A Bike Commute Beyond the Bay: Golden Wheel Awardees SF2G

Photo Credit: SF2G

Every year at the Golden Wheel Awards, we honor people who are transforming our city into a more people- and bike- friendly place. This year on July 30, SF2G takes home the award alongside the San Francisco Yellow Bike Project.

Loosely organized and tightly knit, SF2G is a group of people who ride their bikes from San Francisco down the Peninsula to Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and all parts in between. SF2G originally stood for “San Francisco to Google” back in 2007, and today it has expanded to include literally anyone who wants to get to the south bay in a non-polluting, health-positive way. On any given morning, trips range from 42 miles to 60+ miles.

SF2G has earned a Golden Wheel Award this year because – in addition to expanding the idea of what a bicycle commute can be in the popular imagination – people in the group also advocate for safety improvements to stretches of San Francisco’s southeastern neighborhoods, including the Hairball, Alemany Maze and Bayshore Boulevard.

Dedicated SF2G riders, Scott Crosby and Peter Colijn (who we’ve profiled before), recently took some time to answer a few of our questions:

Describe an SF2G morning. How many people ride, how often and what’s the ride like?
Peter: Some folks ride every day, some folks a few times a week and some just once or twice a month. I’ve gotten in the habit of getting everything ready the night before, so I don’t get up very early — about 25 minutes before the ride leaves (aka ‘the rollout’). The most popular rides leave between 6:30 and 7am, though some leave earlier and some later. The meeting location is almost always a coffee shop, which is perfect for a dose of morning caffeine.

Scott: On a typical ride (and there may be three or four separate rides on a given day) there are six to 20 people, but on Fridays you can expect 40 to 50 if it’s sunny. We’ve had a few good routes pretty well nailed down since 2006, with some evolution. Rides will generally follow one of four basic schemes: Bayway, Skyline, Royale (El Camino/82), or Half Moon Bay (sf2g.com/routes.html), in order of popularity. A typical ride to Mountain View is about two hours and change.

Can you share a favorite moment from an SF2G ride?
Scott: That’s hard to pin down, but every time I ride over a pedestrian bridge on the 101, which is dead stopped in gridlock, I feel pretty gleeful.

Peter: What strikes me now as I ride around the peninsula are the memories I have of so many good times with good friends at different spots. It’s a constant reminder of the great community that is SF2G.

Which streets do you care most about advocating for bike improvements, and why?
Scott: In terms of maintenance, the worst roads are in San Francisco, which should be surprising considering we are only in the city for a couple miles of the 40-odd total. The very worst are Mission Street, south of Chavez, and Tunnel Road, along the 101. Tunnel causes many senseless pinch-flats and even crashes. That’s how vicious the potholes are. In terms of bad traffic design, SF also “wins.” The Hairball (Chavez/101/Bayshore) is dangerous and hectic. The convoluted intersection from Bayshore to Tunnel is a mess. Potrero to Bayshore is something we call “shooting the rapids”, and it’s not for the faint of heart.

What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of commuting by bicycle?
Scott: Find someone who rides a similar route and tag along. It’s always better with company. And a group of good friends keeps you coming back day after day. I’ve done the commute from SF to the South Bay around 800 times, and some have done it more. It’s that addictive.

Want to attend the Golden Wheel Awards on July 30 and help us honor SF2G? Get your tickets today!

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