This article first appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of our quarterly magazine, the Tube Times.
“I didn’t want to live in the suburbs anymore, so I moved from Foster City to San Francisco in July of 2013,” Bobbie Smith told us with a characteristic twinkle in her eye. “It quickly became obvious that biking in the city is different.”
Bobbie followed her grandchildren to the Bay Area after living for decades on the East Coast. When she moved to San Francisco, she was so scared of biking that she nearly placed her bike in storage. Then she heard about the SF Bicycle Coalition and our Intro to Urban Bicycling workshop.
Bobbie became an SF Bicycle Coalition member and signed up for her first class last year. To build on the knowledge gained from the class, Bobbie also signed up for one of the many group rides we list online at sfbike.org/events. Just to be on the safe side, Bobbie’s first group ride was designed specifically for beginners on a car-free road in Golden Gate Park.
“Taking that ride was really helpful,” Bobbie recalled. In addition to becoming more comfortable on her bike, Bobbie was inspired by the story of one of her fellow bike-riders.
“I was really impressed with one lady who’d learned to ride just a month earlier at the SF Bicycle Coalition’s Adult Learn to Ride class. She was in her thirties and had tried to learn to bike as a kid, but never took to it,” Bobbie said. “She took that class for beginners, learned to balance on a bike with the pedals removed, and was out pedaling in Golden Gate Park with us a month later.”
These days, Bobbie rides all over town. You can see her riding on Polk Street, heading out to Golden Gate Park, and running errands.
“For me, it’s about the enjoyment of getting out. It sounds trite, but I love the wind in my hair and the freedom,” Bobbie said. “Not waiting for transit or for a car, I’m totally independent.”
Asked what she would tell someone who is not yet comfortable biking San Francisco, Bobbie replied: “You have to go out and just ride, and the SF Bicycle Coalition’s classes and rides are a great opportunity.”
Bobbie had one other recommendation – this one for city planners:
“Polk and Market Streets – I’d make them public plazas, with auto traffic diverted to parallel streets. Those avenues could be amazing if they were designed just for people walking and biking.”