Learning is a Two-Way Street

Sup. John Avalos recently told me that his son learned to ride a bicycle four years ago at Sunday Streets when he participated in the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Freedom From Training Wheels program. There was “no turning back after that.” His son was sold on bicycling from that day on.

When Sup. Avalos told me this, he, along with thousands of others, had just spent a gorgeous Sunday riding along Mission Street between the Sunday Streets event and the Excelsior Arts & Music Festival, enjoying a beautiful, car-free mile thanks to the Excelsior Action Group, Livable City, the City and County of San Francisco and dozens of other community partners.

What was that moment for you, when you hopped on a bike and knew there was “no turning back?”

For hundreds of San Franciscans, it was a Sunday Streets class in the Tenderloin or Excelsior this summer. Maybe for you it was during Bike to Work Day in May, or riding with your child to the first day of school in August. Every one of the 10,000-plus SF Bicycle Coalition members reading this has a story about a moment when we each connected with bicycling on our own terms.

Years ago, a community organizer taught me, “you’ve gotta meet people where they’re at.” To move communities, you have to go to them, understand their lives, challenges and aspirations. Only then can you figure out how to talk about issues that matter to you — on their terms.

That is exactly what your San Francisco Bicycle Coalition does. We create opportunities for everyone in San Francisco to experience bicycling on their own terms, to suit their own needs and to help solve their problems. I’m continually impressed by all the ways that our SF Bicycle Coalition makes bicycling approachable to people around the city.

As you’ll read in the pages of this Tube Times, we have a great toolbox. Our community organizing is building support for new, innovative bike lanes. We teach children, parents and families to ride safely through our Freedom From Training Wheels, Biking with Babies and Safe Routes to School programs. Our adult cycling classes empower people with confidence and mobility. Business members benefit from our Commute by Bike classes. We host Bike It Forward events and partner with bike shops to get even more people involved in our movement.

We’re teaching taxi drivers, AutoReturn tow truck drivers and Recology drivers how they can keep everyone on our streets safe. And our Bicycle Valet parking staff literally meet people where they’re at, when they arrive at ball games, the opera or the scores of other events where the SF Bicycle Coalition ensures that your ride will be waiting for you in one piece when you’re ready to go home.

We’ve taught tens of thousands of people and families like the Avalos family, and we’ve learned a lot from them. Now it’s time to challenge ourselves and take our broad array of programs deeper into San Francisco’s communities. How do people see themselves in our work, so it becomes their work? How do we build a lasting, positive impression; an affinity for bicycling; and a strong relationship with our SF Bicycle Coalition?

The answer starts with you, our members and supporters. The SF Bicycle Coalition dreams of a network of over 100 miles of protected bike lanes connecting across the city; of communities where, regardless of your age or background, you feel empowered pedaling; and of a city where no one dies in traffic. But that vision isn’t possible without you.

We need you to bring your passion, experience and relationships to the table and help strengthen your SF Bicycle Coalition’s connection and commitment to San Francisco’s diverse neighborhoods and communities. Come get involved! This is how we will learn, build our movement and grow bicycling in San Francisco.

Become a member and you'll improve your commute and get discounts at shops across the city.