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San Francisco

My daughter and friend have booked a vacation in Italy this May. Probably not a good idea, even if the situation improves by then. They are waiting for travel advisories past April and hope to eventually be able to get full refunds on their flights and RS tour.
Instead, they are looking to San Francisco. Don't know if the US situation will be any better than Europe by May.
In any case, planning has started and they ask if the 49-Mile Drive in San Francisco is suitable for bike riders. Or would it be too much up-and-down for the casual rider. Also, do cars respect the bike's right of way on the road. They also plan to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy Marin Headlands on bikes.

Posted by
22 posts

San Francisco is rather hilly. The 49 Mile Drive terrain varies depending on the location you're at, however expect it to have some serious hills (Google Lombard Street in San Francisco). If they are renting bikes from standard bike rental spots, they are looking at some basic bikes. They may think about electric assisted bike or premium bike rentals because of the distance & hills. SF is very bike friendly city so if they plan on cycling, it should be fine. The City is also great place to hike - we like the Presidio and the Headlands. Good Travels!

Posted by
20553 posts

I don't think you can bike across the GG bridge on the roadway. I think you have to use the pedestrian walk way on the side and it will be very congested with walkers. I know there is a separate lane for bikes but it is not well respected by the many tourists walking across the bridge.

Posted by
3904 posts

Also, do cars respect the bike's right of way on the road.

Judging by the actions of many cyclists (bikers in the UK means motorbikes) I expect most car drivers expect cyclists to ignore the rules of the road!

Posted by
11676 posts

Apparently there is a new variance of the "classic" 49-mile drive that is designed for cyclists, called the "49-mile Scenic Route" ( not "drive" and marked with seagulls.

Good information on cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge here:

Note the link to days and hours. Generally, pedestrians are restricted to the east side walkway (facing into the bay) while cyclists can use either walkway. In practice, this means cyclists use the west side path, because they must yield to pedestrians on the east side path. In other words, they end up walking their bikes music of or all of the way, because of the crowds.

Most cyclists ride over and take the Sausalito ferry back.

Personally, we prefer to walk. San Francisco is a great walking city. The Filbert Steps up to Coit Tower, Twin Peaks from Noe Valley, and the coastal path from Cliff House to Lands'End and beyond to hrissy Field and Golden Gate Bridge are our favorites.

I suggest you go to the San Francisco Forum on TripAdvisor for more complete information, particularlybon cycling. The locals there are extremely helpful with advice, especially on logistics.

Posted by
5151 posts

The above link is an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to safely bike in the City By The Bay.

My folks lived in SF for a number of years near Golden Gate Park. A favorite bike ride especially on weekends was to the Beach Chalet cafe. Lots to explore in Golden Gate Park. Throughly enjoyed the outer sunset neighborhood and using the N Judah train to get into downtown.

Cow Hollow, Laurel Heights, North Beach and of course Haight Ashbury are neighborhoods worth exploring.

Posted by
2272 posts

The risk is distracted drivers. Seems every other car is an Uber or Lyft with a driver looking at their smart phone trying to navigate. I would not risk biking.

BTW, just back from SF and it is a relative ghost town. Hyatt Regency Embarcadero had been at 90% occupancy last week, was 30% and falling when we checked in Monday. Bar closed, buffet only for breakfast (who would eat at a buffet wit this going on?) Front desk clerk said the phones were ringing off the hook with cancellations. Traffic? None. Restaurants? Same day reservations wherever. The homeless situation was magnified simply because they have not gone anywhere while so many other stayed home so Market Street looked like the zombie apocalypse. It felt very creepy and even though we had late checkout we packed and headed home in the early morning.

Posted by
121 posts

SF is super hilly. SUPER HILLY. I'd say its way too much for a casual bike rider. I'm from Los Angeles but have relatives in the "backbay" as we call it and have been to SF numerous times. I'm not sure if you'd want to go to SF area since we have an outbreak there as well- and with the large amount of homeless and druggies in SF and whatnot it isn't exactly the city I'd want to personally be stuck in during any kind of outbreak. Cars here in CA do not notice bike riders- always yield for a car or face the consequences, no matter what the lights say, people really are distracted and pay no attention whatsoever.

Maybe you could consider the Monterey bay area instead or South Central coast? I wouldn't bike it though, we have a lot of bike to car accidents in California.