Birthday Party Ride Reflections

Welcome to our website! Hopefully you participated in our ride or witnessed a mass of happy people enjoying their bicycles tonight. If you are curious about our group, please feel free to read our About section. If you would like to follow us for future rides, check our twitter, facebook, and email list in the Stay in the Loop section. We will be holding a ride every first Friday of the month at 8 PM. We also have a flickr group if you have photos!

Spoke card created by meligrosa with Bikes and The City

The ride tonight had 500+ people in attendance! Geez, we are popular!

I must say, thank you to all you riders who stopped at every red light (even when no cars were present!). Thank you to riders who stopped at stop signs and encouraged drivers to go through so they wouldn’t be stuck in traffic! Thank you drivers! We did not hear one angry honk or see one aggressive car! Everyone was so polite, friendly, and supportive!  And thank you to all the wonderful people we met tonight! We love this city and we love meeting fellow cyclists!  Thank you bicyclist who attended, without your warm spirit, this ride wouldn’t have been such a success! And lastly, thank you to the wonderful route testers and planners, you all did a great job! Alta Plaza Park was a magical place.

Look at all these bicyclist stopping at the red light while letting cars pass on the left!

While is was awfully cold and the pace of the ride was a little slow with so many stop lights, we really couldn’t have asked for a better first ride!

Please feel free and share your experience in our comment section! We are open to all comments as long as they as not hateful.



Filed under Reflections

31 responses to “Birthday Party Ride Reflections

  1. It was a delight. Where to next? I nominate the Presidio. Also, what is up with those insanely brief lights around fisherman’s wharf?

  2. yoshi

    after being involved in SJBP for about 2 years, i can not find enough words to express my disappointment in this ride. i was told, “we do things different because this is SF”… in reality, you do things differently cause you’re critical mass. while the “mass” may keep us safe for tonight’s ride, pissing off drivers by creating a parking lot by intentionally stopping at the same light for multiple rounds is just going to create bad will. it’s no different than everyone running the red light, you are just blocking traffic in the opposite direction. by letting the ride break up naturally, we create opportunities for cars to safely get through our ride. this will become more important as you (maybe) grow.

    it’s not the mass that will keep us safe, it’s teaching riders how to ride with cars. we should be traffic, not creating it.

    the way the route was routed was beautiful. i enjoyed it. the two things i would change are, no uphills right after a regroup. you had everyone bunched up then try to go up a hill, had a group stopping us at the top of the hill, then yell at everyone to stay to the right… if you didn’t have 300 people going up the hill at the same time while blocking the front, maybe they can bike in the right lane. the second thing i would change is “no regroups at parks with grass”. the reasoning is simple, we fuck up the grass.

    in any case, it wasn’t surprising to find out that the organizers have critical mass roots and not bike party roots. it feels to me like you guys took our rules without riding our ride.

    bike party? no, it was critical mass with music. thanks but no thanks.

    • alaamber

      Hey Yoshi,

      As a founding member of SJBP and SFBP planner, I am disappointed in your comment. I 100% disagree.

      Lights in SF are timed and closer together, so naturally stopping at them creates clusters of riders who stop (and EVERYONE did stop) at each light regardless of the lack of cars. I personally witnessded no angry drivers during the entire ride (more than I can say for San Jose). And people stayed in the right lane, allowing cars to pass when possible. In addition, unlike your flat city, its nearly impossible to avoid hills, not every regroup can end with a downhill or flat. I have witnessed cars trapped in San Jose by bicyclist. I didn’t see that tonight. Perhaps you were riding in the back and experienced something different, but my ride was perfect.

      • moya

        While I don’t agree with Yoshi about the CM feel of the ride, I do agree with his points about stopping the crowd at inopportune moments. The crowd totally blocked both sides of the road at times and not many people seemed to care. I mostly saw SJBP folks helping to direct traffic and clear the way for cars at those times. There WERE blocked cars. Just because you didn’t experience that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And we DID see and hear unhappy motorists. I know we can’t completely prevent that, but we need to look like we’re interested in improving…dissing someone who had a different experience to you is NOT an inclusive act.

        Having said that, I had a great time last night! BUT improvement is needed. People totally ignored me when I called out “right lane! right lane party!” And I witnessed plenty of people running red lights. Saw one girl almost get hit as the motorist came to a stop in the intersection…the cyclist was oblivious of course. Scary!

        All in all a good time. But we need more volunteers to educate and enforce good, safe biking practices.

    • Yoshi, does that mean you won’t be riding with us next month? Please say yes.


    • rider44

      Wow, I would expect that from someone with no experience planning large group rides. Or if SFBP already had 3+ years of experience under their belt.
      But giving that feedback on the first SFBP? And after the myriad problems SJBP hasN’T overcome this last year?! Hubris! You know what they say about people living in glass houses?
      Those are some pretty big stones from someone with so much (broken) glass in their own house.

      Ignore him, you all organized a great ride you can be immensely proud of.

  3. Fun ride. Experienced with SJBP, EBBP and Critical Mass SF. Thank goodness this ride lacked police pollution spewing escorts and paddy wagons like we experienced last week at C-mass NYE. This was an ideal introductory beginner bike ride. I brought a half dozen friends and a couple who had their first night ride, first Bike Party and first group ride tonight. The speed of 8mph-10mph and the numerous roundups allowed a casual pace, just as described. Thank goodness for the bike party music; all the bicyclists were hip to the “How We Ride” rules. For those with experience on bike parties and opening up 30+ miles in a night, the route and the speed were a drag. Not a bike party problem, a rider problem.

    After two back to back roundups Pier 39/Ghirardelli and a total of 1 mile ridden, our small group zoomed out to the Golden Gate Bridge over cardiac hill and the marina, then returned to city center through North Beach before heading up the Wiggle and intersecting El Arbol in motion with the last half of the bike party at the hilltop crest before zooming 30mph+ downhill into City Hall. That’s the beauty of a preset route, it allows for freedoms to expand on the existing ride and still meet up for fun later.

    p.s. there was a newscast videotaped (Channel 5?) from City Hall about 20-30min prior to the City Hall roundup finale. I mentioned to the reporter the bike party would be touching down shortly, but my words went unheeded. (I was thinking it would really make a neat story backdrop – especially since outgoing Mayor Newsome was essential for a bike friendly city and encouraged growth of more bicyclists and community). A shame, as the reporter could’ve netted big news bonus points with a city hall backdrop of a few hundred bicyclists celebrating the city and birth of SF BIKE PARTY!

  4. scott

    It sounds so great, doesn’t it? A cold, crisp night? Check. Great vibe, music and revelry? Check. Gotta love it! SF Bike Party!

    In the city that started it all (CM,etc) here in the US, it makes sense that SF should embrace “Bike Party” and make it her own. Sure a few wrinkles of it are different. And each ride can and will get better. But here’s to hoping that so many of the riders last night will become volunteers and stewards of the ride to make sure that it can and will be sustainable for the long haul, cuz I’m sure we all want this ride to be going strong for the long, long haul. Shout out to all those that have done so much already in the last few months to make SFBP a great reality! 😉

    Bike Party!

  5. Brett

    All things considered, I think the first ride was a success. There’s some kinks to work out, but I think things were getting better even from the first leg to the third leg. (I missed the last leg as I broke off with the group heading back to Caltrain.) The playground regroup was definitely the highlight of the night for me. View, swings, and monkey bars? What more could I ask for? The group as a whole was very well behaved. It seemed like a lot of the people I talked to live in the city and bike a lot, as opposed to many of the unwashed masses we see in San Jose.

    The biggest problem I saw was the confusion about regroups, but that should be fine with more volunteers and more experience. The first leg was a mess, but I don’t know if that was because of the route choice or just first night bugs. I would be inclined to think it’s the latter since the Embarcadero should be a good choice with longer stretches between lights. Other than that, you should just make it not so cold. Because, you know, I expect the organizers to have that kind of power.

  6. Hey, Brett, you said and I quote:
    “It seemed like a lot of the people I talked to live in the city and bike a lot, as opposed to many of the unwashed masses we see in San Jose.”
    “…unwashed masses…” Really?

