On the way to Off the Grid this past Friday, I saw these bright green paint on bike lanes. No, these bike lanes are not separated nor protected. They are just green paint over the original striped lanes but they are an improvement, nonetheless. Maybe private cars, tour buses, and taxis will know not to block it this time… I doubt it though. I guess it’s okay because the Embarcadero these days is like a parking lot during weekends due to all the traffic so it feels kind of safe to swerve in and out of the blocked bike lane into the vehicle lane.
I believe they were painted along the Embarcadero to get ready for America’s Cup which will begin this July.
I noticed that the green bike lanes weren’t completely done so I asked the construction crew manager about how far the green lanes will go. He said that it will start from as far south as Howard St. and end near North Point St. to the north. This CANNOT be right because that doesn’t cover the whole stretch of the original striped lanes from 3rd St. to North Point St. on the Embarcadero. If the purpose of the green painted lanes is to get more people to use bicycles as another form of transportation to get to events like America’s Cup, why are they ending at Howard St. which is 1.4 miles (2.3 km) from the Caltrain Station? Are we getting another disconnected bike route as seen in so many places in SF?
Anyhow, I hope this is temporary until we get a cycle track here. I propose a raised cycle track going northbound without jeopardizing sidewalk space and a southbound buffered cycle track by placing it between parked cars and the sidewalk. This proposal would not take any car space away. Do it!
My first Midnight Mystery Ride (MMR) was about two years ago and it was probably the most amazing group ride I have ever done. It was SF-esque- mysterious, intimate, and awe-inspiring. I was very lucky to experience it on the night that it was hosted by Mission Bicycle Company (they organize the best ones). MMR is held on the 3rd Saturday of every month at midnight with very little information. The only information you will get are the organizer’s name (that could be anyone) and the location of the meetup on that day. I think this concept is what keeps MMR special and underground. The three times that I have been to MMR, I was taken to places that were off the beaten path and even those that a native would never experience.
I have a friend, Dante, who just got bitten by the bicycle bug and I wanted to show him what the cycling community is like at midnight. Also, I haven’t been to one for quite awhile, so it was a good time for both of us to check it out. We met at Truck and Bar Kitchen on 1900 Folsom St. in the Mission minutes before the clock struck midnight. Complete strangers were introducing themselves to us when we arrived. It was welcoming since I haven’t been to one for almost a year.
In the photo below is the leader, Gary (left) for that night. He planned for a leisurely ride, and that was pretty much a chill ride for conversational cycling.
We headed NW on Folsom St. and stopped at the corner of Folsom and 2nd St. for our first social gathering.
After 20-30 minutes at our first stop, we started heading toward the Embarcadero on Folsom St.
When we arrived at the Embarcadero, it was barricaded off for the 36th SF Marathon taking place the next morning, but the security patrol was nice enough to open it up to let us through. The cool thing was that there was not a single car on that street!
The second stop was a beautiful view of the Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge. We met a couple from Sacramento who visit SF on a monthly basis but haven’t seen the Bay Lights. That was pretty special to them.
The final stop was on the Ferry Building pier behind a night club I think. It was pitch black so I couldn’t get any good photos. We did get free music coming out of the night club, but it was pretty bad. =)
There were about 24 people on bikes, all very nice and friendly. It was easy to strike up a conversation with complete strangers and because we all have this underlining understanding and interest in this Midnight Mystery journey, it makes it a whole lot more intimate.
This intimate night was how I remember San Francisco three years ago when Nellie and I first moved here. A peaceful and beautiful night wherever you ride. Personally, I think it’s almost sad in order to feel that again, I have to ride in the middle of the night to get this wonderful experience.
Watch our video of that night:
As many of you already know, Sunday Streets started in 2008 and was inspired by Ciclovia (‘Ciclovia’ means bike path in Spanish) in Bogota, Colombia. It’s an event that closes off streets to car traffic in different neighborhoods, opening them up to walkers, joggers, skaters, bicyclists, etc. Sunday Streets has grown from a couple of events a year to ten events held last year. The first Sunday Streets of this year, which was on March 10th, attracted 20,000 participants to the Embarcadero.
I owe much of my enthusiasm for biking in San Francisco to Sunday Streets. The first time I ever biked in SF was at the Sunday Streets held on the Embarcadero in 2010. Before that, I didn’t take biking so seriously. I never imagined I could use my bike for everyday living and that riding in the city could be so much fun.
Some of the Sunday Streets events are not as good for biking because they can get too crowded to maneuver with a bike, but the one held recently on the Embarcadero – a 3.3 miles (5.3 km) stretch along the waterfront without any cars was and has always been a heavenly experience for biking.
This year was extra special because the Exploratorium (SF’s much loved science museum and new tenant on the Embarcadero) held a lively pre-opening festival in conjunction with Sunday Streets and it appeared to be a big hit with the kids. Our city is known to have more dogs than children, but on this sunny Sunday you wouldn’t be able to tell. There were lots of kids with their parents out enjoying the open car-free space along the waterfront. Maybe with more of these types of events, more families will decide to stay living in the city.
There were many bands performing along the Embarcadero (I counted 8), but I think the Rock the Bike mobile stage performance was the best. How cool is that for them to bring their performance to the people, to engage them in a physical activity, and to send their music across the streets of the city to concert-goers and bystanders alike?
Watch a video of Rock the Bike at Sunday Streets:
There are always lots of interesting things and people to see at these events.
Now here is an idea we are proposing: How about having a night time version of Sunday Streets? Maybe we can have it on Friday or Saturday evenings and call it Friday/Saturday Streets? We could have all the neon glowing bikes come out and have neon glowing vendor stations. We could team up with Off the Grid and have them park their food trucks there and it would be like an Asian night market! Rock the Bike could have their concert in the dark with lighting effects. It would be like Bike Party but with a dedicated space for the event. How cool would that be? Please Sunday Streets organizers, think about it!
The World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) was held in San Francisco this past Saturday. In case you aren’t familiar with WNBR, the annual event is a group bicycle ride taken in the nude, that occurs in 74 cities across 17 different countries. It started in Canada in 2004 as a way of protesting against “indecent exposure to vehicle emissions”. Every year, during the 2nd weekend of March, the San Francisco chapter meets at Justin Herman Plaza. There were about 30-40 naked cyclists and a handful in partial clothing. This is the first year that they held this event after the city’s recent enactment of the public nudity ban (nudity is still allowed at special events and SF’s very own nude beach, Baker Beach), but the ride was still held in full swing (no pun intended).
Happy naked cycling!