Friday, April 30, 2010

No Left Turn from Masonic to Golden Gate Clears Public Hearing


No left turn for southbound Masonic traffic onto Golden Gate under plan

Traffic calming measure for Masonic Avenue

A new restriction on left turns during morning and evening commutes from Masonic Avenue to Golden Gate Avenue moved one step closer to implementation Friday morning at a public hearing. The proposal by the MTA would restrict the turns from 7am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm except Saturday and Sunday. An MTA hearing officer approved the proposal after hearing two individuals testify in support of the measure and finding no one in opposition. The turn restriction will now be sent for final approval to the full MTA board where it is expected to pass.

Danny DeLeon, Facilities Manager for the San Francisco Day School, urged implementation of the plan to calm the traffic on Masonic Avenue. He cited several traffic collisions at the intersection, mostly the result of speeding downhill southbound traffic and accelerating uphill traffic that approaches Golden Gate. The Day School is situated at the northeast corner of Golden Gate and Masonic.

Marc Caswell, SFBC staffer, addressed the hearing as a Masonic Avenue resident and a member of the grassroots group FixMasonic. "This is a good addition to traffic calming on Masonic," Caswell said, "but we are hoping to see comprehensive changes in traffic design with other safety measures for the corridor." FixMasonic has long advocated an overhaul of the traffic flow patterns on Masonic to better share the roadway with diverse users and to vastly improve safety for all. Although MTA presented the turn restriction, the impetus behind the action was concern by members of the Day School. Leonard Moon, a parent of one of the students at the school, organized the request for the traffic change. Earlier this month Moon organized a kids-and-parents bicycle contingent as part of the citywide Bike to School Day celebration.

FixMasonic and other concerned neighbors are urging the MTA to imitiate the community review and study of redesigning Masonic which BIKE NOPA discussed earlier here. The agency received $120,000 more than a year ago to undertake the project.

The measure will go to the MTA board in June for final review.

MTA's Fell/Arco Proposal Clears Hurdle; Funding Secured, Implementation Expected In June with Green Bike Lane in August



One more review and then a curbside queue and a safer green bike lane

Plan to address "hazardous conditions" created by Arco: Supervisor Mirkarimi

The traffic design changes proposed by the MTA for Fell Street near the Arco gas station cleared a significant hurdle Friday morning when an MTA hearing officer approved the safety plan and sent it to the agency's board of directors for final review. A curbside queue will be created just east of the entry to the Arco station for motorists waiting to purchase gas. Two parking spaces between the Arco entry and exit on Fell will become permanent tow-away zones and parking in four residential spaces just east of Arco will be a designated tow-away zone from 7am to 7pm daily. The MTA, along with bicycle and pedestrian advocates, hope the changes will significantly reduce the current hazardous conditions that result with motorists lining up for Arco and blocking a traffic lane and the busy bicycle lane on Fell Street. A warning sign to keep the sidewalk clear will also be posted. MTA traffic engineer James Shahamiri told BIKE NOPA that the full MTA board would likely consider the proposal in June. He hoped to see implementation "immediately" once the board approves the plan as expected.

Yesterday Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi sent a letter of support for the plan to Bond Yee, MTA Director of Transportation Engineering. Mirkarimi described the current conditions on Fell Street represented risks that are "unacceptable and must be rectified." He emphasized that the problems were created by the Arco gas station and the Quality Tune Up shop, not the nearby residents. Mirkarimi applauded the compromise proposal that limits the tow-away period for the residential parking spaces. "I believe this is a good compromise that should address the safety issues while minimizing impact on parking in the neighborhood."

At this morning's hearing, three individuals spoke in favor of the compromise. Jeremy Pollack, aide to Mirkarimi, presented the supervisor's position. Marc Caswell of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said the plan was a reasonable compromise that should be monitored for effectiveness, and NOPA resident Dale Danley noted that the changes will begin to accomplish some of the goals to protect cyclists using the bike lane. No one spoke in opposition.

With no opposition, hearing officer John Newlin approved the plan and sent it to the MTA Board. James Shahamiri expects the board to hear the proposal in June. "I hope it will be implemented immediately afterwards," he added. The agency obtained approval for funding to initiate the plan last week, according to Mirkarimi. The Fell/Arco changes will be financed with grant funds as most MTA projects are.

