With climate change knocking at our doors, enjoying a human-pedal-powered concert this past Saturday was the least of our worries for all the things that humans could do to contribute to the warming of the planet. The concert was powered entirely by the sweat and calories of human power instead of fossil fuels or electricity generated by fossil fuels. People took turns pedaling on bicycle power generators which created the juice to power all the amps and speakers.
It was their 7th annual event and it was held at Pioneer East Meadow in Golden Gate Park from 12-5 pm and then 6-9 pm in the Mission District. It was the biggest event of its kind in the world and it was free and open to all ages.
A full 5 hours music set, all powered 100% by humans pedaling on 20 bicycles! It was fun and engaging because anyone can be part of the stage production by volunteering to pedal. Keep pedaling…if you stop, no more music…
And this little kid, below, was doing his part.
Here was the line-up of musicians written on the board (see photo below).
We were sitting almost 300 ft (91 m) away and the music was still loud and clear. No problem powering the speakers with bicycles.
Her bike, below, was just too cool. She’s playing a rainbow xylophone on her Centurion Mixte.
It was announced that there were over 600 bikes locked to the bike racks and in addition, I saw many had their bikes by their side. So I estimated a total of about 700-800 attendees at the festival. All of these people on bicycles (see photo below) waited till the end at around 5pm for the amazing “Live On Bike” ride from Golden Gate Park to the Mission District. The entire festival got packed up and transported on bicycles to another location in the Mission District with the talented Jason Brock (a finalist from X-factor) accompanying us. It was about an hour long at a slow speed for a distance of 4.5 miles (7.2 km). Because there were so many bicyclists, there were 3 loud speakers placed in the front, middle, and at the end of the ride so anywhere you went you could still hear Jason Brock singing. However, I think they needed more speakers.
Jason Brock was singing during the entire Live on Bike ride. He sang a couple of tunes from the 80s and improvised some songs which made people laugh. I don’t watch TV shows like X Factor but he was quite talented and hilarious in person, and the fact that he continued singing on the bicycle stage even on rocky streets is pretty good.
The ride went through Haight Ashbury, onto the Wiggle, then Market St, and through the Castro neighborhood. It was interesting because I felt like we were in a parade within a parade. We were enjoying Jason Brock’s show as his audience but then the people on buses, cars, and sidewalks were enjoying us parading through.
The tail end of the parade near Mission Dolores Park in the Mission.
The pedal-powered bicycles were lifted to their next destination using guess what?… bicycle. The green bicycle on the right is a blending machine for making smoothies. I tried their smoothies and they were delicious.
My buddies and I left for home when we arrived in the Mission. We missed the 3 hour concert, but I hope someone reports on it because I am interested in how it went during the night. We enjoyed the event very much and I am surprised as to why there aren’t more festivals/events using bicycles to generate energy to power their shows.
Hope you come out next time!
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:
This weekend was filled with many fun bicycling events such as the SF Bike Party on Friday night, the World Naked Bike Ride on Saturday, and Sunday Streets on Sunday.
Being that it was the 10th Anniversary of the World Naked Bike Ride (they had a smaller ride earlier this year) and the weather was pretty nice, I went out to report on the event hoping for a full blown turnout. I was a little disappointed in the turnout but the participants still appeared to have a great time.
As usual, it was held at Justin Herman Plaza in front of the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. Their message was to get off oil dependence and their choice of location on a sunny Saturday was a great place to get any message across. After meeting up and embarking on their ride as a group of nude cyclists, they rolled through Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marina, Lombard Street, North Beach, back along the Embarcadero, over to the Civic Center, the Haight, and past Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach. These are all touristy hotspots for them to be seen by the gaping public, some surprised at the mobile mass exhibitionism.
