In The City, take your bike, trust me

Yesterday I made a run to one of The City’s less bike-friendly neighborhoods. Being lazy, I borrowed my girlfriend’s Hyundai.

I came to regret that decision within minutes of making it.

When I tried to park her Accent, I had no change for the meter. I found a sticky old dime underneath the driver’s seat, hiding under empty cans of Coke Zero and empty boxes of cigarettes. The dime bought me just enough time to dash into the post office, handle business and bring back more change.

I feverishly plunked two quarters and a nickel into the meter and I got less than 10 minutes time in exchange. I quickly ran into the bank around the corner, handled some more business and ran back to the car with more quarters for the money hungry machine.

BAM! Under my wiper was a $55 ticket, and there was the meter maid quickly pulling away.

I chased her down, only to suffer the wrath of her cold heart. I rushed off in frustration, not even done with my errands. I would have headed straight home but I had to stop and fill’er up at a discount gas station — at $4.71 a gallon for regular.

After the ordeal, I felt like crap. And I swore that I’d never take that damn car out again unless I truly had no alternative. Even though my expensive Italian road bike gets really scared when I lock her up and leave her on the streets, I decided I’d rather put my faith in Kryptonite and street humanity over meter maids and my ability to feed an evil coin gobbling machine.

I woke up this morning still slightly embittered. But then I read the news today and oh boy, am I on the right track!

Turns out just yesterday, the SF Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 in support of an ordinance that would give bike commuters a boost by allowing tenants of commercial buildings to bring their bicycles inside, or requiring that building owners to provide secure bike parking nearby.

Supervisor John Avalos, who wrote the proposal last August, said it’s “a very cost-effective way of promoting bicycling in San Francisco,” and would decongest our streets and reduce bike theft.

Advocates are calling this the strongest bicycle access legislation in the country, reports SF StreetsBlog.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition said:

“An impressive number of businesses ranging from law firms to tech companies to real estate firms are already making it easier for more of their employees to bike to work, and this legislation will help even more companies become more bike-friendly. The city took a significant step forward today in recognizing that more people bicycling benefits our city’s economy.”

Also this week, Streetsblog reported how other great cities like Amsterdam and New York are beefing up bicycle traffic over automobile congestion, and how San Francisco is falling behind:

 “While San Franciscans have come to expect major delays for bike projects as the norm in their city, New York, the only American city more dense than SF, has zoomed ahead by adding roughly 20 miles of protected bike lanes since 2007, with more on the way.”

If you’re inspired, but too lazy to pedal across town you could check out the new electric bike store that Bernalwood featured this morning.

The New Wheel at 420 Cortland just opened last weekend, and they specialize in electric bikes that reportedly “flatten” San Francisco hills.

Other options will soon include a public bike sharing program in The City and the Peninsula, as reported more than a month ago by SFBay and on Monday by the Huffington Post.

Other cities like Danville are also getting behind bike-friendly initiatives. DanvillePatch reported that Danville’s town council approved a recommendation that will increase downtown bicycle parking capacity from 121 spots to 215.

Yes, it seems that bicycling as a viable form of daily transportation is really taking shape in our local communities. And hopefully someday soon the Critical Mass crowd and its stereotypical San Francisco hipster-messenger types (basically, these guys) won’t be all that comes to mind when you think of avid cycling in The City.

Feel free to take part: Ditch your car, save your money and get healthier on your bicycle. It might just save your afternoon.