Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

SFGate: Commuters ditching cars for bikes, foot power

Expand Messages
  • Rick
    ... This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SFGate. The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2008
      This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SFGate.
      The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
      Sunday, June 29, 2008 (SF Chronicle)
      Commuters ditching cars for bikes, foot power
      Amy Moon, Chronicle Staff Writer

      In May, Blake Altshuler, 29, got rid of his car and joined the growing
      numbers of people who ride their bicycles to work. Mainly, he said, it was
      because of rising gas prices. His friend Dolly Totes, 25, who has been
      commuting by bike since she sold her car two years ago, said, "I couldn't
      afford it. I needed to pay my rent." It was partly gas and insurance, she
      said, but also all the parking tickets she kept amassing.
      In this era of increasing prices at the pump, bad air quality and general
      belt-tightening, more people in the Bay Area are opting to commute to work
      via heart-healthy biking or walking. But the financial and physical
      benefits aside, that kind of commuting has the potential to wreak havoc on
      one's professional image - even considering the casual-attire aesthetic
      that dominates many offices.
      "My main thing is getting to work not feeling like I just had a workout,"
      said author Judy B. (her full, legal name), who lives in the Fillmore and
      commutes to her job as a legal assistant in the Financial District. "If
      I'm kind of going along, rushing to make red lights, and realize I'm
      breaking a sweat, I go whoa, slow down," she said. "San Francisco has
      ideal biking weather because the coolness is a perfect balance to the heat
      I generate riding my bike at a reasonable pace."
      Graduate student Lisa Foster refuses to let the peddling keep her from
      wearing her pumps, as she wrote in an issue of the San Francisco Bike
      Coalition's Tube Times.
      "I really think bikes are made for people who wear heels," she said. "You
      don't have to walk in them. It's so much better."
      While it's impossible to know exactly how many new cyclists are on the
      streets, bike-store employees and bike-rack attendants at BART stations
      say that the numbers have jumped as dramatically as gasoline prices over
      the past six months or so.
      "Also, there's a hipness to bike riding now, so it's a combination of
      factors," said Galen Nishioka, assistant sales manager at Valencia Cyclery
      in the Mission District.
      If you are already biking or walking to work - or are contemplating doing
      so - you aren't alone. According to a 2007 analysis by the U.S. Census
      Bureau, among large cities, San Francisco has the fifth-highest number of
      bike commuters and the third-highest number of people who walk to work.
      Also telling is that there were twice as many bikes as cars on Market
      Street during the morning commute on Bike to Work Day in June, a nearly 30
      percent increase over last year, according to the San Francisco Municipal
      Transportation Agency. Biker fashion
      New bike riders can benefit from the fashion-forward lessons learned by
      long-time cyclists, many of whom have perfected the little fashion tricks
      and tips that can ease the transition from congested city streets to
      "I have a workaround for wide-leg pants that are the style right now,"
      Judy B. said. "I pull the cuff over my knee, make them three-quarter
      length and avoid the chain." Low-waisted jeans can present a little too
      much information about the cylist ahead of you, but she said, somewhat
      gratefully, that she's seeing "a lot more longer tops now."
      Cheryl Brinkman also became an almost daily bike commuter in the past
      year. She lives in the lower Haight and commutes 2 miles to her job as a
      product manager at McKesson Corp., in the Financial District. About her
      wardrobe, Brinkman said, "I've altered it for the better and only one
      thing that I don't wear now that I bike so much is long full skirts."
      Judy B. agrees. "Short tight skirts are easier to wear. Sometimes I wear
      bike shorts or leggings or tights under them. Knee-length skirts blow up
      and catch the wind like a sail, depending on the weather." Helmet hair
      On the days she rides her bike, Brinkman tucks her skirt into a band of
      elastic that she wraps around one thigh, a homemade garter belt solution,
      as it were. And, she said, "I always have a small binder clip in my
      handbag, as well, to keep wrap skirts or dresses closed while pedaling."
      She brings her purse but eschews wearing a helmet - not because she fears
      having dreaded "helmet hair" upon arriving at her destination, but because
      she believes it gives her an advantage on the road.
      "I feel safer in the city riding without," she said. "If I ride in Marin,
      I absolutely wear the helmet, but in the city, when you look more like an
      average person, I think drivers treat you that way. They give you a little
      room, treat you nicer."
      Judy B., however, says she always wears her helmet, and not just for
      safety reasons.
      "I've always had helmet hair, that's sort of my look," she said. "The
      helmet, if anything, helps me. My hair has a way of skewing weirdly. The
      helmet kind of tamps it down, puts it in control."
      Although many people carry a backpack when they ride, that doesn't work
      for everyone.
      "I have a rear rack," said Jeff Tumlin, who commutes from his home near
      Buena Vista Park to the Financial District. "I hate wearing a backpack
      while bicycling because I like having my shoulders free. If you're wearing
      a suit, it's encumbering. Plus, the backpack against your back will make
      you sweaty. If your clothing is loose, (sweat) evaporates. If not, you get
      a wet spot on your back. Not attractive."
      Brinkman solves the dilemma of carrying larger parcels by adding a set of
      matching bags that sit on either side of her back tire.
      "I just bought flowered panniers, and they are so cute," she said. "I was
      with a friend and when we saw them we squealed - it was just like shoe
      shopping." Walking attire
      Walkers face similar issues as the bikers, although each person's approach
      differs slightly. KQED reporter Amy Standen, 33, lives in Bernal Heights
      and walks to the KQED office in Potrero Hill twice a week, which is about
      2 miles each way.
      "I would say there's definitely a shoe issue because I can't walk to work
      in anything other than sneakers," she said. "I do bring shoes with me, but
      what ends up happening is I leave the shoes at work, so by the end of the
      week my entire repertoire of shoes is there."
      Standen said she tends to wear pants when she walks to work. "I really
      shouldn't care, but there is a certain hesitation with wearing running
      shoes with a dress," she said. "Tights or nylons and white socks and
      sneakers is ... I don't think so."
      So why not just drive to work?
      "I'm so much happier when I walk to work," Standen said. "It's a quality
      of life thing. I think I just feel better having gotten fresh air before
      work. It's calming. I know it takes 45 minutes and I can't speed it up, so
      I know I'm just going to get there when I get there."
      Those who bicycle say they get benefits beyond just buffeting their
      budgets from gasoline prices.
      "It's the fastest way to get to work. Compared to Muni, it takes half the
      time," said Tumlin. "I bike because I can change my route and stop off and
      run errands and see people along the way. It is great exercise and I find
      a significant difference in my productivity when I bike to work. I am
      smarter when I bike. I'm more patient when I bike."
      "You get a completely different impression of San Francisco on a bike," he
      said, "It's one of the best biking cities. There is nowhere you can't get
      to on a bike."

      E-mail Amy Moon at amoon@.... ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      Copyright 2008 SF Chronicle
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.