Three months ago, we wrote about how Diana Sullivan was killed by a cement truck driver due to a poor bike lane design (or lack threreof) on King St. Any cyclist that was heading westbound on King St. would have soon found out that the bike lane they were riding fairly safely in would suddenly disappear right under their pedals when they reached midblock between 2nd and 3rd Sts. Not only did the bike lane disappear, but it was followed by a strangely placed single bike sharrow that told cyclists to ride closer to the curb. It was an odd set up because the sharrow was placed off to the side and not in the middle of the lane where it should’ve been and there were no other bike sharrows to follow. By riding close to the curb, drivers would try to squeeze by cyclists and perhaps clip them because the width of the car lane is not wide enough for cyclists and cars to share. It was also possible that drivers, especially large truck drivers (large blind spot to his right), would not see a cyclist and could run them over (as in the case of Diana on this very street and the recent death of Dylan Mitchell in the Mission District).
Well, a couple of weeks ago I was riding home from a 6 hours ride in Marin County. I passed that one oddly placed sharrow and to my surprise, it seemed to have been moved to the center of the lane. I then saw another sharrow following and then another one… and they all were placed right in the center of the car lane! I was really exhausted that day from the long ride and from a bad crash I had on a train track, and I wasn’t so sure about what I saw. Was I imagining things? I had to go back the next day to check it out again. Low and behold, they were all there!
Although I am grateful for the small improvement the City has made to this important corridor, it still needs a lot more work and I still have some major complaints about it. If the City has now put down more bike sharrows, why not extend them all the way to the Caltrain Station on 4th St. I don’t know what’s the point of having bike sharrows that end at 3rd St. Does the City really think cyclists are just going to disappear on 3rd St. after the bike sharrows are gone? Or maybe the City is expecting cyclists to risk their own lives after 3rd St. to the death monsters (aka cars).
In actuality, bike sharrows are stupid and they are even more stupid on a fast and busy street such as King. There are still no speed limit signs posted, intersections are far from each other, and it leads directly to a freeway on-ramp: this encourages motorists to speed. As I mentioned in a previous post, the minimum design requirement for a street such as King are dedicated bike lanes.
So, it looks like the SFMTA and DPW still have their work cut out for them in regards to King Street. They’ve checked off only two of the items on this list, below. Anyone think they will ever be able to do all that needs to be done?
What’s Wrong with King Street Checklist:
1. Fix single bike sharrow placed oddly off to the side which encourages cyclists to unsafely hug the curb 2. Fix that there are no bike sharrows to follow after that one bike sharrow
3. Need to paint bike sharrows all the way to the Caltrain Station not just stop at 3rd St.
4. Need bike facilities on the other side of King Street going in the opposite direction from the Caltrain Station to the ballpark
5. Auto speed limit signs need to be put up
6. Reduce auto speed limits
7. If sharrows are used, at least put up a “Share the Road” sign as some drivers still don’t get the message from the sharrows
8. At minimum, a dedicated bike lane should continue from the Embarcadero onto King Street and go all the way to the Caltrain station without interruption
9. The same as #8 for the other side of King St. going from the Caltrain to the ballpark (Also, similar to #4 except this explicitly calls for a dedicated bike lane and not just wimpy sharrows)
The second Sunday Streets of the year was held recently on April 14th in the Mission District. Compared to the first Sunday Streets held on the Embarcadero, the event space was more compact- only about 2 miles (3.2 km) of car-free open streets but the event was crowded with people and various activities. Although it can be a little harder to ride your bike the whole way through due to the crowds, the Sunday Streets that are held in the Mission District are arguably the most popular and culturally interesting ones. Indeed, there were plenty of interesting things to see and it was an amazing day full of energy and fun!
If you missed the event, don’t worry we have lots of photos for you!
One of the great things that Sunday Streets provides is the opportunity for ordinary people to promote their small business, get publicity for their rock band or just sell their crafts. In this case, this gal Beck is having a yard sale.
And I can’t end without showing any coverage on all things biking.
If you want to experience Sunday Streets in the Mission District, the next one held there will be on July 28. Mark your calendar!
Looking back, the much desired Better Market Street project was originally supposed to break ground this year and finally fix an important and congested street that badly needs an overhaul. It was later pushed to 2015. But now, the Better Market Street organizers (part of the SFMTA) want to further delay the project by another two years so they can study the Mission Street alternative (putting protected bike lanes onto nearby Mission Street instead of Market). That means that cyclists will have to wait until 2019 for completion. That means there will be another six years of having an insufficient bikeway on an important and increasingly congested corridor. That means that the cycling community may not get the kind of bike lanes they need and want on the street they need and want them to be on. This has members of the SFBC and bicycling community in SF concerned and even infuriated.
