Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dads on Wheels: Dan Reynolds, Empowering His Kids on Bikes

Image by Meli of Bikes And The City

Oscar, ready to roll Photos: Dan Reynolds

Family biking, near the best bike racks in the neighborhood

Photos: Dan Reynolds

Dan Reynolds and his family live in the North Panhandle and bike to their neighborhood school, Pacific Primary. Freedom From Training Wheels bike educators will love his son's reaction to riding free. Say hello to Dan, Oscar, and Ruby.

How early did your kids begin biking?
I have a 4-year-old boy (Oscar) and a 2-year-old girl (Ruby). Oscar went from tricycle to bike with training wheels before two. We took off his training wheels a few months before his fourth birthday. Oscar always enjoyed riding a bike; I never had to push him to do it. Now Ruby loves her “blue bike” (with training wheels), too. (Probably partly because she sees the rest of the family riding.)

How often do you ride with them?
We ride four or more days a week. Oscar and I always either ride bikes – he rides his own or rides on my trail-a-bike—or ride scooters to his school. We also usually ride somewhere for fun on the weekends.

What's the best thing about biking with your kids?
Seeing how much they enjoy it. Oscar learned how to balance on a razor (two-wheel scooter) because he never liked the scuut bike. We raised his training wheels a little and then just took them off. When Oscar experienced the feeling of riding without them, he gave me his biggest smile and said, “that was better than a new toy!” (Seriously. I’m not making that up.) I also think riding a bike is empowering to kids: they can’t drive a car, but they can ride a bike. It’s something that grown-ups do that they can also do themselves.

What makes a route or street OK for your kids to bike on?
I think all streets with cars are dangerous for kids. Less urban areas with fewer cars just give the illusion of safety. But you can still find a way to ride with kids safely. Because our kids are still so young, I pick routes that have separate bike paths or closed streets (the Panhandle to Golden Gate Park). We like to ride in Golden Gate Park, especially on Sundays when they close some streets to auto traffic. Oscar’s favorite ride is from our house in Nopa to the Academy of Sciences.

Is it harder getting kids ready for trips if you're traveling by bike?
Once you have a routine with the kids and bikes, it is just as easy as loading the car.

How often do you bike on your own?
In my pre-kid life, I competed in road and mountain bike races, but these days I just talk about my comeback. Two good rides a week is about normal now. I also use my bike to run errands. The great thing about living in the City is that you can get almost anywhere you want to go on a bike.

BIKE NOPA and Bikes And The City: every Tuesday, more Dads on Wheels.

For previous posts in the Dads on Wheels series, check here.

Dads and kids: spin through the North Panhandle and the Western Addition during the next Sunday Streets on September 19th, 10am to 3pm.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Neighbors Seek Makeover for Panhandle Park, Request Community Input

Red shows areas of standing water; yellow indicates paths considered for improvement

Panhandle Park Stewards recently pushed back the mud, filled edge with turf strips

Worn out "grassy" mounds in the central area of Panhandle near playground, restrooms

Path at Stanyan not wide enough for restroom maintenance vehicles

Neighbors around the Panhandle have drafted an ambitious proposal for capital improvements to the central area of Panhandle Park and will submit it to the Recreation and Parks Department (RPD) on September 24th. Primary components of the plan are rebuilding the walking paths, improving the children's playground, adding bicycle parking, and upgrading benches and plantings. The proposal will focus on the central area of the park close to the playground, basketball court, and restrooms. Organizers invite comments on the plan and especially seek collaborations for the upgrades. The neighbors hope their plan will be selected for implementation through the Community Opportunity Fund, a new program of RPD intended to finance a few capital improvement projects developed by community groups.

Dale Danley, one of the key organizers of the proposal, explained that the scope of the project is to revitalize and create a more vibrant park environment. "We respect the history of the park and its 100-year-old trees and we don't recommend a change to the overall design of the pathways and plantings," he said. Instead, the group focuses on the area most visited in the Park.

A draft of the Panhandle neighbor's proposal highlights priorities and improvements.