Bicycle advocates have been following the MTA plan closely for its improved safety aspects and also because it includes the city's first green bike lane for enhanced safety. The painted lane will extend a full block from Scott to Divisadero Street. Shahamiri said the agency intends to conduct a before-and-after study related to the bike lane and thus will delay the green swath for two months for the initial study phase. If implementation and approval follow according to plan, cyclists could be going green by August of this year.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Road Rage in NOPA: Driver Badly Injures Pedestrian, Totals Muni Bus Stop



#21 Hayes bus stop so badly damaged it had to be removed completely

Waiting for bus: road rage made it dangerous

"People sometimes get behind the wheel and lose any sense of responsibility," Captain Teresa Barrett of SFPD Park Station said during a review of the road rage that left a visitor to NOPA with severe injuries and a Muni bus station demolished Wednesday evening. "It's a miracle that no one was killed."

At about 6:40 Wednesday evening a fender-bender between two motorists at Baker and Hayes Streets led one to fly into an angry tirade and then attempt a quick exit, according to Barrett. Before doing so the driver slammed his pickup truck into a young woman waiting for the bus at the Muni shelter at the southwest corner. He barely missed two other pedestrians also waiting for the bus and severely damaged the structure before leaving the scene. Barrett told BIKE NOPA that the woman sustained a broken leg with compound fractures, a very serious condition but not life-threatening. According to the captain, the young woman was a tourist visiting the city.

The hit-and-run driver was arrested near 7th Avenue in the Richmond district after several quick-thinking, diligent San Franciscans helped police officers from the Park and Richmond stations. "We had very good involvement at each phase," Barrett said. "People monitored the driver when he drove away and again when he abandoned his truck to flee on foot." Officers worked with the man's description provided by observers and traced the license plate. Then plainclothes police located the man and arrested him. He remains in custody and faces hit-and-run felony charges. He was found to have no license and was tested for drug use.

"My officers said when they got there (at the bus stop), it was the most horrendous scene," Barrett added. Thursday morning the shelter had been completely removed -- with a temporary street signal installed on the sidewalk, but glass remained strewn around the corner and on the sidewalk for 25 feet.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who Needs Superpowers? Turn 'Em In On Your Own


4th in a series of panels

Superheros are so busy these days. And then there's all that attitude. Bicyclists all over the city are claiming the title of superhero for themselves these days as part of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's Turn 'Em In campaign to rid our streets of dangerous potholes. Instead of tolerating these holes and cracks, cyclists are getting them repaired by calling 311. It's quick and easy and gets the job done.

During the last two years the SFBC Good Roads volunteers have reported nearly 1500 potholes to the Department of Public Works. But fixes are always temporary with the sorry state of many city streets, and holes and cracks re-appear, especially after the winter rains mix with the effects of heavy traffic. Although SFBC monitors the surface quality of bikeways in the city, everyone benefits from their efforts. Pedestrians cover much of the same territory -- problems in crosswalks are reported too -- and motorists find cyclists much more willing to use bike lanes for smoother traffic flow when they don't have to dodge potholes and take the lane. The city saves money by having these volunteer "eyes on the streets," and fewer potholes mean fewer injuries.

The SFBC campaign now moves into its final "Turn 'Em In" phase as a lead-up to the citywide BIKE TO WORK DAY, May 13th, when the amazing growth in bicycling in San Francisco will be evident on city streets. Help make bicycling safer not just for the "fit and fearless." We're thinking more "8 to 80" (but younger and older is even better!)

Check all the news on Good Roads and view the three previous Turn Em In superhero panels here.


Murals of NOPA: Art Tucked Away


A view from NOPA

Thanks Bob ..... and Jayne

Third in a series.

Artists helped shape and enrich the North Panhandle into the complex, challenging, surprising and striving neighborhood it is today. Sometimes you have to walk our blocks to see all they have to offer. On foot you get a sense of the rich livability around us with tucked-away treasures like this mural on Hayes Street just west of Divisadero on the north side.

Other posts in the Murals of NOPA series.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Temporary Slow Down for BIKE NOPA




BIKE NOPA will be featuring briefer posts in the next several days unless my one-handed typing improves dramatically. An elbow injury is slowing me down a bit. Expect
  • more bullet points
and more photos that you will only see here

Divisadero Farmers Market Manager Dmitrius Spartos

Really old Golden Gate Avenue houses

and links to great sites for biking, walking, and livability news and features like these

Monday, April 26, 2010

SFBC Completed Study 7+ Years Ago, Monday a Repaved JFK Drive to be Celebrated


New paving starts at Transverse Drive, continues to Great Highway

Smooth and safer at last: west-end John F Kennedy Drive

The Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in waiting

One of the first to bike the new JFK

Last days of repaving operations

We've all waited a really long time for this: a chance to celebrate a new smooth and safer John F. Kennedy Drive through Golden Gate Park to the Great Highway. It's an improvement the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition called for in a study* completed more than seven years ago. In April 2003 study authors Leah Shahum, SFBC Executive Director, and Joshua Hart, then SFBC Program Director, recommended repaving JFK west of Transverse Drive as one of many proposed bicycle facilities in the park.

