Inspired by a similar “bicibús” ride in Barcelona, a pro-slow-streets group has created a pint-sized Critical Mass bike ride for kids pedaling to school en masse.
Imagine the old monthly bike ride Critical Mass, except without the road rage and political piousness, and with primarily little youngsters heading to school with their parents. This is apparently now a new monthly thing here in San Francisco, as SFGate brings us the story of a loosely organized “bike bus” in SF, a communal bike ride that’s like a school bus, except it's a caravan of kids on bikes, and part of the car-free/slow streets movement that’s become popular during the pandemic.
Kids are now using car-free JFK, Page #SlowStreet and car-free Market as a Barcelona-style bicycle school bus to get to school. How are you using Slow Streets? pic.twitter.com/wfP1xaoql3— Jeffrey Tumlin 🏳️🌈 (@jeffreytumlin) December 16, 2021
"There were almost 30 people in the bus, and I think the next one will be double or triple," the ride’s organizer and SF dad Peter Belden tells SFGate. "It’s so positive and fun for everyone. There were two kids who joined the ride, friends of my son, whose parents had meetings, and they were allowed to ride along. They hadn’t ridden their bike to school before, but because it was a bus, they felt safe doing it."
Quart divendres de reivindicació en forma de #bicibus per anar a l’escola. Les ciutats han de redistribuir l’espai públic a favor dels vianants, bicis i transport públic. @bicibuseixample @bcn_ajuntament #bicibcn #BCN pic.twitter.com/02HuVwMaoh— Lluís Juncà (@lljunca) October 15, 2021
This is based on a similar ride in Barcelona, which NPR reports is known as the “bicibús” (seen above). It is an every-Friday thing that has attracted hundreds of youngsters on bikes. It’s spread to other cities in Spain, and apparently now to San Francisco too.
There were some intense chalk art, slalom course and football matches today! It was so great seeing neighbors! This is how we build community. #KeepLakeSlow #SlowLake 🚸💫✨ pic.twitter.com/oHafYeHfYa— Keep Lake Slow (@FriendsSlowLake) January 3, 2022
It seems from SFGate’s story that there was only one of these rides so far, in December, but Belden and his affiliated advocacy group Kid Safe SF are planning another bike bus the morning of Friday, January 14. Another car-free group Friends of Slow Lake has been holding similar bike meet-ups in car-free areas of the Richmond District.
As cute and wholesome as these group rides and bike meet-ups may seem, this is a political act. Kid Safe SF is very vocal in pushing for a car-free JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, and a car-free Great Highway too. It is no coincidence that the bike bus path starts at Eighth Avenue and JFK in Golden Gate Park. So while these car-free debates are politically contentious, bike groups are using a soft touch to build support for making these two controversial car-free areas into permanent pedestrian spaces.
Related: Block-Long Mural By Local Artist Amos Goldbaum Completed on Noe Valley Street [SFist]
Image: @jeffreytumlin via Twitter