Panhandle Paths
  • rebuild and raise the walking paths above the landscape to prevent erosion
  • redesign the troubled irrigation system that leaves paths muddy with puddles
  • reroute service vehicles to specific routes to reduce ruts and turf damage
  • retain the south path for pedestrians and improve a long section of it
  • repaving the entire south path is beyond the scope of the funding program
  • the 10-year-old playground recently received a "D" grade in a citywide playground review
  • convert large areas of the play area to rubber instead of the current sand to reduce maintenance costs and enhance running and playing
  • long-term plans include replacing the play structures overall for more modern equipment
Bike Parking and Safety Info Stop
  • the Panhandle currently has no bike racks and secure parking is needed
  • with the surge in bicycling in the city, the multi-use path is heavily used now leading to friction between people walking, jogging, and biking
  • construct a modern bike parking and bike safety station for residents and tourists
  • information would help bikers navigate the city's expanding network of bikeways, encourage courtesy on the multi-use path, and promote safe biking
Benches and Planting
  • the area near the playground and basketball courts now features three small grassy mounds with turf in poor condition
  • the benches are old and worn and do not invite people from the neighborhood
  • with new landscaping and seating, the area could become an attractive centerpiece
Resurfacing Basketball Court
  • the proposal targets this area for improvement, but cost constraints may require it be addressed in later phases
Danley said the group has been advised that the strongest proposals will include collaborations with landscaper architects and donations of materials and time of skilled professionals and community members. He noted that one opportunity for local firms is the design of high-quality and original bike racks that add to the character of the park.

To send feedback or volunteer to help with the project, contact Dale Danley, Panhandle Park Stewards: dale987@gmail.com or Leela Gill, North of the Panhandle Neighborhood Association, leelagill@yahoo.com

A Better Masonic: MTA Narrows Options to Two, Sets Sept. 30 for Next Community Meeting

One of four traffic calming options presented at the August meeting

City planners will present two sets of traffic calming measures for Masonic Avenue on September 30th in the final community meeting in a three-part planning process. Based on input from participants, staff will then develop a final strategy to take to public hearings at the start of next year. The two options will likely offer different combinations of measures discussed during the meeting held earlier this month, including removal of the current tow-away zone during morning and evening commutes, installation of bus bulb-outs at selected intersections, changes to signal timing, and installation of a separated bike lane and a landscaped median.

Staff originally planned to convene the third meeting sometime in October or November, but the recent fatality on Masonic has led to a greater urgency among city officials, Masonic neighbors, and community advocates for safer streets. Three days after the August 10th meeting, Yannick Linke was struck and killed by a motorist while riding his bike on Masonic near Turk Street. That tragedy led to calls for immediate improvements even before the current planning process completes its course.

Javad Mirabdal, manager of the Masonic traffic calming project, said the September 30 meeting will include a discussion of immediate actions that the Municipal Transportation Agency is considering. "We will be talking about what we can do that does not require a public hearing," he explained. One of those measures, according to Mirabdal, will be adjusting signal timing along the corridor, especially for southbound traffic. "Signal timing will control the front of the queue of traffic, but there's always bandwidth for cars further behind to go faster." The agency can also position speed reader signs along the street to inform motorists how fast they're driving. "This is an educational measure." Mirabdal also called for more enforcement of the speed limit, now set at 25 mph but routinely ignored by many drivers.

The community planning process will be completed within a few months. "We're going to finish this study by the end of December," Mirabdal said. "In January we may have measures to take to a public hearing. After that, the next steps will depend on the final design and getting the money needed for implementation."

During the upcoming meeting, city staff will present results from the survey that participants completed in August about which of four options they preferred. These findings guided the staff toward the design of the final two options. Planners will also discuss the costs involved for the different strategies and present more detailed designs. "The last time we showed a cross-section of changes for one block," Mirabdal explained. "The next meeting we will show the traffic calming measures for the whole corridor."

The MTA will notify residents along Masonic by mail about the purpose, time and place of the upcoming meeting.

