|This Bike Pool's route between SF's Mission District and South SF includes both park areas like this and more heavily trafficked roads|
The South City Friday Bicycle Pool is celebrating its second year anniversary this month. Some of us had been bike commuting together for years in small groups of two or three. But it took a lot of planning, coordination and mutual motivation to meet someone early in the morning for the hour-long, 12-mile bike ride to work. Eventually we hit upon an idea: let's meet every Friday at the same time and location. Just show up, no need to RSVP. If someone else is there, then you bike in together. We never had to make a plan again.
Interesting things started to happen. First of all, the bike pool worked! People even started showing up on other days of the week and riding in together. People that we didn't know showed up after hearing about us through the grapevine. One person was recruited to join the bike pool before he even had a bike! Some of our most avid participants would never have biked to work if it weren't for the Friday Bike Pool. And, interestingly, although women represent less than 25% of bicycle commuters in general, the South City Bike Pool has consistently been at least 50% women!
The benefits have extended well beyond bicycling, to both the participants and to our company. The bike pool costs our employer nothing but hot water for the showers. Because of the spontaneous networking that occurs while we chat on our way to work, I can often solve work-related problems on the ride. This ability to cut through red tape can decrease frustration in a large organization. We've made friendships that extend beyond work, even after members leave the company.
Here are some of the factors that I think made the bike pool a success:
The South City Bicycle Pool leaves every Friday at 7:15 am from Muddy Waters Cafe at Valencia and 24th Streets.