One of the things we love about blogging here at I Love Biking SF & Oak is being able to connect with the bike community about issues that are important to bicyclists everywhere. Every once in a while, we get a message in our inbox that really stands out to us. Recently, we received an email by a gentleman named Doug Bowman who knew Susan Watson. He kindly sent us a lovely photo of her from back when he was close to her in the 70s and wrote some beautiful words about her. We have shared them below. Thank you Doug for giving us all this special glimpse into another part of Susan Watson.
“I had the privilege and honor to be very close to Dr. Watson for a number of years beginning soon after she arrived at NIH in the mid 1970s as a post-doc fellow. I had not heard from her since last Nov, and was stunned a couple of days ago to learn of her death. I do not recall ever being as stunned as I am by this. I want those who knew her only recently and were moved by her untimely death to see her as I saw her all those years ago. I have attached a photo I took of her in those early years after she arrived in the US. She was the most penetrating personality I have ever known, intense, deep, having endured much, having overcome much, and having accomplished much by force of her own will and intellect, yet, like so many long time “performers” she had an easiness about it all. Some of the comments seeking to characterize her are so very accurate. You are welcome to post this photo on your memorial to her.”
I went back to the location of Susan’s collision (Market and 5th St. in Oakland) to investigate and I saw that a ghost bike was placed there for her. Below are the photos I took of it.
Going there again along with info from recent news reports, I got more insight into how the collision happened and will be writing my thoughts about it in an upcoming post.
Here are some news articles with more info:
Posted on December 18, 2013:
In my last post, I talked about how nice the ferry ride is. Part of what makes the ride nice is that you get to ride with other bicycle commuters. We all commute from different parts of Oakland but join at the ferry terminal. We all know when it is time to get off the ferry by seeing others put on their helmets and gloves. That is when you know that the ferry is about to land at the pier. Then, we would line up to get off the ferry after all the non-bike passengers exit first. That’s our routine every day. Bike helmets on, then gloves, turn on our bike lights, and wait in line patiently.
There was this one lady in her
50s (62 y.o.) whose bike was decked out with lights – MonkeyLectric lights on the wheels, lights on her backpack, and both front and rear bike lights. We all recognized her by the Stegosaurus-like spikes that decorated her helmet and she liked to wear a red jacket. She was always smiling and chatting with everyone of us. Her name was Susan Watson. She’s a scientist that worked at a small biotech in South San Francisco. That is the little info I know about her. Well, today she wasn’t on the ferry. I had read the horrible news this morning and had a thought it might have been her, but I wasn’t certain. The mystery of this lasted until this evening when we waited to get off the ferry- this gentleman told me and the rest of us that Susan just got into a bicycle collision with a truck driver. It’s heartbreaking. She had all the lights and safety measures correct and was even riding in the bike lane on Market St. The truck driver still didn’t see her and killed her. What else can bicyclists do to stay safe?! It’s up to the city and the drivers out there to look out for us!
Ride safe out there.
I will update if I find more info about her.
Rest in Peace, Susan… We will miss you.
We put together this video to capture the spirit of Susan’s memorial ride last Friday evening. We were so impressed with all the people that came out for her and to show support. We hope that positive changes will come out of Susan’s death.
Once again, a huge thanks to all those who helped make this memorial possible. Lorn and Owen for building the ghost bike and setting up the event, Robert from the EBBC for advising, supporting us, and helping to get the word out, Chris from WOBO for advising, Wilson for helping us get the word out to all the folks at the East Bay Bike Party, Scraper Bikes for coming out and showing support, Denise at Banh Cuon Tay Ho Restaurant for accommodating us for dinner after the event, all the friends, family, and co-workers who knew Susan and others who came out that night for her and to support the cause. You guys are awesome!
There is an inexplicable feeling of camaraderie among the bike community that I hope shines through in this video and in all that we do. We are so glad to be a part of this great and growing bike community.
Please forward this video to anyone who knew Susan or that you think might be interested.
Be safe, ride well, and ride every day!
Hello fellow bicyclists,
We want to remind you guys that the Memorial Ferry and Bike Ride for Susan Watson is this Friday, 1/17. Details about the ride can be found in our last post.
Also, we made this flyer, below, that we are going to be handing out to participants and bystanders. Its purpose is to introduce people to Susan Watson and call attention to bicycle improvements. Please feel free to print some to hand out yourself or use in your own publications, etc.
PDF File – Click Image Below to Enlarge
We look forward to seeing you all there!
Thanks to some wonderful organizers, there will be a memorial ferry and bike ride to honor fallen bicyclist Susan R. Watson while calling attention to bicycle infrastructure improvements. Please join us on the evening of Friday, January 17th as we start by taking our bikes aboard the 5:20pm ferry from Oyster Point in South San Francisco (the ferry Susan used to take) and landing at the ferry terminal in Jack London Square in Oakland. Those of you who cannot take the ferry can just meet us at Jack London Square where the ferry will land at 6:00pm.
