May is Bike Month, and one of San Francisco’s biggest bicycling times of the year. Last May our Women Bike SF program made it a goal to get even more women, trans*, femme (WTF) riders on the road. In honor of bike month the SF Bicycle Coalition held its second annual pledge drawing: sign up to get a WTF friend riding during the month of May for the chance to win some great giveaways.
HUGE thanks to everyone who participated, and kudos to the new bicyclists who got their wheels spinning! We were thrilled with the response and inspired by the great stories we heard.
Now, here’s one for you: Delanie and Lauren. The former an experienced bicyclist and the latter new to biking in the city. We caught up with them to hear about their pledging experience.
SF Bicycle Coalition: What inspired you to sign our pledge to help a friend start biking?
Delanie: The raffle prizes! Also, Lauren has shown interest in biking (and even brought her bike up from San Jose) for a while, and I wanted to actually commit to getting her on the saddle since I enjoy biking so much.
Lauren: I am lucky to have a great friend like Delanie who is a biking beast!
What inspired your to start biking in the city?
D: I’ve been biking as a form of transportation for a long time now, here in SF for 3 years and back home in Columbus, Ohio. I’d say there are three main reasons I bike:
1. I hate not being in control of my transportation and owning a car is out of the question.
2. It’s free, and I’m broke (except the occasional tune-ups and repairs, but still light-years cheaper than anything else).
3. It’s exercise that you don’t have to allot extra time to — you have to get places, so might as well spend your time commuting getting ripped.
L: I really enjoy spinning at the gym and there is no reason I shouldn’t be riding outside and enjoying the outdoors. Not only is it a great way to get around, but who wants to exercise in a gym after a long day inside at work?
What’s your favorite aspect of bicycling?
D: My favorite aspect is the exercise high, especially after a long ride or some SF hills. Also, the people. Biking has a wonderful community of people, which I have had a blast getting to know.
L: I am new to biking in the city but I love feeling my heart pump and being in the sun.
Why do you think that it’s important to have more women biking in San Francisco?
D: I think it’s important to have more people in general biking in SF. There are so many good community outcomes of riding: better public health, lower emissions, less traffic, etc. I’d say women, especially, should bike more because it’s so freaking empowering. There’s still a bit of gender inequality in athletics, so the more women who ride, the better!
L: It’s important to have more women biking in San Francisco because it’s fun, great for the environment, good exercise, and makes us independent of ridesharing and public transportation. Not only is it a good way to save money, it’s very freeing to know that I can leave my location at any time, get on my bike and go. Forget surging or crowded buses!
Do you have any tips for women who are nervous about bicycling in the city?
D: Know the laws and only do what you’re comfortable doing. Being unsure about biking can be dangerous for you and the people around you. If you’re uncomfortable biking on the roads, start small, like in Golden Gate Park, until you’re more confident, then hit the road! The SF Bicycle Coalition has urban cycling classes that a few of my newbie friends have taken and loved – take advantage of everything they offer!
L: As a new biker in the city, it is so awesome to have an experienced friend guide you on some first rides and show you the ropes. Due to all the hills in SF, I always check maps to find the flattest route.
What bicycling improvements would you like to see in the city?
D: I think the main issue with biking in SF is the ignorance of the law on both the driver and biker sides. The interaction between cars and bikes would be a lot safer and smoother if everyone knew (and followed) the laws.
The main law-breaking I’ve experienced, which is especially dangerous, is illegal right turn maneuvers. I’d say a majority of the cars I see turning right don’t use a blinker. And some put a blinker on as they turn, which completely defeats the purpose of the blinker. Still worse are cars that don’t pull all the way to the right when they want to turn. This creates a lot of frustration and confusion for both parties and confusion is always dangerous.
I have other gripes about traffic law breaking, but I won’t bore you with those. The bottom line is that there needs to be some kind of education for both the drivers and bikers in order to make the streets safer. If there were a way to have a giant mandatory conference with all the drivers and bikers in the city to discuss issues of safety, that would be ideal. But since that’s probably not possible, I think getting more questions about how to deal with bikers and bike lanes in driver’s education and the driver test would be a good step.
Help us support more getting more people enjoying the fun and freedom of biking. Join or renew your membership today, and we’ll keep our outreach wheels rolling.