In response to the announcement to delay starting bicycle improvements on Market Street from 2015 to 2017, the SFBC organized a Market/Mission Survey Ride back on March 4th to take a closer look at the issue. With the SFBC’s Planning Director, Neal Patel and an SFMTA project manager, Andrew Lee and a dozen SFBC members, we rode around the area to survey both streets and share our thoughts.
The tour was very insightful and helped me form my opinion on which street would be the better alternative, Market Street or Mission. I started out in staunch support of bike improvements on Market, but must admit that after the tour, I wavered. It did seem that Mission was not as bad of an alternative as I thought. However, after more time considering, I returned back to the conclusion that Market Street would still be better, although Mission does have a lot going for it.
Market Street has more cyclists riding on it than any other street in this country, carrying an estimated 5,000 cyclists per day. Already, before any sort of bike facilities were put in, cyclists were already using the street, the shortest and most “natural” route to their destinations. Remember, two of the big reasons commuters cycle is because it is more convenient than taking public transit and it takes the stress out of owning a car in the city. So naturally, cyclists will want to take the shortest, most convenient route. Even if Mission Street is built for bicyclists, Market Street will probably still attract a large number of riders. I am no urban planner, but I do know that traffic engineers need to design streets according to how people naturally move about in the city.
4 Reasons Why Market Street is Preferred by Commuting Cyclists:
1. There are two dozen MUNI bus stops and four BART stations along the street that complement multi-modal transportation.
2. Market Street is connected to the Wiggle which is the flattest way to get to Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach. Market Street combined with the Wiggle is the most direct, best and shortest route for cyclists from west to east and vice-versa.
3. It can bring you to important centers for jobs, commerce, and recreation such as City Hall, Union Square, Downtown and the Financial District, South of Market (SOMA), Ferry Building, and the Embarcadero to name a few.
4. It also has 3 miles (4.8 km) of shops, retail and eateries and for most of the street, car parking is not allowed. This kind of street scape sets up very well for both pedestrians and cyclists to frequent.
So the question is, “Why is Better Market Street still trying to reinvent the wheel by looking into Mission Street for the bike highway and in the process delaying the entire project?” Andrew from the SFMTA stated that it’s obviously the cost and the complexity involved of renovating Market Street to accomodate both bicycles and buses. The 1.5 mile (2.4 km) section between 8th Street and the Embarcadero currently does not have enough space for both. The sidewalk curbs would have to be scaled back a few feet all the way to the BART entrance to make room for a cycle track. The fire hydrants would need to be moved back affecting underground piping. So it would require a lot of major structural reconfigurations (see image below). More info on what would need to be done for this is here.
With the city’s population growing at 1% annually and the relocation of major company headquarters like Twitter and Dolby to Market Street, placing the bike highway on Market is going to not just accommodate current needs, but also prepare this city for the future. It may be an expensive project of $350 million USD, but investing in cycling infrastructure is the best return on investment this car-centric city can afford. To conclude, Market Street is and will continue to be the selected route cyclists will choose to ride despite its urban jungle of a mess. However, like I said, Mission Street does have something going for it which I will discuss in another post.
Market Street is the main artery of San Francisco running 3 miles (4.8 km) east and west and connecting many neighborhoods and sites from Twin Peaks to the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. In addition to the many pedestrians which can be found en masse on the street’s sidewalks, it is also a busy transit corridor for buses, light rail and street cars, and is dotted with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations that serve the entire Bay Area. Despite its chaotic environs, it is a popular corridor for cyclists as well.
I ride through Market Street on a weekly basis, but it is never as comfortable as I would like and expect for this city. What makes up for the less desirable aspects of riding on Market Street is the great number of other cyclists that are riding there as well. When you are there with a group of fellow cyclists, you began to feel like you belong there as much as any other mode of transport and feel safer because you know that in a flock of cyclists, your visibility is increased to drivers.
