Bicycling in Paradise


One of California’s greatest assets is its climate, and San Francisco, though foggier than nearby locales, is no exception. Climatically speaking, the city is as close to paradise as any location on the planet, which makes it a great place to spend outdoors and a great place to bicycle. As one would expect, San Francisco has an advanced bicycle infrastructure, with some dedicated bike lanes and lots of sharrows. Also bicycling is embedded deeply enough in the transportation system that you don’t feel like you’re taking your life into your hands when you share the roads with cars.

Quite possibly the bike lane with the most awesome views in the world.
Quite possibly the bike lane with the most awesome views in the world.

Having spent only a couple of days here, I cannot profess any expertise on the biking scene, but it seems pretty clear that with all the mass transit — between buses, light rail, trolley cars and cable cars, San Francisco may have more different types of mass transit than any other city in the world — not to mention ZipCar and Uber, anyone can get around perfectly well owning a bicycle instead of a car. The main drawback to establishing a strong bicycling culture here is the hills — they’re not for the weak.

One of the things I like about San Francisco is that, although it is very dense (the second densest city after New York City, as I recall), it is as not automobile-hostile as Manhattan. Owning your own car is not an act of folly, as it would be for most Gothamites. Thus, the city offers the widest possible array of transportation choices. (The way the city handles parking is particularly interesting. I’ll have more to say about that in a later post.)

Clearly, the end product is something that people value highly. Between the superior economic opportunities afforded by the technology- and innovation-economy in the San Francisco Bay region, the divine climate and the quality of human settlement patterns, people have bid up the price of real estate to astronomical levels.


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18 responses to “Bicycling in Paradise”

  1. cpzilliacus Avatar

    Jim, if you really want paradise for biking, try Copenhagen, Denmark, or most any place in the Netherlands.

    Flat as a pancake (unlike large areas of the Bay Area), with superb bike/pedestrian lanes on most streets.

  2. hmm… “liberal” cities = good biking… “conservative” cities = “I’ve got mine, screw you and no I don’t want no stinking bike lanes specially if I have to pay taxes to get them”.

    we should let the Conservatives have rural America and let the liberals have the cities …and if Conservatives like Bacon show up – charge them extra!

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      As the real Great One said, ” …. there you go again”.

      What conservative cities?

      “The only major cities that voted Republican in the 2012 presidential election were Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, and Salt Lake City. With its dominant Mormon population, Mitt Romney was a lock in the Utah capital; Phoenix nearly voted for Obama. After that, the largest urban centers to tilt Republican included Wichita, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Boise.

      So, cities with well developed biking trails are liberal and cities with poorly developed biking trails are liberal.

      1. well no.. cities with hostility to biking have greater numbers of Conservatives that effectively gridlock attempts at better biking facilities.

        fess up DJ – the average Conservative is OPPOSED to biking trails… built from public funds..

        admit it, guy.

        every single European country that has good biking is called a “welfare state” by most American Conservatives who also oppose good transit and universal health care.


        1. DJRippert Avatar

          All the cities have Democratic majorities. If they wanted bike trails they’d have bike trails.

          The city of Richmond is hyper-liberal. Is it a biker’s paradise?

          Talbot County, MD is hyper-conservative. There are plenty of bike trails.

          I think your view is too simplistic.

          1. re: ” All the cities have Democratic majorities. If they wanted bike trails they’d have bike trails.

            The city of Richmond is hyper-liberal. Is it a biker’s paradise?”

            Richmond is uber-liberal? where in the world did you get that idea

            Talbot County, MD is hyper-conservative. There are plenty of bike trails.

            I think your view is too simplistic.

            Spotsylvania County votes 60+% GOP and they hate bike trails and VRE commuter rail and transit.

            The guys that supported bike trails, VRE and transit were voted out at the last election.

            Most Conservatives do NOT support their taxes paying for bike trails.

            they’re fine with someone else paying for them long as they can use them.

            I agree about generalities and overly simplistic views – but the vast majority of conservatives are NOT in favor of taxes paying for bike/ped/transit facilities and the vast majority of liberals do support it.

            sounds like you have not found your “group” yet. you hate the idea of liberalism but won’t admit just how far right Conservatives are these days.

          2. ahh.. here is the problem:

            NEWS RELEASE


            now DJ.. tell me if O’Malley is a “conservative”

            I’m willing to bet you a six-pack that if it was suggested that Talbot County pay for bike facilities that the answer would be “no… HELL NO”.

            you’re getting confused here about what liberals do and what Conservatives claim credit for even when they oppose what Liberals supported!

            you’re a closet Liberal DJ.. you support most of the things that liberals support… you do… but apparently you lack the courage to proudly wear your credentials!


      2. American and OECD Cities are inherently collective enterprises.

        start with the streets.. there are no groups of owners per street where all of those that live on one street have donated it as a share of their property and they pay as a group to maintain it and control access.

        nope. That street is owned by the city and anyone can use it – no matter whether they are rich or poor or pay taxes or not.

        why is that? when you talk to libertarian types or FAUX libertarians like Bacon about the “city” owning roads – we are told that originally roads were privately owned and only those the owners allowed could use them but then over time because others used them anyhow without permission – they became “public” i.e. if you own land and don’t keep others off of it – it becomes “public”.

