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!
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!