Masonic Avenue Traffic Calming Project
Meeting #3
September 30, 2010
Thursday, 6:30 to 8:30 pm
San Francisco Day School
350 Masonic at Golden Gate Avenue
(enter on Golden Gate)

For more information: javad.mirabdal@sfmta.com
(415) 702-4421

For previous articles in the A Better Masonic series, check here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ross Rides Russian with NOPA VELO: Pastries and Onion Domes Follow

Starting out at Peets in NOPA

Supervisor Ross with Dale talking Panhandle Park Plans

Best-dressed Bryan

"2,000 years of church history in a nutshell" from Father Juvenal

The Holy Virgin Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi joined NOPA VELO's To Russia With Love, for Pastries Ride Sunday morning and somehow managed to resist the sweets and savories at Cinderella Bakery. Few followed his example, and instead sampled rum rolls, apricot-filled butter cookies, strawberry cream danish, batrushkas, fried potato and spinach piroshkis and more. Twenty-five cyclists in the Richmond, in the sun, with amazement.

At Our Lady of Kazan Russian Orthodox Church on California Street, Father Juvenal welcomed the riders and offered a quick review of church history. How old is the church? "Thirty-three," he replied. As in 33 AD. That particular place of worship, not quite so old. The visitors were allowed to take a look inside at the conclusion of Sunday Services. "We always stand, there's no sitting," the pastor added. "Every Sunday it's SRO here." Next stop: the Holy Virgin Cathedral for the Diocese of Western America on Geary with its gold onion domes and ornate interior.

Puffed with pastries and incense, a good spin up Clement to the VA Medical Center and viewpoint at the rear of the campus afforded much-needed fresh air and a carb release. After a quick stop at Fort Miley for a glimpse of the fog-shrouded Marin Headlands, riders rolled down the Great Highway, hooked up with JFK Drive and returned to NOPA through the park and panhandle. Everyone opted for lunch at Green Chile Kitchen -- not exactly Russian, but NOPA VELO is an eclectic bunch.

Next ride: Sunday, September 26, The Hidden Paths and Trails of Golden Gate Park

For all NOPA VELO news, join the 120 members of our Google Group

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Pics: Cozy rack at the de Young

Bike parking at the de Young Museum just got better

Making the difficult-to-use spiral bike rack more welcome

A spiral wrap for a spiral rack

Fine craftswork at a fine arts stop

Thanks to whoever generously designed and expertly wrapped one part of the bike rack at the de Young Museum.

Friday, August 27, 2010

NOPA VELO to Ride the Richmond in Passionate Pursuit of Pastries Sunday

Lots of pedaling after this stop at Cinderella Russian Bakery

Yes, espresso please, quickly

You don't want to miss this bike ride! Pastries, repeatedly, with much pedaling in between. Take the Russian bakery and NOPA pastry history tour with the North Panhandle's only recreation bike group for neighbors and friends. This Sunday carb-stoking and carb-burning all in one great spin.

NOPA VELO To Russia With Love, of Pastries Ride
Sunday, August 29

Meet: 9:30 am at Peet's Coffee
Start: 10:00 am sharp
(If you're running late, join the group on Grove Street or through the Panhandle and GGPark; we're turning north on 6th Av exit)
End: About 12 noon
Lunch options: Green Chile Kitchen, 1801 McAllister @ Baker or Chile Pies & Ice Cream, 601 Baker @ Fulton
Flour-and-sugar dusted confectionary attire encouraged
More info: Lenore 415.300.6744, lmcjunker@gmail.com

Join the NOPA VELO Google group here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Neighbors, Advocates Gather for Tribute to Yannick Linke

Photo: Wm Kirk Moore c 2010 www.wmkirkmoore.com

Photo: Wm Kirk Moore c 2010 www.wmkirmoore.com

Photo: Wm Kirk Moore c 2010 www.kirkmoore.com

Photo: Wm. Kirk Moore c 2010 www.kirkmoore.com

More than 100 people gathered last night to honor Yannick Linke, the young bicyclist killed on Masonic Avenue August 13th. Few who were present for the candlelight walk and vigil knew Linke, but many said they felt a connection to the enthusiastic and engaging visitor to San Francisco from the stories and photos that his family has shared. Participants, including dozens who arrived by bicycle, met in the San Francisco Day School courtyard where they received lit candles. Danny DeLeon, facility manager, welcomed the neighbors and community members to the solemn observance. He also spoke of the concerns parents felt about traffic conditions on Masonic. The group walked a block of Masonic, crossed Turk Street, and gathered around the memorial bike, or ghost bike, placed at the site of the collision that took Linke's life.

