What it’s like to start biking during the pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen a great increase in registration and attendance in our bike education classes. Jesse and Chelsey, two of our students, share their experiences with biking during the pandemic.

When shelter in place guidelines were implemented, San Francisco residents were faced with new questions surrounding mobility and health: How will I get to work safely? Where can I exercise? What will I do to get out of the house and stay active?

Jesse, who lives in the Financial District, enjoys spending time all over the city. But when the pandemic hit, he missed having safe access to other areas. “I started to miss visiting other parts of the city, specifically Golden Gate Park and the Presidio,” he said.

Much like Jesse, the pandemic created a predicament for Chelsey. As a Disaster Service Worker, she now needed to find a new way to get from her home in Excelsior to the SF Marin Food Bank.

After some thought, Chelsey decided to make the switch to commuting by bicycle, and as an “absolute beginner,” she decided to attend a few of our bike education webinars: Smart City Cycling 1, Intro to Biking in San Francisco, and Intro to Urban Biking with Bay Wheels. Of all the take-aways from these webinars, her favorite is: “to think like a driver, follow the same rules, and be predictable.” Now, after taking our classes, Chelsey has felt empowered to commute to and from work in the Dogpatch by bicycle using Bay Wheels bike share.

Jesse also turned to bicycling to meet his shelter in place transportation needs. “I had been considering getting a bike purely for fitness, but shelter in place definitely accelerated that,” he said.

Though the old saying, ‘it’s like riding a bike,’ rings true in some situations, literally getting back on the bike can be daunting. Jesse felt out-of-practice and decided to attend two SF Bicycle Coalition webinars to get more comfortable. “When I wanted to get back on the [bike],” he said, “I thought it would be beneficial to myself (and everyone around me) if I’d take a refresher not just on biking in general, but on how to do so safely on San Francisco streets.”

These classes, Smart City Cycling 1 and Intro to Biking in San Francisco, gave Jesse a “boost of confidence” to start biking again. “I somehow made it this far in life without really knowing how a bike should fit,” he told us. Jesse is now able to put his new knowledge to use when using Bay Wheels to get around and now in shopping for his own bike.

Recently, Jesse has been especially enjoying recreational rides. “Going through some of the busier parts of the city and then reaching [a] more relaxed … scene on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park was a literal breath of fresh air.”

Whether for recreational purposes or to meet transportation needs, Chelsey and Jesse can now experience the true joy and freedom of biking around our beautiful city. “Since the class, I’ve been biking fairly regularly around different parts of the city and have felt much more confident and prepared,” Jesse said.

Whether you’ve never ridden a bike before, or you’re looking to increase your confidence on city streets, our free online webinars and socially distant on-bike classes are here to help. Check out our upcoming classes and register here!

All of our bicycle education classes are free and open to the public. Thank you to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Transportation Authority for sponsoring some of these safety classes.

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