Since our move to Oakland a couple of months ago, we have spent many weekends exploring the city on our bicycles and found that Oakland’s Chinatown does indeed have many great and inexpensive casual Asian eateries. It is also very accessible for us to get there from where we live. So one day, to our wonderful surprise, we discovered this Vietnamese restaurant that not only serves my favorite dishes but is also supportive of the bike community. For me, it’s like a match-made in heaven! Vietnamese is one of the cuisines I grew up eating, is one of our favorites to eat in the Bay Area, and it is even better that a family-owned Asian restaurant like this one shows support of bicycling as a means of transportation.
When we discovered this place, we quickly found ourselves sitting at a table inside Tay Ho Restaurant (344 12th St.) where they serve northern Vietnamese cuisine. They specialize in “banh cuon” which stands for hand-rolled rice noodles and “bun bo hue” which is a popular spicy beef noodle soup (not to be confused with the widely-known “pho” which they do also serve). Many of their dishes are from authentic family recipes and it is the proprietor’s mom who is cooking in the back. When it comes to ethnic food, you know it is the real deal when the dishes are coming straight from the momma. We tried both of their specialty dishes and they were delicious. They also have really great local beer which seems to go well with the food. They have a Yelp rating of 4 stars based on 225 reviews.
Not only is the food delicious and gets two thumbs up from us, but like I mentioned before- they are a bicycle-friendly business! What does that mean? Well, they offer a 10% discount off your bill if you bike to the restaurant. (Note: Helmet is required to get the Pedaler’s Discount.) The proprietor contacted the city and requested multiple bike racks for the front of the shop. So instead of the usual one or two racks you might occasionally see in front of some businesses in Oakland, they have five. They also serve coffee from Bicycle Coffee Company, a local coffee roaster that delivers their products by bicycle. Bicycles are also aesthetically featured in their decor. The restaurant is made distinctive with their red Fuji fixie hanging in the middle of the restaurant and on the walls of their restrooms, they have framed photographs of people in Vietnam riding bicycles. When we saw all of this at their restaurant in addition to the great and authentic Vietnamese food, I told myself I just have to meet the owner of this restaurant.
Luckily, the proprietor Denise was working there that day and she was really cool to chat with. In addition to being the owner of a Vietnamese restaurant, she’s an avid cyclist and a bike safety advocate. I asked her why she supports the bicycle community and she said that besides being a cyclist herself, bicycling makes the community better. I agree!
So bicyclists, if you are hungry for some delicious and authentic Vietnamese fare, ride on over to this bicycle-friendly business and you will be very satisfied that you did! Slurp!
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!
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.
In urban cities, over 50% of all collisions involving bicycles are at intersections. Up to a third of all bike collisions involve heavy trucks, despite there being less trucks on the road than passenger vehicles. These two statistics help paint a horrifying picture of how a lot of bicycle collisions happen. In most bicycle collisions involving trucks, the bicyclist is usually heading straight when an oblivious truck driver makes a right turn and “right-hooks” him or her. This past August in San Francisco, Amelie Le Moullac, a 24 y.o. woman, was killed exactly this way. This time was no different in Susan Watson’s death.
Susan Watson, a dear and wonderful friend to many, was riding on Market St. in Oakland after getting off the ferry at Jack London Square on Monday evening, December 17th, 2013. She was a dedicated bike commuter on her way to her home in El Cerrito, about 9 miles away. The shortest route with some sort of bike facility for her to take was northbound on Market St. and she wore all the things that would make a cyclist visible to drivers in the evening hours: an assortment of flashing and colorful wheel lights, bike lights, and lights decorating her backpack. She would have known that this route, close to the Port of Oakland, is often filled with trucks- even more the reason to have so many lights.
Her route going home has bike lanes in both directions, but it is also a favorite route for truck drivers coming in and out of the Port of Oakland to pick up and drop off all those cargo containers (see the stack of Matson containers in the image below). Anyone who rides a bike can tell you that large trucks are the scariest things on the road (aside from maybe aggressive and impatient taxi drivers), but the city decided to put bike lanes there anyway, sharing the truck route without doing anything more than painting white stripes. Obviously, doing only that much wouldn’t and doesn’t work and this setup hasn’t worked in San Francisco either.
Trucks come and go on this route because of its vicinity to the Port of Oakland and the nearby freeway entrances and exits (see image below).
Furthermore, when I was taking photos at this intersection, I saw that over 95% of the truck drivers did not merge to the far right before making a right turn (see image below). Although that would require trucks to merge into the bike lane before executing the turn, this is what they are supposed to do. Trucks need to do that so bicyclists and everyone else can predict where they will go and not think that they are going straight instead of turning. Also, it will keep bicyclists from treacherously ending up in their right-side blind spot.
