by Shari Pomerantz
In honor of Bay Area Bike to Work Day (tomorrow!) and Bike Month, I interviewed Anna Gore, Membership Manager of the San Francisco Bike Coalition and a WEN Board Member. We chatted about the work the Coalition is doing, resources to help women get started biking, ways to get involved in the biking community, and her favorite places to ride.
Tell me a little bit about the San Francisco Bike Coalition?
The SF Bicycle Coalition is a member-supported, nonprofit advocacy organization working to make San Francisco a better place to bike. Our mission is to transform San Francisco streets and neighborhoods into more livable and safe places by promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation.
What’s one of the top things that the SF Bicycle Coalition is working on right now?
The biggest thing we’re working on right now is Bike to Work Day (Thursday, May 12th). The Bay Area is unique in that all 9 counties celebrate Bike to Work Day on the same day.
In San Francisco, it’s our city’s biggest bicycling day of the year, and a day that’s very important for our advocacy. We work hard to support new and regular riders on Bike to Work Day, hosting 26 Energizer Stations around the City with snack, beverages and free goodies; coordinating Commuter Convoys that start in every neighborhood; and working with local businesses to give employees the tools and resources they need to bike to work. The tremendous number of people who bike on Bike to Work Day sends a message to city leaders that they need to make better streets for biking a top priority, and we host a rally on the steps of city hall to drive this point home. Visit sfbike.org/btwd for all the details on this citywide event!
What has San Francisco done recently to become more bike-friendly? How would you like to see the city and region continue to improve?
Thanks to the support of our members we’ve won some important bicycling improvements in the past year, including a raised bicycle lane on Second Street, new bike lanes on Page Street and Ocean Avenue and a pilot project on Twin Peaks. We’ve also expanded some important programs, like the Community Bike Build Program that provides refurbished bicycles to people who need them most, our Drivers Education that teaches large vehicle drivers how to share the road safely and legally with bicyclists, and Women Bike SF that aims to encourage and support more women, trans* and femme-identifying bicyclists in the city.
Bicycling in San Francisco is more popular than ever. Since 2006, the number of trips taken by bike rose by 184 percent. Between 2014 and 2015, that number increased by over 200,000, from 2.438 million to 2.644 million — a one-year increase of 8.5 percent. We’ve come a long way, but there is much more to do if we’re going to make San Francisco the world-class bicycling city it can and should be.
Personally, I’d like to see the city and region pick up the pace for on-street bicycling improvements. We should have connected and protected bicycle lanes that make it safe and simple for people in all neighborhoods to choose bicycling as their way to get around.
Why are you enthusiastic about biking?
At first I started bicycling for convenience and transportation, but I soon became an all-of-the-above bicycle fan. I love bicycling for the fun and joy it brings and because it’s an environmentally friendly, sustainable, affordable, healthy transportation option. Plus, when you design cities for bicycling, streets and neighborhoods are made safer and more livable for everyone, whether you walk, bike take transit or drive.
What are some of your favorite places to ride?
There are too many to count in the Bay Area! I love riding through Golden Gate Park to the ocean; along the Embarcadero; to the top of Twin Peaks, through the wiggle to Market Street; up Arguello to the Golden Gate Bridge…. I could go on and on.
I’ve never biked regularly as an adult, but am tired of driving everywhere. What are some good resources to help me choose the right bike, within my budget? How do I learn basic maintenance, safety, and anything else I’ll need to get started?
If you haven’t already, I suggest taking the SF Bicycle Coalition’s Intro to Urban Bicycling Workshop. It’s a free, one-hour workshop that goes over everything you need to know about choosing a bike, basic maintenance, tips for bicycling in San Francisco and the rules of the road. Take a look at sfbike.org/edu.
I notice more men than women biking to work. What are some of the reasons for this? What can we do in our cities, companies, and personal lives to encourage women to bike more often?
It’s true; only about 1/3 of Bay Area bicyclists identify as women, trans* or femme. There are a number of possible reasons for the gender gap. Safety is a big concern for many women, but time, convenience, community and personal appearance can all play a role. There’s a lot of exciting work being done in SF, the Bay Area and nationally to help connect more women to bicycling. The SF Bicycle Coalition’s Women Bike SF webpage has lots of resources and information, and Bike East Bay recently launched a women’s program as well. I think the best thing that cities can do is to make our streets safer for bicycling. Companies should have bicycling encouragement programs for everyone, but it would certainly help to have programs for women specifically. On an individual level, the best thing someone can do to help a friend get rolling. If you know someone who’s interested in bicycling, but having trouble getting started – talk to them. Listen to what their challenges are and help them overcome them. Sometimes it’s as simple as offering to go on a bike ride with them.
What would you recommend to a WEN member who bikes regularly, and is looking to get involved in a social or advocacy group related to biking?
I recommend becoming a member of your local advocacy group first. Joining is the best way to start getting involved and to support efforts to make cities more bicycle friendly. I also recommend finding a riding group or club to go biking with. There are so many out there, in SF and beyond. There are a bunch listed on the Women Bike SF webpage – take a look and connect to one that sounds interesting to you.
It’s great to hear that the SF Bike Coalition is doing so much. Are there resources you’d like to recommend to bikers in the East, North, or South Bays?
We’re fortunate to have some fantastic advocacy organizations in the Bay Area! Take a look, get involved and become a member of your local organizations:
Are there other bike events coming up that you’d like to share with our members?