A friend of the Linke family sang "Amazing Grace," and her strong, soothing voice helped set the tone for the tribute. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi expressed condolences for the tragic loss of Linke and thanked him for "visiting our city and trusting our streets." Mirkarimi recalled the effort underway for several years to slow traffic on the busy corridor. Jarie Bolander, President of the North of the Panhandle Neighborhood Association, extended sympathies for all the neighborhood. He also commemorated the loss of Melissa Dennison, a 24-year-old woman who was struck and killed by a motorist on Fell Street nearly a year ago. A particularly emotional moment came when Marc Caswell, NOPA neighbor, safe streets and bicycle advocate, read the statement (below) from Linke's sister, Sophia. The Rev. Will Scott, pastor of St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church spoke of both Linke and Dennison. "This tragic loss of these young lives have called on all of us no matter where we are from, or what our mode of transportation, to take greater responsibility for the well-being of others," he said. Scott then blessed the gathering and the memorial bike.

The organizers wish to thank the many individuals and organizations that contributed to the walk and vigil. I am honored to have helped plan the memorial with Mariana Parreiras and Marc Caswell. The statement from Yannick Linke's sister follows:

Dear people from San Francisco, dear bicyclists, dear friends,

I am very happy to hear you are participating in the memorial vigil tonight. Until today I did not really understand that my brother Yannick actually died. Maybe the shock is too big – maybe all the organizing distracts me too much… But I simply cannot imagine a future without him, so that’s maybe why I’m also not trying to. But I’m sure - sooner or later I have to.

Simply put: Yannick was a happy person. He had bright blue eyes and a big smile that could lighten the tension or lift the sadness from a room. Being his older sister, I can certainly recall arguments and fights during our childhood, but he never held grudges, never held on to anger, and all misgivings were soon forgotten. He liked to joke around but took things serious when it had to be, he was a reliable person who would be there to help someone who needed it. He was also a person that stayed in contact with his friends all over the world. While there were extended periods his friends and family would go without seeing him, he always managed to send e-mails, call or just leave a message on your facebook wall; He was always a part of our lives even while away on his travels.

Yannick grew up in Berlin, loved it, and knew it by heart. Despite his love of his home, his interest in travel was never-ending and though he only reached 22, he had already lived in two countries, and visited a number of others. At age 15 during secondary school he studied abroad in Switzerland for an entire year. He enjoyed Switzerland so much that he returned every summer for the past six years as a staff member for the Montreux Jazz festival. He spoke fluent French and English, and this (French) not only allowed him the job at the festival, but his knowledge of English, as well as his love of languages allowed him to reach out to all different people from all different parts of the world, which is exactly what he did. Upon finishing secondary school in Germany he embarked on a half year journey that would take him from the salt flats of Bolivia, to the carnival in Buenos Aires, to the unscathed beauty of South American better known as Patagonia. The trip continued to New Jersey to visit a friend, then to Portland, Oregon, and finally back home. When he came back to Germany he decided to move to Vienna and study there. I went to visit him there this Easter and we had a wonderful time. It was nice to hike in the vineyards close to the city and he showed me the city like a professional tour guide. (What other places would Yannick have discovered had he stayed with us?)

While remaining stationary, a big hobby of his was sports. He stayed active both in Berlin and Vienna playing for local handball teams. When matches were on TV he would inch closer to the television set like a five-year-old boy. He truly loved the competitive aspect of sports, and the best that it can bring in an individual. During the Olympics, he would devote time to almost all the events and I often found it funny how excited he could get over an event you might not have even known he would care about. (His last post on facebook noted he had just learned how to play American handball during his stay in New York.)

While he loved to play sports, he never would be confused for a sports-nut, as his real passion was clearly and proudly music. He loved to listen to Jazz. I remember when he was a small boy (maybe 10 years old or younger) my parents went to a Jazz concert with us for his birthday. I found it really boring but remember that he loved it! Even as a child. But he was an open person and also listened to any other kind of music. Whenever I saw him, he gave me a CD with the newest songs he just got and sometimes he just send me one or two songs via skype because he thought I should listen to them.

