Category Archives: bike share

People of the bicycle

I think this study was conducted on the day that I realized it was time to get some fenders on my bike.

I think this study was conducted on the day that I realized it was time to get some fenders on my bike.

This week we got a notice from school that the San Francisco Unified School District Commute Study results were out. I had a vague memory of this study when it was in the field, asking people about how they’d gotten to school, which unfortunately happened during one of the rare weeks when it actually rained. So I have good reason to suspect that the active transportation numbers are an underestimate. How did our kids’ school do?

  • Percentage of bicycle commuters in SFUSD overall: 1.5% (ouch!)
  • Percentage of bicycle commuters at Rosa Parks: 6.5%

Relatively speaking, it’s totally awesome; more than four times greater than the citywide average. Objectively speaking, well, we’re a long way from Copenhagen. However, our kids are in a citywide program, so there is reason to expect more driving, rather than less of it. Yet there is less driving—a lot less driving.

  • Percentage of car commuters in SFUSD overall: 56%
  • Percentage of car commuters at Rosa Parks: 48%

I have no idea what the car commuting percentages are like in less urban locales. I presume based on talking to people who live elsewhere that, outside the districts that still maintain a robust busing program, basically everyone drives. As SFUSD points out in its flyer, walking and biking to school can improve health and concentration. However from my perspective the bus is a great option as well—no need to park, it’s okay to drink a glass of wine, the kids sometimes don’t get as wet, you avoid having to climb steep hills or cross terrifying intersections unprotected, etc. My suspicion is that SFUSD is underselling the bus option because it cut most of its bus routes to save money. Nonetheless, people using passive transportation at Rosa Parks take a lot of buses. In fact the school soccer team is called the Rosa Parks Buses (best name ever). Rosa Parks and buses, it’s like a thing.

  • Percentage of bus commuters in SFUSD overall: 16%
  • Percentage of bus commuters at Rosa Parks: 24%

Don't even start with that "you can't carry [X] on a bike" nonsense.

Don’t even start with that “you can’t carry [X] on a bike” nonsense.

As mentioned, I suspect that overall this was an underestimate of the families using active transportation, but the relative numbers, given that our kids attend a citywide program, are enough to make the case that we are the people of the bicycle and the bus.

But perhaps you are, as yet, an aspiring San Francisco family biker, rather than an established one. And if you are like many of the people who email me, you may be wondering what bike to get. If so, have I got news for you. I mentioned a while back that Vie Bikes in San Francisco was planning a launch of a family bike rental program. Well, it’s here, with an impressive lineup that includes Bullitts, Boda Bodas, and the Butchers and Bicycles trikes. Apparently you need a promotion code if you want to book one; happily, anyone is welcome to use mine: HUMOFTHECITY001.

And last but not least, Sunday Streets is back in season, with the usual opener last weekend on the Embarcadero that we have not yet managed to attend in any year. On April 12th it’s in the Dogpatch while we are out of town, but we’re definitely eying May 10th in the Mission and June 14th in the Sunset (despite a date that all but guarantees maximum fog presence). Hope to see you there.


Filed under bike share, car-free, commuting, destinations, family biking, San Francisco

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.

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

Bay Area Bike Share in an empty city

The first bike arrives at the bike share station.

The first bike arrives at the bike share station.

This Friday is the opening day for Bay Area Bike Share. I knew, idly, that it was coming, but hadn’t really paid much attention, as the station route map reveals it is too far east for me to use much. I forgot, of course, that Matt works downtown. There is a new bike share station right outside his office! My sister has one outside both her home and her office (and mystifyingly, she does not plan to join. Yet.)

Of course Matt rides to work already, but riding a big cargo bike around the Financial District is not always the most convenient option, especially since one time that he did that, his (U-locked) bike was stolen. At noon. In a location with lots of foot traffic. By a thief using a handheld angle grinder.  At work, we can bring our bikes inside. Personally, if I had the option, I’d leave my bike inside all day and ride a bike share bike to meetings when I needed to leave the office. I think a docking station is designed to lock up a bike better than I ever could, and I suspect that it would be too tough to sell a bike share bike to make stealing one tempting. Not that it matters, because stolen bike share bikes wouldn’t really be my problem anyway.

Although I am not in the neighborhood and I can’t haul my kids on a bike share bicycle, I will eventually make it over to that part of the city (which is flat!) and try one out. You’ll hear about it here first.

However the grand opening of bike share is not the only reason that this will be a great weekend. This is also the long weekend of the empty city. On Wednesday night, the Bay Bridge was closed so that Cal Trans can transition the earthquake-damaged eastern span over to the new bridge. Virtually all of the traffic from the East Bay has evaporated. I noticed even this morning that there were far fewer cars on the road, which is always welcome. We have had this experience before during bridge closures, as well as on Thanksgiving and Christmas—visitors leave the city, and everything is suddenly completely accessible to those of us who live here. Restaurant reservations are available all evening and the lines at museums disappear. I’m sure that it’s not great for business, but it’s sometimes nice to have the city be a place just for its residents. Happy Labor Day!

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Filed under bike share, commuting, San Francisco, traffic