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Update from California: A speeding ticket, lunch with Gary Fisher, and bike dancing in between


A day in San Francisco-7.jpg
Sampling a sharrow on Market
St. in downtown San Francisco.
More images
(Photos © J. Maus)

It’s been several days since my last report from the road. Since then, we’ve driven south from Ashland and made our way into San Francisco.

Before I share photos, I’ve got some embarrassing news: I got a speeding ticket.

While motoring down an empty, straight, downhill portion of I-5, I suddenly noticed my speed was in the mid 80s. I immediately slowed down, but the fuzz was on me just as quick (he probably thought I slowed on his account but I never saw him). The officer cited me for going 83 mph in a 60 65 mph zone. It was a bummer to get a ticket, but I earned it, so I can’t complain.

Now, on to the bike fun.

The Tour de Fat in San Francisco was fantastic. Massive crowds showed up (despite cold temps and drizzly skies) and The Sprockettes were a big hit.

As usual, the event brought out all sorts of interesting bikes and people. Check out this hot rod, custom-made cruiser (more images here):

And then I met San Francisco-based artist Slimm Buick. He creates whimsical, themed mini-art-bikes (see more of them here):

Slimm Buick
His cowboy-themed bike.

And then of course were The Sprockettes. The crowd loved the performance. After it was over, the merchandise table was swarmed and little girls with big smiles and stars in their eyes (and a few Japanese tourists!) bought t-shirts and asked to pose with the ladies.

On Sunday night, The Derailleurs (a Bay Area dance crew started by a former Sprockette) hosted a party in a junkyard in an industrial area south of San Fran’s Mission District. The location is also the headquarters of Cyclecide, a local group of freak bike lovers that have created several bike-powered amusement rides.

It was a memorable setting to say the least, and the dancing was hot! The Derailleurs were literally on fire for the debut of their new song. Check it out:

The Sprockettes were the headliners at the party and they did not disappoint (more images here):

After the party, I spent the night with a friend in the city so I could attend a rally the next morning at City Hall.

SFBC’s leader Leah Shahum.

The 9,500 member strong San Francisco Bike Coalition (SFBC) organized the rally to urge politicians to make their city’s Bike Master Plan a priority. You might remember a few years ago when, after the SF Bike Master Plan was officially approved, a man sued the City claiming that the plan did not adequately study the environmental impact of adding bike lanes to city streets.

That lawsuit, and the delay by city leaders to conduct the study and get on with the plan, has riled up the SFBC. Their leader, Leah Shahum, spoke with anger and frustration as she addressed a large crowd on the steps of City Hall.

“We’re disappointed and fed-up!” she exclaimed, and then added that she was most offended that the City is lagging on the Bike Plan while they tout their green credentials. “Every day of delay,” she said, “is going against the green movement… and no one wants their green reputation tarnished.”

Gary Fisher.

In the crowd at the rally I noticed Gary Fisher (with his penchant for fashion, he’s usually hard to miss). I struck up a conversation with him that almost instantly led to a great discussion about where America’s bike culture is now, where it should be, and where it’s headed.

I ended up taking Gary up on an offer for lunch where we continued our fun chat. We spoke at length about Dutch bikes (he owns several, including a bakfiets), the power of the media in framing bike-related issues, the American bike industry, and the differences in the European and American mindsets relating to using bikes as transportation.

We’re on similar wavelengths about the bike revolution and it was neat to hear that he’s also been thinking about something I’ve been saying for months now — that, cars are the new smoking.

When I told him about the shortage of Dutch cargo bikes here in the states, he mentioned his experience riding his around town. He said the reactions he gets to his bakfiets are the same as used to get to his mountain bikes back in the 1980s. Can cargo bikes become as popular as mountain bikes in the U.S.? Let’s hope so.

That does it for this report, in a few days we’re off to Davis where I hope to sample their legendary bike innovations. After that, we’re off to Sacramento and Lake Tahoe (for a family wedding) and then up to Truckee for another Tour de Fat stop.

Hope all’s well in Portland.

— For all my latest photos (170 so far), check out the photo gallery.

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