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05/15/2009: "Fenders & Coffee"
So we are in San Francisco for a couple of days, Gina and I, to celebrate our anniversary.

Unfortunately, we flew up, sans bikes. You all know I hate flying--the unconvivial crowding of planes, the banality of airports, the land use horrors of runway and parking...and airline travel is worse for the world per passenger mile than romping around in SUVs. But Gina's work schedule didn't allow much time, and besides, like most Americans, she is bred to worship hurry, so we flew. But next time, Amtrak--a civilized, convivial passage with bikes in the luggage car, you bet!

San Francisco is a great walking city, and we have been trotting all over. I've been here many times, but it's always refreshing to rediscover the things that make it my favorite US city: the (mostly) human-scale and richly-detailed architecture, the crowds on the sidewalks, the coffee everywhere, and the bikes....

Bikes, everywhere bikes. Granted, it's Bike to Work Week, but the bikes we've seen do not look like garage queens out for their yearly airing, nor do they resemble hardcore roadie racebikes curling their lips at the hoi-polloi around fact, they are the hoi-polloi, looking well-used and comfortable with the hills, the rain, and the U-lock.

Lots of fixies, of course, though, to my surprise, proportionately less than in LA. But way more bikes being ridden to destinations, or locked up tight in front of destinations, than back at home

And lots of fenders! A sure sign of a strong bicycling culture: fenders on at least half the bikes, no matter how few or how many the cogs; baskets on many; panniers prevalent; and riders wearing everything from suits or dresses to messenger chic to (apparently) whatever was at the top of the drawer that bleary-eyed AM.

It's just plain beautiful--and after a cup of good French coffee, it is exquisite.

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