But as all cyclists know who dare to ride on Market Street, it could use a whole lot of improvement. Here is what I think needs to be done:
The stretch from Castro to Octavia Street has striped bike lanes. I think this stretch needs to be buffered because it is a moderate downhill ride going eastbound. See image below.
Now from Octavia St. to 8th St., the bike lanes are separated and protected like the photo below shows. Protected bike lanes like those are what the cycling community is demanding to be implemented throughout Market St.
But of course, the cycle tracks between Octavia and 8th are not ideal. For example, there is one terrible 200 meter section between Van Ness and 10th St. in which cyclists have to intersect vehicles making right turns. Making right turns on 10th and 11th Streets should be illegal for cars for safety reasons, but they are not. See photos below.
From 8th St. to the Embarcadero, there are no dedicated bike lanes. The street is just marked with bike sharrows as seen in the photo below. It is pretty pathetic. As you can see, all modes of transportation are crammed into four vehicle lanes. You have streetcars running on light rail, buses and shuttles riding on either of the lanes, cars and large trucks making right turns at intersections and tons of pedestrians crossing the street. And if that is not occupying enough of your attention, cracked pavement and potholes are in abundant supply. This part of the street is not for every cyclist- it’s for the bravest souls with survival skills. I call it the urban jungle. Just looking at the image below, you can see a major overhaul needs to be implemented as soon as possible.
Another example of the urban jungle-ness are the shuttles and buses pulling next to the curbs to drop off passengers which force bicyclists to maneuver around them, as shown in the photo below. Very dangerous.
City planners have been talking about fixing Market Street for quite some time now, but now that has been hitting some roadblocks. I’ll talk more about that in another post.
It’s been said that San Francisco doesn’t do fashion well. In fact, former San Franciscan and famed author Danielle Steel famously said about style in San Francisco, “There’s no style, nobody dresses up—you can’t be chic there. It’s all shorts and hiking books and Tevas—it’s as if everyone is dressed to go on a camping trip…” With all that stunning natural scenery around us, I guess it makes sense we’d have lots of outdoor gear. Being here, it is so tempting to want to throw on the kind of looks shown below which we are affectionately calling ‘Camping Chic’.
It’s been nearly two months since Diana Sullivan’s tragic accident while riding her bicycle in front of AT&T Park. Her ghost bike has been resting peacefully in its place at the corner of King and Third Streets. Everytime we’ve passed by, we’ve seen a wrapped bouquet of flowers placed upon it.
We recently had the chance to write a thoughtful letter to the management at AT&T Park to try to get them to join us in doing something about the poor bike lanes (or lack thereof) around the stadium. Here is what we wrote:
Attn: AT&T Park Management
Re: Bike safety and facilities around the ballpark
March 31, 2013
Dear AT&T Park Management,
Thank you for your continued commitment to Giants and baseball fans everywhere and the way you have kept your world-class baseball stadium beautifully maintained. The grounds around AT&T Park are some of the best kept in the entire city and its presence, along with two championship titles in three years- Go Giants!, has really helped launch San Francisco to a new era in professional baseball.
I am also glad for your accommodation of bicycles at your stadium. Your partnership with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to provide a bicycle valet and secure parking helps encourage and make comfortable, the use of bicycles as a means of travel to your events.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the cyclist named Diana Sullivan, 48 years old, who was run over and killed by a cement truck driver in February of this year, just outside your stadium. She was riding her bicycle on King Street near Third. Claimed witnesses have stated that she was waiting in the street curbside at a red light. “Sullivan was stopped at the red light on westbound King at Third along with the truck. When the light turned green, the truck driver pulled forward, ran her over, and caught her leg in the wheel well.” (1) Police have indicated that drugs and alcohol did not appear to be involved. (2) From what I’ve heard from those close to her, she was a huge Giants fan and was likely attending the Fan Fest event that day. It was a tragic accident that has impacted all those involved, her family and friends and all who knew her, the many witnesses at the scene of the accident- many of which were attending Fan Fest, and the bicycle community.
It is actually because of Diana that I am writing. Although I did not know her personally, I feel a connection to her as a fellow cyclist. I, along with many other cyclists, believe that Diana’s death could have been avoided if the bicycle facility adjacent to the ballpark had been sufficient. More specifically, if the bike path that runs along the Embarcadero and then westbound onto King Street was complete and did not end suddenly mid-block between Second and Third.
