Archive | September, 2011

ThinkBike San Francisco Rolls Out Ideas

21 Sep

The two day ThinkBike summit in San Francisco was an inspiring bi-national endeavor focusing on methods to improve conditions for biking in the city. Local leaders, transportation planners, and community members coordinated with the Netherlands Consul General and Dutch transit specialists addressed key topics in bicycle safety, utilization, and functionality in their survey of three study areas:Central Market,Polk Street, and “The Wiggle”.

Central Market
This specific portion of Market Street is part of SF Route 30 (map) but lacks designated bike lanes. While traffic volume is relatively low on Market Street itself, the cross streets are heavily utilized connecting commercial centers to highways. Intersections are dubious at best for even the most cautious and experienced bicyclist.

Polk Street
The northern section of Polk Street consists of one lane of traffic in each direction with parking on both sides of the street. It is considered a commercial corridor, running parallel to Van Ness Avenue (US Route 101). Particular attention will focus on determining if a separated bicycle facility would be possible without being blocked by double-parked vehicles or impeding current traffic flow.

The Wiggle
The WiggleThis mile-long route, aptly named The Wiggle, winds through residential and commercial neighborhoods to minimize hilly inclines for bicyclists. It offers westbound riders an attractive alternative to mashing up Haight Street hills by “wiggling” up much more manageable inclines.

“Since the purpose of the wiggle is to even out/avoid the steep incline getting into the upper haight, on the way back you can just as well sail down Haight St — check your brakes, or your fixie skid marks or what ever.” (San Francisco Wiki, 09/21/2011)

*****

Bicycle safety in the city is a major concern and deterrent for would be bicyclists. However, with the installation of dedicated bicycle facilities and the rising number of bicyclists on the road. Riding a bicycle in the city is an incredible safe method of transportation. Bicyclists can improve their own safety by following road rules and wearing safety gear. However, drivers can greatly improve bicycle safety by being aware and considerate of bicycle traffic providing 3 feet clearance when passing riders on the road. San Francisco is improving and expanding dedicated bicycle facilities and general bicycle awareness and tolerance is quite good in the city.

Utilization goes hand in hand with functionality. Simply building a bike lane does not guarantee its use. Efficient corridors must be identified and then improved upon for optimal bike usage. Bicycling should be a more viable mode of transportation in the city than driving. Functional, efficient routes which can be utilized by bicyclists from 8-80 years old are pivotal in this movement. Hills can be daunting, traffic can be frightening, but with improvements in infrastructure coupled with an informed and enthusiastic community, San Francisco is truly one of the best bicycle cities in America.

Waves to Wine 2011

18 Sep

It was a wonderful weekend riding my bicycle beside the 2000 other cyclists during the annual Bike MS: Waves to Wine Ride. Now in its 28th year, the two day event is famous for its picturesque routes with various mileage options, appealing to both new and experienced riders alike. Saturday’s 100 and 75 mile route took riders on a breathtaking tour from San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge, over Mount Tamalpais and up the California coastline on scenic Highway 1. A 40 mile option weaved around Northern California’s wine country, merging with the 100 and 75 mile routes for the finish in Rohnert Park. On Sunday, riders rolled out on a beautiful 75 or 50 route through classic vineyards and golden rolling hills.

Armed with tools, a spare tube, an emergency number, and a cue sheet, I was a Ride Marshal for the weekend, acting as both a good will and safety ambassador for the National MS Society and Bike MS while on the road. Over the course of the event, I helped fix a flat, examined a squeaky pedal, enforced safe riding procedures, and made sure that people along the route were well taken care of while enjoying the ride. It was a nice change of pace to have the extra responsibility while on the road and to share the experience with my Ride Marshal buddy since I’ve grown accustomed to riding solo. Needless to say, I was worn out after the two days of marshaling, but I couldn’t have had a more worthwhile weekend on my bicycle.