    Please, can we all just get along as “one movement of bicycle people” pulling in one direction to make the streets of the world safer for bicycles?
    Strong and successful Bike Parties in San Jose, SF and the East Bay can go a long way to accomplish that goal.
    It would be great if we could all come together as one movement, but with each individual Bike Party reflecdting the culture and quirks of each area.
    Peace my bicycling brethren!
    Bike Party forever…

    • Brett

      I just meant that at SJBP I often see people who seem to rarely, if ever, ride outside of bike party. Obviously that’s partly a function of SJBP being bigger and more established, but it was nice to be on a ride of a few hundred people where most everyone knew what they were doing. It wasn’t meant as a slight against San Jose. (I live in San Jose!)

  7. kitty

    I think the bottleneck of riders occurred mostly because of constantly making the “front of the pack” stop and wait for the “back of the pack” to catch up. If your desire is to have riders in more of a single line then you need to allow the group to naturally spread out. Everyone has (or should have) the route; let riders go at their own, safe, pace while obeying the rules of the road eventually meeting up at the regroup point(s). Smart riding, not bikers en masse, is what keeps us all safe. That being said, the route was great and it was a beautiful night despite the cold (appropriate gear – I recommend toe warmers! – solves that problem). Good luck with the next go-around.

  8. marsupial2go

    It was fun. I have no complaints or suggestions. With that many folks in almost any scenario the event won’t be perfect. People have different perceptions and demeanors, and some people are procedurally unhappy and disappointed about anything. I leave the organizing and route in the hands of Bike Party professionals.

  9. moo

    I was among the 40+ riders who had to leave the ride at the last regroup in time to catch the last train leaving the city at midnight. Spirits were high despite the disappointment of being unable to finish the complete the ride to the end. The group arrived at a stoplight which turned yellow just as we got there, so we stopped at the intersection. Then one of SFPD’s finest pulled up in the lane adjacent to us and flipped on her lights. She rolled down her window, and called out to us:

    “Thank you for stopping for the red light!”

    Everyone in our group was able to get on that last train. No bumps, as there were two bike cars on that train.

    • @moo – that’s pretty cool =) thx for sharing
      I was pretty stoked to hear many peeps in the GGP area/stop calling out for SJ riders to make caltrain on time. I have ridden SJBPs and have always appreciated the crew and crowds gathering and establishing good communication to head to caltrain to make it on time for the next train back to the City.
      At the end of the ride for those of us left towards the very very end, a cop also pulled up at the heart of the civic center plaza, and had a pretty chilled attitude with a ‘are you guys having fun or what?!’ vibe. He only requested we kept the sound low, but at that point we were all ready to split. /cheers

    • moya

      Tell the rest of the story @moo! That is, minutes after being thanked by the cop we ALL made an illegal left turn as we made our way to the train station! Lol 😉

      • moo

        *blush*. I blame part of that on poor signage (Southbound 6th at Brannan St). There are no arrows on the pavement, and only one “no left turn” sign that’s in the middle of the island on the opposite side of the street! From a bicycle, it was hard to see that sign over the cars until *after* we had merged into the left lane. At that point, our options were: 1) right turn from left lane, 2) straight onto 280, 3) get out of that situation ASAP by turning left :(.

  10. Ian

    @moo: Great anecdote! Thanks for sharing. That makes up for me being yelled at and threatened with citation(s) by the officers when I was guiding the right turn after Alta Park.

  11. edward

    could not agree more about alta plaza park. I forgot all my worries swinging on those swings surrounded by an awesome bike party.

  12. Pingback: View from the Bike Party » Cyclelicious

  13. Robert Peters

    Thanks for organizing, I had a lot of fun and appreciated the tone sf bike party brings. However just as some friendly feedback, I didn’t feel safe watching cars aggressively pass in the left lane. I’m all for being polite to cars but giving up my right to safe by creating defensible space didn’t sit well with me.

    Hopefully each geographical area can have it’s own forum of debate and own set of rules to create it’s own bike party.

