San Francisco: Best City for Cyclists in the World?

The map you see below is a heat map of all the rides I’ve done in the last 2-3 years in and around San Francisco.  99% of these rides started at my house on my bike — no driving or car necessary.  This map illustrates how truly amazing San Francisco is for cyclists.  Without driving we have SO much access to amazing rides on the coast, over mountains, around lakes, through cities and by coffee shops and bakeries.  I claim that San Francisco is the best city for cyclists.

Here’s a view of just Marin, the county just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge (which has a bike path).  In Marin alone you can ride 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80, 100, 125 miles starting at my front door and ending at my front door, how ever many hours later.

And here’s a view of all the rides you can do quickly in a morning or afternoon, if all you have is an hour of time:

Have I convinced you yet?  San Francisco is the best city for cyclists.  And San Francisco as far as pure city experiences go is pretty amazing, too :).  I love San Francisco!

Some Context

For the last 2-3 years I’ve used Strava and my GPS-enabled bike computer to track my rides.  Strava is great because it lets me compete against my friends and measure progress.  Recently Jonathan O’Keeffe built a tool that uses the Strava API to create a heat map with all of the rides one has done.  The maps you see above were generated from his tool.

San Francisco, My Home

At some point one transitions their affinity from their upbringing to their current life.  That transition has happened for me.  I grew up in Los Angeles, leaving to attend the University of Washington in Seattle.  My love is in Los Angeles for family, childhood friends, and childhood memories.  My heart is in San Francisco, the city I now call home.

The San Francisco Giants just won the World Series.  This post was originally motivated by the scrutiny I received from friends still in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers–the mortal enemy of San Francisco–are based.  The scrutiny caused me to evaluate my life, trying to define what “home” really means.  The old saying goes, “Home is where the heart lies.”  But what does that really mean?  Does that mean home is where your loved ones live, where your significant other wants to live?  Or is home a location that matches one’s personality, interests, and passions?

I’ve decided one’s home is the location of comfort, the city, suburb, town, or village where we all want to return to after a tough breakup, a long vacation, or a World Series celebration.  One’s home is the embodiment of one’s self in a physical location.  I like to think my persona is comparable to San Francisco, each desiring to be spontaneous, change the world with technology, and smile and laugh with friends and strangers.

I’ve lived in San Francisco for just over two years.  I want to spend the rest of my life here, or at least in a neighboring suburb.  I’m in love with this city: its access to the outdoors, its energy, its residents, its eats and drinks, its beauty, its character.  I challenge you to seek after a home when you’re ready.  Finding a place you can relate to is a powerful realization, a realization that will make you happy to discover.