When it comes to biking in San Francisco, here are the quintessential bike corridors every visitor should know if looking to truly experience the city like a local.
Forget the nickname “City by the Bay,” San Francisco’s moniker should be the “City That Travels by the Bike.” While other city dwellers may rely on cars as transport, San Francisco has among America’s highest percentage of bike commuters as reported by the 2014 US Census Bureau – five times the national average. And recreational use is increasing, too, with the number of bikes owned in the city more than doubling between 2006 and 2011, when the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) last did its count.
Indeed, bikers swarm everywhere in this area of classic cable cars, often cycling a popular course that spans eight miles along the Golden Gate Promenade bike path from Fort Mason, past the picturesque Marina and Crissy Field, then across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito or Tiburon. But that’s only a fraction of what this city offers – from roadways that climb so steeply you can’t see too far ahead of yourself, to tentacle side streets that defy GPS logic, to roads that seem to cross right over themselves. Rental stations are everywhere, but when you stay at the Argonaut Hotel, Noble House’s nautical-styled hotel located in a restored warehouse in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf, the bikes come complimentary (in fact, the concierge will help you select the best model, adjust your seat height, and demonstrate how to use the U-lock). Then, we’ve got you covered with this list of suggested San Francisco bike routes.
Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito
This popular route begins at Fisherman’s Wharf, where you’ll cruise along the car-free National Park Bike Path through Aquatic Park, Fort Mason, and to the base of the bridge, where historic Fort Point is located. From there, it’s seven easy miles across the beautiful urban waterfront of the golden icon and a 10-minute downhill ride to your end destination of Alexander Avenue in Sausalito.
As the city’s signature boulevard and an economic and social hub, Market Street is a major corridor for biking and transit. In fact, with thousands of daily riders, it hosts more people on bikes than it does people in cars! Also the final leg of the Bay-to-Beach Connecting the City route, this ride travels five miles from the Embarcadero to where it finally turns into Portola Drive, smack in the center of San Fran.
Golden Gate Park to Fort Funston
This flat multiuse path parallels the Great Highway for four miles, beginning on Fulton Street (on the edge of Golden Gate Park) and ending at the recreation area of Fort Funston. While the route travels right along the ocean, offering gorgeous views of the coast, it’s best to do it on a not-too-windy day (for that reason, this area is a premier hang-gliding spot in the country).
One of the city’s vital bike arteries, this mile-long corridor is a mostly flat ride through the Mission District with well-established bike lanes. Packed with retail stores and restaurants, the route is also peppered with bike racks for frequent stopping at hip businesses like Dog Eared Books, The Marsh Theatre, and Stranded Records.
Downtown to Ocean Beach
Known lovingly among locals as “The Wiggle” for its series of twists and turns, this route serpentines around San Francisco’s famous hills. Starting at Market Street, the well-marked trail travels a mile, winding its way north and west through the neighborhoods of Lower Haight and the Divisadero, then into Golden Gate Park and on to Ocean Beach.