Why aren’t truck drivers merging all the way to the right before turning? There’s definitely still enough room to make a right turn if they do so. This is probably so they can make wide turns which would also require less effort than having to merge to the right and then make a tight right turn.
In the image below, you can clearly see that the rear end of the truck is far from the corner curb. The front wheel axle barely turned.
Another reason why truck drivers might make such wide turns is to avoid the tail-end from hitting curbs, light poles, and pedestrians waiting on corners, etc., but does it warrant such a wide turn? I have seen big rigs make tighter turns than this.
Another reason for such wide right turns is so that after making the turn, the truck would not end up outside the boundary of the road he or she is turning onto. However, at this intersection these truck drivers clearly have space. The photo below shows that 5th St. is so wide, almost 4 lanes wide in one direction (including street parking space), that there is actually room for truck drivers to make tighter right turns. Tighter turns would mean trucks would have to merge to the far right, crossing over into the bike lane before turning, which would also mean that the driver would more likely see a bicyclist in the bike lane where Susan was located at the time of the collision.
Why such a wide turn when there is so much space? Do truck drivers do this so they can more easily position themselves on the farthest left lane on 5th St. so they can get onto the freeway ramp a few blocks down? To me, they just seem carelessly lazy.
Whether or not such wide right turns are indeed necessary at this junction, traffic engineers must design it better and also wherever there are bike lanes sharing the road with heavy traffic and in close vicinity to mass transit stops (in this case, the ferry terminal in Jack London Square).
Here are my ideas to improve this area:
Better and adequate street lighting in the right places, which it currently does not have (see photo below). For some strange reason, the street lamps are placed away from the sidewalks on the median island, so that means that they will not really light up the curbs and sidewalks. This is pretty darn silly if you ask me. Why would street lamps be placed in the center of a road when pedestrians and bicyclists need it the most? Moreover, this junction is partially under a BART bridge and so needs more lighting than usual.
In addition, I think a bicycle alert signal placed near the intersection for alerting truck drivers of the presence of bicyclists is another good measure for safety.
Speaking of lights, another thing they can do is have different traffic signal lights for both drivers and bicyclists at this kind of junction.
Perhaps, let’s have green marked lanes such as green cross bikes all the way through the intersection.
Of course, protected bike lanes are ideal but that is going to be perceived as too expensive and intrusive in our car-centric society. Instead, put buffered bike lanes in that stretch since there is no street parking allowed anyway (see image below) and there is plenty of space. That way, bicyclists are placed closer to the curb and away from the back end of trucks making right turns. This extra distance will allow them some space to react.
To conclude, Susan’s death could have been prevented but a truck driver that night was too carelessly lazy and traffic engineers were too incompetent to see that what they put there is not enough to allow for the safe mixing of bicycles and trucks on open streets. They need to do more and they need to do it right.
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!
This past weekend we went to Oakland and biked up on the new East Span of the Bay Bridge. The East Span started construction in 2002 at a final cost of $6.4 billions and it was recently opened on Labor Day. It was built to replace the old bridge due to earthquake safety hazard.
It is truly a bridge with a bike path built from the start. Golden Gate Bridge’s bike path was originally built for infantry to cross it during WWII.
It’s 3.4 miles (5.5 km) bike ride from the entry point (Oakland’s Maritime St.) to near the end of the bridge. There’s another entry point on Shellmound St. in Emeryville. The actual length of the bridge is 2.2 miles (3.5 km) and sits lower than the old industrial bridge with a 2% incline (an easy climb for both biking and walking). The bike path has a speed limit of 15 mph (24 km/h) and both bike/ped path is 15.5 ft (4.7 m) wide. Unfortunately, I think the pedestrian path is narrow causing many pedestrians to spill over onto the bike path. Still, it was a lot of fun and the location is not as windy and noisy as the Golden Gate Bridge. Indeed, this is definitely going to be a tourist trap but I hope it doesn’t get as crowded as Golden Gate Bridge though.
The bike path does not open all the way to Yerba Buena Island yet because there’s a section of the old bridge that is blocking the bike path. The entire bike path will be completed by 2015 when the old bridge is dismantled. When it does, it will make a great recreational ride. Just picture yourself riding from Oakland or Emeryville, across the gorgeous Bridge, through a natural island called Yerba Buena Island and end in Treasure Island for lunch. It could be a nice 30 miles/48 km round trip depending on where you begin.
This sign was located on Maritime St. entry point in Oakland.
On our way to the Bridge…
When I saw this, I really want to bike inside. It’s too bad it’s going to get demolished.
Great modern architecture!
Notice pedestrians are walking on the bike path. I hope this gets straighten out in the future.
Farewell old Bridge! Thanks for the wonderful 77 years.
This post is currently being updated