Dozens Take Their Bikes to Work

Cloudy skies and a late spring drizzle didn't stop some faculty, staff and students from riding their bikes to UCSF last Thursday as part of the national Bike to Work Day. UCSF's David Hand was among those to ride his bike to the Parnassus Heights campus, stopping for some free coffee, an apple and bag full of information at an energizer station set up inside the parking garage. Wearing a neon-yellow sweatshirt aboard his similarly colored custom-made bike, Hand says one can never be too careful while riding on the streets of San Francisco. No lightweight on the road, Hand, weighing about 270 pounds and slightly over six feet, 10 inches tall, is very vigilant as he avoids obstacles of all kinds - from SUVs and Muni buses to distracted drivers using cell phones.
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Hand is no novice when it comes to commuting by bike to his job at the UCSF School of Dentistry, where he manages the school's website and coordinates various data and writing projects for the Dean's Office and the Office of Student Affairs. He was kind enough to answer a few questions upon arriving to work on video and through email. How often do you ride your bike? I ride every work day, unless the weather is unusually bad (extremely heavy rain, etc.), or unless I have to do something before or after that precludes using the bike. In those cases, I walk or take MUNI to Laurel Heights (we live at 16th and California) and take the shuttle from there. I almost never drive to work. What is the best part about leaving your car at home? The exercise, fresh air and relative freedom of cycling -- it's like the ultimate convertible -- are great for me personally, but it also feels wonderful to be contributing to a cleaner, safer, more humane San Francisco. And it's not like there are many reasonable parking options near UCSF anyway. How do you navigate around the cars and traffic? I approach urban cycling (and I've been doing it for years) with a sense of near-paranoia - or at least, extremely heightened awareness. Also, I respect traffic laws: I stop at stop signs, look where I'm going and signal my intentions. I avoid making assumptions and don't insist on the right of way, and I try to give respect to other road users in hopes of getting some back for myself. I also try to keep myself and my bike highly visible. Have you ever been hit or come close to being hit? So far so good, though despite the above I have been nearly hit by very willfully reckless, oblivious motorists. My message to all other users of the road (cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists alike) would be that it's a shared environment, so be cool, take it easy and let's all get where we're going safely. I of course also drive a car and walk in the city at times, and I try to maintain an awareness of and sensitivity to what everyone else is doing - as should we all, I think. What type of custom-made bike do you ride? My bike was built for me by American Cyclery (located at Frederick and Stanyan) on a custom-made frame constructed by Mikkelsen Frames in Alameda. It's a "hybrid" of a road bike and an off-road bike, since that's my commute environment. What other forms of exercise do you enjoy? I go to the Milberry Gym three to five times a week and take after-dinner walks with my wife at Crissy Field when the weather's nice. But apart from travel, the rest of my life is spent in books, music and movies, and I think of myself as a physically lazy person! Source: Lisa Cisneros