CycleSF event canceled, but RecPark gets paid anyway

Maybe people didn't understand why they needed to pay for the "simple pleasure of a bike ride."
Nich Baressi

Bicycling around San Francisco has become increasingly popular with both residents and tourists, but apparently that doesn't mean people want to pay $40-75 for an organized ride around the city's perimeter, even when the money goes to the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department and the cause of putting more bike racks into the parks.

Despite a citywide ad campaign (for which I was one of several cyclists voluntarily photographed with our bikes) and aggressive social media effort, Jumping Fences – the company that also produces the San Francisco Marathon, which is set for June 16 – has canceled the CycleSF event it had planned for April 28, citing lower than anticipated demand.

The company had pledged $100,000 to RPD in connection with the event, which was to involve 13- and 26-mile rides through the city ending with a big party in the park, and the company announced that it would still be giving the department $25,000 despite “postponing” the event.

“We are disappointed Cycle SF has chosen to postpone their event. We are looking forward to working with them in the future on a family-friendly bicycle event,” said Connie Chan, spokesperson for the Recreation and Parks Department.

Jumping Fencing Marketing Director Joanna Reuland contended that “awareness was strong” surrounding the event and she wasn't sure why it didn't take off. “It had become clear that we weren't going to make our promise so we thought it was probably best to just postpone the event,” Reuland told us.

Part of the problem might have been how cheap and easy it is to cycle around the city and the availability of free monthly group rides like Critical Mass and SF Bike Party. Apparently paying to bike around the city just doesn't have the same demand as the San Francisco Marathon, which costs $35 for the 5K or $145 for the full marathon.

Some in the bike community also grumbled that the event was benefiting a city department about which many have decidedly mixed opinions, particularly given its closeness with corporate donors, rather than a bike advocacy organization such as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, whose 12,000-plus members organizers did little to directly target. What whatever it was, it is no more.