More recently the SFBC Good Roads Campaign pushed for safer cycling and better pavement on JFK. In September of 2008 campaign volunteers first reported street defects after circling 32 potholes with spray paint. Every few months after that, the Good Roads Crew returned to find new holes or widening cracks with chunks of asphalt missing down to the concrete base. Mostly JFK was beyond maintenance; repairs had been delayed for so long that temporary fixes were no longer sufficient. Repaving began late in 2009.**

Join the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the Parks and Recreation Department and the Department of Public Works for a smooth spin Monday, May 3rd at 5:30 pm. Meet at the McLaren Lodge (Stanyan & Fell) for congratulatory remarks followed by fun park facts through the ride.

*SFBC conducted the Golden Gate Park Bicycle Improvement Study for the Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority.

** Once the repaving got underway last year, BIKE NOPA posted eleven stories tracking the progress. We're ready to move on.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

NOPA VELO Rides With the Presidents


Start of the Dead Presidents Ride

Mojo meet-up for breakfast and coffee

Teddy R stand-in at McKinley Monument

Liam's presidential pose; Garfield in the distance

Perfect addition to Golden Gate view

A bicycling day doesn't get better than this. Clear skies, perfect temperature, good company, new and old cycling friends, three parks, one bridge, eight presidents along the way.

This post is all about the photos. See recent posts for the back story, the route, the NOPA lore, and the good times in store for NOPA's newest bicycling group.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Great Bike Ride: NOPA VELO in the SF Examiner


NOPA VELO Image: Rick Helf www.helf.com

Teddy R would be pleased. Today the late President appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on page two in full color hovering over the Golden Gate. He probably wouldn't expect to be celebrated by bicyclists spinning along for a "Dead Presidents Ride," but he was an outdoors kind of guy as well as a naturalist who valued fresh air and a clean environment. And he was determined to set America on a course of protecting its outdoor treasures. By the end of his presidency, Teddy had preserved 70 million acres of land in the form of national parks and monuments.

If you've ever visited, hiked, biked or camped in these outdoor areas, thank Teddy:
  • Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
  • Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
  • Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
  • Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
  • Chaco Canyon National Monument, New Mexico
  • Petrified Forest National Monument, Arizona
  • Lassen Peak National Monument, California
  • Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument, New Mexico
  • Grand Canyon National Monument, Arizona
  • Pinnacles National Monument, California
  • Mt. Olympus National Monument, Washington
  • (and more!)
This Sunday it's all about the ride. Great weather anticipated. See previous post here for all the details. If you can't dress like Teddy, try that grin.

Murals of NOPA: Making Our Streets More Livable


Have you noticed this detail?

Exotic flora of Grove Street

For a block that has become a NOPA destination

Second in a Series

What makes a block or a neighborhood more livable? Certainly one element is an environment that encourages people to be outside and mix with each other. Sometimes an event makes that happen, like a block party, a neighborhood bike ride, or a farmers' market. But other influences act more as backdrops that more subtly stimulate or calm us, that motivate or refresh our days.

The rich and vibrant mural on the Grove Street exterior of Plant'It Earth does all that for me. I use the Grove Street bike lane nearly every day and look forward to seeing it both on grey, foggy mornings and crisp, sunny afternoons. I like how this block was pleasant enough but not exceptional for so many years, and now it sparkles as one of NOPA's most livable spaces, especially on Sundays with the market but even on the quieter weekdays. A special nod of appreciation to Jet Martinez for this exuberant mural.

Other posts in the Murals of NOPA series.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Ride, Seven Presidents: NOPA VELO's Park and Bridge Tour This Sunday


Image: Rick Helf , www.helf.com

The President William McKinley Monument in Panhandle Park

Another Slain Ohio President, James A. Garfield, in Golden Gate Park

President Theodore Roosevelt might never have visited NOPA if the original plan to place a monument to his predecessor, William McKinley, at the intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Market Street had held. Instead, Teddy R stopped by the site of the future monument at the eastern end of the Panhandle in May of 1903, ceremoniously shoveled sod, and eulogized McKinley.

