Big Wheels: See Who's Riding Now
Mitchell Katz, M.D.
Director of SF Department of Public Health
Tube Times: Why do you ride?
Mitch Katz: Cars pollute and use up too much of the world's oil. Also, I like being fit. Riding my bicycle around town means less time I have to spend at the gym.
TT: What's your commute?
MK: From the Richmond — Anza and Funston — to Civic Center.
TT: How long does your bike commute take you? How long would it take if you drove or took bus?
MK: I bike my two children (Max, 4, and Roxie, 2) to and from daycare in a double carriage. There's a lot of drag when you're pulling 70 lbs of children around. It takes me about 25 minutes to work and 45 minutes home (the drag is more intense on the uphill). Driving would be faster by 10-15 minutes, but then I'd have to spend more time at the gym so it wouldn't save me any time. Taking the bus with the two kids and their lunches and my stuff would be very hard.
TT: How did you start bike commuting? What motivates you to ride?
MK: I started bike commuting to high school. It was much faster than walking or taking the bus.
TT: What's best part of your commute? Worst part?
MK: The best part is when my children sing in the carriage on the way. Yesterday, they did a great rendition of "I've been working on the railroad." Worst part: Fell street at Divisadero. Cars going into the ARCO [gas station] block the bike lane and it's hard to get around them.
TT: If you could change one thing in the City about biking conditions, what would it be?
MK: Everyone — motorists and bicylists — need to be more polite to one another. Yelling and honking horns just make everyone more upset.
TT: Do you encourage others in your life to bike?
MK: Absolutely! I bought a bicycle for one friend of mine who used to ride the bus and take taxis. Now he rides his bicycle everywhere. He's saved money and is fit and trim.
TT: What kind of reaction do you get when others find out you bike to work?
MK: Most of the strange reactions I get are when people find out I'm Director of Health. I've often been mistaken for a bicycle messenger, especially when trying to go up elevators in downtown buildings.
Interviewed by Tom Donald