Like Riding a Bike: How to Start Biking to Work at UCSF

By Eric Brooks

A business man rides a bike across a park-lined street on his way to work.

It’s one thing to think about switching your UC San Francisco commute from vehicle to bike – and it’s another thing to actually do it. 

But where do you even start? 

With Bike to Wherever Day coming up on Thursday, May 16, John Hamiga, a founding member of UCSF Bikes!, provides a step-by-step guide to starting a commuting adventure on two wheels. 

Who can I ask about biking to work at UCSF?  

Whether you’re curious about the best routes, diving into the world of e-bikes, or seeking advice on bike accessories and top-notch locks, we have knowledgeable bike commuters at UCSF who are here to help. Keep an eye out for colleagues with bike helmets on their desks – they’re likely to be cycling enthusiasts. Or simply reach out to your co-workers and ask if they know someone who commutes to campus on two wheels. 

You can connect with your colleagues on various UCSF Bikes! social platforms. Join us on Teams, Slack, and Strava to engage with fellow cyclists, ask questions, and share your biking experiences.

We’re here to enable bike commuting. 

What is UCSF Bikes!

UCSF Bikes! is a group that isn’t just about bike commuting. We’re about building a vibrant community around sustainable transportation. From group rides to advocacy efforts, we’re here to pedal together, connect, and make a friendly impact on our campus environment. Everyone is welcome to join our community. Let’s ride towards a greener future. 

There are also fantastic bike advocacy organizations across the Bay Area you can reach out to or join. They offer free bike classes, can answer all your questions about biking, and advocate for safer streets. Consider becoming a member of Bike East Bay, SF Bike Coalition, Silicon Valley Bike Coalition, Bike Sonoma and Marin County Bicycle Coalition

What kind of bike do I need? 

E-bikes have revolutionized everyone’s bike commute. They offer unparalleled efficiency and the ability to tackle Bay Area hills effortlessly. E-bikes are the epitome of joy on wheels. If you are brand new to e-bikes and bike commuting, there are Bay Wheels bike-share locations on campus.

Why not try a monthly pass? 

Thanks to the groundbreaking E-Bike Purchase Program from UCSF and the University of California Office of the President, there has never been a better time to invest in one. This program offers exclusive discounts that range from 15% to 60% with select e-bike vendors. 

In a virtual event titled, “My E-Bike Story,” hosted by UCSF Bikes!, esteemed speakers including David Teitel, MD, Penny Mitchell, and Bill Stern shared their expertise and research on various e-bike brands and models.

group of bicyclists take selfie
group of bicyclists pose for photo

How do I find the safest route to work? 

Navigating city streets on a bicycle can seem daunting, but with the right tools and knowledge, you can find a route that prioritizes your safety. 

As part of its Active Communities Plan, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) offers bike infrastructure maps that outline designated bike lanes and paths. SFMTA’s Christopher Kidd discussed the plan with UCSF Bikes! and shared its vision of safer streets for drivers and bike commuters. 

You also can connect with your UCSF Bikes! colleagues on our social platforms to get route insights from experienced bike commuters. We can offer valuable advice on safer routes to campus and potential hazards to avoid. One piece of advice before committing to a route: Consider test-riding during off-peak hours to assess traffic patterns and road conditions.

Remember to always wear a helmet. 

two coworkers walk their bikes and talk

Where can I park my bike safely?  

Bike security is a big topic. Bicycle theft is a common crime due to the relative ease of reselling bicycles, which have a large second-hand market. Bicycle theft can have a severe impact on people’s lives. If a bike is stolen, there is about a 20% chance the bike commuter will not replace it, losing their transport, exercise and potentially access to communities and services. We discussed convenient and secure bike parking with Ethan Chan of the UCSF Bike Patrol and Tyler Dewey of Transportation. 

You can ensure your bike’s safety and enjoy convenient access to secure parking facilities on campus by registering for UCSF Transportation’s complimentary bike permit. With the permit, you’ll have access to bike enclosures in parking garages and indoor bike rooms located in select campus buildings.

Where can I learn more about UCSF’s commitment to sustainable transportation?   

UCSF’s first Bicycle and Micromobility Plan addresses both human-powered and electric bikes and micromobility vehicles such as scooters and skateboards. 

Among the next steps in this process, UCSF will: 

  • Increase bicycle and micromobility education and communication regarding safety and security, parking locations and end-of-trip amenities 
  • Coordinate with Bay Wheels to bring bikeshare stations closer to Parnassus Heights campus 
  • Implement UCSF’s design standards for bicycle and micromobility parking and amenities in new buildings