San Franciscans kicked in $30,000 for the memorial of their beloved President, and local sculptor Robert Aitken won the commission for the statue. As authors Chris Pollock and Erica Katz note in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park: A Thousand and Seventeen Acres of Stories notes, "The McKinley Monument features an inset marble bas-relief plaque of McKinley set into a 15- foot-high pedestal on a stepped granite podium 45 feet in diameter."

This upcoming Sunday NOPA VELO riders will stop by the McKinley Monument, the site of the only visit to the neighborhood by a sitting U.S. President. Then it's on through the Panhandle and into Golden Gate Park with a second stop at the President James A. Garfield Memorial along John F. Kennedy Drive. (That's four past presidents, if you're not counting). Of the three monuments erected to U.S. Presidents in Golden Gate Park, all three hailed from Ohio. As former NOPNA President Tys Sniffen, also an Ohioan, once asked, "What's up with that?"

In short order, NOPA VELO spinners will leave the park and head for the Presidio where they will encounter remembrances to Presidents Washington, Harrison, and Lincoln before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in groups. After taking in the view from Marin, riders will retrace their tracks to return to the neighborhood with enough Presidential Lore to last a good long time.

NOPA VELO Dead Presidents' Park & Bridge Ride
Sunday, April 25
Meet: 9 am for breakfast/drinks at Mojo Bicycle Cafe, 639 Divisadero
Start: 10 am sharp
(If you're running late, join the group at McKinley's Monument; even later, catch them at Garfield's)
End: about 12:30 pm, lunch at Herbivore Restaurant, 531 Divisadero

Mild to moderate climbs in the Presidio
All level riders welcome; kids on own bike OK if with guardian
Heavy rain cancels (but sun predicted!)
More info: Lenore @415-300-6744, lmcjunker@gmail.com

Join the NOPA VELO Google Group here

Molten Lava for Potholes? SF Bike Coalition Has A Better Way

Third in a series.

Right at the entry to Golden Gate Park on JFK Drive

Crosswalk between Panhandle tip and north side of Fell

Punch through to the earth's core with superhero powers and fill that nasty pothole with molten lava? Usually the street defects that bicyclists encounter aren't THAT big. But they do need to be reported to 311 to get the proper fix. Most importantly, when you report that pothole and get it repaired, there's one less hazard for cyclists who follow you. You can do it on the spot: stop, check location, call 311, tell the operator you're reporting for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and give the location.

I Turned One In. Actually two on a ride to the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park. First there was the badly cracked and worn crosswalk from the tip of the Panhandle to north side of Fell Street. This one isn't the most damaged crosswalk in town, but it needs attention. Then at the start of JFK Drive along the island and at the edge of the bike lane is a familiar hole-in-the-ground. SFBC's Good Roads volunteers reported this hazard last year at this time, trying to get it fixed before hundreds of Sunday Streets riders had to dodge it. As sometimes happens, the hole became a mound, only marginally better. This year the mound is still there along with a new hole, and they're both a hazard.

Help get San Francisco streets ready for Bike to Work Day on May 13th. Turn 'Em In. To see the previous installments of SFBC's Turn 'Em In campaign see the SFBC Good Roads site or check here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

No Left Turn on Golden Gate from Masonic During Commute Hours: MTA Proposes New Traffic Safety Measure


Restricted turns already at Masonic and Turk Streets

No Left Turn sign would be posted at this intersection

Left turns by northbound motorists on Masonic already restricted

The Municipal Transportation Agency hopes to reduce the number of collisions on Masonic Avenue by prohibiting left turns at Golden Gate Avenue for southbound traffic during morning and evening commutes. The intersection is particularly risky given the steep grade between Fulton and Turk Streets and the ongoing problem of speeding motorists. Southbound drivers wanting to turn left back-up traffic while trying to find an opening in the oncoming rush. And northbound motorists must negotiate the intersection with left-turners sometimes already beginning their turn. The proposed sign will advise NO LEFT TURN, 7-9 AM, 4-7 PM, except Sat & Sun. A similar restriction already exists for northbound traffic at Golden Gate, but it does not exempt Saturdays.

