The first-ever San Francisco Bike Party , a celebratory monthly group ride through the city, kicks off with its inaugural ride tonight. The organizers are inviting anyone and everyone “to explore diverse bicycle routes, make friends with fellow riders, and feel more confident on a bicycle.”
Like the San Jose and East Bay Bike Parties, the ride is purely for fun, making stops to dance and socialize along a route planned to “explore all different parts of the city” while riding in a legal and respectful manner.
In the Bay Area, the parties have been “particularly successful at bringing together a very diverse group of people – of all ages and skill levels – to ride together as a community, and to create community with non-riders they meet along the ride route,” according to the party’s founding co-op.
Tonight’s ride will be a “rockin’ birthday party for the whole city,” taking a celebratory roll starting at the Giants ballpark down the Embarcadero, over Russian Hill, out to the Richmond and Golden Gate Park, and finally heading back to Civic Center via the Panhandle and Alamo Square.
The San Francisco Bike Party is organized by a co-op of volunteers including “local bicycle bloggers, founding members of San Jose Bike Party, East Bay Bike Party, Critical Mass, Critical Manners, and other social rides.” Bikes and the City  features a gallery of photos from a test ride last month, where some of the core group can be seen.
A test ride of the first route included 50 riders, but more than 300 people are expected at tonight’s ride, according to the event’s Facebook page .
The Bike Party has similarities to Critical Mass , a phenomenal San Francisco-born ritual that started in 1992 and has since spread to cities around the world , but includes a set of rules in order to “facilitate a positive and respectful ride,” including staying in the right lane, leaving nobody behind, riding predictably, and yes, stopping at red lights.
Talk of a San Jose ride started in 2004, and according to the party’s website, “many conversations among involved riders led to the common conclusion that a ride styled after San Francisco’s confrontational and controversial Critical Mass would not work well in the car-centric South Bay.”
As Streetsblog contributor Chris Carlsson wrote after he experienced the San Jose Bike Party  the “material experience of a mass bike ride changes imaginations, changes how one conceives urban (and in this case) suburban space.”
The SF Bike Party focuses on enjoying the social nature of cycling and the dynamic of riding in a large group: “We love community orientated group rides of all forms! Group rides empower individuals to become better cyclists.”
Oh, and “When in Doubt, ‘Bike Party!!'”
The SF Bike Party rides the 1st Friday of every month at 8 pm with a planned route announced beforehand.
Tonight’s ride meets at the Giants ballpark.