Making the decision to go green and ride a bike to work can be daunting, but there’s no better time to take the plunge than on Bike to Work Day. Judging from the crowds on Thursday, it seems like a lot of people did indeed take that plunge. A single glance at the street said it all: cyclists are a force to be reckoned with, and the number of cyclists throughout the Bay Area is rising every year. ”About two years back on Bike to Work Day, they recorded more bikes crossing Van Ness on Market than cars. And it’s definitely bigger this year.” said Dan, a San Francisco Bike Coalition volunteer.
This year, 73 percent of overall traffic at that intersection was bike traffic. That breaks down to about 17 cyclists per minute, according to the SF Bike Coalition. The Coalition is definitely taking advantage of those numbers to create positive change for the cyclists the coalition represents. This year, commuters were encouraged to sign a petition urging the city to create seamless bike lanes. “One hundred miles of bike lanes by 2020″ was the rallying cry of the day. More specifically, the SF Bike Coalition is pushing for dedicated bike lanes on Oak and Fell, which, as any Wiggle regular could tell you, would definitely be a champagne- and fireworks-worthy event.
Although most of the cyclists we saw were veteran commuters, there was a small but welcome demographic of new cyclists on the streets too. A number of different Bay Area employers offered enticing benefits – including free breakfast – to their cyclist commuters for Bike to Work Day, which definitely helped more than a few people make up their minds to put the pedal to the, er, pedal. For others, Bike to Work Day was simply the excuse. As new commuter Mike Pao said, “It takes a little longer, but it’s been so nice out lately. Really, why wouldn’t you?” Veteran cyclist and Colorado transplant Rachel Sieps agreed, “Whenever I’m in the city I ride my bike as much as possible. I hate having a car, it’s so expensive.”
The U.S. Census estimates that about 11,367 people commute by bike in San Francisco. With approximately 11,149 bike commuters in Santa Clara County; roughly 10,000 in Alameda County; and about 5,000 more in Marin and San Mateo counties, the streets of the Bay Area are no stranger to cyclists. But a lack of parking tickets and beautiful weather aren’t always enough to keep cyclists on the road. Really, there’s nothing that can outweigh feeling safe while riding on the street. The SF Bike Coalition addressed that issue by creating eleven Commuter Convoys originating in neighborhoods all over the city Thursday morning. Lead by veteran bike commuters, each convoy left its respective neighborhood at about 7:45am (luckily most of the convoys met up at a coffee shop), and headed downtown in a huge pack, moving slowly and safely and helping new commuters learn the routes so that they can do it again on their own.
But for the SF Bike Coalition, safety and education don’t end with Bike to Work Day. ”I learned how to ride a bike through the Bike Coalition beginner’s class four years ago.” said Juli, an SF Bike Coalition volunteer. The Bike Coalition also offers an urban skills class to teach new cyclists how to safely navigate the city streets. And of course, if you’re looking to practice your new skills within the safety of a group, we’ve got several evening and weekend road and mountain bike rides leaving from all of our stores.