When he was in Berlin it was always a guarantee that we will see each other. He cared for his family, his dad, mum and younger sister Merrit, who is 17 years old now. Well, I will be with you tonight and I hope that Yannick is with us too. I would like to quote him by saying: “We are stardust, billion year old carbon.”

Sophia Linke

The Linke family suggests that anyone who wants to make a donation in memory of Yannick send it to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Fronteieres (MSF), a non-profit international aid organization that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its humanitarian medical work. Information on donations with links to MSF-USA can be found in this previous post.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bicyclist's Family Suggests Donations to Doctors Without Borders; Vigil for Yannick Linke Wednesday Night

Yannick Linke, a young man who loved to travel

Yannick Linke's sister provided these photos of her brother on one of his many trips

The family of the young man killed in a bicycle collision August 13th suggests that any donations made in his honor be directed to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), a private, non-profit international aid organization that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its medical humanitarian work. Sophia Linke, the sister of Yannick Linke, explained that her family discovered that he had donated to MSF shortly before his death. A Candlelight Walk and Community Vigil will be held Wednesday at 8pm to honor Linke, observe his tragic passing, and resolve to make city streets safe for all users.

Doctors Without Borders/MSF responds to emergencies worldwide and regularly provides aid in 60 countries whose populations are "threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters," according to the organization's United States chapter. Doctors and journalists founded MSF in France in 1971. Different from many other aid groups, MSF declares its independence from agendas advanced by political, military, or religious interests. The organization notes that 90% of its overall funding -- and 100% of MSF-USA's funding -- comes from private sources, not from governments. Even more to its credit, MSF "reserves the right to speak out to bring attention to neglected crises, to challenge inadequacies or abuse of the aid system, and to advocate for improved medical treatments and protocols." MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.

For more information on the work of MSF, see this six minute video:

Donations can be made to MSF online, by mail, or by phone; see the USA website. Donors may select different options for contributing to the organization's work. If you would like to donate and send a message to the Linke family in Germany, you can select an E-card option and direct your note to Sophia Linke at schreibsophia@yahoo.de (If you have trouble with that email, try schreibersophia@de.mail.yahoo.com ).

Participants at the memorial are asked to assemble by 8pm at the courtyard of the San Francisco Day School at the corner of Masonic and Golden Gate. Candles will be distributed and lit before everyone walks silently together up the block to Turk Street. SFPD officers will monitor Masonic traffic so everyone can cross the street together and gather around the ghost bike tribute to Linke on the southwest corner. A few neighborhood leaders will offer brief remarks, a statement from the Linke family will be read, and participants will be invited to share their thoughts. The memorial will conclude with a bike blessing.

Organizers have planned the memorial as a tribute and a reflection on the loss of this vibrant, happy, and enthusiastic young man. They have consulted with the Linke family in planning the event.

Candlelight Walk and Community Vigil
Wednesday, August 25
Meet at 8pm at the San Francisco Day School courtyard
350 Masonic @ Golden Gate Avenue
Bike parking is very limited; Candles will be provided
Flowers and donations to MSF-USA are encouraged
Information: michael7820@gmail.com
For other photos and Linke family descriptions of Yannick, see Streetsblog story here.

Dads on Wheels: Craig Persiko's Family Bikes the City

Craig Persiko with daughter, Serafina, biking in the Castro

Craig, his husband, and their two kids stop at Sunday Streets in the Mission
Photo: Craig Persiko

Toby ready to cross the bridge on Sausalito ride Photo: Craig Persiko

BIKE NOPA and Bikes And The City: every Tuesday, more Dads on Wheels.

I met Craig Persiko in the Castro during an SF Bicycle Coalition streetside outreach event in June. For some reason, on that afternoon most of the bicyclists that passed by were parents with their kids. It was great to see him and his daughter having such a good time riding together. Say hello to Craig and his family.

How long has your family been biking?
My husband and I have two kids: Serafina, age 7, and Toby, age 5. They rode on my bike as passengers from age 18 months, and both have been biking on their own two wheels since October.

