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Progress on the Pavement

Published October 20, 2010

Five days on a bike in the Bay Area last week showed me how much progress we’ve made in creating a bike-friendly America.

I lived in northern California from 1980 through ’86, so I had experienced San Francisco and Marin county cycling in the “early days,” before the efforts of Bikes Belong, the San Francisco Bike Coalition, Patrick Seidler, Joe Breeze and hundreds of other unsung advocates.

We experienced the result of their dedication on our Bike Fridays. Starting at the San Francisco airport, riding BART into the city, taking the ferry to Larkspur in eastern Marin county, riding across to our bed and breakfast in Olema, a couple days exploring Point Reyes, and retracing our route back to the airport.

Not a huge undertaking, 90 bike miles in five days, with 40 of that on the last day (Olema to SFO). Along the way, we experienced so many bicycle-friendly facilities and accommodations.

We could have made our way to San Francisco from the airport by any of three public modes. The ferry was equipped with a bike rack. Marin has excellent bike lanes and routes, clearly signed. The Bear Valley Inn in Olema gives a 15% discount to cyclists who ride in rather than driving.

Our hosts Ken and Amanda Eichstaedt are both dedicated cyclists, Amanda serving on the LAB Executive Committee. “Yours is just the kind of trip we envisioned people taking when we bought the inn,” Ken told us.

Another huge upgrade to cycling is the iPhone. To get anywhere in San Francisco, go to arampai.com, type in your destination, and get three different routes: shortest, most bike-friendly, or balanced between the two. Of course, counting on AT&T is somewhat fraught with peril. A backup map is a good idea.

This kind of amazing progress comes slowly, in fits and starts. We were fortunate to have a 25-year gap in experience, so the progress was glaring. Thanks to all who continue to make the Bay Area bike-friendly, and creating a model for other metro areas to follow. 

PS: Thanks to Maynard Hershon for help with Bike Friday fitting.

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