San Francisco is known for its tiered, wedding cake hills. But did you know that biking San Francisco has never been so easy? Nearly all of the bike paths run along a flat coastline, or level city roads, with isolated, designated bike lanes to keep riders safe. The local bicycle ambassadors and city government have collaborated in an ongoing partnership to develop a thriving network of bike paths and bike lanes to make biking San Francisco easy for locals and visitors alike.
The transformation to make San Francisco into the bike-friendly city that it is today began in early 2001 when the Haas family sponsored the National Park Bike Path along the Presidio’s Crissy Field, the tidal wetlands that seam the San Francisco bayside of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It quickly became a biking destination. In the same year, Bay City Bike Rentals & Tours dedicated itself to offering bike rentals and leading escorted trips going along this bike path & over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. Likewise, they have a unique afternoon California Sunset Tour that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge on the western ocean-side, open only in late afternoons. Daily guided tours, as well as customized group tours, of this area can be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. Parkwide Bike rentals also sends thrill-seekers along this path from their location in the Marina. Riders there can choose between traditional bikes and multi person surreys to take in the views.
From the Presidio, bike paths now stretch the full city perimeter. In 2014 the City began the Embarcadero Enhancement Project to focus on the bikeability of the waterfront that reaches from China Basin all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf. The full-city, all- electric, Streets of San Francisco guided bike tour covers this ground adding the Ballpark, the Design, Mission and Castro Districts, Haight Ashbury, Alamo Square and Polk Gulch: all interconnected via a network of designated cycle paths.
In 2011 San Francisco also began a city-wide initiative to encourage bike riding in all of the beautiful neighborhoods the city has to offer, and especially in Golden Gate Park. This was the impetus behind Parkwide Bike Rentals- a citywide network embedded in San Francisco Parks to get people out enjoying the parks on bicycles. Riders daisy-chain from one city park to the next- biking the city, park to park, as locations reach from the Embarcadero Plaza near the Ferry Building, to Union Square Plaza to Fort Mason, to two locations aside and within Golden Gate Park. This 1000+ acre oasis sprawls with wildlife, native flora, botanical gardens, world class museums, and features the California Ocean at its denouement. A daily guided bicycle tour of Golden Gate Park can be had year-round starting at 11am and covering all this majestic ground.
As biking in San Francisco looks to its’ future, the city is excited about the development of the Van Ness Improvement Project, as well as the Polk Street Improvement project, which will provide safer and isolated bike lanes that allow riders to easily zipper directly through the midtown area of San Francisco. These thoroughfares will run the length of the city all the way from Market Street downtown, to Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina District. This will provide safe and easy access for riders to get from one end of the city to another, the best way possible- on a bicycle!
>> This article was developed in partnership with Bay City Bikes in San Francisco. For more guidance on biking in San Francisco, visit their shop at 501 Bay St., Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, California 94133. A Comfort Bike Rental and the Golden Gate Park Guided Tour are available for free with the San Francisco Sightseeing Pass.