Cycling: Good News and an Advisory

Great news, Mission! Bike riding is spreading like a plague, but with better symptoms and more positive media coverage: SF Gate has taken note! San Francisco Bike Coalition reports record numbers of new members! And honestly, this is an ideal moment to start biking if you’ve been thinking about it; Bike to Work Day is this Thursday! There’s a stop-off spot with food and drinks and goodies for bikers at each end of the Mission.

Biking in the Mission District can be confusing, though… other bikes often speed frantically past just so they can stop at the red light before you. There’s a whole strip of asphalt labeled “bike lane”, but it seems that drivers (who you would hope have pretty good eyesight) misread that as “park while passengers shop lane” or “it’s okay to double park here if your flashers are on lane”. Other drivers sometimes curse at you in Spanish when they drive past you, and explain when you chase after them that they were concerned for your safety on such a busy road (more or less). Baffling.

Some of these mysteries may never be explained, so I’ll start with something simpler. Let’s address the helmet issue. Covering your head with something to keep your brain safe is critical. That thing is a helmet, and they aren’t fashionable. Confusing, because people in the Mission are fashionable and like their headgear to match. Small-brimmed, brightly colored caps are not helmets, even if only bikers wear them. Hair is not a helmet, even if it is long and blows attractively in the wind. Even if it is full of styling gel and makes a hollow sound when you knock on it, it is not a helmet. Finally, to the man biking on 22nd St: cowboy hats, although arguably appropriate for riding horses, are not helmets. Maybe you can wear it on top of a helmet for the same effect.

Not a helmet.

Not a helmet.

P.S. New obstacle in the bike lane on Valencia at 7 a.m. today: a cop car, parked diagonally, plus two cops writing a ticket to a disgruntled sidewalk-biker. Helmets can’t protect you from everything, so I wouldn’t suggest JWZ point #11 even while wearing protective gear.

8 Responses to “Cycling: Good News and an Advisory”

  1. BStriddy says:

    Seriously, why do you guys keep giving air time to the tripe that JWZ spewed as “bicycle wisdom”??? You really owe your readers a FPP with some advice and/or links thereto by somebodies who know WTF their talking about. I.e. NOT JWZ.

  2. Allan says:

    was a accident :(

  3. whir says:

    I gotta agreee with the helmet thing. I just got hit by a car on my way to work – not seriously, but there wasn’t almost anything I could have done to avoid it. My helmet smacked the ground pretty hard but with the helmet I didn’t get so much as a headache afterwards. I don’t think I’ll ever ride without one again.

  4. Spanakopita says:

    Is there some way to bike to SF State that won’t kill me? I see scores of bikes on campus and can not figure how their riders got there.

  5. Matt says:

    You can ride the wiggle into GGP and take 20th to Stonestown. It’s a hell of a hill on 20th, but it’ll get you to state pretty quick.

    Or you can take 7th past Laguna Honda and down into West Portal, then ride that little side street next to Junipero Serra til Holloway, which will drop you right on the corner of campus.

  6. Allan says:

    i’ve never actually done this route, but i made a map i think might work (obviously i’d take tiffany too, but google maps *driving* directions won’t allow that): click here and don’t forget to zoom in to see the little details

  7. Becca says:

    Alright, some folks who know what they’re talking about and are very active in bike education: SFBC (, the Bike Kitchen (, Box Dog Bikes (, or the Bikery at City College every Tuesday (e-mail Otherwise, seems like Mission Mission readers are willing to provide some quality advice…

  8. [...] New contender for Not A Helmet! I watched a man bike by on 24th Street wearing a baseball cap, and using his hands to hold and eat [...]

  9. [...] Biking in the Mission Can Be Confusing Explore posts in the same categories: Cycling [...]

  10. Dustin Diaz says:

    Wearing a helmet is not the law. It’s optional. When I get hit by a car, I will continue to not wear a helmet. I’d rather take my 0.0001% chance. I’m sure this is exactly what you’d like to hear ;)