Getting Around All the ways you can get from here to there that aren't your feet.
A Quick Precis on SF Transit
Muni costs $2.75 for 90 minutes ($2.50 if you use a Clipper Card), no matter how many buses you ride or where you get on or off. When you pay a cash fare, the driver will give you a transfer slip. In practice, paper transfers are often good for much longer than 90 minutes. You can also buy a temporary Clipper card, which lets you board via the back doors and preload some cash to pay with.
The historic street cars are run by Muni and are covered by the usual cash fares and transfers. They run around the Embarcadero and down Market street; while they go through portal-dense areas, they're slow and can be crowded. Boarding one near Fisherman's Wharf particularly can be challenging; they're often at capacity. Consider using one to hack your way down Market.
The cable cars are technically run by Muni, but are not covered by the standard Muni cash fare, and they're expensive to buy directly. If you'd like to ride one (it's a neat way to get around), consider buying a visitor day pass, which will also cover unlimited use of the buses. Favor the California cable car line over the Powell ones, since it's much less crowded with tourists.
BART is generally much faster than Muni, but it's entirely underground, so not much use for hacking. Cost varies by how far you ride - buy tickets at the machines, or buy a prepaid temporary Clipper card.
Weather & Clothing
also by Moppet
SF is a microclimate made of other microclimates - the expression goes that if you don’t like the weather, just walk (or ride) a few blocks. That’s true for sun and wind, less true for rain. In general, “cool and gray” is the best summary of what you’re likely to encounter - we don’t get wide thermal swings, but we do get a lot of clouds and fog, and it can be windy. Fog is not typical during the anomaly play hours, but be prepared for it after hours.
The most common outfit for walking/riding in SF is simply jeans, a shirt and a hoodie - adjust as needed for your body type. The lack of intra-day variation means that if you’re comfortable in the morning, you probably won’t need to drop a layer to be comfortable in the afternoon - unzipping a little is usually enough.
Public Transit 🚎
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency oversees transit, streets and taxis in the city of San Francisco. This includes busses, cable cars, and subway/surface trains.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is the electric rail system that connects San Francisco to the East Bay and Peninsula.
Caltrain provides commuter rail service along the San Francisco Peninsula, through the South Bay to San Jose and Gilroy.
Clipper is the all-in-one transit card for the Bay Area. Your Clipper card can hold transit passes, cash value or any combination. Cash value works on all participating transit systems including BART, MUNI, CalTrain and can even be linked to your Ford GoBike account.
MUNI Visitor Passport
If you're going to be here for a few days, you may want to consider a MUNI Visitor Passport, which provides you unlimited MUNI rides for 1, 3, or 7 days.
Another, MUNI focused way to go cashless. MuniMobile lets you buy tickets instantly through a credit/debit card or PayPal account.
CityPass not only gives you 9 days of MUNI and Cable Car rides, it provides access to San Francisco attractions such as the California Academy of Sciences, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure, Aquarium of the Bay, and the Exploratorium OR de Young Museum.
Culture & Laws
We’re not Portland, but SF is a fairly bike-friendly culture; no one will look askance at you riding your bike on the street, parking it near a business or carrying it into anywhere that’s allowed, and it usually is.
Native SF cyclists, especially downtown, adopt a pack strategy and will group together for visibility and protection in traffic. This will likely be your formation as well, as you travel with your team. This allows you to protect each other from cars, blocking cars to hold spaces open for a group of bikes. You are unlikely to run into other packs during the event, as they are most common during weekday commute hours.
San Francisco’s interpretation of CVC 21202 is unambiguous - cyclists always have the right to use the full lane, regardless of whether there’s a bike lane. Taking the lane is often safer -- parked cars can door you, bike lanes are often blocked, and it’s safer to stay in the traffic lane than to jump in and out of the bike lane. If you’re honked at from behind, do not yield, just point out the second traffic lane where the car should be passing. It’s also legal and customary for cyclists to wiggle between lanes to the head of traffic at red lights - this improves cyclist visibility among accelerating cars and helps form packs for safety. Drivers are rarely surprised by this, and there’s often a green painted box pointing out the correct space.
Cyclists do need to yield to pedestrians. Don’t block crosswalks, ride on sidewalks or dodge through people crossing the street. There’s one exception to the “don’t ride on the sidewalk” rule - the bay side of the Embarcadero sidewalk is very wide and meant for use by both pedestrians and bikes, and wraps all the way around the eastern side of the playbox. It’s often crowded, and if you’re covering substantial distance the roadway is faster, but the sidewalk is better for shorter hops; that’s also where all the portals are.
About half this video was shot inside our anomaly playbox.
GoBikes (general bike rentals)
Ford GoBike, like other bike share systems, consists of a fleet of specially designed, sturdy and durable bikes that are locked into a network of docking stations throughout the city. Pay attention to the instructions so you don't end up with a lot of unexpected charges. If you think you're going to want to bike around the city, you should really check out one of the bike rental shops around the city, as GoBikes are more designed for quick trips between points rather than exploring.
The most common outfit for riding in SF is simply jeans, a shirt and a hoodie - adjust as needed for your body type. The lack of intra-day variation means that if you’re comfortable in the morning, you probably won’t need to drop a layer to be comfortable in the afternoon - unzipping a little is usually enough. A windbreak shell is a good precaution and packs well. Don’t wear your thickest winter coat -- you’re likely to warm up from fast play, and may be asked to bike a lot of hills.
