Category: News

20th Anniversary Bike To Work Day: Recap

This year is Bike To Work Day’s 20th Anniversary. Bike To Work Day (BTWD) strategy is to encourage bicycling as a non-polluting and healthy commute option. These are pretty much my two reasons why I bike. To make it easy and encourage newbies, there are dozens of Energizer Stations (some with free bike repairs) located everywhere. These stations are locally sponsored and have free stuffs from bagels to chocolate chip cookies to coffee (and bananas). What’s great about these stations is that each station is sponsored by a different venue and you can chat with the employees that volunteer for that day.

I am a bike ambassador for my workplace and so to celebrate this year’s BTWD, I wanted to lead a ride to work.  It was just a lot of fun being part of it and seeing more people come out to ride.  I would put this as the most important day for any bike advocate.  Here is my recap…

BTWD handbag for everyone that stops by an Energizer Station via bike.  It has some goodies inside.

BTWD bag for everyone that stops by an Energizer Station via bike. It has some goodies inside.

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Caltrans station in front of my building. I am glad this biggest transportation agency recognizes biking as an alternative to driving. They are “evolving”, I guess.

Here are my companions for the ride.  Kelly and Jesse.

Here were my two companions for the ride at Oakland Public Library station. Kelly and Jesse. It was Kelly’s first time bike commuting in Oakland. Good for her!

Jack London Square station

Here was the tourism agency station at Jack London Square ferry terminal. This was where we got on the ferry ride over the bay to South San Francisco for work.

So in the evening, my ferry/bike commuters all went to the Bike Happy Hour Party in Old Town. It was hosted by Bike East Bay coalition.

After Hour Party

Free bike valet parking at the Party.  Thank you bike valet!

Here is the long line to get free bike parking.

It looked like a line for beers but nope, it’s a long line for bike valet.

Always like to see family riding together.

I always like to see families riding together. This little girl asked, “why are we stopping, Daddy?”

Kelly got a flat tire on her first day of commuting. I hope this is not a detterant.

Kelly got a flat tire on her first day of commuting. I hope this is does not discourage her from biking to work.

Foos Balls

Who does not like foosball?!

Too many people want to play ping pong, so everyone got a paddle and get to hit the ball one at a time.  LOL!

Too many people wanted to play ping pong, so everyone got a paddle and took turn hitting the ball one at a time. LOL!

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People were just having too much fun!

Here are my bike/ferry commuter friends. Thanks Mike for the beer!

Here are my bike/ferry commuter friends. Thanks Mike (the guy in blue jacket) for the beer!

Rob Prinz, Bike East Bay's education director, training for the Climate Ride...really.

Rob Prinz, Bike East Bay’s education director, training for the Climate Ride…really.

It's not a party without a rock band.

A party is never a party without live music.

I really enjoyed this year’s BTWD. Next year, I am planning to take the whole day off from work and visit every Energizer Stations. Sounds like a good plan?

For all those who are new to bike commuting on May 8th, I hope it’s a beginning of many more bike commuting days for you.

Happy BTWD!

Update: Susan, a ferry passenger and bike commuter just died…

Update: 2/6/14

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.”

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Read also:

Video: Susan Watson Memorial Ferry & Bike Ride

Truck drivers and traffic engineers need to rethink bicycle safety

Update: 12/27/13

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.

Susan's ghost bike

Susan’s ghost bike at Market and 5th St.

Susan's ghost bike at Market and 5th St.

Susan’s ghost bike.

Here are some news articles with more info:

KTVU.com – Cycling community grieves for woman killed

SFGate.com – Bicyclist killed by big-rig was from El Cerrito

San Jose Mercury News – Friends mourn scientist killed by truck while riding in West Oakland

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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.

Video: Susan Watson Memorial Ferry & Bike Ride

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!

 

See also:

Update: Susan, a ferry passenger and bike commuter just died…

Reminder: Susan Watson’s Memorial Ride this Friday

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

thumbnail_memorial_ride_flyer

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Please join us: A Memorial Ferry and Bike Ride for Susan R. Watson

memorialridephoto

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…”
inmemoryofsusanrwatson.wordpress.com

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.

For more information, visit: inmemoryofsusanrwatson.wordpress.com and the event page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/550355481726399/

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.

Related reading:

Truck drivers and traffic engineers need to rethink bicycle safety

Update: Susan, a ferry passenger and bike commuter just died…

Have a fun and safe NYE!

nyecanteen01

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!

Oakland – A new home for my bicycles

SF in the background while Oakland is in the foreground.  Source:  The Independent

Oakland is in the foreground with San Francisco in the background. The Bay Bridge in between them links these two interesting cities, separated only by the waters of the bay. Source: The Independent

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.

SF Bay Ferries boarding at Jack London Square, Oakland

SF Bay Ferries boarding at Jack London Square in Oakland.

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.

Two rows of bike racks for about a dozen bikes each in the front of the ferry.

Two rows of bike racks in the front of the ferry.

Bike racks in the rear are usually empty.

Bike racks in the rear are usually empty.

The seats are spacious and is at half capacity. There's complimentary coffee and its free lackluster WiFi.

The seats are spacious and usually are just at half capacity. There’s complimentary coffee and WiFi (with very poor reception). Drinks and snacks are served in the evening.

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).

One of many cargo ships waiting to dock at the Port of Oakland.

One of many cargo ships waiting to dock at the Port of Oakland.

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A popular local meme is to refer to those cranes on the left as reminiscent of the robot dinosaurs AT AT from The Empire Strikes Back.

SF's skyline.

San Francisco’s skyline as seen from the ferry.

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!

Stay tuned…

Hey fellow bicyclists,

I will be taking care of some things for the next couple of weeks and won’t have time to post. But I will definitely return to continue sharing more about biking in SF and the Bay Area. Stay tuned!

IMG_7622

Pedal Power Infographic

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!

BABS Launch Ceremony (8/29/13)

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.

bike share celebrity

She was the celebrity of the day. Our celeste green Bay Area Bike Share. She got so much attention, deservingly.

bay area bikeshare refreshments

Mayor Lee speaking

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 Blumfield

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.

bike share ribbon cutting

little girl on bikeshare

Mayor Lee on bikeshare

Mayor Ed Lee leading the bike share caravan back to City Hall.

Police chief Greg Suhr

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.

bike share dispatcher

First customer at Caltrain station

Right at noon time is this first happy customer at the Townsend and 4th St. station.

bike shares already in use

By riding around town today, I can already tell bike shares are going to be very popular.

Happy Bike-Sharing!