Pedal to the Pavement: Biking with Kids in San Francisco

Published Feb 23, 2015

Biking with kids in San Francisco is a lot of fun, whether it’s sunny or foggy out. While it may be a big city, there are lots of places to go cycling with the family in San Francisco. It’s a great, green activity that the whole family can participate in and if you start them young those training wheels will be off by the time they’re old enough to go on a big-kid ride!

The Bicycle Advisory Committee in San Francisco has a detailed map of riding routes in the city.

Bike to School Week is April 22 to 26 this year, and is part of the initiative by Safe Routes to School Partnership, a great organization that is working to make it easier and safer for kids to bike to school. If your kid loves bikes and art, they are also having a poster contest this year for kids from K to Grade 12.

A great place to start out cycling  is Golden Gate Park. Car-free Saturdays and Sundays in the spring and summer are the best times to go with little ones. The bicycle learning area is on Middle Drive in the center of the park, and a bike path goes toward the water, by the stadium and Martin Luther King Drive.

The Wiggle is a fun 1-mile ride from Market Street to Golden Gate Park. It’s a zig-zagging ride that helps you escape the incline of Haight Street! To do The Wiggle follow these directions:

  • From Market St. go right on Duboce Street (big bike mural behind Safeway)
  • Turn right on Steiner
  • Turn left on Waller
  • Turn right on Pierce
  • Turn left on Haight
  • Turn right on Scott
  • Turn left on Fell
  • You end up on the Panhandle Path and can head westward!

The Presidio Promenade is perhaps one of the most enjoyable rides in San Francisco. At only 2 miles long, it’s perfect for young cyclists and the hills are easy. Start at Lombard Gate and make your way past the Crissy Field Overlook and the cemetary. If the fog subsides you can see over Golden Gate Park and the city. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition offers classes for beginners, families and even moms-to-be!

Both Wheel Kids Bicycle Club and the Presidio YMCA offer summer camps for bike-crazy kids. They meet daily at the Presidio and offer coaching and safety instruction for young riders.

The YMCA also does mountain bike camps, and if your kid doesn’t have the gear that’s okay! They supply the bikes and helmets. Camps start off learning on the Presidio trails, then head to Mt. Sutro and Marin Headlands.

Marin Headlands, in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, is a great place to go mountain biking for older kids who aren’t afraid to get a little dirty. There are easier fire roads and some single track. The descent to Kirby Cove is really fun and there’s a picnic area you can relax and enjoy in after the ride down.

In Palo Alto you can go birding by bike  at the Baylands Nature Preserve. These free tours start at the Baylands Ranger Station by the duck pond and head off for a 1.5 hour ride — be sure to bring your binoculars!

Want to bike for a good cause? The 2nd Annual Bike 4 Breath, which promotes lung health and clean air policy in the greater Bay Area, is July 13 this year. It’s a great fundraiser that has family-friendly routes between 10 to 18 miles, and a Kid Zone. This is a great goal to work towards. Get a few families together and form a team!

I love to hear about new places to go biking with kids in San Francisco and the Bay Area, so be sure to let me know about your favorite spots to go!



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