Meet Christopher Abreu, a recent transplant to San Francisco and new member of the SF Bicycle Coalition. You know why Christopher has such a bright smile on his face? Cause he recently learned to bike in our free Urban Bicycling Workshop series. We took the chance to check in with Christopher about his experience and why he decided to support our work.
When and why did you decide to start biking?
I never had the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike as a child. We grew up in an apartment in a rough neighborhood in NYC so time spent outside was limited. As I got older I tried to learn with friends but felt too embarrassed to actually give it a proper go. This past year it hit me that I’m nearly 30 and don’t have a skill I feel everyone should have. I thought I would search for any adult bike riding lessons available. I didn’t want to miss out on opportunities to ride anymore and luckily I found the SF Bicycle Coalition.
You first got involved with the SF Bicycle Coalition at an Intro to Urban Bicycling Workshop at a Community Bike Build. How did you hear about the class and why did you sign up?
I first learned of the SF Bicycle Coalition through a search online. I knew I needed a class of adults (as opposed to children) so that I could gain the confidence needed to proceed with lessons. Being taught by people that I did’t know also helped with the pressure. Having friends trying to teach me in the past never amounted to anything as I couldn’t let go of my own inhibitions. Knowing nothing about biking, especially in an urban setting, I thought the Intro to Urban Bicycling Workshop would be a good place to start, followed by the Adult Learn to Ride class of course!
Since that first class, you have taken a number of our free Urban Bicycling Workshops including Adult Learn to Ride and Traffic Skills 101. Can you describe what it’s been like learning to ride a bike?
It’s been super liberating to learn how to ride a bike. Not only is it great to accomplish something you didn’t think you could, it makes me think about what other activities I could take up that I never thought possible before. I really enjoy riding in the park and on quieter streets. Working my way up to biking on busier roads, is something I didn’t think I would ever do.
What’s been your favorite part about biking in San Francisco?
One very noticeable feature about San Francisco is that it seems a lot of people are bike-friendly. I’ve met people who ride bikes for competition, charity fundraising or just for fun. I also see the parade of bikes commuting to work up and down Market Street everyday. Knowing that so many people have the bike riding frame of mind helps me want to be a part of it and also not worry about biking on the road as many people either are riders themselves or they are used to those that are.
You became a member soon after your first class with the SF Bicycle Coalition. Why did you decide to join?
I joined the SF Bicycle Coalition shortly after my first class because I could already tell that the organization was doing great work. At my first class there were a bunch of kids learning about biking and building bikes for themselves, they even got helmets and bike locks. I wanted to support those efforts as I wish I had access to that type of community as a child. At the same time all the classes I’ve taken with the SF Bicycle Coalition have been free, though I feel that they are worth 10 times the cost of an annual membership, it was the least I could do.
Now that you have taken our classes and come to some of our recreational rides, how often are you biking in the city?
I spend most of my biking time in Golden Gate Park on Car Free Sundays, either through one of the Rec Rides organized through the coalition or with other friends. I would say I’m biking about 2-3 weekends a month. I’m looking forward to biking through Central Park back home, or anywhere else my travels take me — like Yosemite National Park this upcoming fall.
What advice do you have for other people thinking about biking in San Francisco?
For anyone interested in biking in San Francisco, I would say just go ahead and do it. Whether you’re interested in commuting, riding for exercise or just for fun, there are several options the city offers to accomplish these goals and with such a strong community of willing supporters there really is no excuse not to.
Learn the Rules of the Road and how to bike in San Francisco like Christopher! Sign up for one of our free Urban Bicycling Workshops today and get rolling.
Support our education work today, by becoming a member, so even more people can learn the joys of biking in San Francisco!