Big Wheel + Big Hill = Big Fun

Almost every rider came in costume.
Tim Daw

After barely surviving a brush with city bureaucracy last year, Bring Your Own Big Wheel yesterday returned to the steep streets of San Francisco for its 10th year in a row, once again proving that incredible stupidity can be incredibly fun.

Hundreds of costumed participants riding Big Wheels and other plastic-wheeled kids toys braved driving rain to race in packs down steep and curvy Vermont Street on Potrero Hill, offering colorful crashes and zaniness galore and eliciting big dumb grins from both participants and spectators, who were there in roughly equal numbers.

And for such a crazy event with throngs of people, it was remarkably problem-free and required almost no police presence. Last year, after the SFPD threatened to cancel the event and arrest anyone riding Big Wheels, a citizens’ group (including many from the Burning Man world) stepped up to manage an event that has gotten exponentially larger since its early days on Lombard Street.

City officials including Neighborhood Services Director Mike Farrah brokered last year’s compromise and helped facilitate this year’s event, for which volunteers made all riders fill out waiver forms and get wrist bands to minimize the city’s liability. With minimal official involvement, this was crazy fun by the people, for the people, with what costs there were (such as Porta-potties) covered by passing the hat.

It was a great day to live in San Francisco.   

Unfortunately, print and still photography just don’t do this race justice, so check out this video from VidSF and the folks over at Mission Mission (but pay no attention to that first guy that correspondent Sunny Angulo interviews because he’s clearly insane) to get a sense of the action.