When I moved to San Francisco, pretty much everyone thought I was crazy for intending to continue to commute by bike to work. “The Hills!” they’d warn. (I guess nobody remembered that my Seattle commute home was straight up a hill.)
But San Franciscans have a not-so-secret weapon: The Wiggle. This zig-zagging bike route is relatively flat and allows riders to avoid several major hills between the central neighborhoods and those in the west. Unfortunately, it’s also a gauntlet of roadway nightmares including a hair-raising section along Oak St, train tracks, and fellow cyclists that seem to have forgotten what a stop sign means.
No matter how hard I try, I just can’t like this route. It’s dangerous and full of macho, competitive riders. So, I broke up with it. For my fellow cyclists who may be feeling more of the downside of the love/hate relationship with The Wiggle, I offer maps of several road-tested alternatives for commuting to work from The Richmond to Civic Center, Downtown, or SOMA.
First, The Wiggle
Distance: 4.92 miles
Hills: Practically none
Commute Time: About 40 minutes from home to office.
Alternative #1, Balboa, Turk, McAllister: Roads Less Traveled
Distance: 4.16 miles
Hills: 135 ft climb over .6 miles coming up from Arguello to USF then downhill to flat as you roll into Civic Center.
Insanity: Minimal. Bike lanes and wide streets with little traffic make for easy riding with a handful of alternative-seeking commuters.
Commute Time: About 35 minutes from home to office.
Bonus: Only 5 blocks of Market St.
Alternative #2, Loving Haight
Distance: 4.85 miles
Insanity: This would be a crazy route other times of the day, but mornings are quiet on Haight St.
Commute Time: 40 minutes door to door.
Bonus: Fun hill bomb down Haight. Just keep an eye out for cross traffic.
Alternative #3, Presidio Heights
Distance: 5.24 miles
Hills: 122 ft climb over 1 mile right from the start but generally painless after that.
Insanity: Minimal. Bike lanes, wide streets, and mansion gawking along the way.
Commute Time: ?
Bonus: If you get doored, your lawyer will have a field day, but it’s really very safe.
Screenshots from MapMyRIDE