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  • Susanne Bruesch & Nora Manthey

San Francisco is The Electric Cycle City

Looking over San Francisco at Sunset

"Awesome" is a word most often used in California but when describing San Francisco “a-mazing” is the term of the day. Imagine a city built on steep hills, located at the sea, sheltered in a big bay but sitting on the rims of two tectonic plates. It is sunny, it is windy, it is foggy and just never still.

And it is colourful with its painted often wooden houses, green palm trees and lush gardens. Looking at those houses with often beautiful views over the Pacific, we kept thinking that we should open a Pedelec Adventures office in San Francisco. Yes, it is a dream but so many dreams have come true for us, why not this one one day?!

To reach the Instant City, so called because it was rebuild so rapidly after the big earth quake of 1906, we rode our Haibikes with all luggage along the Pacific coast for three days and reportedly camped under eucalyptus trees and sequioas.

Arriving in San Francisco after all this nature was just a blast. The city with its steep hills, its peninsula location, its multiple faces and its friendly, welcoming atmosphere are fascinating.

Apart from this first impression, we looked at the city from a cyclist’s point of view of course. And we were surprised in many ways.

A cyclist's view on San Francisco

Looking at the instant city from an electric cyclist's perspective

Despite its extremely steep hills you actually see quite a few cyclists around. Those that brave those ascents are rewarded twice. First with an often breathtaking view, and second with a very fast and most enjoyable rode down hill. We were rather happy to have our mountain bikes with suspension because despite its paved roads, at speeds of 30 km+ a bump easily turns into an unintentional jump. There are tracks of the famous street cars to be avoided also.

The cyclists we met, were mostly friendly and pretty fit. They were very interested in the bikes and often already knew about e-bikes. Not one accused us of cheating. Probably because everyone can see sense in having a pedelec in San Francisco. They are just the right vehicle for such topography. Still, we wondered, why we did not see more electric bikes.

Courier for Farm Girl Flowers. They deliver bouquets all over the city.

Farm Girl Flower courier. They deliver bouquets all over the city with their bicycles.

Another positive surprise was the extensive cycle infrastructure that seem to span almost the whole city. San Francisco is part of the Green Lane programme and home to advocacy groups.

By 2020, the city aims for a modal bike share of 20 percent - a huge increase, considering that only 5% of all transport is made by bike at the moment. The effort however, is clearly visible and feasible in bike lanes and bicycle parking. Plus, with electric bicycles slowly beginning to trend the target might be reached more easily. Another dream to come true we hope.

Most American cities are build for cars and so is San Francisco although it always had more public transport like cable cars and nowadays electric trolley buses than most towns in the States.

Yet ‘Frisco car drivers show a friendly attitude towards cyclists, same as our fellow cyclists themselves.

To sum it up, we found San Francisco to be the perfect city for electric bikes.

Travel tip of the day: If you are going to San Francisco make sure to hire some e-bike if you can.

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