On the last Friday evening of every month, the streets of hundreds of cities around the world are transformed. The cars, trucks, and busses that usually dominate the landscape slow down – because they are overwhelmed by bicycles. In San Francisco, cyclists from all over the city, the Bay Area, and sometimes the world come together at the foot of Market Street.
In Downtown San Francisco on Market Street, subtly hidden next to the glitzy Westfield Shopping center, 10 floors above the newly painted green bike lanes, are the offices are the San Francisco Bike Coalition. It’s big and lofty-feeling; there’s a wall filled with hooks for bikes. This is the brain trust of the city’s bike movement. The person in charge is SFBC’s executive director, Leah Shahum. And she has a vision:
In California, once your feet leave the ground and hit the pedals of your bike, you’re under the same rules of the road as cars and trucks. But, the thing about riding a bike is that, unlike driving a car, you don’t need a license. There is no test. Once your parents take off the training wheels and let go of the back of your bike, you’re pretty much on your own.
I report on transportation for KALW, but I hardly ever ride my bike. I decided to take an urban bike riding class to learn everything you need to know about riding your bike in the Bay Area.
On today's show, we played a lot of top five bike lists – everything from the top five reasons it's great to bike in San Francisco to the top five tips for being an urban female biker. Listen to them all, plus a few extra, here.
Chris Hoff, KALW sound engineer
Top five bike gripes
5. San Francisco hills. These mighty obstacles have forced the strongest of us to dismount on occasion and walk our trusty steeds up their towering heights. Or, just go around them.
4. Drivers talking on their cell phones. Sweet Fancy Moses.