The Tilles Family: The Family that Bikes Together Stays Together

The Tilles Family From left to right:
Dottie Emanuel
is the matriarch of the family. She moved to SF last month from New York.
Lois & Richard Tilles have been SFBC members since 1995. Richard likes Giants baseball, and Lois likes eating out.
Emily Tilles enjoys commuting and agrees that riding predictably is key to biking safely in traffic. SFBC member since 1996.
Ted Tilles & Naomi Mahoney celebrated their first anniversary logging some serious miles on their bikes at Point Reyes. SFBC members since 1998.

Who started bicycling first in San Francisco?

NAOMI: I can't remember who started biking first when we moved to the city, was it Richard or Emily?

TED: It's mostly Richard, definitely Dick T.

RICHARD: Oh, it's the best way to get around, I think. Whenever I can, I take the bike. I biked over here today.

TED: But ET's the biggest biker!

EMILY: The reason I started biking is because Dad kept telling me how fun Critical Mass was.

RICHARD: Oh yeah.

EMILY: You want your name linked with Critical Mass?


EMILY: We all did Critical Mass together and, you know, I felt like my dad was doing this...

RICHARD: Yeah, what? Some old guy's out there doing Critical Mass, I ought to do it, too? Ha!

EMILY: Right, so I borrowed a bike and tried it. I bought a bike and I would commute on Critical Mass days. Then, I started commuting the rest of the days. Then, basically, if I had to go somewhere I would be biking there. But I'm not like Ted and Naomi, no, I hate recreational riding.

NAOMI: It's fun on the weekends, when we were dating, we would take tandem bike dates. Friday and Saturday night biking... we still do.

TED: Then we also would bike to Tiburon, that's like a big family bike ride we do on vacations. We would bike up to Tiburon and then take the ferry back.

EMILY: For Mother's Day or for Dad's birthday... that's the one time I'll take a recreational bike ride, when it's a family thing.

TED: We all live close to each other, and we all work near where we live, so that kind of situation is really conducive to bicycling and it's conducive to a low stress life where we're not always trying to get through traffic. We can see each other a lot and we can get to work and we can do our kind of recreational things.

How do you think bicyclists and motorists get along in the City?

RICHARD: I think most drivers are happy, you know, don't seem to mind us.

TED: He lives in the Marina.

EMILY: But even in the Mission, the Valencia bike lanes have really made a difference. When we head downtown-it's perfect, there's bike lanes almost 90% of the way.

TED: We need bike racks in front of people's houses!

LOIS: I would hope for more of a public education campaign for drivers... there was a pedestrian campaign a few years ago that may have helped: "Sorry, I almost killed your grandma, but I didn't want to spill my latte." You know, just calling to people's attention, hello, it's a shared road. Drivers really do think of bikers as taking some of their road. They don't see it as shared. It's a serious problem, but I think it could be overcome.

RICHARD: I feel strongly that we have too many cars in the city, and that people should not be driving unless they absolutely have to. That's one of the reasons I ride.

EMILY: Ted and Naomi are selling their car.

NAOMI: Yeah, it's just too much of a nuisance to have. Ted, Emily, and I are now in City Car Share.

TED: We used it to pick up our ice cream cake tonight at Mitchell's. We're gonna buy a trailer, Naomi and I. I think we'll use it a lot because we're selling the truck.

What is your favorite bicycle and bike experience?

TED: My favorite? Biking home on a Saturday night with Naomi on the tandem and my favorite bike is my Cinelli road bike.

NAOMI: The late '80s Peugeot that Ted built for me. I think my favorite biking experience has been this weekend, our one-year anniversary biking around Point Reyes together.

TED: Beautiful.

EMILY: My favorite bike is my everyday bike, a Marin hybrid, and my favorite biking experience is commuting because it's fast, it's fun, and even if I have a bad day at work, I enjoy commuting.

RICHARD: I have a Gary Fisher that I like a lot. I have two favorite experiences: one is going home after a Giants victory! It's such a great ride at night. Everybody is in a good mood. That happened a lot last year, we won a lot of games. The other was that first Critical Mass that I did which was just unbelievable... the greatest way to see San Francisco, you know? You go through all these places you couldn't normally bike with thousands of other people who really want to do the same thing.

LOIS: I'm all about bike accessories. My bike's crummy, but I've got great accessories! My favorite is when the family bikes to Tiburon, that's the best. And it's sunny!

DOTTIE: Well, I've only had one bike, and the children coaxed me to get one when we were spending the summers in Stockridge (Mass.). They got me on and put me on this reclining driveway and sent me down. I had ridden when I was a kid, but not since then, and that was fun! Where I used to live, through the town, I'd go down the main street and guys would say, "Hiya, Grandma!" That was my favorite experience.

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