If you’ve started biking in San Francisco, you’ve probably noticed that it’s like discovering a whole new city. The streets and paths that are great for biking are usually totally different from the streets you’d use to get around on foot, MUNI/BART or in a car. The city looks different: more lovely, and somehow more spacious and intimate at the same time.
But you’ve probably also discovered that the City’s official bike map doesn’t always give you the best ways to get around. Maybe you saw that there was a marked bike route on Masonic Avenue or 5th Street and gave it a try, only to pull off as soon as possible because it was extremely uncomfortable. There’s no way that you want to take your kids on those kinds of streets, so how do you know where it actually feels comfortable to bike with your kids?
We’ve grappled with the exact same problem. And while it’s great that the City is building more and more good bike lanes every so often, thanks to organizations like the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, we want to get around town with our kids — today.
So we put our heads — and some others — together to make a map of the streets that we use to bike with our kids. Rick lives on the East side and Kit lives on the West side, and our families both get around pretty much everywhere by bike. So we have a lot of experience trying all kinds of streets.
You’ll notice that our map is chock full of streets that are just regular neighborhood streets as well as many official City bike routes. For example, 8th Avenue in Golden Gate Heights is not a marked bike route, but it’s a great way to get to all kinds of places in that part of town.
You will find this map useful if you are using a bike with an electric assist. San Francisco is a wonderfully hilly place, and many of the best routes still require you to get your kids up some sizeable hills.
To help you make more sense of the map, and give you routes to try, we’ve put together a series of sample routes, from a trip to the Randall Museum to handling the morning school run and commute in the Sunset. The sample routes have turn-by-turn streets, photos of the routes and some of our stories and feelings about the particular path. We hope that these vignettes will empower you and your family with what you need to experience the joy and ease or biking with your family.
See all routes here. Happy riding!