The traffic safety measure results from neighborhood concerns about safety hazards at the intersection, especially for students at the San Francisco Day School located on the northeast corner. Dr. David Jackson, Head of School, told BIKE NOPA last week that MTA reviewed the traffic situation after a collision in February in front of the school. A concerned neighbor requested that the city establish the new restriction. Jackson cited safety problems on Masonic and other streets as one reason more students don't bike to school.

Fix Masonic, the grassroots organization urging traffic calming on the corridor, was not advised of this proposal. That group is awaiting implementation of a thorough analysis of Masonic Avenue involving city engineers, planners, and nearby residents. MTA received $120,000 more than a year ago to undertake the study.

Nearby residents will be notified of the NO LEFT TURN proposal this week. A public hearing will be held Friday, April 30th at 10 a.m. at City Hall in Room 416. See the hearing schedule here.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Citations Mount for Fell/Masonic Motorists: SFPD Keeps Pressure on Red Light Running and Crosswalk Intrusions


Common occurrence: motorist entering and blocking crosswalk at Panhandle Path

Oak and Masonic: faded crosswalk striping and motorists turning too fast

SFPD Park Station officers cited another 16 motorists for running red lights, making illegal left turns on Masonic from Fell, and intruding into crosswalks during the first two weeks of April. Captain Teresa Barrett explained that the number was down somewhat since the heavy rains on several days curtailed pedestrian stings.

Since the middle of February of this year, more than eighty motorists have been cited at Fell and Masonic. The intersection has become a flash point for pedestrian and bicyclist safety advocates due to heavy traffic on the two corridors. Earlier this year Capt. Barret initiated a Task Force to conduct pedestrian stings to discourage motorists from pushing into crosswalks being used by pedestrians or cyclists. Motorists also continue to make left turns against the light at the intersection.

Although the multiple-use Panhandle Path crossing sees more traffic violations, the other end of the block presents safety hazards as well. One BIKE NOPA reader reports that he and his daughter were nearly hit by a motorist who came within three feet of them while they were in the crosswalk on April 9th at about one p.m. The motorist "was moving at a speed where she could not see what was in the intersection when she made her left turn onto Masonic from Oak. She made an 'oh my God' face and waved 'Sorry' before speeding off to make the light at Fell."

Captain Barrett agreed that drivers turn too fast from Oak onto Masonic. "Any changes that slow drivers down at that intersection would be beneficial." Compounding the problem at Oak are the mostly faded crosswalk stripes.


Friday, April 16, 2010

NOPA VELO's Ride with the Presidents, April 25


Image: Rick Helf, www.helf.com

Teddy R returns to NOPA, and you won't want to miss it. On May 13, 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt first visited the neighborhood for a stop at the east end of Panhandle Park. There the country's youngest president tossed some sod at the site of the future monument to his slain predecessor, William McKinley. Teddy recalled the grief he and the American people felt when McKinley died of bullet wounds fired by an anarchist at the Pan American Exhibition in Buffalo, New York in September of 1901.
"It is not too much to say that no man since Lincoln was as widely and universally beloved in this country as was President McKinley."

That's quite a tribute for the nation's leader who helped
launch the country into full-blown imperialism with the Spanish-
American War of 1898 and the Philippine Insurrection that followed.

For its fourth monthly ride, NOPA VELO spinners will first
fuel-up with breakfast at Mojo Bicycle Cafe and then kick-off for
a tour of presidential memorials in Golden Gate Park and the
Presidio before crossing Golden Gate Bridge. Here's your chance
if you've yet to cross on your bike. Riders will take in the views from
the Marin side and then leisurely bike back for a lunch stop at
Herbivore Restaurant on Divisadero.

Join us for a nod to seven Presidents and a great ride.
Neighbors and friends of all skill levels are welcome. Kids too
on their own bikes if with a guardian. Mild to moderate climbs
in the Presidio. Presidential attire encouraged.

9:00 am Breakfast or coffee at Mojo Bicycle Cafe
639 Divisadero, between Hayes & Grove
10:00 am Ride begins
Noon Lunch at Herbivore Restaurant
531 Divisadero, between Hayes & Fell

For more information: Lenore @ 415-300-6744;
lmcjunker@gmail.com
To get all the NOPA VELO news, join our Google group
Heavy rain cancels.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