From there, we will then ride along a planned route which will increase our visibility to truck drivers coming from the Port of Oakland. Please make and have signs asking for truck drivers to ‘Share the Road’ and also asking the city to do more to improve bicycle safety and infrastructure.
Our ride will stop at the corner of 5th and Market which is where Susan Watson was killed. We will visit her ghost bike, say a few words, place candles and flowers, and clean the area around her ghost bike.
“While this will not bring Susan back, we have to celebrate her and do our best to improve on the conditions that resulted in her not being here any more.
I rode the ferry last Friday to work and the magic of being on the ferry was diminished for me. I had the upper-outside deck all to myself for most of the ride. It was a 40 min long moment of silence for Susan. I was just getting to know her…”
After the ceremony, those who want to can join us as we make our way to the Vietnamese restaurant Banh Cuon Tay Ho (344 12th St. between Harrison and Webster Sts.) in Oakland’s Chinatown for dinner. The restaurant is a bicycle-friendly business and offers a 10% discount if you come with your bike helmet. There is also plentiful bike parking on racks in front of the restaurant.
Please bring with you:
- Signs asking truck drivers to ‘Share the Road’ and calling for the city to do more to improve bicycle safety and infrastructure
- Bike lights, the more the better
- Flowers, candles, etc. to place at Susan’s ghost bike
- If riding the ferry, the fare is $7
- Your bike helmet is required to get the Pedaler’s Discount at the restaurant
The route map is here.
Please help us get the word out!
Special thanks to Lorn and Owen for setting this up, Robert from the EBBC and Chris from WOBO for advising.
It’s been a year since we started blogging about bike culture and biking related issues in San Francisco and now Oakland. We can’t believe how fast the time rolled by! We want to wish all of you fun and safe NYE celebrations and an awesome New Year! We look forward to sharing more about biking in Oakland and SF in 2014! Here’s to a great year ahead on two wheels!
Dear fellow bicyclists,
I didn’t expect my time-off from blogging to be more than a couple of weeks but it ended up being that way. I had multiple things going on, and one of them was my move across the bay from SF to Oakland. There were many reasons why we moved to Oakland, but since this is a bicycle blog, I won’t discuss it all here.
But I do want to share about my experience so far being a bicyclist in Oakland, including how I am now a full-time bike commuter and not just a weekend warrior!
From what I have observed so far, biking in Oakland is a much more relaxing experience. Although SF was wonderful to ride in, with beautiful and interesting scenery, and a very strong bike culture, it’s just not the same anymore. When you have taxis, ride-shares, freight trucks, private shuttles, and company buses becoming increasingly the norm and fighting ever more for the limited space, bicycles lose out. Until SF has real protected bike lanes throughout their entire bike network, things will only get worse. Constantly, vehicles are blocking bike lanes, speeding and cutting you off at intersections, honking at and intimidating you, and you can’t relax. It takes the fun out of riding.
So here we are in Oakland! It’s very laid-back and the streets are wide so that you don’t get squeezed by cars. Because it is not a touristy city, you don’t get the cab drivers whizzing dangerously close by you like jerks to pick up their next customer. You also don’t have as many large trucks that have huge blind spots which account for half of all bicycle collisions. There are some painted bike lanes and it is true that they are not built out to the level in SF, but it is still pretty easy to ride. I never like to share the road with drivers and you have to here a lot more, but it is easier to do so. The term “share the road” does exist here. The drivers are considerate most of the time and don’t drive nearly as fast as drivers in SF. I rarely get honked or cussed at while riding here.
One of the best things about living in Oakland is that I am now using my bike 5 days a week to get to work. My bike route includes 3 soothing miles (4.8 km) one way from my condo, and passes along Lake Merritt and stops at Jack London Square where I take the San Francisco Bay Ferry to get to South San Francisco. Then I bike another 0.5 mile (0.8 km) on the Bay Trail to get to my office. Yes, you heard that right! I get to ride the ferry every morning to work! Below are some photos from the ferry ride.
There are 3 departure times in the morning and 3 in the evening. The fares are quite expensive at $7 USD one way despite it being subsidized by bridge tolls. Bicycles are welcome though! It has bike racks in the front and rear which can park up to 34 bikes. Usually there are plenty of spaces to park. I think about a third of the passengers are bike commuters by looking at the number of bikes. You don’t need to lock your bike because it is very safe (well, there’s no where to go if one tries to steal your bike while on the water). Not locking your bike makes it hassle-free.
The ferry takes you through the Port of Oakland and across the Bay. It’s pretty cool to see these massive football-field-sized (actually, up to 3x the length) container ships from around the world bringing goods to your area. I have seen ships from London, Germany, South Africa, the Netherlands, Tokyo, and France (see image below: CSCL Le Havre).
