BARTable by bike: the Wiggle

Probably the most important bike route in San Francisco, The Wiggle connects Market Street with the west side of San Francisco via a series of quick turns on residential streets. Originally conceived in 1993 by bike advocate and water historian Joel Pomerantz, The Wiggle follows the path of a historic stream bed which mostly avoids San Francisco’s central hills, allowing easy access to the Panhandle, Golden Gate Park, and the western neighborhoods. San Francisco has made a number of bike-friendly upgrades along the route, including bike traffic signals, a bike-only left-turn lane, and separated lanes on Fell and Oak Streets, and now the ride is useful, fun, and safe.

The Wiggle is a great way to ride to Golden Gate Park to visit the museums and gardens there, or to enjoy events in the park. From there you can continue out to Ocean Beach, visit the Sunset or Richmond districts, or connect to the Presidio or the San Francisco Zoo.

Start your ride from Civic Center/UN Plaza and take the Market Street bike lanes to Duboce Avenue or begin at 16th St Mission and connect via 15th and Church Street.

How to get there

From Civic Center/UN Plaza

Take any of the west side station exits (labeled A1-A4). Hop into the Market Street bike lane and take it to the Duboce Bikeway.

From 16th St Mission

Use the bike channel on the middle staircase at the SW station exit. Cross 16th Street to the Wiese Street alleyway, then turn left on 15th.

Short Route

This is an easy ride from Civic Center/UN Plaza, along Market Street and the Duboce Bikeway to the Wiggle and Golden Gate Park, with a loop around Stow Lake. It includes the portion of John F. Kennedy Drive which is closed to cars on Sundays and some Saturdays.

Things to see

Duboce Park

Just uphill from the Wiggle, Duboce Park is a lovely spot for a picnic. The Harvey Milk Center for the Arts, located in the park, hosts arts events and provides classes for children and adults.

Haight-Ashbury

Just two blocks up from the Panhandle, you can get your tie-dyes, tattoos, piercings, and obligatory selfie with the street sign at Haight and Ashbury.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is big, over three miles long, so a bike is the best way to visit and see all it has to offer. You can find windmills (originally used to pump brackish water back to sea), a bison pen, and a world-class disc golf course. Museums include the California Academy of Sciences, the de Young art museum, and the beautiful Conservatory of Flowers.

Biking to the park is especially nice for big events like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass or Outside Lands; bike valet parking is usually available.

Long Route

On a nice day, take this longer route from 16th St Mission through the park out to Ocean Beach and Land’s End.

Things to see

Ocean Beach

When it’s sunny, Ocean Beach can be glorious, as all of San Francisco comes out for the rare opportunity to soak up some rays of sun on the sand. Bring your kite.

Sutro Baths and the Camera Obscura

The area around the current Cliff House was once developed as part of Adolph Sutro’s plan to draw tourists to the beach. Today, you can explore the ruins of the Sutro Baths, formerly a saltwater swimming pool complex, or visit the Camera Obscura, the last attraction remaining from the Playland at the Beach amusement park.

Land’s End Trail

Just uphill from the Cliff House you can find the Land’s End Trail, a gravel pathway for bikes and walkers. You can hike down to a rocky cove to find some tide pools or go walk the Bay Area’s coolest labyrinth.

Cautions

  • At the end of the Duboce Bikeway (behind the Safeway), the route crosses diagonally across an intersection with many street car tracks. Be careful, bike tires can get caught in these tracks and you could lose control. You may want to walk your bike through this section if you don’t have wide tires.
  • On the partially-separated bike lanes on Fell and Oak Streets, be mindful of turning cars at intersections.
  • Both ends of the Panhandle bike path have strange connections to the street. It’s probably best to use the crosswalk here.

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