How does biking fit in with your family routine?
We don’t have a car, so we bike to Golden Gate Park and such for fun, and we also bike together to go to school many days, to BART, events around town, etc. Our son, Toby, just finished pre-school at a place just 6 blocks away, a pretty flat ride from our home. He loves biking, so he and I biked to school almost every day since he learned how to bike in October. Serafina’s school is close too, but the route is much more hilly, so she only bikes on the weekend usually – probably once a week or two on average.

How did you get your kids started riding?
Our kids learned to ride tricycles at their pre-school – that’s how they learned to pedal. Then we bought them scooters (2 wheel Razor-style) when they were 5 and 3 years old – that’s how they learned to balance and ride carefully in the city. After lots of practice with their scooters, they had almost no time with training wheels -- on hand-me-down bikes from our neighbors -- before they were ready to ride bicycles without training wheels. We taught them both over the course of a weekend when they were 6 and 4 years old.

What’s the best thing about biking with your kids?
I love getting around by bike, so I really enjoy sharing this experience with my kids and seeing them enjoy it too. Toby picked up biking really quickly, and loves it, so he and I have especially enjoyed this together. Just a week after he first learned to ride without training wheels, he and I went for a ride from our home in the Castro to Golden Gate Park, and he wanted to keep going, so we went all the way to Ocean Beach and back! Then a few weeks later, we went for another open-ended ride, and made it all the way to Sausalito, and took a ferry home! Mind you, I wasn’t pushing him much on these rides. I just told him we could ride that far if he was up to it, and he kept on going!

What do you say to relatives or friends who think the streets of San Francisco are too risky for kids to bike?
I tell them about how, when we’re riding, I ride close behind my kids, constantly talking them through what we’re doing, saying things like, “keep right, watch out for that car with its reverse lights on,” etc. When the streets are quiet or safe enough, we ride on them, but we more often ride on the sidewalk. When we’re on the street, I ride behind and to the left of them, to keep a close eye and try to keep the cars a safe distance from them. We also take the lane more often with the kids than we would without them.

What makes a route or street OK for taking your kids biking on it?
A really well-divided bike lane, like the new ones on Market St. with the yellow pylons separating it from the car lanes. Or a really quiet street where the cars are not going too fast, and don’t come too often. Otherwise, I prefer to ride on the sidewalk. However, my husband and daughter prefer to ride on the street more than I do, because they find it more stressful to navigate a crowded sidewalk, and prefer to just take the lane in many cases.

For previous posts in the Dads on Wheels series, check here.

Dads and kids: spin through the North Panhandle and the Western Addition during the next Sunday Streets on September 19th, 10am to 3pm.

Good Roads: Sanchez at the Wiggle Finally Smooth

Sanchez between Duboce and 14th now spin-worthy and smooth

Odd how new pavement can be a vision of beauty

For one block of Sanchez, the work is completed (bring on the sharrows)

From 14th to Market on Sanchez, work is still underway

Most bicyclists who get around San Francisco have endured or avoided the poor, pitted condition of the asphalt on Sanchez street. Everyone knew that internal and external body parts were at risk of serious displacement by just one block alone, from Duboce to 14th Street. Those jarring memories can now fade. The Department of Public Works contracted the reconstruction and repair work required, and Friday the notorious block was restored. Work continues on the remaining blocks from 14th to Market streets. When completed, bicyclists travelling from Upper Market and the Mission to the Wiggle and points further west will have a smoother, safer bike route.

The Sanchez block was a rackety match to Steiner one block north of Duboce. The Steiner blocks were recently repaved as well. (The Duboce link between Sanchez and Steiner is also scheduled for its own makeover). DPW intended to reconstruct and repave Sanchez and Steiner all along -- there was no doubt they needed attention -- but department staff advanced the schedule for repaving these blocks north and south of Duboce at the request of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's Good Roads Campaign. Neal Patel, coordinator of the SFBC project, cheered the Sanchez work, "We're excited to see the City bring much-needed safety improvements to the pavement of this portion of the busy Wiggle route."

Patel noted that SFBC has worked closely with DPW "to identify key bike routes with unsafe pavement and get them repaved ahead of schedule." Transit routes also receive priority for paving. Since many major thoroughfares serve vehicles, transit, and bicyclists, all road users benefit from most of the advanced paving.

