3D City: Launching off Jones

3D City is a year long stereoscopic photography project by Doctor Popular

Noel and I had just finished shooting a video for my comic book project, God Hates Dinosaurs, when we first met Toby Allender. He introduced himself as a BMX rider visiting from Australia and said he was on the hunt for a giant San Francisco hill that he could bomb on his bike. He saw our camera gear and stopped us to see if we’d like to help.

A couple hours later we were in Toby’s rental car driving around Russian Hill looking for a nice steep street and picking up any spare traffic cones we could find. We ended up at Jones and Union, a nice steep street with a nice flat section that would work great as a ramp. We set up some cameras, put on some orange vests, and waited for Toby’s signal once he was ready at the top of the hill. When he gave us the thumbs up, we placed the cones down at the intersection and kept our eye out for any cars pulling out of their parking lots.

I’d guess Toby was going about 40mph when he launched off of the intersection at Union, and he traveled about 40 feet before hitting the ground again. 15 minutes later we set it all up again for an even faster ride. Since I was in charge of blocking the intersection, I didn’t get to take many shots during the jump itself, but here are a few more from just before.


Bicycle Regulations

While the city giveth us green bike lanes, they also taketh away: behold the bicycle crackdowns on the Wiggle.

The blossoming of bike lanes and Gavin with a paintbrush are great, but is the city now cracking down on cyclists? Junior seems to think so:

I’m kind of worried that they are a precursor to beginning widespread bicycle ticketing around the city.  You know, like back before the Critical Mass days.  I’m all for cyclists obeying the rules of the road, but the interpretation of those rules is at issue, and the price of those tickets has increased to around $300 nowadays, which can be the same as a paycheck!  But I try to stay out of politics . . .

And behold this ominous San Francisco bicycle ordinance!

Oh crap, that’s from 1903, sorry.  Scanologist Eric Fischer brings us this century old news.

But some things haven’t changed — sections 1-4 are regularly ignored in the Mission.  And as Eric notes, “Speed limit 6 mph. A $500 fine then would have been like $10,000 now.” We certainly would not have survived that era. (But we certainly need to bring back the practice of “scorching”. And I am going to work in “Machines of Similar Character” into everyday conversation.)

1895 regs — biggest difference is a concern about transporting children on bikes.

As for irony, the first “good roads” campaigns were pushed by cyclists in the late 19th century.

As bicycle outings surged in popularity, riders everywhere shared a common burden — hazardous roads. Soon [Albert] Pope began speaking across the country about the need for good roads. “The high point to be aimed at,” he said back in 1889, “is the recognition of the importance of the whole situation by the national government.”

Then Henry Ford came along.

Some historical context on the conditions of roads in the late 1800s is available in old San Francisco municipal reports.

The city struggled to keep up with the surge in popularity of bicycles. I found this 1894 report amusing.


Your Commissioners have always borne in mind the fact that the public is made up of separate human beings with separate tastes, whose comfort and convenience demand regard.

Keeping this in view, the bicycle road was constructed last year exclusively for the use of patrons of the wheel, and a further extension of this road is proposed during the coming year to run parallel with the main drive.

The rapid development of the present interest in bicycling among all classes is something astonishing, and as the Park is a favorite haunt of the cyclists, it is incumbent upon your Commissioners to attend to their interests and wants.

That first line is pretty much SF in a nutshell.

Cycling Trireme

Valencia and 22nd. I know it was a nice this weekend, but have some pride people.

(Unless there’s a keg in the center of that thing. Then that’s a different story entirely.)

Are they slaves chained to it like a greek trireme, prowling the Mission for targets to ram?

Or tourists that were told “hey, everyone in the Mission rides like this.”

Is Muni’s new cost savings plan?

MrEricSir saw another group of victims on 18th.

I simply do not think my brain could handle pedaling in a direction different than my velocity.

Heavy Metal Bike Shop

Fate keeps bringing the Heavy Metal Bike Shop and I together. Fate and the inevitable unexpected perils of riding a bike, however sturdy, in San Francisco. Monday night, for example, I got the call: “Hey, you should blog about the Heavy Metal Bike Shop. Don’t you love that place?” Yes, I do. I ride past Heavy Metal every day on my way to work, right after I pass the Post Office, wishing I had something fun to send out, and right before I pass Mitchell’s, wishing they had vegan ice cream. That same night, my housemate was kind enough to help me adjust the not-very-adjustable pieces of my tiny green Schwinn, which is the sort of bike where the bumper stickers stuck to it are almost all rubbed off. Tuesday morning, I hopped on my bike to find it transformed into a see-saw, tipping backwards and forwards as I tried to hold on with parts not meant for holding on until I finally reached Heavy Metal, that sanctuary of basic tools, about 5 miles into my daily ride. They let me use a wrench, chatted with me amiably about the inflatable water slide size and weight of my bike (both absurd: it’s like some sadistic exercise regimen for children), gave a little bike-seat-angle advice, and sent me on my way.

It was nice to step into this little bicycle trove again, which I first experienced on a beautiful sunny day, just before Hanukkah. There was no school that day, and I was gleefully anticipating an afternoon overflowing with a bike ride which I intended to loop along the Bay, to glide past the Golden Gate Bridge, to wind south from the northern tip of San Francisco to Market Street, to coast victoriously back into the Mission by nightfall or, who knows, to see the sunset out at Ocean Beach. So the moment came to leave the office where I work mornings and out I went for about a mile of cycling as planned, until a screw laying innocuously in the bike path punched into my back tire. You know the sound.

The first moment of fate.

I yanked the screw out of my tire and adjusted my plans for the day, walking to a spot nearby with a view of the Bay and its Bridge, and read for a few hours. I didn’t want to get stuck downtown during rush hour, when bikes are forbidden on BART, so I walked to the Embarcadero Station around 4 and stepped onto the first train headed towards the 24th Street/Mission Station. The first thing that greeted my eyes on that first train (2nd moment of fate) were bike handles I recognized. One of my good friends had fissioned under the pressure of art school finals, gone to get a haircut, and hopped on the train home 5 or so hours earlier than usual. So there were were, and she thought I should bring my bike to her boyfriend’s favorite bike shop, the one on her walk home from the BART Station, Heavy Metal. She was kind enough to walk with me even though her bike tires were intact.

Inside the bike shop I found friendly folks who trudged good-naturedly through the layers of intrigue surrounding my bike. It’s so small, so green, so heavy, so nostalgic and so impossible to find a new tube for. They found me an old tube instead, not the right size but one that fits, all dusted with whatever fills an unopened box after a few years. Now I need a Presta pump for one tire and a Schraeder for the other. My old tube had three distinct holes in it from that assiduous screw.

I spent a while there. I chatted with a man wearing an Elvis Presley necklace, I found some chocolate gelt on the counter and learned where to find vegan chocolate gelt. That day, I heeded fate and headed home on my pumped-up bike only $15 later. $15 plus BART fare.