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.
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.