I was curious about the sort of riders I sometimes see when I’m out and about and I wanted to learn more about them. So a few Fridays ago, I decided to chat up a few riders in San Diego for our blog. I didn’t know what to expect or who I would encounter nor, nor if the riders would even talk to me.

While riding downtown I steered clear from two pretty most common types of bicycle riders, the tourists and spandex wearing road riders. The reason was because I, for the most part, already know why they are riding (I wear spandex myself). But bicycling is still misunderstood by many people including those who ride themselves. Many times when I tell people I ride conjures up an image like this:

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We’re not all like this. But we respect the Paris–Roubaix riders.

While I personally have a tremendous amount of respect for professional cycling, the sport itself doesn’t do much to make our streets safer. Furthermore, it’s an exhausting tiresome stereotype that just will not die. In America we tend to relate biking to either a voluntary choice or a fitness activity. Thus, we miss bicycling’s main benefit which is transportation not to mention healthy and more vibrant and livable communities. So a few Fridays ago, I wanted to chat up some San Diegan bicycle commuters and learn what they had to say and what they wanted to see in San Diego. Below is a short summary of the conversations I had with three San Diegans riders a few Fridays ago. Responses have been slightly edited to read clearly.

 

*Spoiler alert*: All the riders I spoke with wanted bicycle infrastructure

 

First rider: Jose

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Jose commutes from San Ysidro to Downtown San Diego

BikeSD: How long have you been commuting by bike?

Jose.  I have been riding a bicycle to work for two years.

BikeSD: Why do you ride in San Diego?

Jose: I ride to get to work, 5 days a week.

BikeSD: What neighborhood do you commute from?

Jose: San Ysidro

BikeSD: What are the best and worst parts of commuting by bicycle in San Diego?

Jose: Worst would be on Fridays when people on Island Avenue drink beer and throw their trash on the street. Additionally, the drivers come way too close and don’t pay attention…they don’t stop. Things I enjoy about riding include that riding healthy for myself and saves me money since it’s expensive to park downtown. I would like more bike lanes though.

 

 

 

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Carlos rides from Encanto to Downtown San Diego

Second rider: Carlos

BikeSD: Carlos, how long have you been commuting by bicycle?

Carlos: around 7 months

 

BikeSD: Why do you ride in San Diego?

Carlos: Well, it beats traffic most of the time. I get some exercise here and there. Also, parking is really bad downtown.

 

BikeSD: What neighborhood do you commute from?

Carlos: Encanto

 

BikeSD: What are the best and worst parts of commuting by bicycle in San Diego?

Carlos: The best parts includes getting to meet some really nice people biking. I like the open air and I get to go to really nice places. The things I would change would be more bike lanes/routes. I almost got ran over about 2 weeks ago…drivers ignore you sometimes.

 

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Delia rides from Spring Valley to Downtown San Diego

Third rider: Delia

BikeSD: How long have you been commuting by bike?

Delia: For about a year, three times a week.

BikeSD: Why do you ride in San Diego?

Delia: It’s faster than the bus!

BikeSD: What neighborhood do you commute from?

Delia: Spring Valley

BikeSD: What are the best and worst parts of commuting by bicycle in San Diego?

Delia: the best part would be that you feel really free on your bike. The worse part would be the fact that many roads don’t have a bike lane or even a shoulder, so you feel uncomfortable.

 

 

 

 

joeFourth rider: Joe

BikeSD: How long have you been commuting by bike?

Joe: I have been using my bike to get around for about 20 years.

BikeSD: Why do you ride in San Diego?

Joe: I choose for financial reasons, it’s healthier and gets me the closest parking.

BikeSD: What neighborhood do you live in?

Joe: East village

BikeSD: What are the best and worst parts of commuting by bicycle in San Diego?

Joe: The best things lots of bike paths and lanes. Some of the bad things are people not paying attention to the bikers. Drivers getting too close…when you talk to people about their bad habits they escalate it, it just becomes a pain in the butt. They cars are bigger than I am, but if you’re in that much of a rush…you go ahead.

 

—–

 

After talking with this diverse group of bicycle commuters one thing was certainly clear. bicycle riders do not feel safe on the streets of San Diego currently. At BikeSD we cannot build the bike lanes or push for appropriate enforcement in order to get to a culture shift.

What we can however do is keep up the pressure on local officials to do so