To get us in the Bike to Wherever Day spirit, we wanted to highlight someone who inspires folks to ride a bike and promotes the joy and fun of riding a bike in their community. Meet Lydia Francis, our Bike Champion of the Year. We hope her story encourages you to ride to wherever is special to you on May 21 for Bike to Wherever Day and get others out there with you!
Tell us about yourself and how biking is part of your life here in the Bay.
I moved to San Francisco in August 2018, but only took up biking here a year ago towards the start of the pandemic. Getting a bike transformed my perspective on San Francisco, encouraging me to explore new neighborhoods and master the geography of the city.
Where’s your favorite place to bike in the city?
My favorite bike route in the city includes so many Slow Streets! I start near my home in NoPa at the Panhandle, pass through Golden Gate Park to GreatHighway, up Sloat through the Outer Sunset to the Laguna Honda entrance to Twin Peaks, and then down Ashbury Street and Page Street back to my house. But if I had to pick a favorite, it’d absolutely be Great Highway. I love how it integrates the ocean with the city. I’ve had so many wonderful walks, dates, rides, and sits there over the course of the pandemic – I never want it to change!
How do you bring biking to your community?
Biking has been amazing for my mental and physical wellness, so I’m passionate about sharing that with others. Getting started feels intimidating, and I benefited from so many experienced people teaching me bike mechanics, ride techniques, new routes, and so much more. Now, I’ve become a point-person for friends looking to find a used bike and spend hours scouring the internet for good, reliable rides for people. I also love to ride with new riders and coach them through big rides.
This spring I started to organize rides with friends around fun themes. For example, I convinced a bunch of my friends to ride around SF from 9 pm – 2 am on March 14 to celebrate Daylight Saving Time!
What has biking meant to you during the pandemic?
I got a bike last spring off Craigslist, only expecting to take it for the occasional Saturday spin — but biking has turned into the highlight of my pandemic.
Through riding my bike, I found a deep sense of freedom, release, and exploration during what was otherwise a period of lockdown and fear. Biking became my personal exhale as the world became increasingly uninterpretable.
Practically, biking also helped me meet new people safely in the pandemic (a seemingly impossible feat!). Making connections while exploring the city has been a true delight.
Overall, biking has given me a deeper sense of belonging here in San Francisco – both to the literal geography of this place and the people I meet while exploring on two wheels.
Get ready for Bike to Wherever Day with us!