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Hot 20: The Two-Wheelers

Left to right: Scott Crosby, founder SF2G; Karen Wiener, co-owner The New Wheel; Bret Lobree, creator rideallofsf.tumblr.com; Leah Shahum, executive director SF Bicycle Coalition; Heath Maddox, program manager of Bay Area Bike Share. Photograph by Zach Gross.

HOT. The word carries so many meanings: passionate, sizzling, trendy, intense, and yes, sexy. But for us, it signals our favorite month. Meet the 20 movers and shakers that have us fired up this year.

In San Francisco, this is the year of the bicycle, and these people (Scott Crosby, Karen Wiener, Bret Lobree, Leah Shahum, and Heath Maddox) deserve at least some of the credit.

Leah, the SFBC, which you’ve led for 10 years, is one of the most effective advocacy groups in SF for any cause. Separate bike lanes, bike valets, route finders—city riders seriously owe you one.

Scott, your commuter group has mapped fun, safe routes from SF to all points south. (Not just Google, though that is what the G originally stood for.) What’s more, SF2G encourages newbies with monthly “First Friday Friendly Frolic” rides.

Heath, the bike-share program you helped launch lets the timid give city riding a try. (Let’s hope it grows beyond the initial 700 bikes split between SF and the Peninsula.)

Karen, you and your husband, Brett Thurber, have brought us pedal-assist electric bikes, which make cycling possible for everyone. (And your shop’s Bernal Heights location provides some excellent test rides.)

Finally, Bret, if anyone doubts that SF’s hills and bikes are compatible, they need to check out your blog: graphic proof that every single SF street can be traversed on two wheels! (That’s 1,461.8 miles of riding, 145,635 feet of climbing, and 111 hours in the saddle.) Kudos, all.

Their favorite urban bike routes

Karen: “Last November, we left work early one day to ride home to Sausalito, and we were just beat—the plan was just to get home and to sleep. As we were passing Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands, though, Brett said, Shall we go up there and watch the sunset? It was totally worth it and one of my favorite memories.”

Leah: “It sounds mundane, but I love biking home to the Mission from work, turning onto 18th Street to Bi-Rite, and filling my basket with fresh flowers, and groceries, and a bottle of wine.”

Heath: “Every day, I ride to either the Garfield Pool on Harrison or the Hamilton Pool at Steiner and Geary—it’s not exactly my favorite urban ride, but it’s the one I do most often.”

Scott: “The Butterlap, which is a route invented by Ira Menitove. It’s actually a club on Strava now.”—the route starts at the Ferry Building, follows the northern coast of the city, and then cuts inland through Golden Gate Park.

Their wish lists for SF

Leah: “We know for a fact—whether that’s from polling or surveys or just talking to people—we know more people want to bicycle in the city. The big hindrance for many is whether there are safe, comfortable places to ride. In fact, it’s much safer than many people think, but it does look chaotic and sometimes intimidating. So what the city can do is create more physically separated bike space that’s literally connecting neighborhoods, employment centers, our regional transit centers, commercial districts, and schools, because we know that when it comes to bicycling infrastructure, when we build it, they come.”

Heath: “How about bike sharing citywide? Like seven by seven? We’re starting very small because of limited funding, and if I could really roll this out universally, everywhere in the city... I mean, seven by seven is a bit of an exaggeration, but if I could roll this out everywhere, it’s feasible, with just a wave of a wand, that would be the most effective policy and infrastructural change to achieve a much more bikeable city. We have these lofty goals here in San Francisco of 20 percent of trips by 2020 by bike, but I don’t think we’re going to get there on time without bike sharing. Bike sharing is really going to open up bicycling to a whole bunch of people who aren’t really considering it now. And aside from being a very useful tool and mode of getting around, it’s just a great big marketing campaign for bikes—it’s like, there are bikes everywhere.

Bret: “I would love to see a car-free Golden Gate Park.”