  14. Katie

    I’ve been involved with San Jose Bike Party for about 2 years and ride with East Bay Bike Party and Critical Mass. I’m really excited that San Francisco has created its own branch of Bike Party and had a pretty good time on Friday. Here are some observations from someone who is very familiar with the Bike Party model and group riding in general….

    First, some Kudos:

    1) Great turnout for your first ride! Your promotions worked, and word of mouth will only continue to help the ride grow.

    2) Most riders were obeying the SFBP rules (stopping at reds, staying in the right lane, etc.). Good job promoting these rules to keep the riders safe.

    3) The playground regroup. Awesome!

    4) I saw a lot of smiles. People were having a good time. 🙂

    Constructive Criticism:

    1) I think that there was too much emphasis on keeping the group together. At several points along the route, the front of the pack stopped at a light through several light cycles to wait for the back of the group. This made a parking lot of bikes in the street, blocking traffic just as much as if we were going through red lights. I was often in the back and was still waiting for the group in front to go because they were still “waiting.” The ride was crowded and slow in a lot of places and I saw several crashes because bikes were running into each other. You don’t need to keep the ride together so tightly. People had copies of the route and the regroups allow stragglers to catch up.

    2) I saw a lot of cyclists riding on the sidewalk throughout the night. Bummer. that is a dangerous place for them to be, especially in a city like San Francisco where there are a lot of pedestrians.

    3) I don’t know if this is the organizers’ intention, but I’ve noticed a negative attitude from the San Francisco crew towards the San Jose BIRDs. Before the ride, the San Jose BIRDs were warned not to step in and take over during the ride. Huh? Many of us enjoy going to East Bay Bike Party every month partly because we can be “off duty” during the ride. Trust me, we have enough to do planning, testing, and running our own ride every month without dreaming of taking over yours. That said, we have 3 years of experience (and learning from our mistakes) to offer. You might want to learn from us instead of shooting down suggestions and comments with “This is San Francisco, you don’t know our city.” The San Jose crew is super flattered that you like our model enough to create another Bike Party in San Francisco, but some of us have been a little taken aback by this dismissive attitude. I hope in the future we can spend our energy collaborating with each other rather than shutting each other out.

    • rider44

      Was it a warning or a request? What I saw/read was a request, I didn’t see it as a warning at all.
      Surely, with all your experience planning Bike Parties, you understand not wanting to get bowled over by a bunch of know-it-alls, to get a chance to try to do it ‘your way’.
      A request like that isn’t off-putting, is it? I think it’s all in how you look at it. I think the way you said, ‘our model’, kind of shows something. Please, try to lighten up, we’re all on the same side. 🙂

      Obviously the SFBP folks did a fantastic job executing their very first ride. The ridership was far above anything they were expecting. The problems were far below what anyone could have hoped.
      If the ridership had been half that and the problems twice that, wouldn’t that still be considered an overwhelming success? Especially considering some of the failures SJBP still explains away (My opinion).

      Based on the response one SJBP ‘BIRD’ (I use that term loosely because you and I both know he is much more than just a BIRD in the SJBP organization) obviously it should have been a threat instead of a request (my opinion). Holy cow, if he arrived in SF with that much hubris after a request/warning to *not* step in and take over during the ride, how would he have acted if SFBP had instead requested ‘just a little help’ from SJBP.
      But that’s just my 2 cents worth only and nobody elses.

      I too am super excited that they have created another Bike Party in San Francisco. Hopefully the ruffled feathers that some SJBP leadership have can be smoothed down and it won’t continue to detract from the incredible positive energy that SFBP has created.


      • marsupial2go

        Hopefully the in-fighting will stay in the board room. A lot of us mofos just wanna f**kin’ ride!

