- This Week
San Francisco's newest group ride marks a less confrontational, more booty-shaking phase in the city's bike movement
Put your hands up San Francisco: SF Bike Partiers get down on a dance break at the Palace of Fine Arts.PHOTO BY SAM DOSICK
But here's no doubt that the two rides were created at very different moments in San Francisco bike culture. "To ride through San Francisco in the early '90s was to take your life into your hands and be subject to harassment," he said. "Bicycling was not a mainstream transportation option."
Today, thanks to decades of Critical Mass Rides and concerted political advocacy work by people like Fraser and Jawa — both longtime board members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition — the city now offers an extensive bike lane network, near universal political support for bicycling, and packs of bicyclists on the road offering the safety of numbers.
"You wouldn't have this critical mass without the earnest approach of the Bike Coalition. But then, when all these people are out there cycling, it creates opportunities for things like the Bike Party," Jawa said. "There are just so many of us now, and so much joy around it, that people automatically get excited."
The sophistication of Bike Party's route planning and event management is another difference between the two rides. D'Andrade remembers the April 1 ride (themed "Robots and Cyborgs") when the group stopped at Children's Playground in Golden Gate Park, and caught in a moment of glee, swarmed the play structures en masse.
It was fun, but to D'Andrade, it just didn't feel quite as organic or spontaneous as the best moments of Critical Mass. As he said, "That kind of thing happens at Critical Mass, but here you know it was planned."
Luckily, there's no need to roll your wheels just one way. With the SF Bike Party on the first Friday of every month and Critical Mass on the last Friday, San Francisco bike culture has more than enough room for both events — and then some.