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Presidio Kids: Biking with Kids in the Presidio

Friday, Jul 08, 2016 Category Kids and Family; Recreation and Wellness

​With our bike-friendly multi-use trails and inspirational rest stops, the Presidio is an ideal spot for your family's two-wheeled adventures. And though we have 24 miles of trails in the Presidio to share, not all are open to bikes, and not all bike routes and roads are appropriate for inexperienced riders. To help you find your way, we've got a few suggestions to lead the little ones in the right direction.

An Introduction to Biking in the Park

Maps – Start your adventures with the Presidio Bike Map. This tool can help you can chart the best course for your peloton, noting trail access rules, how steep streets are, and the all-important restroom locations.

Guidance and Practice – Practice makes progress! But before setting off, you'll want to be sure you know how to bike. Many families in the area like using the quiet parking lot just inside the Presidio's 14th Avenue Gate to work on important skills, like riding in a straight line. For beginners and those in need of a confidence boost, the Presidio YMCA offers a free Y Bike Learn to Ride Program, co-sponsored by the Presidio Trust. Available first Sunday of every month at Presidio Picnic and throughout the year (cancels for rain). Their friendly instructors provide a safe environment by blocking off the street and all the equipment you need to get on the road, including kid and adult bikes (first come, first serve). The Y also offers an ongoing Afterschool Bike Club, and in the fall they have a Family Bike Clinic, and in December their YBike holiday bike build and their annual Family Bike Parade. More information about all programs can be found at  the ybike.org page.

And You're Off!

Crissy Field Biking – When you're ready to hit the trail, the unpaved trail surface section of the Golden Gate Promenade/Bay Trail along Crissy Field from the Marina Gate to Fort Point is great for younger, less confident riders since the trail is wide enough to allow space for parents to walk alongside their child. It's also far removed from traffic and flat. The paved path that runs parallel to Mason Street offers a smooth ride, but is recommended for more experienced riders due to intersecting driveways and hurried bike traffic.

Whichever route you choose, be sure to stop along the way to view the blue herons in the marsh and grab a snack at the Warming Hut. If you're driving in, there's parking at East Beach. The Crissy Field PresidiGo Shuttle stops nearby, and can accommodate two bikes on its rack – perfect for one-way bike trips and those who want to ride westward then take the shuttle back.​

Bay Area Ridge Trail - If you'd prefer a ride through the trees, take the Bay Area Ridge Trail from Inspiration Point Overlookto the Pacific Overlook. It's mostly flat or downhill on the way there, and scenic highlights include Andy Goldsworthy's Spire (a kid-pleasing landmark) and National Cemetery Overlook. Limited car parking is available at Inspiration Point Overlook and at the Presidio Golf Course across the street (3-hour limit); the Presidio Hills PresidioGo Shuttle stops at Inspiration Point Overlook and can accommodate two bikes.

Golden Gate Bridge - While it's a rite of passage, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is "not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced biker," warns Matt Dove, director of bicycle programs at the Presidio YMCA. Before they make the trip, kids should be able to ride in a straight line, have a loud bell or horn installed on their bikes, and understand the bridge will be a crowded, noisy, and windy ride.

Safety First!

Matt offers the following tips for a safe bike outing, in any location:

  • Make sure your kids have a properly fitted bike helmet certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission; adults should wear one too, to set a good example.
  • Wear bright clothing to increase your visibility on the road.
  • When planning your ride, choose the course that's right for the least experienced rider in the family.
  • Perform an "ABCQ" check every time you ride: air, brakes, chain, and quick-release (to make sure the quick-release levers are firmly closed if the bike has quick-release wheels and seat post).  
  • Be predictable: Ride in a straight line and as far to the right as practicable.
  • Communicate: Teach your child about the ways that people communicate on the street, like using eye contact and our position on the street, in addition to using hand signals.
  • Be aware: Attention needs to be focused on the road and the vehicles around you, especially at intersections.

No Bike? No Problem!

Sports Basement on Crissy Field offers rentals of bikes and trailers by the day for adults and kids. Rentals include helmets. If you're in the market for a new bike or related equipment, Sports Basement is a great option for that, too. Down the street, the well-loved Roaring Mouse Cycles has kid and adult bikes for purchase and a service shop open to walk-ins on weekends.

Check the Presidio Biking page for tips on traveling to and from the park, and bike parking available in the park.