Many cyclists who traverse this route and reach that point where the path suddenly ends take the sidewalk at the first chance they get. However, when there is an event at the ballpark, the sidewalk gets very crowded and leaves no room for a bike to safely enter. This results in cyclists attempting to share the road with vehicles, some of which are fast moving and/or very large. Despite the apparent dangers of sharing the road with fast-moving traffic, the cyclists are encouraged to do so because of the single bike sharrow that follows the ending of the path. This could have worked if the street was calmer, and there were more sharrows to follow (that single sharrow is the only one), and the sharrow was placed in the center of the car lane rather than off to the side. Its odd placement encourages cyclists to hug the curb, which is more dangerous because there isn’t enough room for a car and bike to share the width of the lane and drivers are less likely to see a cyclist that is not directly in front of them.
In Diana’s situation, the cement truck was too wide to share the width of the car lane with her, and the driver sat high up and probably didn’t see her. While there is some debate as to how much of the accident can be attributed to the bike path suddenly ending, one thing is clear in all of this: If there was a complete and dedicated bike path the whole way through, Diana would likely not have been run over because she wouldn’t have been in the path of the cement truck. Even if the driver failed to spot her at the traffic light, she would have been in the bike lane and out of his way.
With the continued increase in bike ridership (see figures below), more people moving into downtown and ballpark neighborhoods, and a visible increase in traffic volume in the city, the number of bicycle accidents are likely to increase if improvements in bicycle infrastructure are not put in place.
SFMTA 2011 Bicycle Count Report (3)
Number of cyclists counted at location:
Embarcadero & Townsend:
2006 – 2011: 192% growth
2010 – 2011: 55% growth
2006 – 2011: 71% growth
Also, as you are likely already concerned about, the potential Warriors Arena moving into the area will cause traffic and transit congestion to increase dramatically and parking to become even more scarce. The use of bicycles can be a very effective and acceptable way to transport large numbers of people while taking the strain off the limited amount of space on transit and for cars in our roads and at parking facilities.
To help ease increasing congestion and safely accommodate the increasing number of cyclists, there needs to be at minimum a complete and dedicated bike lane on King Street all the way to the Caltrain station. The bike path that is there now is only halfway done. There should also be a dedicated bike lane going in the opposite direction from the Caltrain station to the ballpark.
The SFMTA is responsible for putting bicycle improvements into place, but as funds and political will for capital improvements are limited, we need to continue to call the attention of those responsible to the most urgent needs for improvement. We need to let the mayor, district supervisor, SFMTA, DPW, and planning department know that in a place like AT&T Park, a 40,000 seats world-class stadium with 81 baseball games per year and other events, tourists from all over the world, and a location within a growing and vibrant community near many transit options and with increasing bike ridership, there should be dedicated bike lanes that are complete from one end to the other.
I know that you are committed to serving your fans and making the stadium a safe and great place to be so I think you would agree that the bicycle infrastructure surrounding the baseball stadium could and should be improved. I urge you to reach out to the city agencies yourself, if you have not done so already, as a major stakeholder in the area and specifically call attention to bicycle improvements around the ballpark for the community and all your fans.
- Bialick, Aaron. “Diana Sullivan, 48, Killed on Bike by Cement Truck Driver at Third and King | sf.streetsblog.org.” Streetsblog San Francisco. 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2013. http://sf.streetsblog.org/2013/02/11/diane-sullivan-48-killed-on-bike-by-cement-truck-driver-at-third-and-king/
- Bay City News, Inc. Republication “SF police investigating crash that killed cyclist near AT&T Park | abc7news.com.” ABC7 News. 9 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2013. http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/san_francisco&id=8986888
- SFMTA. 2011 Bicycle Count Report San Francisco. Rep. San Francisco: SFMTA, 2011. http://www.sfbike.org/download/bike_count_2011/2011BicycleCountReportsml_002.pdf
If you’d also like to write to AT&T Park, you can send your letters to the address below, or email them using the form at their website here.
Attn: AT&T Park Management
24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94107