Last Thursday was San Francisco’s Bike to Work Day. I’m getting the sense that these events are regional, as this one seems Bay Area-specific. I suppose this facilitates business travelers with Bromptons getting more frequent opportunities to ride around different cities picking up swag.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which sponsors Energizer stations in the morning, bike convoys to downtown for office workers and to Civic Center for advocates, and a party in the evening (who has the time?), urged everyone this year to dress up for Bike to Work Day to make it evident that it was possible to ride to work in office clothes. From my observation, this was a mixed success. “Dressing up” in San Francisco seems to evoke more of a Burning Man look than a business casual look. It’s superior to lycra, I suppose.
Matt and I work at offices where we are expected to hit at least the business casual level on most days. (Admittedly there are days at my office where people are wandering around in stretch pants and hoodies, but only in secured areas where patients can’t see them.) So Matt went with his usual dress shirt san tie look. I wore a standard blouse-plus-slacks ensemble as I was headed to the main hospital campus later for an afternoon meeting. Speaking only for myself, I was definitely in the top 10% of the riders I passed on the formal dress standard.
The morning Energizer stations seem pretty well distributed along the main commute routes. Matt hit one along Market Street, and I ran into another on Arguello Boulevard, near the bicycle center of gravity created by Velo Rouge Café (SFBC discount partner, extensive bike racks) and the recently opened San Francyclo (an interesting new bike shop with a cute dog, worth discussing another time). My Energizer station was evincing a mellow vibe due to failed coffee delivery, but they were handing out bagels and fruit.
And of course we got our swag bags. We hadn’t given this much thought in advance, but I was glad in hindsight that we had both picked up bags, as both kids wanted their own stickers and so forth. The biggest hits by far were the bicycle key chains. My son picked up his and immediately started trying to use the ring attached to it to lock his mini-bicycle to his napkin ring. Why yes, we do live in a city. When I recently offered my son a spare cable lock for his bicycle he looked at me like I was nuts and insisted on a U-lock. My son has lost dozens of jackets over the years, but his bike will remain secure anywhere short of the 24th Street BART station, where bike locks go to die.
Included in the swag were various things to read, and Matt and I were both thrilled and disappointed by the flyer for the Connecting the City crosstown bikeways plan. It was thrilling because it was awesome, and disappointing because the most-optimistic date of completion is 2020. Given the California state budget, that probably means never. I would love to be proven wrong.
Were there more riders on the road? Where I ride, there seemed to be a few more, but not many. My commute route is a little atypical, however. I did see more riders walking their bikes up hills, which suggested they might be new to this. You learn to ride up hills pretty quickly in my neck of the woods.
I am now at the point where I’m riding to work nearly every day of the week. A year ago, who would have thought? So an official Bike to Work Day feels a little odd: every day is bike to work day. But a free banana is nice any morning of the year.