Get yer bike on: Gas-Free Fridays start tomorrow

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By Amanda Witherell

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I've become a happier person since I sold my Jetta and started traveling almost exclusively by bicycle. Every time I've driven a car in San Francisco the experience has left me frustrated, annoyed, and feeling like I didn't get where I was going any faster than I would have on my bicycle. I'm not alone -- car sales statewide are down, the big three automakers are crying poverty and just got a $25 billion loan from President George W. Bush, and according to a recent national survey by Bikes Belong, of 150 bike stores polled, 73 percent said they're selling more bikes this year.

So, it's fantastic to see this new initiative designed to get people out of their cars at least once a week. Launched by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, they make the case for picking the bike over the car by pointing out that 50 percent of the city's emissions come from transportation and half of all car trips within the city are less than two miles -- an easy pedal on a bicycle. Furthermore, cars emit the most pollution during the first few minutes they're running, which means that short car trips are the worst for the environment.

"Bicyclists will also be rewarded by knowing that riding a bicycle 10-miles a day versus owning and driving will save them $8,000/year, will burn an average of 110,250 calories (that's 35lbs of fat!), and save our city 3,500 lbs. of greenhouse gas emissions every year," states a press release from the SFBC.

They'll be hosting warm-up stations at various locations where cyclists can grab free snacks and cups of fair-trade coffee and tea. Look for them tomorrow at:

Oct. 3rd: Market and 12th Streets, 7:30-9:30am
Oct. 10th: Valencia and 17th Streets, 7:30-9:30am
Oct. 17th: Embarcadero (between the Ferry Building and Justin Herman Plaza), 7:30-9:30am
Oct. 24th: City Hall, Polk and Grove Streets, 7:30-9:30am
Oct. 31st: Folsom and 7th Streets, 7:30-9:30am