Exploring Cycling in SF

I have a hankering to start exploring San Francisco by bike. To wit, I’m starting with some Internet research and a tourist bicycle tour.

Here’s what I’ve found:

Curbed SF: Biking in San Francisco: A beginner’s guide – this guide is mostly cheerleading and safety information, but led me to two pieces of interesting and valuable information:

The SF Vision Zero High Injury Network – i.e. places to be careful or avoid

and The SF bike network map – i.e. places other riders have decided are less risky with a lower chance of dying

The beginner’s guide above contains a sentence that I fundamentally disagree with: “If there’s one fundamental rule to operating a bicycle, it’s this: You can do whatever you want, as long as nobody else is inconvenienced.”

This is incredibly wrong. Drivers don’t rule the road. Inconvenience the hell out of drivers by just going about your business. Being meek and subservient to drivers just emboldens them. Get in the way when you need to. Take your turn when it’s your turn. Make drivers take their turn when it’s their turn. Don’t wave thank you to drivers doing what’s required of them by law.

Here’s a supporting quote from John Lewis: “When you see something that is not fair, not right, not just, you must have the courage to stand up, to speak up and find a way to get in the way.”

It’s also wrong with this one: “If you’re going right, still using your LEFT arm (because people on your left, where they are supposed to travel, don’t have a good view of your right) angle it into a 90-degree, L-shape symbol of determined movement.”

This signal was invented when drivers needed to declare a right turn from the left seat of a car or truck with no indicators. It makes exactly zero sense on a bicycle, which is symmetrical and you can just as easily extend your right arm and point right to indicate a right turn. The L-shape arm thing is just dumb for cyclists.

El Camino Bike Lanes in Palo Alto

Well, the Palo Alto meeting went pretty well. There was massive interest from the cycling community and nearly zero opposition from Palo Alto residents. That was good. Sadly, cyclist echo chambers can often seem like a clown car of people asking for things that just won’t happen given the current context, funding, and timelines.

It does seem to draw out people who want agencies like Caltrans to simultaneously fix homelessness and force cities to fix other roads that aren’t under Caltrans jurisdiction. In this case, Caltrans is just running a repaving project and they’re already in the construction phase. They’re not gonna be able to move curbs significantly. They’re not gonna be able to remove vehicle lanes during a repaving project.

No amount of asking is really going to change the circumstances already baked into a project. But folks ask anyway. I think it makes public comment into really ineffective noise and makes cyclists seem totally unrealistic in their demands.

Here is the presentation that Caltrans made: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/files/assets/public/v/1/transportation/caltrans-2.29.24-presentation.pdf

I will say that Caltrans staff seemed much more willing to put themselves out there than the Palo Alto staff did. There were 8-10 folks from Caltrans, and as far as I could see, only one from Palo Alto City.

Hopefully, the Palo Alto PABAC and city council will make the right decision here and remove parking so that Caltrans can proceed with their plan to add bike lanes to El Camino Real.

To be clear, going from nothing to something is the only goal here. We can want the moon, but the only thing we’re going to realistically get is representation and visibility on the roadway. Once we have that, we can work for more protection, fewer gaps, and take up more space.

AI Generated Bicycles

I needed to have a stock image of a bicycle for some business cards I’m putting together and thought I’d try out istockphoto.com‘s AI Generator.

Here’s the prompt I gave it, asking for a photo in 4:3 with a warm color scheme:

bicycle, a stationary bicycle, the bike is leaning up against a brick wall, the brick wall should be yellow, the bike should be blue, the bike should be dutch styled

I find all of the images amusing. None of them seem ridable. None of them have pedals. One seems to have a kickstand where the bottom-bracket is supposed to be. One looks kinda like a button. It seems to have particular difficulty with spokes against the brick background. Only one of them has a brick wall that’s actually yellow.

I think this is a nifty toy, but I also think we’ve still got a long way to go.

Caltrans, Palo Alto, and Bike Lanes

Tonight, at 6pm, there is a joint community meeting hosted by Caltrans and Palo Alto to get feedback on the plan for repaving El Camino Real and adding protected bike lanes.

We can expect that there will be plenty of people on “both sides”. Those sides are defined as “drivers who desperately don’t want to give up an inch” vs. “cyclists and pedestrians who just don’t want to be killed there”.

As you might guess, I will be representing the latter.

We can also expect the usual display of cycling fallacies to be trotted out by the people who support more cars forever. There’s apparently even a bingo card on PDF that you can download from that site, but it wasn’t working today.

I am continually reminded that this sort of change takes a long time, but it’s starting to feel like a chore to attend these things as a cycling advocate because they all sound the same.

We can hope that Palo Alto gets on board and fully supports the efforts of Caltrans to put in protected bike lanes.

Virtual Coffee

Since I’ve been spending time learning Rust, I’ve been spending a lot of time googling around to find good resources beyond the stuff put out by the official folks. This put me onto a group of people who created a virtual community way back in the beginning of the pandemic: Virtual Coffee.

They’re a community of developers of various flavors that are all working together this month (Feb 2024) to encourage each other in learning something new. Next month is focused on getting job-search ready.

I’ve been to a couple of their virtual coffee zoom events and they’re nice folks. If you’re looking for a supportive development community, you may want to give them a try.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Anne, Kyra and I are watching the latest incarnation of Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix and it’s surprisingly good as a live-action series. Most of the characters are really well-cast and play their roles enjoyably.

Long ago, I was very skeptical about watching the original animated series, but my kids insisted and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. If you haven’t seen either one, I recommend them highly, but skip the live-action movie made in 2010. “The Last Airbender” was truly atrocious.


I’ve set up a new WordPress blog here at brosnahan.org. It’s mostly so I have something other than a boring domain parking page here. This place could turn out to be a ghost town, but who knows? Topics that may appear here will likely have to do with road bikes, mountain bikes, e-bikes, cycling advocacy, weightlifting, cooking, travel, foreign languages, computers, software, Internet of Things, programming, console gaming, music, books, photography, genealogy, elder care, and the not-so-subtle art of parenting adult children.

This doesn’t mean I’ll limit myself to that though. But, since you got this far, here’s a cat crashing his bike in a dream: