San Francisco bike riding
June 30, 2015 8:58 AM   Subscribe

I live down in Monterey but I have this Thursday off randomly and I'm thinking of doing the following: Driving up to Ft Funston with my bike, parking at Funston, riding to the Golden Gate Visitor's center, doing the SF Public Library walking tour and then riding back to Funston. Is this an insane idea or doable?

It looks like there's protected bike paths up the coast for the most part and then I could either cut over on Cabrillo or go through Lands End (I think? Google maps isn't super clear). It looks like about 9 or 10 miles, depending on how circuitous a route I take, which is what I do three times a week commuting to work so that should be fine. Not too hilly (again according to Google but I'm OK with limited hills.

So - questions - does my route seem doable / not likely to end with me smashed by cars / not completely lost? (I will have my smartphone so I'll have navigation but I'd rather not be taking too crazy a route). Is Ft Funston an OK parking choice or is there someplace better along that stretch? I'm assuming there's bike parking at Golden Gate?

What am I missing / not thinking about? Like I said, I bike commute down here in Monterey but it's about 90% on the rec trail - I'm OK riding in traffic but I'm not crazy about spending 10 miles riding in crazy aggressive traffic.
posted by macfly to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you plan to be not-riding your bike at all, bring a huge fucking lock. No, bigger than that. Bike theft is RAMPANT in San Francisco.
posted by mollymayhem at 9:06 AM on June 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't bike in that section of SF, so I'm afraid I can't help you there, BUT:

What is your bike lock situation? How expensive is your bike? These are very important questions in SF as a biker. At the very least, have a BIG u-lock and a cable (I use this u-lock, and have heard rumors that thieves have figured out how to quickly break anything less here in the city). Lock both wheels and your seat. Take off any lights or other removable things. Two u-locks and a cable are an even better choice.
posted by Jaclyn at 9:11 AM on June 30, 2015

For the ride from Ft. Funston up to the Rchmond (north of Golden Gate Park), you'll be in a marked bike lane next to the so-called Great Highway. It's fine, you will not get smashed.

I live in the Richmond and bike downtown to work and I can assure you that Cabrillo is a sleepy (if mildly hilly) street. [You can go through Lands End, but it's pretty hilly and the roads aren't as good and there's more traffic BUT there's a great view of the Golden Gate.] From there you can go north on 23rd to Lincoln to the Bridge. (Note that you'll go under Highway 101 and then there'll be a sudden left to get to the GG Visitors Center area.) Where there is bike parking. And a bunch of tourists blithely walking through bike paths--which also go through the parking lot--FYI.

Heading downtown from there, I'd take Lincoln to Washington to Arguello* to Conservatory Dr (through GG Park) and take the Panhandle trail to the Wiggle to Market. Those are all safe roads. I can't speak to the wisdom of leaving your bike outside while downtown (I never do), but you can do all this riding in a day without tiring yourself out. Pro tip: any neighborhood with "Heights" or "Hill" or "Mountain" in its name is Not Fucking Around, it will be steep.

*If you need to stop and ask anyone for directions, note that Cabrillo is pronounced as in Spanish [ca-BREE-yo] but Arguello is not [ar-GWELL-oh]. This city is ridiculous sometimes.
posted by psoas at 9:32 AM on June 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think it's doable. I'd also recommend riding across the bridge and taking the ferry from Sausalito back to SF, if you can work that in. If I'm correct about your plans, that may shave off some mileage too.
posted by Doc_Sock at 10:25 AM on June 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fort Funston up to the zoo is a bit unpleasant (it's a 45 mph 4-lane highway with a shoulder. I do it myself, but it's on the stressful side). After the zoo there's a path on the west side of the Great Highway which is just fine. If you wanted, you could perhaps park on the street in the Sunset near the zoo, to skip the highway section? You can see everything in Google Street View and judge for yourself.

Google's bike directions are generally quite reliable and not-crazy. They give elevation profiles, too, so you can see where the hills are and how high they go.

As I understand it you're heading to the visitor center at the GG bridge, then a walking tour in that area, then back?

Also you don't mention food, but there are plenty of places in the outer Richmond on your way.

Cabrillo is nice, but Balboa one block north will have more interesting stuff. Land's End is fine if you want to tackle some hills.

I think one U-lock should be enough, depending on how expensive your bike is. Sausalito is fun too, though a few more miles (take East Road rather than Alexander Ave.). You'd have to make your way back from the SF Ferry Building-- just follow the coast. You're allowed to ride on the Embarcadero promenade, and the whole route is fairly nice.
posted by alexei at 1:25 PM on June 30, 2015

Response by poster: Thank goodness I asked the question because my crappy cable lock probably wouldn't discourage a casual thief for a minute. OK - U-lock obtained and I'll clean off my lights and whatnot prior to departure. Based on alexei's advice I think I'm going to drive a bit further up to the Ocean beach area where the bike path picks up and go from there - hopefully if I get there early enough on Thursday I'll be able to get parking at the beach otherwise I'll scout out the street parking. Sounds like it's going to work out OK - the walking tour at GG starts at 11 but I'm going to aim to be pretty close pretty early (to beat driving traffic) and then find someplace for a late breakfast before the tour.

Thanks all! Maybe next time I try this I'll venture downtown or across the bridge but I think I'm going to stay to my limited goals for this round!
posted by macfly at 3:01 PM on July 1, 2015

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