While many people wouldn't think of riding a bike around a City like San Francisco, there are loads and loads of areas that are safe and easy and best seen on a bike. If you are able to bring your own, there is plenty of free parking space behind the Exploratorium (Palace of Fine Arts) or Chrissy Field. And both of those are excellent places to start your ride from. The entire area along the Bay is flat and easily navigable by bike. As you near Fisherman's Wharf and go on along the Embarcadero, there is a lot more traffic, but if you proceed with caution you'll find it easy and safe to ride (and in fact, you'll make better progress than cars!).
If you can't bring your own bike, consider Blazing Saddles. This rental outfit provides visitors with everything they need to make the experience great; well maintained bikes, helmets, saddlebags, and maps.
Update: I just drove over the bridge and into Sausalito. It was a GORGEOUS day and there were a ton of people on Blazing Saddles' Bikes. I have one thing to say: Helmets people! Nobody is renting helmets and there is so much traffic and some steep hills with blind curves and you're not familiar with the terrain. Don't be stupid. PLEASE rent a helmet!
Get tired of walking? Don't want to take a trolley? Hop on one of these. I always thought this would be kind of a cool job; lots of fresh air and exercise.
You'll find these bike rickshaws all along the Embarcadero or at Ghiradelli Square, ready to give you a lift.
If you choose to bike 7 miles of paved trails that lead you by lush waterfalls and gardens, I can`t blame you.
Also, keep in mind that JFK Drive (the park's major artery during the week) and some other streets are closed to auto traffic on Sundays, making cycling safer and more fun.
Bikes can be rented at:
1) Stow Lake Bike & Boat Rentals, 50 Stow Lake Dr., (415) 752-0347. It is located in the park itself, above the Stow Lake.
2) Golden Gate Park Bike and Skate: 3038 Fulton St., (415) 668-1117. MAP
3) American Cyclery: 510 Frederick St. and 858 Stanyan St., (415) 664-4545. MAP
4) Avenue Cyclery: 756 Stanyan St., (415) 387-3155. MAP
5) Park Cyclery, 1749 Waller St., (415) 221-3777. MAP
6) Skates on Haight, 1818 Haight St., (415) 752-8375. MAP
ATTENTION WALKERS, BIKE RIDERS & DRIVERS: If you want to know the rough distances between any two points on a map, here’s a website to get maps, directions, and miles. Go to www.expedia.com. Click on “Maps”, then “Get Driving Directions” and “Search for an Address”. Use the street addresses of popular SF locales or restaurants and fill in the online form  for Golden Gate Park, use the California Academy of Sciences at 55 Concourse Drive, 94118  for Fisherman’s Wharf/Ghirardelli Square use the Buena Vista Café address at 2765 Hyde Street, 94109  for Embarcadero/Ferry Building/Justin Herman Plaza use 5 The Embarcadero, 94111  the Cliff House located at 1090 Point Lobos, 94121  for Sausalito, use 303 Johnson Street, Sausalito, 94965  for Tiburon, use 5 Main Steet, Tiburon, 94920  for Golden Gate Bridge, you “Search for a Place”, type “Golden Gate Bridge” in the box labeled “Place Name”. For example, using these addresses, if I ride a bike from Fisherman's Wharf to Tiburon, from 2765 Hyde Street to 5 Main Steet, Tiburon, Expedia.com calculates 25 miles. (Pictured here is Sausalito.)
We spotted this rickshaw (or pedicab) as we waited at a trolley stop near Pier 41, but we also saw one around Pier 33. This would be a unique way to travel along the wharf!
The cost of riding in this old-fashioned mode of transportation starts at $4.00 per person. I can't imagine it travels to the heights in San Francisco, but for a short trip between piers...why not?
I believe the rickshaw can hold two individuals.
My VT friend, Nemorino, who is a real bike enthusiast, will be pleased to hear that pedaling around San Francisco is very popular! This particular rental stand, Blazing Saddles, is at Pier 41.
If traveling on two wheels, the new bike path would be the ideal way to see some of the city. It would take you through the Presidio (former military installation) over the Golden Gate Bridge and onto Sausolito.
I'm not sure how I'd feel about biking over windy Golden Gate Bridge--but I know there are plenty of fearless bikers out there who wouldn't let it deter them for one moment!
Rates begin at $7 per hour and up; guided tour $60 plus ferry tickets. Lots of different bike choices available (see website). Opens daily at 8am.
Taking your bike on BART is one of the great ways to see the more wild and beautiful parts of the Bay Area. However, bikes are not so much "welcomed" on BART as they are "grudgingly tolerated." Only intense public demand finally got BART to relent on its' anti-bike policies.
Up until fairly recently, you had to have a freakin' permit to bring your bike on... effectively denying tourists access to the system. This, thankfully, has changed - anyone can bring a bike on BART - but there are still a huge list of rules and regulations that must be followed. The most annoying of these is that bikes are not allowed on trains during rush hour. This generally applies to all downtown SF stations between 7 & 9 AM and 4& 6 PM, but it applies to some other stations as well.
Bringing a bike on BART is a great thing to do, even if you have to jump through hoops to do it. Most BART stations have a brochure detailing the bike rules (although it will not include a schedule of off-limits trains). If you plan on riding BART with a bike, read their web page first!
Bicycle is the best way for tourists to get around San Francisco.
Along as you keep to the simple rule. When you follow the waterline the ride is flat.
Simple rule simple result. Less up hill.
Many of the sight in San Francisco are located by the waterline. So that makes it that much better. Try this for a list of stops for a day. Start with the SBC Baseball Park. Ride through Fishermans Wharf. Stop off at Fort Mason and then the Palace of Fine Arts. Then cross over the Bridge to Sausalito before taking a ferry back to Fishermans Wharf. Spend the afternoon at the Wharf area.
Sounds easy. Now go out and do it.
If you're coming from the airport, I would suggest taking BART or Supershuttle. Please, don't drive.
I love to walk around the City. Every street has its own personality and charm, even the tenderloin. San Francisco has a thorough bus/train mass transit system called MUNI, but if a distance is too far to walk, I chose cycling over MUNI. I have heard people complain that cycling is too dangerous in the City, or they are intimidated by the hills- don't be! Smart cycling is smart cycling in any city, and as for the hills- if you ask a local nicely, they may tell you the wonderous secret of 'the wiggle'- aka how to ride through the city without hitting any hills. As for MUNI, it can work if you have a lot of time and a lot of patience and tolerance for humankind. (and a dulled sense of smell.)If you are lucky enough to be near a BART station, BART is also very efficient and worth the extra dime. Please don't drive. leave that to the professionals.
I'm a big bike fan but what do you do when you are a tourist and don't have your bike with you? Go to blazing saddle! This place has hundreds of bikes to rent by the hour/day, a perfect way to explore the city. When I take my walk from San Francisco to Sausalito across the golden gate bridge, I see dozens of Blazing Saddle customers doing the same thing but on bicycle.
Check out their website for prices, locations, and all that is included with the bike rental.
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