Tomorrow is Bike to Work Day, don’t forget!

It’s fun — lots more bikes on the road, “energizer stations” all over town giving you bananas and tote bags — and it’s important politically. Get your tires pumped up, dust off your helmet and hit the road!

Here’s a partial map of where to find the bananas:

The SF Bike Coalition‘s special Bike to Work Day page has the full map and lots more info and stuff.

(The photo above is of local artist Jono Brandel explaining to a bunch of commuters on the Oakland-Alameda Ferry last week why riding a fixed-gear bicycle is much harder than riding a regular bicycle.)

200th Bike Rack, Bombed

You know that moment when Valencia is quiet? Early before all the shops open? I show up to work and there’s a woman out front knitting quietly on a little folding stool. A real live yarn bomber.

I wasn’t expecting her to be so open or charming. I thought yarn bombing was done anonymously in the shadows. I started asking questions and here’s what I learned.

Emily Stauffer (fogknits.com) has been doing this since 2010. As sweet as she is, she started out of snark. “All my friends kept sending me this yarn bombing story that had gone viral. It got kind of old saying ‘Yeah, I saw it. Thanks.’ So I decided to yarn bomb something so that I could say yeah, ‘I’ve done it. Thanks.’”

“5 years later, this is probably my 200th bike rack.”

Emily has bombed pansies in a garden, statues, fences, mail boxes and pink flamingos in a neighbors yard (the only time she’s yarn bombed on private property). But her favorite thing to bomb is bike racks.

“I’m so opposed to yarn bombing trees. Trees are beautiful. They don’t need improving. Let’s add some color to something that needs some help. An ugly fence. A steel bike rack.”

“It took me by surprise that the bike community appreciated it,” Emily said. “I used to just cover the very top of bike racks – the most visible part. But I kept noticing that people would slide the yarn down to one side. Eventually I figured out that bikers were doing that to protect their paint from getting scratched by the rack. Since realizing that knitting racks was actually functional, about 95% of my yarn bombing has been on racks.

Emily’s work tends to stay up anywhere from 24 hours (in the Castro) to a year.

When strips get boring, Emily throws in an Easter egg like this Charlie Brown stripe.

Do you recognize this pattern? Take your best guess in the comments below.

So how long does it take to yarn bomb 5 circular bike racks? Emily does most of the work in what she calls “found time.”

“10 minutes while waiting for the bus. Another 10 minutes because the bus was full and it just passed me by. 20 minutes on the bus. I don’t really sit at home and work on a project like this.” When pressed, Emily confesses, “I probably spent 60-70 hours on this one.”

I thanked her for her contribution and with a smile she corrected me, “my egregious act of vandalism.”

 

121 Year Old Route Resurrected

In 1894 the Pullman Strike cut San Francisco off from all physical communication.

From the San Francisco Examiner on July 7, 1894:

“An enterprising citizen of Fresno has organized a bicycle mail relay from that city to San Francisco to carry letters only. The route taken is west to Gilroy, then north through San Jose to this city.”

For $0.25 you could have a letter carried relay style from a bike shop in San Francisco all the way to a bike shop in Fresno. From there, or 16 other cities along the route, the local post office could deliver your letter right to the recipient’s door.

This weekend the route will be recreated. All that’s left is to get some mail.

In 1894 each letter was carried on the backs of 8 different bike messengers over 210 miles. The journey took about 18 hours, riding single speed bikes on mostly unpaved roads.

800 stamps were produced so quickly that an glaring mistake was overlooked. San Francisco was misspelled San “Fransisco.”

Full story here: Ingenuity, Murder, Fraud and Fixies (San Francisco in 1894)

On Friday a small group of friends will commemorate this ride by departing from a bike shop in San Francisco and tracing the same route to Fresno. None of them are bike messengers, and in fact, this will be the longest ride of their lives.

All they need now is mail.

This is where you come in. Stop in Mission Bicycle Company any time between now and 6:00 pm on Friday night if you would like to send a commemorative postcard to anyone in Fresno.

Don’t have any friends in Fresno? The recreators will hand deliver a message to any of the following stops.

After 121 years, the price remains $0.25.

Gone in 15 seconds

Watch this bike thief defeat what looks like two separate locks in probably less than 15 seconds:

Contact info is on the YouTube page if you happen to have any helpful info for the victim.

1K Attend Mission Crit

Estimates indicate more than 1,000 lined the half mile race course earlier this evening for what was possibly the first legal bike race to take place in the Mission.

76 racers competed in two races that lasted about 40 minutes each.

“There was one crash but it was minor” said volunteer, Stephen Grady. “It seemed to be very well taken care of. The paramedics were on it but everybody walked away from it.”

Nearing the final lap, Marc Marino about to overtake his friend Chas Christiansen.

$700 in cash prizes were distributed to the podium finishers of both the women’s and men’s races.

Winners – Women’s

  • 1st Veronika Volok
  • 2nd Kora Colasuonno
  • 3rd Christina Peck

Winners – Men’s

  • 1st Manuel Barra
  • 2nd Marc Marino
  • 3rd Chas Christiansen

 

1st Legal Bike Race in the Mission. Ever?

This Saturday about +70 people will be racing what may be the first fully legal, closed course bike race in the Mission District. Ever.

In NIMBY, USA it’s a miracle out of scripture that Mission Crit organizer, James Grady, was permitted (literally) to carve out a triangular velodrome on a Saturday night.

The total cost to produce the race is nearing $10,000, which is coming from a handful of sponsors and a crowdfunding campaign. In an unconventional move, the SFMTA agreed to waive the $30,000 fee normally charged to reroute buses. Some members of ISCOTT, the committee that regulates street closure permits, “were dumbstruck,” Grady said. Race registration fees go towards cash prizes for the winners.