If you ever think about using the ferry as part of your commute, I say try it out. It is not only a great trip but the water definitely will calm whatever stress you have that day.
On a side note, I may have to change my blog title since I am in Oakland now. But even though I now reside in Oakland, I will always appreciate and remember my time in San Francisco. That is where I discovered my passion for urban cycling and became inspired by the bike community there.
I look forward to sharing more with you about biking in Oakland, and the Bay Area in future posts.
Until next time, Happy Riding and Happy Holidays!
Cara Delany and her team have put this ‘pedal’ powerful info-graphic together to help promote bicycling with facts and statistics from environmental, economic, and health impacts of biking. It is self-explanatory and full of information.
An infographic by the team at Online Masters In Public Health
Notice the info-graphic on the proliferative uptick of bike sharing programs across this country from the largest city of New York City (pop. of 8M) to the smallest city of Boulder, CO (pop. of 97K). Cities are getting it but the general population are not. Spread the word by showing this info-graphic to your friends and relatives.
Till next time, happy pedaling!
Finally today is the day the bicycle community feels some legitimacy! I feel so proud that a bicycle is incorporated into the public transit system.
The Bay Area Bike-Share ceremony started at 10:30 am today at 4th and King St. Caltrain station. Here are some photos from today’s ceremony. It wasn’t until noon that the bike shares could be used by the public.
She was the celebrity of the day. Our celeste green Bay Area Bike Share. She got so much attention, deservingly.
Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco was there to speak at the ceremony with Jane Kim, Scott Wiener and John Avalos (3 of our Supervisors) in attendance.
Jared Blumenfeld, a bike commuter and an EPA official (appointed by President Obama) spoke convincingly of why bicycle is good for transportation, good for business, good for livability, etc.
Mayor Ed Lee leading the bike share caravan back to City Hall.
Our police chief, Greg Suhr on a bike? Maybe now he can understand how it feels to be a bicyclist. I would love to see more cops on bikes.
Right at noon time is this first happy customer at the Townsend and 4th St. station.
By riding around town today, I can already tell bike shares are going to be very popular.
For those of you who don’t know what’s the point of having a bike counter- well, it’s the same thing as doing a survey/poll. After data collection, Market Street may be justified in getting more bike infrastructure investment (crossing fingers) and a traffic mobility reassessment. Plus, it’s cool to see the numbers increase in real-time for all those bicycle boosters and data geeks out there.
The bicycle counter is located on the south side of Market St. between 9th and 10th Sts. to count bicyclists heading eastbound. Market Street has the highest amount of bicycle traffic in San Francisco, so it’s a no brainer to have it there.
Let’s take a look at the historical data on bicycling in SF and then at the numbers coming from the counter:
SF boasted an increase of 71% in bicyclist counts between 2006 and 2010. Unfortunately, in the last 5 years SF saw the same rate in bicycle theft. These two data sets sort of correlate with each other.
Additionally, bicycle trips account for 3.5% of all trips in 2010, an increase from 2% in the year 2000. But have these numbers gone up since 2010? I am still waiting and eager to see data showing that jump because everywhere I ride, I see a lot more bicyclists.
But it’s also possible that the percentage of trips made by bicycle remained the same even as the number of bicycle trips went up, because it also seems like there has been a large uptick in car trips (and congestion) which many have observed in the city. So after accounting for that, the percentage of bike trips may sadly still remain at 3.5%.
Now let’s take a look at the numbers coming from the bike counter:
First, the counter only collects data on Market St. and possibly has some glitches. It’s been reported that not every bicyclist gets counted, that vehicles are sometimes counted, and that there’s a 5% error rate (source).
Nevertheless, according to the bike counter posted on the SFMTA’s website, the number of bicyclists that were registered has jumped from an average of 2,032 per day in May to 2,715 in August (excluding outliers) within 4 months. Although the number of daily riders is small, that’s a 25% increase! In addition, the August weekday count of 3,132 almost tied with Bike to Work Day’s count of 3,231 which is incredible! Many people that came out to ride for BTWD are not regular bicycle commuters and perhaps now, these occasional riders have become regulars!
The increase could have also been due to the warmer months. But I doubt it has much to do with that because the climate in SF is pretty mild all year round, and it’s been especially warm throughout this year so far.
You’ll notice that there is no data for the months of June and July. It’s possible that when the counter was shut down for the Market St. repaving back in June, the counter was also re-calibrated and fine-tuned (we don’t know for sure) affecting the counts for May. So the count could have already been at the same level as in August and there might not have been an actual increase.
It’s too bad that during the months of June and July, there was no data input. If it wasn’t turned off for the re-pavement, it would have told us more about the change. For example, a slow increase would confirm the 25% increase from May to August.
If there really was an increase, it would be great to see it continue in this upward trend. Maybe this road will soon eventually outdo Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge as the busiest bicycle corridor in the nation.