MTA Proposes One Mitigation to Fell/Arco Traffic Design


North side view of Fell Street traffic

Four sub-standard spaces like this one will become tow-away 7am to 7pm

The Municipal Transportation Agency will change its proposal for a safer traffic design on Fell Street between Scott and Divisadero to accommodate the concerns of nearby residents and other neighbors. Two parking spaces will become tow-away zones 24/7 while four others will prohibit parking from 7am to 7 pm daily. The revised plan results from an analysis of mitigations that a MTA hearing officer suggested following a public meeting on April 2nd. The new design is intended as an experiment to determine whether the approach to Arco and Divisadero can be made safer for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

MTA traffic engineer James Shahamiri explained that parking would no longer be allowed in the two spaces between the entry and exit driveways of the Arco gas station. However, the four parking spots directly east of Arco will be part of a tow-away zone from 7am to 7pm, the periods of heaviest vehicle and bicycle traffic. The removal of parking will accommodate a curb-side queue for motorists awaiting entry to Arco and for better visibility when exiting the station. Other elements of the plan include posting a sign advising motorists to not block the sidewalk and a green-painted bike lane -- the city's first -- to guide cyclists and alert motorists for safer passage on the traffic-heavy block.

At the April 2nd hearing nearby residents and Alamo Square neighbors complained that removing the parking spaces would create a hardship for the immediate households and the neighborhood. John Newlin, MTA hearing officer, declared a continuance for the proposal and directed the agency to consider five possible mitigations as reported in this BIKE NOPA post. Only two of the options were reasonably feasible: a reduction in the period of time for tow-aways and removal of one or more of the parking meters on the north side of Fell near Divisadero. Shahamiri explained that removing any of the meters would simply shift the parking problem from the residents to the businesses along Divisadero. "It solves one problem by creating another."

Nearby households will be notified within the next day or two of the proposal and of the next hearing date: Friday, April 30, in Room 416 at City Hall.

Bike to School Day in NOPA: SF Day School Students Spin to Campus


Riding through Golden Gate Park on the way to school

Top of Central Avenue, just a 1/2 block to go

Have to take the sidewalk during the morning blocking of the bike lane

The first-ever Bike to School Day for the San Francisco Day School inspired more than 25 students, teachers, and parents to spin through Golden Gate Park on a crisp morning to reach the campus at Golden Gate and Masonic Avenues. Leonard Moon, a Day School parent, organized the ride for the school. At first he thought the only kids committed to the ride today were his own. Instead at least twenty gathered in Golden Gate Park to kick-off the ride to the North Panhandle. Only a few students bike regularly to school now, according to Moon, but he hopes today's event will encourage more to do so. "Most kids think of the bike as a toy; it is much more useful than that."

Most of the kids on bikes were from the fourth through sixth grades, according to Jason Stone, a teacher in the Technology Department for the Day School. "But we also have a few younger students this morning." He was especially impressed that eighth-graders appeared for the morning ride. "To get them out this early is really surprising." Stone lives near the ocean and rides to school several times a week, especially now with the new smooth pavement on JFK Drive.

Rajan Dalal drove from Noe Valley to the meeting site in the park where he met his eleven-year-old son Kavi, who bicycled there, for the final spin to the school together. "This is so special to ride all together."* Rajan said they biked in their neighborhood and have found mostly flat routes.

Dr. David Jackson, Head of School, had planned to lead the bike bus from the park to the campus, but he had trouble finding the group at the meeting place. Instead he was standing with his Raleigh at the school entrance greeting all the bikers on their arrival. "We have quite a few faculty who bike every day," he noted. So far only a few students bike regularly. "Our families come from disparate areas in the city and our kids are mostly young so it's a little tricky to have them bike to school even with their parents." Jackson was particularly concerned about adopting more traffic calming measures on Masonic Avenue, the corridor that borders the Day School.

Students and parents all over San Francisco find biking to school safer and easier than ever before. Last year 500 students from 25 schools participated in San Francisco's Bike to School Day. This year organizers hope that number will double. The Unified School District supports the special biking day, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition organizers the event with other partners. For parents and kids who want to increase their bike skills, the Presidio YMCA Bike Program offers "Bike Smart, Ride Safe for Kids" this Saturday, April 17th from 10am to 12:30pm at the Presidio YMCA Bike Skills Area. For more information, contact Ben Caldwell, Director of Bicycle Programs.

1pm update: Early estimates suggest that 1000 students rode their bikes this morning to more than 30 schools. For further news about bike-to-school events around the city today and some great photos, check the YBIKE blog here.

* Correction: the earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Kavi Dalal rode in his father's vehicle to the park. Kavi informed us that he biked all the way from Noe Valley to the park and didn't burn up any gasoline. Good job, Kavi!