It’s the 20th Anniversary of Bike to Work Day in the Bay Area, so we thought we’d ask some of our long-time members to share their memories of biking in San Francisco 20 years ago. Fran Taylor has been a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition since before we had a member database in 1994, and she is a driving force behind CC Puede, a neighborhood coalition that has been working to turn Cesar Chávez into a more livable street.
What do you remember about biking in SF in the 90s?
My commute then was between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Mission. Bike lanes were sketchy and disconnected. Southbound in the evening was horrible with all the cross traffic, so I just came down Battery, cackling as I squeaked past car traffic backed up sometimes from the Bay Bridge to the Embarcadero Center. Then Howard Street was my salvation.
I was at the famous 1997 Critical Mass rides and loved the anarchist spirit of that time, with its spontaneous leaderless exuberance. I also remember being regarded as something of a weirdo at my workplace, where hardly anyone commuted by bike and driving was encouraged, even in the healthcare field.
What is the greatest change you’ve seen on our streets in the last 20 years?
There is way more bike infrastructure. I now feel safer on my bike than on foot. Cyclists can generally go with the flow of traffic, and bike lanes help everyone know where they’re supposed to be. What’s more discouraging is what hasn’t changed. Cars still park on our sidewalks and never get tickets. They still take up bike lanes on Sundays. Hostility is still high between travel modes.
What campaigns over the years have made the biggest impact on your ride?
Improvements on Folsom and Howard and other SoMa routes helped my daily commute. In the 2000s, I commuted to 2nd and Harrison and really appreciated that I could get almost door-to-door using bike lanes. I don’t actually ride much on Cesar Chávez, but that project has consumed my life for the last decade, and the improvements have made it much better to walk, which is my main mode of transportation on that street.
Why do you continue to be a long-time SF Bicycle Coalition supporter?
I love that one of the biggest, most influential groups in San Francisco is a bicycle advocacy organization. It’s such a sensible means of transportation. And I like the evolving direction of increasing outreach to communities like Bayview and the Excelsior. I think we’re on the right track.