Noe Valley Voice May 2002

Build a Better Butt! Bike to Work on May 16

By Jeanne Lahaie

I admit it. I own a car, and frankly, I love driving. I also detest all of the things that other people hate about cars, like parking tickets, lack of parking, road rage, and traffic.

I also own a bicycle, and frankly, I love riding it too -- over to Marin, around the Berkeley hills, and yes, right here in my beloved Noe Valley. I first started riding a bike as a kid, and never really considered using it as a means of transportation until Muni failed to show up one important day in 1998 when my boss's boss was in town for a big meeting. I was late, so I jumped in my car to drive downtown, got caught in traffic, paid a bundle for parking, then decided there must be a better way.

And there was. About the time my commuting crisis came to a head with Muni, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, with the help of Noe Valley resident Jim Morrison, got the Valencia bike lanes striped. And what a difference! Last fall I beat a whole line of traffic down Valencia Street on my way to work in the Financial District -- on my bike! I wasn't riding exceptionally fast, and I stopped (of course!) at all the stoplights.

Bike to Work Day 1998 helped get me started with some urban biking tips, free (minor) repairs, and interaction with a fun group of people who also liked to put their sneakers, loafers, or stillettos to the metal. I joined a group of people who enjoyed having more control over their commute.

One major misconception about bicyclists is that they're primarily angry and aggressive bike messengers. But as my friend Elizabeth Creeley puts it (she lives in Noe Valley, too), "In reality, bicycles encourage social behavior because you get out of your private, personal space and into the public space. Cars encourage antisocial behavior because they are by definition antisocial -- they're alternative living spaces."

Jim Morrison also says that even though he rides in his wife's car on occasion, biking around the neighborhood allows him to be more in touch with the community. "I always see someone I know," he says.

I like biking in Noe because it's a great way to shop at Real Foods, Rabat, or Walgreen's (just to name a few), or stop for coffee at Martha & Brothers or Starbucks, without sitting in traffic, looking for parking, or staring at a screen -- whether it's a windshield, computer monitor, or television. I get a bit of exercise and save money on gas, as well as wear and tear on my car.

Bike to Work Day 2002 is coming up on May 16. There will be a dozen Energizer Stations sprinkled around the city, plus tons of fun, food, and prizes. And "Trannyshack Hostess" Heklina and the bands Killing My Lobster and Pippi Lovestocking G. Kennedy will be doing some outrageous entertainment from 6 to 9 p.m. at Café du Nord on Market Street. (Admission to the club is $8; $5 for SFBC members.) To check out other Bike to Work events or to get your free San Francisco Bike Map and Walking Guide, go to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's web site at

Till then, it would be wheely nice seeing you around the 'hood.

10 Reasons to Bike in Noe Valley

1. You can keep your meter change for fun and frolic at Just for Fun, just for fun.

2. You never have to back over pedestrians trying to get out of the lot next to Rite Aid.

3. You can go to Noe Valley Bakery, the shoe repair shop, Walgreen's, Real Foods, the ATM, and the video store while your four-wheeling neighbors are still drumming their fingers waiting for a parking space.

4. You can look better than Jennifer (or George) Lopez in your spiffy biking duds from See Jane Run or Noe Valley Cyclery.

5. You can eat just one mouthful short of a thin-chocolate-wafer explosion at Noi's without worrying about fitting into your favorite jeans from Ambiance, Rabat, or Designer's Club.

6. You can fit into something from Ambiance, Rabat, or Designer's Club.

7. You can linger over the New York Times, the Bay Guardian, S.F. Weekly, the Voice, and meet with your book club without worrying about your meter running out.

8. With the extra cash and "clock" you haven't spent on gas, insurance, parking tickets, and maintenance, you can treat yourself to a facial and massage at Danu Salon & Spa.

9. You can whiz by, chuckling at the ever hopeful and wistful would-be Muni riders.

10. Best of all, you can step out of the private domain of your car and into the public domain occupied by your friendly Noe Valley neighbors.

Day Street resident Jeanne Lahaie is a freelance writer and fervent member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.