San Francisco Bicycling Groundbreakers
These are the key cycle activists  who were pedaling the roads of  a rough and tumble San Francisco back at the dawn of this century. They did so when there was minimal  infrastructure to meet the needs of The City's  two-wheel population. It was their efforts along with the Critical Mass bike rides that got them the traction needed in SF politics to change the transportation habits of San Franciscans .

 It is  the movement they set in motion that has returned the Golden Gate city jnto a magnet for bicyclists the world around. 130 years ago, in 1884, Thomas Stevens, established San Francisco as the Bicycle Capital of the world when he began and ended his unprecedented two-year bike ride (13,500 miles) around the world in San Francisco. It is upon Mr. Stevens  shoulders and  those of the cyclists you see here, that today's  burgeoning  mass of bike riders who enjoy San Francisco cycling today  stand.
Author, TV commentator, public speaker, radio news producer, and jazz-trained vocalist, judy b. talks about how Critical Mass introduced her to her cycling way of life.

Chris Carlsson, Longtime, SF Cycling icon: "One of the original founders of Critical Mass - editor, "Critical Mass: Bicycling's Defiant Celebration" SF Historical bike tour leader Speaks!
Andy Thornley, ex-SFBC Program Director, formerly of Boston, was a qualified and knowledgeable presence at the SFBC, as you will soon hear. His understanding of the bicycle streets of San Francisco runs very deep.
See MIT grad, former Oracle engineer & former SFBC Operations Director, Frank Chan, pedal SF's steepest hills Listen to him talk about SF & bicycling.
Swiss-born and Car Free all of her life, Mona Caron has been biking to her work as an illustrator and muralist in San Francisco since 1996. Hear how she makes it work on a bike.
San Francisco Mechanical Engineer and Metal Artist, Max Chen, TALKS about his bicycle art, his long involvement with the NBG including the TransAmerica ride he did for us in 2000.
Leah Shahum SFBC Director San Francisco Bike Coalition Director (SFBC), talks about cycling in her city and how her organization has grown to meet the many challenges facing San Francisco bike riders.
Note: in the window of  time allotted for the above interviews we were unable to schedule the following Groundbreakers into our program:

- Dave Snyder, the man who rebuilt the SFBC, turning it into the burgeoning movement that Leah Shahum continues to drive to even higher levels of authority and achievement. Dave is now the Exec Dir. of the statewide organization, the California Bicycle Coalition.
- Daryl Skarabek, a tireless SF cycling activist, and a former executive director of SFBC, he was on its ground floor with Dave back when they produced the initial runs of the "Tubular Times" newsletter.
- Yuri Samer, a journalist and former employee of the SF Dept of public Works, he published the cycling guides that would go on to become the foundation for all SF City bike plans
- Jonathan Winston placed San Francisco cycling on the national and international radar with his cutting edge podcast series called BikeScape. It was his instruction that helped the NBG get its NBG Mtn. Movers podcast series on line. This at a time when podcast production was a little known about art form.

- Carla Laser, director of the San Francisco Bicycle Ballet continues,  in addition to offering choreographed bicycle dance performances all throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, to chronicle  the SF cycling scene as well as  the efforts of local bike activists. She does so with  high-quality, artistic video productions that are seen regularly on TV and at film festivals. Carla is also the editor and art director of the zine, the SFBMA (San Francisco Bike Messenger Association) "Cognition" which celebrates its 100th issue Feb 2014. It is the longest running printed bike messenger zine in the nation and 2nd in the world.

Since 1988 in SF, Carla has taken part in bike activism as well as documenting it. She has volunteered at countless bike rodeos at schools, parks and museums – teaching safe riding to kids alongside bike greats Stuart Coulthard, Jim Swanson, Katherine Roberts and Nick Carr. In the early 90s she volunteered at the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and had her friends at Fixed Gear Bikes build a custom tandem for riding with her lady, Mun Hing Martin. She has promoted and thrown benefits for Pedal for the Planet, Shaping San Francisco and the SFBMA.

In addition, Carla contributed photography and graphics for the early SFBC. She also provided layout for the Tube Times from 1998-2000, and the first SFBC bike plan, as well as the first safe riding manual collaborated between the SFBC and SFBMA with famous artist Danny Boy. She rode in the first Critical masses. Before 1988, she was an avid cyclist in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Ilinois.

Notable others: Stuart Coulthard, Jim Swanson, Katherine Roberts, Nick Carr
Indeed there are other shakers and movers who laid the ground work for present day SF cycling that we may have overlooked. If you want to suggest others, contact us at

San Francisco Professional Bike Messengers
National Bicycle Greenway director, Martin Krieg, spent some time talking to five different people who work in San Francisco as professional bike messengers. He set out to learn more about an occupation that few people know very much about. Hopefully you will go away with a better understanding of how what looks like glory and fun to some is a lot like any other kind of work where responsibility, discipline, patience and people skills are important keys to success.

July 2006

Chris 14:51 | Jody 10:57 | Lon 10:03 | Shark (pictured at left) 14:42 | Wendy 12:01

Home | Sights | Bike Shops | Bike Rentals | Street Word | History | Biking Report Card | Proclamation
NBG Biking Cities | BikeRoute Home