Helmets, while not legally required for adults, are highly recommended due to hectic nature of SF streets. High-visibility gloves are a good idea -- SF drivers and other cyclists are fairly respectful of hand signals.
The last hour of the anomaly will be played after sunset - you will need lights on your bike. Legally, you need a white headlamp (mounted either on you or on the bike) and rear reflectors. Practically, you should have a headlamp and a tail light - reflectors aren’t much use for city use, where there are so many other reflections around. If you’re renting a bike for the anomaly, the rental company can also rent you lights -- but consider bringing your own if you have them. Beyond that, feel free to go nuts and add spoke lights, wrap yourself in battery operated LED strands, whatever.
Roads & Hills
Many of SF’s roads are in poor condition. Expect hazards such as bumpy asphalt, cracks, rails, and grates -- always pay attention to your road surface. Narrow road tires allow for faster travel and easier carrying, but can get stuck in rails and grates; wider hybrid or mountain bike tires can be more comfortable. The southeastern parts of SOMA can be fairly miserable as the streets widen, blocks enlarge, wind/dust pick up and cars get faster.
Many SF streets in the playbox are one-way; don’t ride the wrong way down a street to save time unless it’s a tiny alley and you can see all the way to the end. Alternately, you can hop off your bike and walk it for short distances. Google Maps’ cycling directions are generally excellent here, if you need them.
MUNI streetcar rails are found on Embarcadero, Market Street and along the cable car lines (you can tell you’re near one from the metallic rumbling sound.) Always across these as close to perpendicular as possible. Market St has wide metallic grates in the middle lanes which can be slippery, and storm drains with gaps wide enough to catch street tires are still found in a few places.
Our streets can be very congested, which means biking requires focus, assertiveness and attention. Expect holiday traffic and tourists around Union Square (near the ENL hotel); the Chinatown area is packed year-round. This gives bikes a huge advantage in an anomaly situation - you can often cover distance less than half the time of a car!
Although SF is a very hilly place, the playbox itself is largely flat; the exceptions are Rincon Hill (where the Bay Bridge enters from the northeast) and Nob Hill (in the northwest corner of the playbox). When riding down a big hill with a group, be sure not to follow your teammates too closely - many anomaly bike injuries occur when people brake too quickly.
We have a lot of bike theft here, and the anomaly playbox is a high theft area. If possible, don’t leave your bikes unattended at all. Have teammates guard bikes during food or bathroom breaks, and bring your bike inside your hotel. If you must leave your bike unattended, the minimum safe locking arrangement here is a U-bar through the rear triangle (leave no free space for a prybar) plus a cable catching the front wheel. Two u-locks are better, and hardened chains are better yet. Always look for sturdy bike racks -- don’t use parking meters or scaffolding, and give the rack a shove to test that it’s actually bolted down before relying on it.
SF is a competitive urban environment, and cars will endanger your life in order to get where they’re going 30 seconds faster. Expect to defend your space, and to have your polite yielding taken advantage of in ways you didn’t intend. Be polite to pedestrians (who are smaller than you) and assertive to everyone larger.
Don’t assume any driver you meet is competent at driving in SF or around cyclists - on the weekend, there are a lot of tourists. Keep your team in a pack and don’t stretch out or give tourists opportunities to improperly impose on your space to avoid most dangers.
Uber and Lyft are incredibly common here and are a huge cycling nuisance - they aren’t legally allowed to block bike lanes but obstinately do it anyway, and will often idle in the bike lane while sorting out their next ride. Scan the block ahead of you - if there’s a car blocking the bike lane anywhere on the block, take the traffic lane for the entire block. Uber drivers’ skill levels vary, and you should assume they’re no more competent but at least as aggressive as an average driver and act defensively.
SF taxis legally can block the bike lanes, but their drivers are generally both skilled and aware of how to operate around cyclists, including merging into the bike lane for right turns and seeing bikes around them.
Sidewalks & Transit
Don’t ride on sidewalks, except along Embarcadero. Crossing the curb at low speed or coasting up to a bike rack or transit station is fine, but do it with care.
Bikes are legal on BART if you follow the rules. Many Muni buses have bike racks on the front, though you must be able to lift your bike to a height of about 3’ to use them. Bikes are not allowed on Muni Metro rail stations or aboard Muni trains.
SF Muni bus drivers (generally white, orange and black buses) know how to behave around bikes, but they also need to assert their own space to get anywhere in our traffic. Expect them to start into intersections with red lights, to merge across bike lanes to get to their stops, and to pull away from those stops even if the road to their left is not fully clear. Muni drivers are generally easy to get along with once you know how to predict them, and behave very consistently. AC Transit and Samtrans buses operated by other systems with stops in SF can be a lot less reliable and often more pointlessly aggressive - you may encounter these near the Bay Bridge approaches or the Transbay Terminal.
Cars and Such 🚕
Lyft is one of San Francisco's ride sharing services. You can download the app, and use the promo codes below
to get some free rides.
Uber is the other big ride share service in SF. Use the code below for a discount
Useful Apps 🚻
Flush Toilet Finder App
In addition to the parking information map available on the SFpark.org homepage, information on parking availability is distributed via a free SFpark iPhone app, Android app, and the region’s 511 phone system.http://sfpark.org/how-it-works/applications/
Neighborhood by Neighborhood San Francisco Weather.