Pump up your tires, because tomorrow is San Francisco Bike to Work Day, the biggest bike day of the year. If you’re a newbie dusting off your housemate's old Schwinn from the basement or a religious bike commuter, you should join in on the action. It’s the day the whole city takes note of that there are A LOT of people biking in San Francisco.
So to get you rolling for Bike to Work Day, here are ten things you should know about biking in San Francisco:
- Biking is the best way to get around San Francisco. Truly. With our mild climate, tiny 7x7 mile geography, huge bike culture and bike lanes criss-crossing every neighborhood, it’s by far the greatest and most fun way to commute.
- The Wiggle is your best friend. Looking for the best, least hilly crosstown route? Look no further than the Wiggle, which starts in Duboce Triangle and winds up to the Panhandle with nary a hill on the way. Magic! Just follow the bright green sharrows, or the hundreds of other bike riders.
- Know the rules of the road. Stop at stop signs and lights, yield to pedestrians, front and rear lights required at night, sidewalks are for pedestrians and kids on bikes, and you can ride in the middle of a lane if you need to.
- Get a good lock. Sadly, bike theft is prevalent in SF; you probably know at least ten friends who have had bikes stolen. Cut down your chances by getting a solid U-lock and locking skewers for your wheels. Lock the frame, always, and not just the wheels. Nothing worse than seeing a well-locked wheel sitting frameless on the sidewalk.
- The best routes that aren’t the Wiggle: 17th Street has a newly paved bike lane all the way from the Castro to Potrero. Smooth! Fell and Oak Streets have brand new separated bikeways to get between the Wiggle and Panhandle. In the outer avenues, Kirkham is a good bet. 14th Street and Valencia both have “green waves,” with lights timed for bikes. Enjoy these sweet rides!
- How to take your bike on transit. Bikes are allowed on Caltrain in the bike car. BART allows bikes on board except during rush hour (but they’ve been testing removing the bike blackout this year !!), Muni buses allow them and have bike racks on the fronts, but Muni trains don’t.
- Ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, at least once. There’s gorgeous riding in Marin and it’s worth the sometimes harrowing bike ride across the Golden Gate. Yep, there are big headwinds and lots of tourists, but also big vistas and hey, it’s our bridge. Do it! The bike side is open on weekends and after 3 pm on weekdays. Little known fact: It’s also open all night; you just have to hit the button on the gate to access it.
- Car-free places to practice riding: If you’re trying to gain your bike legs, practice some SF pedaling in a safe, mellow spot. Golden Gate Park is car-free on Sundays. Marina Green and the Embarcadero are also nice shared paths for pedaling.
- You don’t have to wear anything special to bike. You can bike in your regular clothes. No need to have special bike gear, spandex or shoes to bike to work. Just be your normal, fabulous self. In fact, you can bike in heels, and it just makes you that much hotter.
- San Francisco bike riders aren’t all the same. People of all ages and demographics ride in San Francisco. There are lots of parents riding with kids, and one in three bike riders in SF is a woman (let’s get that to 50%, ladies).
Hope to see you in the bike lanes tomorrow! There are Energizer Stations set up all over the city. Find one near you and pedal by for some bike schwag and info. And bike on Market Street to get counted at the new Market Street Bike Counter, which just might prove that San Francisco reigns supreme when it comes to the number of city bike riders. Don’t you want to be one of them?