Renee Rivera: SF History via Bicycle By Linda Atkins

Name Renee Rivera
Age 33
Occupation Financial Analyst, Exploratorium
Neighborhood Civic Center
Member since "Five or six years...?"
You've helped organize and lead many of the SFBC's Cultural History Bike Tours. Do you think the tours are getting more people involved in cycling? One of the goals of the cultural history tours is to give people who might not cycle every day for transportation an experience of what it's like to ride in the city under the best circumstances, which is riding with a congenial group to interesting places. So it definitely gives the people who come - who don't bicycle to work, who don't bicycle for errands - a really positive experience of riding in the city. They also get a chance to see what bike lanes are, what's the easiest way to get from the Mission to Golden Gate Park, say, and interesting places to ride. What it's best at is converting the recreational rider to more of a city rider.

Particularly since the summer we've been doing a lot more promotion of the tours, which is starting to bring in non-members, and that gives us a chance to convert people to members and to everyday cyclists. So it is definitely our chance to get out there and not just preach the message, but demonstrate.

What kind of promotion have you been doing? SFBC member Teri Gardiner has created fabulous bike tour posters that volunteers have been posting all around town. We've been getting listings in the Bay Guardian and S.F. Weekly and occasionally the Chronicle. And then just recently we got Bay Area Backroads, a local travel TV show, to come and shoot a segment about the tours. So that, I'm guessing, will be a great promotional thing for the tours. [If you missed the show, you can still watch it online at www.kron4.com. Click on Bay Area Backroads under Local Shows. Click on Search, then type in "BAB 02.24.02" to search by date.]

Recently you lived in New Brunswick, New Jersey for a couple of years. How did the cycling there compare to here? Very unfavorably! I did still bicycle year-round in New Jersey, even when it was snowing. I actually found it was easier to bicycle than to walk, because at least they sweep the streets clear of snow whereas on the sidewalks you have to clamber over the ice. It's all freeways. Central New Jersey is the worst place in the world to bicycle. You can't go to a movie theater without going on the freeway, you can't get to the supermarket without going on the freeway, you can't get anywhere. And I didn't have a car; I don't drive, so it was a lot of work. I did get involved in bicycle advocacy, which was also quite a challenge.

What did you do? I was living in a university town and, shockingly, there was nothing in the way of bicycle facilities, so I was working with a small group of people trying to get a bike lane project - one bike lane through a central part of the town.

Did you succeed? No. It had been something that had been going on for five years already and probably will go on for another five years before anything happens.

What kind of bike do you ride? I just got a new bike. It's a classic '80s Trek touring bike, and I've just been fixing it up - putting on fenders, lights, a new saddle. I love it.

What's your favorite thing about cycling in San Francisco? I really think that San Francisco has got to be one of the best places to bike, despite the hills. You get used to the hills in a second. I'm constantly discovering things in the city that I didn't know about, stumbling across little hidden treasures. I think my favorite thing is how being out every day I get to really enjoy the beauty of San Francisco. I appreciate it more than ever since living in New Jersey, where natural beauty is kind of hard to come by.