it at our son’s school: the kindergarten class has more regular riders than the entire school did last year. It’s still primarily dads that I see on the streets with kids, but at Rosa Parks it’s mostly moms. More families appear on the streets and more lanes go in that feel safe to ride with kids, and then even more parents think about riding themselves. I talk to these on-the-fence parents every week. They want to try riding with their kids one day a week. They want to figure out a route that is safe for kids. If they live on hills, they are thrilled to learn that there is such a thing as an electric assist.

I think my kids will be grown before this shift away from always driving with kids is complete. But I’m glad it’s happening. I can imagine how welcoming San Francisco could be with safe streets every day. We have traveled enough that I know what a city designed for people feels like. It would be worth the wait.

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Filed under advocacy, electric assist, family biking, San Francisco

Getting in the game

The Exploratorium offers a chance to make a robot ride a bike. Why not people?

Something I hear more often than I expected is other bike riders saying they’re not really advocates for cycling. They claim that their advocacy is just to be out riding. I totally support people riding bikes, but it surprises me that so many people don’t want to advocate for cycling. The reasons people for not advocating for something they love strike me as not much different that the reasons people give for driving instead of riding their bikes. It’s not that it’s particularly hard to do either, although of course it’s easier to do the same things that we’ve always done. Weekend leisure riders who drive a car to work every day are definitely making a contribution by making riding bicycles look normal, and everyday bike commuters who avoid advocacy are doing the same, but I’ve always felt that if it’s something I love–and I do love riding my bicycle–why would I stop there?

It would take too much time, I don’t have the right bike, there are no showers at my office, there are hills, I drive a Prius instead.

It would take too much time, I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s too hard, I ride my bike a lot instead.

Car-free Presidio: more like this, please.

Are they reasons or are they excuses? I’m not sure I’m one to judge, but I’m trying to do more. I figure that if I have the time to write a tweet I have the time to request a bike rack using the city’s online request form (my link is San Francisc0-specific, but Google pops up similar links for dozens of cities). If I have the time to write an email, let alone a blog post, I have the time to write a letter to the mayor and the head of Muni supporting the proposed separated Fell-Oak bike lanes. If I have the money to buy a new bike bell (or a new bike, cough cough), I have enough money to join the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and contribute to occasional fundraising drives. If I have the time to ask questions at the bike shop about my bike, I have the time to ask my credit union whether they could start making loans to get other people on bikes.

So I do all of these things, and occasionally things change for the better, and evidently this makes me an advocate. I am not in the league of A Simple Six, who is writing city bike plans and organizing community meetings and meeting with city officials one-on-one, or Family Ride and Tiny Helmets, who are starring in the local films and television news (and how cool is all of that?), but I once attended a hearing. Just like riding, I’m figuring it out as I go along. And although it’s not the same, I think that in its own way it’s just as rewarding as riding a bike.

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Protected bike lanes on JFK Drive

Most (not all) cars seem to understand the new lane markers

Recently San Francisco striped new separated bike lanes on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, which is a bicycle arterial through the western half of the city for commuters, including me. Thanks, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition! We take this route around the park with the kids on the weekends, but many more people take it east to the Panhandle on weekdays, and from there to the Wiggle and downtown. San Francisco is only 7×7 miles, so even people living at Ocean Beach can reasonably ride a bike all the way to work on this route, which is largely parkland, and now features protected bike lanes as well.

The new striping put two-way car traffic in the center of the road, with a parking lane to the side of each car travel lane. Then there is a buffer zone for car doors (so awesome!), a constant risk in the park, and a bicycle lane on the right at the edge of the road.

Am I a bicycle?

Figuring out the new system is apparently a struggle for some drivers. Although the bike lane is clearly marked, some people just can’t get over the idea of parking against the curb. This driver ignored all the cars appropriately parked in the strip to the left, not to mention an open parking space immediately to the left, in order to block the bike lane. It’s rare that I would advocate for a narrower bike lane, but maybe that might help this person get the point. Maybe not, though, as the car is parked right on top of a bike lane marker (an oppressed bicycle).

We don't need no stinkin' buffer zone

Still, having ridden these new lanes all week, I like them. Although I find it annoying that nearly all the cars park over the line so that they’re sitting in the door buffer zone to the right. Apparently drivers don’t really like being forced into moving car traffic when they’re stepping out of a parked car. The doorers now get to experience the consequences of dooring. Welcome to my world.

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