Mission Crit features two 120 degree turns. Spectating should be good and harrowing.

Spectators can buy tickets to win prizes like Kryptonite locks, Tshirts, and GoPro cameras. Proceeds go to the San Francisco Bicycle Messenger Association’s Broken Bones Fund, which helps messengers in times of need.

Last year’s Mission Crit featured 20 racers in a parking lot. This year the mens race sold out and has a waiting list of 17. Two teams are coming up from Los Angeles.

In organizing the event, what was most remarkable for Grady was, “how supportive the Bay Area bicycle community is. I’m just a guy with an idea. This could not have happened without the overwhelming support of the community.”

Sunday’s 60 Minutes piece on the other coast’s brakeless fixed crit.

Like any track race on a real velodrome, all bikes are fixed (no coasting). And while it may seem counterintuitive, riding brakeless is essential to the participants safety.

“There’s been a dramatic increase in the popularity of cycling but there are very few opportunities to see an actual bicycle race” Grady said, explaining his motive for organizing the race. “The goal of the Mission Crit is to promote cycling and community.”

Wanna race?

The men’s race is at capacity but if you’re a woman (1 in 10 registrants at press time) there is still time. Register here. Winner gets $200 in cash.

Official Rules:

  • Fixed gear only (no freewheels)

  • No brakes. Even if they’re disconnected, take ‘em off.

  • Drop bars

  • Clipless pedals strongly encouraged

  • Lights and GoPros permitted

  • Helmets required

Wanna watch?

Just show up this Saturday, 4/11. The women’s race is at 8PM, the men’s at 9PM.

The best spots for watching should be 18th and Treat, or 17th and Harrison. If you want an inside corner (to get closest to the action), stake out a spot before the race begins. Crossing the course during the race is extremely dangerous for you and the racers.

To make sure the crit is invited back next year, pack out your trash and use the provided Port-a-potties.

 

 

 

Police caught on camera

When a cop does something unexpected or outrageous bystanders are sometimes compelled to capture pictures or video.

What you’re seeing here is a cop issuing a $110 ticket to a driver for double parking in the bike lane. And this isn’t just any cop. This is the Captain of Mission Station.

“I tagged two people today who I’ve warned before,” Captain Perea said.

Cyclists and pedestrians alike seemed confused by the rare sighting. But none more than this Uber driver (pictured above and below) who seemed to be just hanging out between fares. Note the big empty spot he could have pulled into to allow rush hour cyclists access to the bike lane.

“What we’re doing in this district is what all stations are doing across the city. We call it Focus on the Five. Every district will identify the causes of the most collisions.”

Focus on the Five is one of the tools the SFPD is using to support Vision Zero – the city’s goal to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024. It includes both enforcement and education.

“[Focus on the Five] Is not about tickets, but enforcement is one way we can track data to see how we’re doing.“ Captain Perea continued, “We’re just trying to keep people safe. And this is what we got. So we work with what we’ve got.”

 

TryCaviar.com driver finds an awesome place to park and wait for his order earlier this month.

Before Capt. Perea headed out to write one more ticket, he said, “We have to make sure that the streets are safe for public travel. It’s public safety at its most basic.”

 

Illuminating: Bike Polo Court

The cement is curing on the first court in the US built from scratch specifically for bike polo.

After years of being run out of nearly every court with lights, the San Francisco Bike Polo (SFBP) club will finally have a place to play without the threat of being ticketed. SFBP met with both the mayors office and the Park Director after being kicked out of Dolores Park in 2011. “This allowed for some frank discussions about the need and what to do with us” explained Bikeman Ben, one the SFBP organizers.

“Once we heard about the park renovation, we as a group, attended all of the planning meetings and made sure that the parks department knew that there was a demand” Ben continued. “SFBP is the reason the court is being built.”

When asked why a vacant basketball court wasn’t sufficient, Ben detailed three main factors:

  1. Safety – Posts and poles are a danger to the riders.
  2. Flow – Keeping the ball in play – Walls (at least 2’ high) surrounding the court.
  3. Size – Bigger than tennis or basketball. Smaller than hockey.

“We are happy to be able to play anywhere, but being able to design the court to our specifications has made San Francisco the envy of the international polo community” Ben added.

SFBP members include national and world champions, among others considered top players in the sport. Ben continues “more players are moving to San Francisco just because of the talent and the new court. It is a quality fraternal sport that is welcoming to all who love the sport.”

Until the new court opens, you’ll find bike polo being played nearly every night of the week at the Corondo Playground on 21st. Wednesday evenings at 7:00 PM is newcomer night.

Previously

Bike Justice in the Mission

At 10:30 AM this morning the Bike Index sent an alert that a stolen Mission Bicycle appeared on Craigslist last night.

Less than 2 hours later, thanks to a total stranger and the SFPD, justice was served.

We posed as a potential buyer and asked the seller to meet us in a public spot. Thanks to the SFPD Twitter account @SFPDBikeTheft the police were just around the corner, texting “we see you” (usually creepy, this time helpful). As soon as the seller arrived the police stepped in and took over, confiscating the stolen bike.

This is how it’s supposed to work: citizens using social media for good, technology working for us, the SFPD helping reunite people with their bikes.

Here’s the blow by blow of how it went down.

To register your bike on Bike Index, click here. It’s takes about 5 minutes, it’s free, and it’s worth it.

 

Are strobing bike lights problematic?

This post by my esteemed colleague Andrew Sarkarati was the first I’ve heard of it:

I’m not really buying it. (Sick comeback though, Sark!)

Now let’s boogie: