Help Bring Bike Lanes to Folsom St.

If you're anything like me, you only ride Folsom when coming back from SOMA, even though it's fairly sketch riding compared to Harrison.  Well, it looks like our days of having to go an entire block out of the way for safe riding might be numbered.  Reader Brian C. hips us to the SFMTA Public Hearing happening TODAY at 10am to establish more bike lanes in the Mission:

I noticed one of those “SFMTA Public Hearing” notices near my house at 24th and Folsom today, and the item that caught my eye was:


Folsom Street, northbound, 14th Street to 24th Street
Folsom Street, southbound, 13th Street to 24th Street”

I hadn't heard anything about this until I saw the sign, but that would be pretty great for the cyclists in the neighborhood. So the hearing is Friday, Feb 4, at 10 am, in Room 416 of City Hall. We should really get people out there to support this, because almost certainly there will be car/NIMBY types there to try to shoot it down.

Not only will you be able to ride your bike all the way from Philz to the Embarcadero without having to make a turn, but they are also planning other pedestrian-friendly improvements to Folsom such as additional “bus zones” and sidewalk extensions.  So give your boss a good excuse to skip work and head over to City Hall in a few hours to slap down those NIMBY's, fulfill your civic duty AND spend the rest of the afternoon at Dolores Park.

(photo by ravengirl1220 | PSA - Don't search for “Folsom” on Flickr unless you're ready for your screen to fill up with hella naked man.)

Tall Bike Has its Day in Court

Rock the Bike's Fossil Fool, builder and owner of the bizarre tall bike/sound system/mobile art project/Burning Man homing beacon that can be seen rolling around SF, was recently taken to court over the bike.  Apparently the fine state of California's Vehicle Code makes tall bikes illegal, as a rider of a bicycle must be able to stop safely while upright with “at least one foot on the ground.”  So to get around the law, FF built two stabilizing bars (called “roots,” because the bike is named “El Arbol”.  GET IT???) that can be deployed with a pull of a lever from the top of the bike, thus preventing the inevitable tipping-over that happens when stopping a tall-bike in traffic.

Of course, the safety measures were not good enough for SFPD.  FF explains:

Even though San Francisco is a pretty liberal city when it comes to enforcement of bicycle related offenses, I did get pulled over at Critical Mass when I drifted to the back of the group, where the motorcycle cops ride. I deployed the roots, climbed down and talked to the officer, pointing out the safety features, how I am able to keep both hands on the handlebars, how wide the roots are, etc. He thought that the rig was illegal due to its height, but couldn't recall the tall bike statute by heart and wrote me up for no front headlight instead. I thought that was odd considering how bright the Down Low Glow was shining, but he had to pick something, i guess.


Fool paid that ticket and kept on pedaling, but the same officer apparently obsessed a little too much over the bike:

So I was riding El Arbol to [the Fix Fell] protest. I was rounding the corner at Dolores Park when the I saw the same officer talking to a couple other motorcycle cops on a break. He smiled and gave me a hand motion to come over, and I think he said “I have something to show you.” It was unclear whether I was getting pulled over, and I was running late for the protest, so I gave him a shrug and kept riding. I guess in retrospect it was pretty obvious what was going to happen next. He caught up to me on Church St. and pulled me over. This time he had researched the tall bike law and cited me for it. My arguments ranged from “C'mon man, I'm not hurting anyone” to nitpicky.

So FF, feeling his ride was perfectly safe, took his ticket, rode the bike to court with some pictures and sketches of the bike.  The judge looked the bike over, asked him about how one gets on and off the bike, and simply dismissed the charges, noting that the bike and it's deployable roots were “novel.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how to beat California's tall bike law.

(Read the whole thing and see lots of construction shots of El Arbol over at Rock the Bike)

Bike Kitchen Rescues CELLspace

A mural commissioned by The Bike Kitchen outside of CELLspace, depicting the everyday environs of The Bike Kitchen.

Angel from The Bike Kitchen hit us up in the comments letting us know that they've stepped up to save CELLspace:

Angel from the Bike Kitchen here. I just wanted to let folks know that the Bike Kitchen is going to be loaning (interest free) CELLspace $13,000 to help them keep their doors open. Back when the Bike Kitchen started, CELLspace gave us a rent-free space for about two years at the Mission Village Market (remember that place? It was the weekend flea market and warehouse/art space at 18th & Alabama. It's been replaced by mixed income apartments and is the Bike Kitchen's new home too). Anyway, we're pretty frugal and have been able to save up some cash and are stoked to be able to give back to this org which helped us get our feet. CELLspace has a pretty bright future in the Mission - it's a shame that this bureaucratic hiccup could almost bring an org like this down.

The bureaucratic hiccup, as you might recall, was the city's Planning Department (boo, hiss!) forcing them to do a whole bunch of renovations before they could reopen their doors.  Renovations that forced the space to raise $25,000 by the end of January or be faced with shutting down.  Looks like they weren't set to quite hit their goal by the end of the month, but the Mission community stepped up just in the nick of time.  Now we can look forward to rollerdisco New Years parties and magical monkey murals for years to come.

The Bikes of San Francisco

Reader AB sends us this poster, which I guess is attempting to depict what types of bikes represent various neighborhoods in SF.  Sure, the Tenderloin illustration is one humdinger of a joke, but the rest of the neighborhoods are just too literal.  I mean, I realize absolutely everyone in the Mission rides a fixie, but I have never once seen a unicycle in the Haight.  Is it trying to say the Haight is full of red-nosed clowns?  Perhaps the Haight should have been a tall bike, representing that it is a complete bastardization of what it once was.  And shouldn't Civic Center be the town bicycle?

Anyway, if you dig this poster, a cool 30 smacks and it's yours.

Stolen Brooks Saddles: The Latest Boom Industry?

Reader Neb hips us to this Craigslist post on the subject

I was at the Laney College flea market yesterday, and there were many, many Brooks saddles to be had, black & brown, sprung & unsprung, most in great shape, and most with the post still attached. Of course, the bikes were no longer attached, and the sellers did not appear to be avid cyclists. I asked a couple sellers and the price seems to be around $50-60.

This seems to an industry in bloom - Invest in a saddle lock, but if and when your saddle is stolen, you'll know where to find it!  

Coincidentally, my buddy Ben, he of getting-his-bike-stripped-outside-of-Doc's-Clock-then-losing-it-off-his-bike-rack fame, had two, that's right, TWO Brooks saddles stolen last month.  He built the bike up on Christmas Eve, taking all the usual precautions (chaining the saddle to the frame and wrapping the chain in a tube).  Yet, he still had his new saddle stolen 36 hours later while his bike was parked on Market outside the Westfield.  His conclusion was to buy a third, crappier saddle and take it with him every time he parked his bike.  My conclusion was that fate intended for him to be a rollerblader.

The picture above was part of the chain-breaker that the thief left at the scene of the crime, suggesting our city's crackheads have caught up to our anti-theft tricks.  I guess all that's left to do is either outfit your bike with shitty, worthless parts or, if you really want to irritate yourself, stuffing all your bolts with tinfoil and hot wax.

Scenes From the Inaugural SF Bike Party Ride

On Friday, I took a break from my busy schedule of drinking lemonade-flavored malt liquor and cussing to check out the inaugural SF Bike Party.  About 300 people turned out for the music-full, SFPD-free ride around the city that looped around the city, hitting up Fisherman's Wharf, Alta Plaza Park, the de Young Museum, and Civic Center.

Undoubtedly the ride demonstrates the positive powers of the SF Bike Community, meaning everyone can get together to dance, drink, and, namely, ride bikes without being inconsiderate towards traffic and the law.  But it was hard to completely get behind the party's strict adherence to the “stop at every red light” rule, as it seemed to be a detriment to the very community they were trying to create.  Rather than maintain a peaceful, party-focused bike parade around the city, they ended up creating a string small packs of 30-40 people separated by an entire block.  If you were unfortunate enough to be in the back of the ride, you didn't even make it to the party stops until the DJs were putting on their last song.

Hella breaks in the ride along the Embarcadero.

But, you know, maybe that's okay.  If splitting up the ride means we get to bump Michael Jackson and Kid Cudi along the route, I suppose that's a tradeoff we can all live with.  That said, it'd be a bummer if SF Bike Party turned into Critical Manners, a ride defined by their adherence to the law which is attended by no more than a dozen total commuter dorks who, when aggregated, appear to be nothing more than a typically-dense pack of old killjoys rolling down Market on the way home from their boring jobs.

But even if the ride has its shortfalls (perhaps it's just teething?), it's not everyday you get you see a few hundred blinking lights rolling along the waterfront.

Local Badass Makes Army of Fire-Breathing Bikes

Speaking of San Franciscans with rad bike collections, the folks at Mission Local did a quick interview with Jason Broemmel, bike builder over at Complete Fabrications, maker of the famed dragon and Golden Gate Bridge bikes.  Apparently, this local badass has also made a bike called “The Chupacabra,” which has arms that move as you ride, a mouth that opens and BREATHS FUCKING FIRE.

He also has a few other bikes, but none as cool as the green monster equipped with a banana seat.  Check it:

Valencia's Bike-Friendly Traffic Signals Becoming Permanent

According to Streetsblog, the traffic lights along Valencia will remain timed for 13 MPH travel for years to come:

Valencia Street’s nearly two-year-old Green Wave signal re-timing aimed at prioritizing bicycle traffic speeds continues to please street users, city leaders, and advocates alike. What started as a temporary pilot will become a permanent institution this week with the installation of four new Green Wave signs along the corridor. […]

Following examples in cities like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Portland, the signal optimization keeps vehicles traveling at a steady cycle-friendly 13 mph from 16th to 25th streets while garnering benefits for all users.

The Green Wave signals and the safer, calmer speeds are another step in the right direction for Valencia Street, which is already a thriving commercial corridor thanks to its wide sidewalks and bike lanes and plentiful on-street bike parking,” said Renee Rivera, acting executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The article goes on to say that the program has not only made biking down Valencia better, but has actually decreased travel times for cars and reduced the amount of air pollution emitted along the street.  Unfortunately, the city does not plan to expand the program (why not?), but is considering doing another “Green Wave” pilot program on the already bike-friendly 14th Street.

Read on.