Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Women Who Bike: Susan King

Susan King and her flower-power basket bike Photo: Susan King

Multi-tasking in the park Photo: Susan King

So many women ride bikes for transportation and recreation in San Francisco that BIKE NOPA and Bikes And The City are collaborating to bring their stories to you. Our series, Women Who Bike, appears every Monday and Wednesday on each of our blogs. Check both sites for the experiences, insights, and tips from women who want to share their passion for biking with you. Tell us what you think and post your comments for the featured riders.

How do you characterize your biking style?
Slow and steady. I am never in too big a hurry to stop for pedestrians or run through a stop sign when there are cards waiting their turn. People fly past me on hills (both up and down), but I always arrive in one piece, and that's good enough for me.

How often do you get to bike?
I ride my bike to work just about every day that it is not raining -- I admit to being a fair-weather cyclist. I also ride for recreation on weekends. My work in organizing Sunday Streets* allows me the opportunity to spend more time on my bike, so work sometimes equals pleasure.

What can San Francisco do to encourage more women and girls to bike?
I recently realized that I cycle more because I hang around with friends who cycle. We often take group rides for recreation or caravan to social events by bike. This social cycle circle definitely inspires me to ride more, and it provides the extra incentive that I sometimes need to get on my bike at night. Having friends around as you bike is more fun and safer.

The number one thing I would say needs to be done to get more women on bikes is to create safe places to ride. As a 20 year plus bike commuter, I am a fairly competent and confident rider, but even I get nervous on roads that have no bike infrastructure and are populated by fast moving cars. I hesitate to encourage all of my friends to ride to work and around town for this reason.

Have many of your current friendships started with bicycling?
I met my current roommate at a bike ride. Most of my favorite people are bikers, and my funnest holiday-in-the-city memories are the group rides organized by friends, including the past two New Year's Eves, and the daytime rides on Valentines Day organized by Kay Hoskins.

I've had lots of fun encounters on my bike. I especially love riding around with music playing. It is so much fun to see how people react to hearing music blasting out of speakers mounted on a bike. It's an instant rolling dance party (courtesy of Deep Jawa and his Trikeasaurus or Dan Nguyen-Tan and the Funcycle.

I surprise people when I bike by ...
With my flower-adorned basket, wearing a skirt, ringing my "I Love My Bike" bell.

My message to women who want to try biking:
Biking is a great way to get around the city, save money, and keep your girlish figure. Lots of women ride (for lots of different reasons), and you do not have to compromise your style or your lifestyle to make cycling part of your life.

* Susan bikes through NOPA all the time and is often spotted at Green Chile Kitchen. NOPA neighbors will definitely see her when Sunday Streets comes to the North Panhandle on September 19th.

For more great stories in the series, take a look at these previous Women Who Bike posts. And stop by Bikes And The City every Monday and Wednesday for Meli's Women Who Bike.

If you or someone you know would like to participate in the series, please contact me at

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