During the current hot spell, spin over to Sanchez and enjoy the future of our streets (new revenue permitting).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Candlelight Walk & Community Vigil for Slain Bicyclist This Wednesday Evening

A ghost bike has been placed near the site of the bicyclist's death.

UPDATE, 9:30 pm, August 22
Sophie Linke, the sister of the young man who died on Masonic, has contacted one of the organizers of the upcoming candlelight walk and vigil and expressed her family's appreciation for the memorial in honor of her brother. She also explained that her brother's full name is Nils Yannick Linke, but everyone close to him uses Yannick. Ms. Linke said her brother spoke with all the family by phone on Monday, August 9th, the day of his 22nd birthday. Everyone was happy he was celebrating his birthday here. Yannik was killed four days later.

Ms. Linke said the family was comforted that a memorial will be held for Yannik. "They want us to commemorate him," Marc Caswell, a Masonic resident, Fix Masonic member, and San Francisco Bicycle Coalition staffer, said after talking with Ms. Linke Sunday afternoon. "She is happy about the ghost bike, and she hopes it will remain there until she can see it in person. She plans to visit San Francisco next year." Ms. Linke added that her brother came from a Protestant background, and the family welcomed a blessing at the vigil. The family has followed closely the accounts of her brother's death in local media and on web sites. She said they found them helpful at this sad time. The family will send a statement to be read at the memorial Wednesday night.


Masonic Avenue neighbors and community members will honor the young man killed on August 13th while riding his bicycle on Masonic near Turk street in a memorial this Wednesday evening. A candlelight walk will proceed from a local school a block away from the collision site and gather at the intersection of Masonic and Turk in remembrance of Yannik Linke. The tragic death of the young visitor to San Francisco and the circumstances of the hit-and-run collision have shocked and saddened neighbors, bicyclists, city officials, and everyone concerned about safety on city streets. Representatives from community organizations will speak at the memorial and comments from others will be welcome.

The memorial has been organized by neighbors affiliated with Fix Masonic, North of the Panhandle Neighborhood Association, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the San Francisco Day School, St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church, and BIKE NOPA. All the groups have been involved in community efforts to slow the speed on Masonic Avenue by implementing traffic calming measures. The Municipal Transportation Agency is currently midway in a planning process to bring a combination of traffic calming measures to the corridor. In light of the August 13th fatal collision, advocates have strongly urged the MTA to implement immediate speed-reduction strategies while continuing the longer-term planning. For coverage of the city's response to the tragic death and the ongoing dangerous conditions on Masonic, see Bryan Goebel's coverage at Streetsblog.

Linke, a 22-year-old visitor from Berlin, was struck from behind and killed instantly while bicycling southbound on Masonic just past the crest of Turk Street. Joshua Calder, a 36-year-old motorist from Oakland, allegedly struck Linke while driving his Mercedes; he was accompanied by his girlfriend. Calder has been charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence and leaving the scene. He was released last Friday on $500,000 bail with a court date set for October 1st. For information on Calder's court appearance, see Friday's Streetsblog report. The Examiner reported this morning that the slain bicyclist's family is outraged that Calder has been released.

Organizers of the memorial want to focus on the tragic loss of Yannik Linke while also honoring him by increasing public resolve to obtain safer streets for all users.

Candlelight Walk & Community Vigil
Wednesday, August 25th, 8pm
Meet at San Francisco Day School courtyard, 350 Masonic @ Golden Gate Avenue
The walk will proceed on the sidewalk up Golden Gate Avenue to Turk Street, cross Turk
and gather at the site of the collision.
Little bicycle parking is available. Candles will be provided.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Do Car-Free Streets Make A Difference? Alamo Square Flea Market and Indie Mart

Summer morning fog failed to keep hardy San Franciscans away from the annual Alamo Square Flea Market Saturday. The walkers and bicyclists kept coming all day to check out estate items and Indie Mart wares. For the first time in 27 years of the market, Scott street was free of cars allowing casual strolling and visiting without everyone pushed onto narrow sidewalks. A vintage dark brown Euro-style ski sweater for three bucks was just one of many finds. Thanks, Alamo Square, for opening things up!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Bicyclist Remembered: A Ghost Bike and a Bouquet

Ghost bike memorial for Nils Linke, young man killed on Masonic while riding his bike

A testament to loss and, hopefully, a witness for safety to come

A simple gesture and tribute to tragic loss on Masonic

Nils Linke, the 21-year-old bicyclist killed by a motorist Friday night, is being remembered with silent tributes on Masonic Avenue near Turk Street while advocates push for traffic calming and city officials consider what can be implemented now.

