Biking San Francisco

Biking San Francisco golden gate bridge

Biking is a speedy and liberating way to see SF. Pay attention, follow road rules, and wear a helmet, as biking in a city can be dangerous. The city offers a mix of dedicated bike lanes and shared-lanes, marked by symbols painted onto the road. Suggested bike routes, like the Wiggle (a zig-zagging bike route from Market Street to Golden Gate Park that minimizes hilly inclines) are marked by signs.

Bike Rentals

There are several bike companies throughout the city, all offering basically the same thing. Here are the big ones:

  • Blazing Saddles: Locations at Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. $32/day (book online for a 20% discount!)
  • Golden Gate Park Bike Rental: Located by Golden Gate Park, this is the best option if you want to explore Golden Gate Park and out to Ocean Beach. $30/day (book online for a 20% discount!)
  • Sports Basement: Nearby Golden Gate Bridge, but away from the frenzy of Fisherman’s Wharf. This is more of a local option rather than touristy Blazing Saddles. $25/day, also offer more professional road biking bikes and electric bikes.
  • Mission Bicycle Company: Best option if you want an ultra-hipster Mission bike. $40/day.
  • City Ride Bike Rentals: Cooler bikes than Blazing Saddles and Golden Gate Park. Located in Hayes Valley, this would be convenient to get to from the Mission, Alamo Square, of the Haight. $25/day (more expensive if you book offline). Check out their awesome bike tours!

Biking Tips

  • When biking next to parked cars, a suddenly opened car door can strike a biker, referred to as “being doored.” Make sure to ride at least 3 feet from parked cars.
  • When crossing streetcar tracks, make sure to cross at a sharp 90 degree angle. It’s common to see bikers’ wheels get stuck in the tracks and fall over. Not fun fact: I’ve had a friend knock his teeth out this way and another friend break both her wrists.
  • Stay alert for cars making right hand turns, crossing over the bike lane.
  • Use several lights and reflective materials as possible.

Bringing Bikes on Public Transit

  • CalTrain: Bikes allowed. You can only bring a bike onto CalTrain’s dedicated bike car that you’ll find at either the beginning or the end of the train. Just look for other bikers and follow suite. If you are riding CalTrain during high commuter hours (7am-9am and 5-6:30pm) the bike car oftentimes fills up, and you’ll get bumped to the next train.
  • BART:Bikes allowed. There used to be restrictions, but now you can bring your bike onto any BART car, anytime of day. Oftentimes elevators are out of service, and bikes are not allowed on escalators, so prepare to carry your bike up the stairs.
  • Muni streetcars: Bikes not allowed.
  • Muni buses: Bikes allowed. Bikes are stored on the rack at the front exterior of the bus. There are only 4 spots, so if the rack is full, you’ll have to wait for the next bus. Don’t forget you biked and just get off the bus, leaving your bike behind—this has happened to a friend of mine and he lost his bike forever!
  • Note: Most transportation stations have bike parking inside, which tends to be more secure than leaving you bike locked up on the street.