        Now, there ARE cities in the world where the streets are not owned by the city.. and each person is responsible for their own water/sewer and electricity.. and these cities are indeed the true bastions of Libertarian-ism -without question.

        and such cities embody Conservative ethics.. that taxes be uber low and governance be as small and non-interfering.. as possible. public services are not provide by the city but by private providers.

        there are cities like this on earth and I’m quite sure any world traveler like DJ is aware of them. How many cities, for instance, don’t get involved with airports and let the private sector do it from the get go?

        the question is – when a “city” becomes more organized, more governed, has higher taxes and provides services like public streets, water/sewer, trash pickup, police and fire, transit … is that essentially “liberal/collectivism”?

  3. Les Schreiber Avatar
    Les Schreiber

    I can’t wait for “floydgracht” to open in Richmond. I’m sure it will be just like Amsterdam.Maybe they’ll legalize pot and open a “red light” district.It would be worth it to see a few of our politicians like Bob Marshall go into total freakout.

  4. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Bicycling for conservatives? Only if they pay a user fee!

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Jim Bacon was walking down the sidewalk one day when his friend, LarryG, rode up on an incredible shiny new bicycle.

      Jim was stunned by his friend’s sweet ride and asked, “WOW! Where did you get such a nice bike?”

      LarryG replied, “Well, yesterday I was walking home, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up to me on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, ‘Take what you want!’”

      Jim Bacon nodded approvingly, “Good choice. The clothes probably wouldn’t have fit.”

  5. that’s pretty bad… but funny! 😉

    but we do need to be honest about cities – which are the ultimate in human collective enterprises… the only “Conservative” cities on the planet are in 3rd world where a long woman on a bike would lose her bike either to thieves or to those who think women should not own property to start with.

    the most civilized cities in the world – are inherently “liberal” according to what US Conservatives – now days – call “liberal”.

    If Conservatives had their way – there not only would not be any publically-funded bike trails but no METRO either.

    fess up DJ.. you seem to like Conservative philosophy but you LOVE liberal cities and why oh why would a Conservative like Jim Bacon visit one of the most liberal cities in the US to “learn” about settlement patterns?

    None of those bike trails, transit, or street cars would exist in a prototypical “conservative” city where taxes would be uber low and the only transit would be unregulated rickshaws ….pulled by hapless one-legged folks begging for alms…


    1. DJRippert Avatar

      I believe people should be able to live how they want to live. If people in San Francisco want hot and cold running liberalism flowing from the water taps – that’s their prerogative. If people in prince William county want to canonize Bob Marshall – so be it.

      What bothers me is when people in one place want to tell people in another place how to live. What bothers me is when people in one place want live a lifestyle they can’t afford by demanding subsidy payments from people living in another place. Oddly, in Virginia, it is always the conservative areas living beyond their means and demanding subsidy payments from the more liberal areas. All the while the conservative areas complain about “welfare mothers” and blather about personal responsibility.

      Finally, the best place for bicycles I have seen in the US is Talbot County, MD. And I’d be very, very hesitant about calling a resident of Talbot County a liberal. That might very well result in an invitation out to the parking lot to see just who is the liberal.

      1. well actually, we totally agree with respect to governance. I accept the verdict of the voters – at every level…. from local to state to Federal.

        in terms of subsidies – this is why I support tolls… our fuel taxes are used to pay for maintenance and some construction but there’s simply not enough from fuel taxes to pay for mega-commuting roads and that cost should come from the folks who want/need such infrastructure.

        Let me tell you about bike trails in Spotsylvania. It’s a real short story.

        we ain’t going to to have them – if they require public funding – period.

        that’s a classic “Conservative” approach. If Conservatives ran cities – there would be no bike or transit… right?

        by the way – do you consider bike and transit to be “subsidized”?


        1. DJRippert Avatar

          Bikes and transit are definitely subsidized. What percentage of a road does a sharrows (or whatever the hell they’re called) consume? 20%? What population of the public rides bikes regularly in areas with sharrows? 2%? 5%? Sounds like a subsidy to me.

          1. roads are like electricity, water/sewer, airlines. All of them build for the average capacity not the peak capacity.

            the way that it’s dealt with is with airlines – they bump the price up when demand exceeds supply – i.e. you pay more if you want to fly at peak times.

            electricity is the same way and in some places is beginning to be priced according to peak hour. If you want to use electricity at peak hour, it will cost you more – because they have to pay more to provide it to you – either another plant or buy it on the spot market.

            water and sewer are priced in tiers.. you get a certain amount for one price. If you use more they not only charge you more – they charge you at a higher rate.

            ditto cell phone minutes…

            you’re a business guy.. you know how supply/demand works…

          2. onelasttime Avatar

            Sharrows don’t consume any part of the road. They don’t change anything legally – they’re purpose is to alert motorists to share the road.

  6. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Bacon is tortured by contradictions. I predict an existential meltdown

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