Yesterday a simple bouquet of daffodils was taped to a tree by a neighbor who told BIKE NOPA that he wanted to show respect for a fellow European. He also emphasized that he felt strongly about making bicycling safer on Masonic. "I feel speeding and the speed limit is the primary concern," he said.

Today a ghost bike was added to the intersection along with flowers and candles. Ghost bikes often express sadness and solidarity for the loss of someone injured or killed while biking on a particular street. They also serve as a political statement about unsafe conditions or lack of biking facilities on a street. Motorists who stopped at the Turk Street signal today definitely noticed the bright white bike even if they were unfamiliar with its symbolism.

Since the bicyclist's death Friday night -- one that many observers are attributing to the lack of a separated bike lane -- city officials have taken another look at traffic calming on Masonic to determine what might be implemented now to complement the longer-term planning project underway.

All photos: c 2010 Michael Helquist

NOPA VELO Rides Russian: Stoked with Pastries August 29

Image: Rick Helf www.helf.com

NOPA VELO pedals for pastries Sunday, August 29th with stops at two stunning Russian Orthodox churches along the way. Start out with a hot Peet's brew at Falletti Plaza, then ride through the neighborhood to the Richmond with its Russian community, churches, stores and your soon-to-be-favorite sweet confections. The route includes carb-burning stretches to keep appetites primed. Riders return through the Panhandle for a difficult decision: get lunch at NOPA's super-popular Green Chile Kitchen or go for more delectables at Chile Pies & Ice Cream.

NOPA VELO rides always feature a Nopa-lore connection. Here's a local note on an early bakery in the Western Addition on Grove Street in the heart of today's North Panhandle. In 1889 San Franciscans enjoyed more than 320 bakeries in the city; today there are half as many privately-owned operations. Stoller Bakery at 314 Divisadero was one of the neighborhood's popular sweet spots. John Zoller first worked at Engleberg Bakery on Kearny street for twelve years and at an O'Farrell street outlet for another five years. In 1892 he and his brother Karl opened their own bakery on Divisadero and continued with it for four years. During this time, John and his wife, Catherine, purchased property on Grove Street between Baker and Lyon. By April 15th their two-story home at 1548-1550 Grove was completed.

By 1899 John Stoller grew restless with the bakery business. He decided to try his hand at retail liquor sales instead. He established his new store a half-block from his home on the northeast corner of Baker and Grove. This venture was apparently unsuccessful, and John returned to his original trade as a baker and confectioner until 1907 when records of his business and residency come to an end. As the NOPA VELO troupe heads west with visions of perfect puffs, iders will give a nod to the Stoller brothers on Grove Street.

NOPA neighbors and friends are most welcome to join the North Panhandle's only family- and pet-friendly bike group.

NOPA VELO To Russia With Love, of Pastries Ride
Sunday, August 29
Meet: 9 am at Peet's Coffee
Start: 10:00 am sharp
(If you're running late, join the group on Grove Street)
End: About 12 noon
Lunch options: Green Chile Kitchen, 1801 McAllister @ Baker or Chile Pies & Ice Cream, 601 Baker @ Fulton
Flour-and-sugar dusted confectionary attire encouraged
More info: Lenore 415.300.6744, lmcjunker@gmail.com

Join the NOPA VELO Google group here.

Note: A history of the Stoller Bakery and 1548-1550 Grove first appeared in a longer version in the North Panhandle News, the NOPNA newsletter. Check other "house histories" in the neighborhood at www.nopna.org .

Take a look at previous rides and amazing posters by Rick Helf in the NOPA VELO series here.