  15. Sarah Warren

    bike party! thank you for being so amazing. this was my first-ever group ride and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I’m fairly new to the city and was overwhelmed by the jovial camaraderie of the bike community I experienced on Friday night. I liked that the route took me to places outside of my normal daily travels (the view from alta plaza park=amazing), and loved the addition of killer jamz. Sadly, this was my last ride on my treasured bike (white schwinn le tour with red leopard grip tape, anyone?) which was stolen just days later, but it was certainly a memorable send-off in any case. I will definitely be back in the saddle with a new bike =(, at next month’s bike party =)

  16. Billy Cool

    I’m a little disappointed at some of the comments I just read. It’s OK to give constructive criticism, but let’s stop bashing these great SF volunteers who have spent a great deal of their time and effort in trying to create a fun safe event. If anything went less than perfect, getting mad at the organizers is not going to solve anything.
    I personally had a great time at the birth of SFBP! Many of you know me as one of a plethora of SJBP volunteers. I also enjoy going to EBBP, CM and now SFBP.
    @ Yoshi: SFBP is clearly trying to differentiate their ride from CM’s.
    @ Moya: Many riders in SJ, especially the younger ones, in SJ, ignore us when we say “stay on the right”, many SJ riders blow red lights, some SJ riders “almost get hit”. We need to relax, be a little more respectful and let the SF volunteers do their thing. There is a learning curve with every monumental event.
    While this was not the first BP for any of the SF organizers, this was probably the first BP for plenty of the great and enthusiastic SF bike riders that rode that night. I remember my first SJ ride. I was all by myself and didn’t know any of the protocols but after a couple of rides, I got into the groove and enjoyed the BP experience.
    I loved the awesome SF views, and the great vibe of the crowd, and all that great music, and particularly got a kick out of watching “Deep” jump up on his giant tricycle with his microphone and get the crowd going. I can’t wait for next months SFBP!!!
    BTW, thanks Moo, for not pointing out that it was I that led us into that right turn onto Brannan.

    • moya

      @Billy Cool — absolutely the same things happen in SJ! I did not mean to insinuate that they don’t. I was only responding to the my-ride-was-perfect comment. The ride was GREAT, but it was not perfect, and I’m a critical beeyotch believer in continuous improvement. 🙂

      To all the SFBP core team & volunteers — I personally did not find out until well after the ride that there was a request that SJBP birds attend only as participants. Had I known ahead of time (or had someone corrected me during the ride…?), I would have kept my big mouth shut and not tried to keep people to the right lane, etc. I seriously did not intend to step on anyone’s toes! Big apologies from me if I offended or irritated anyone.

      And now that I hear that riding in the city is different than the ‘burbs, I am interested in expanding my knowledge on the subject so I can ride safely in all urban areas. Which means you’ll see me at more SFBP rides for sure, and hopefully some test rides as well.

      • moya

        uhh…that “critical beeyotch” part was supposed to be in strikethrough. that’s what i get for trying to be funny! lol #htmlfail

  17. Soooooo glad we made it to this ride! I used to work in the City and really havent done much cycling around there so I was very excited for this ride. I thought it went great for a first SF bike party. People in cars and on the sidewalk looked so excited and kept asking what the ride was, it was like they knew it wasnt CM. Everyone I rode with rode very well and seemed to find it easy to follow traffic rules. Climbing those hills was so fun and the streets are well lit with much to see from the saddle of a bike. I could see this ride getting very big very quickly so beware! I think if the bike party “How We Ride” mantras are pushed it will make the biggest impact on riders making the ride smooth and friendly and inviting to all. After more than 20 somethin SJ Bike Parties this one had a fresh feel that I absolutely needed! I cant wait for the next one!
    I have my pics from the ride at
    cheers SF bike partiers!

  18. Hello SFBP!

    I Loved everything about SF’s First Bike Party!
    The night was chill and great. I LOVED Dancing with Deep and all the other bike party goers. Amazing city and I Loved Riding with SFBP!

    Okay, so maybe a few people expressed a bit a negativity. I would not pay much attention to those comments as SFBP is still a growing Organization. I am a SJBP Bird and in no way was I trying to “take over” the ride. I was there simply to enjoy it!
    However, after yesterday’s note I feel Unwelcomed 😦
    we have 80 + birds … why would SFBP think that the few comments on the forum speak for SJBP? I wish you would have met with us to address isolated incidents instead of sending a cold note. I ask that you reconsider your defensive stance. SJBP Birds respect other parties.