How Do You Share the Wiggle?

With a growing number of new bike commuters on the Wiggle — and more on the way with the imminent arrival of separated bike lanes on Fell and Oak Streets — the route is a kind of petri dish for a maturing culture of respect between people walking, bicycling, and driving.

In a new video, a group called Neighbors Developing Divisadero surveyed some regular Wiggle users at last month’s Sunday Streets in NoPa about what they see as the etiquette for each mode of travel.

While the Wiggle is actually very safe, with relatively calm traffic and very few crashes, negotiating intersections can get hairy when people are in a rush. The SFMTA has been adding green-backed sharrows, continental crosswalks, and daylighting treatments this year in a bid to improve visibility and navigation along the route. And reducing through car traffic would no doubt provide more breathing room for pedestrians and bicyclists as well. But sometimes, it seems, people simply just need to be more considerate.

I can certainly get behind the message of the woman who says, “When you’re going around a corner, what I would really like other bike riders to do, is that if there’s someone walking, you always want to make sure that that person who’s walking feels safe, and that you’re not doing something unpredictable, or they’re at risk in any way. So even if you can make it, and you can clip it, don’t. Just slow down, and let them come around.”

For drivers, Sunday Streets organizer Susan King pleads: “Use your blinkers, please! I just need to know where you’re going.” (Another interviewee suggests avoiding the Wiggle by car altogether.)

Have any suggestions to add? NDDivis wants to hear ideas “for how to promote the flow and safety for all modes of transportation on the Wiggle…whether it’s a tip, your own video response, or an idea on how to expand this campaign.”

  • Fellow bicycle wigglers! 

    When other bicyclists have come to a stop at an intersection to allow a car or bus the right of way and you blast through at 20mph MAKING EVERYONE WAIT FOR YOU, that is just rude!  (Were you raised by wolves?)

    If you give can’t give a pedestrian in a crosswalk at least three feet of space when you pass them, don’t pass them! They shouldn’t feel a puff of air as you whiz by.  Slow down, give them their space!

    Completely agree with begging car drivers to please, please, please signal your intention to turn.  I would say only a third of car drivers in San Francisco signal if no other cars are around, and bicyclists need to know even more than other drivers what someone in a car plans to do.

    Personally, when driving my car, I stay away from the Wiggle. This is not hard to do. Only people who live in the neighborhood should be driving in that area.  Scott Street especially should not be through for cars ( there should be a forced right turn onto Oak going north and onto Fell going south.)  In addition there should be no left turn off Fell onto Scott.

    The Wiggle is great. Not riding too fast and being at least moderately considerate of the thousands of other people you are sharing it with is key.

  • Totally agree with you on all points, but I do puzzle over better alternate routes if I have to be driving. I’m in the Mission Dolores and sometimes I have to drive w/the family to GG Park or the GG Bridge or wherever west of here. So regretfully, we often take 15th to Sanchez/Steiner to Fell. 

    I kind of like SF’s de-emphasizing of arterials…because who wants to live along an arterial…?…But still, I wish there were a slight nod to efficiency when it comes to traffic engineering. It’s like water through a pipe–you can improve the flux without encouraging too much pressure (speed). Of course, a great way do do that would be to take away street parking and narrow the car lanes and put in cycletracks! Heh, now I’m just dreaming.

  •  T Byrne,

    There aren’t a lot of ways that don’t involve cutting through some residential neighborhood, but this is partly because Divisadero is such a mess due to lights not being timed and left turns being allowed.  The thing is, though, by avoiding the Wiggle when driving a car you are (even when driving) encouraging bicycling and so reducing the total number of cars on the road and making all neighborhood traffic better. I do really try to be conscious that wherever I drive, I am making that neighborhood worse.  (And so I try to bike everywhere.)

    In a car, my favorite streets to get me in a westerly/northerly direction are Masonic, Lincoln, Fulton, Fell and Oak, but how to get to them? To stay away from the wiggle, alternative routes I take are 1) 17th St up the hill to Roosevelt and then connect to the very beginning of Masonic, 2) 17th/Clayton/Frederick to Lincoln or Stanyan/Fulton, 3) Guerrero/Laguna to Fell or Guerrero/Laguna/Haight/Buchanan to Fell, 4) Castro to Divisadero to other points (with a long deep sigh.)  I have also even taken South VanNess/VanNess/Hayes and then backtrack a bit to Fell or get on Franklin and then take Pine (perhaps my favorite street in the entire city) for a very fast trip to the Presidio.  Or take Franklin to Lombard to the GG bridge.

    People in the city can be very secretive about their favorite routes, and rightly so! I share them only because, thankfully, since my kids are older now, I’ve replaced most my car trips with bicycle trips and/or they take Muni, and I am no longer driving like a mad woman back and forth across this city routinely. I cannot begin to tell you how nice this is.  We live up a big hill, and over the years I’ve had a really hard time convincing my kids to ride a bike up that hill, and even when I do get them to bicycle (You want to go to a Giants game? You’re biking.) , I still worry, worry, worry about them riding in San Francisco traffic. If I were to redo my child-rearing years I would: 1) get an electric-assist bakfiet with a rain canopy to cart kids around until they reach age 8 or so; 2) get an electric-assist tandem bike for kids ages 8 – 12; 3) choose an orthodontist much closer to my home (our doctor and dentist are within biking/walking distance but three kids through orthodontia has involved nearly infinite trips); 4) factor in distance, transportation and access by Muni into my children’s school choices much more carefully. 

    I personally don’t like San Francisco’s policy of making almost all neighborhood streets de facto arterials at all. In Amsterdam and Vienna, it is very difficult or impossible to use neighborhood streets as cut throughs to avoid arterials. In fact, access to most neighborhoods is often limited or circuitous by car, though direct on foot or by bike. This makes the neighborhoods incredibly calm and pleasant to live in, but even more importantly, it makes driving really not worth it for short distances so people walk and bike way more and save the car for longer trips. So the arterials aren’t all that crowded because car use mode share is extremely low for short distances. (It also encourages people to shop and use services of neighborhood businesses.) If all San Franciscans who are not disabled did not use their car for trips under 1 mile (hello 90% of Noe Valley Whole Foods shoppers who are only buying 3 things!) then our arterials could easily carry the traffic of those making longer trips.

  • Mario Tanev

    As someone who likes to ride my bicycle Idaho-stop style, I slow down if someone else has the right of way. Thus when I do so and a bicycle zooms in crosses at full speed, whoever has the right of way has to wait them out, and so I have to wait even longer. Pure selfishness. It has nothing to do with moral superiority of bicyclists, you’re just being selfish and inconsiderate and it shows if you make life more difficult for other bicyclists who don’t like risking their life.

  • Michael Morris

    T Bryne, I think They’ve made Lincoln a great arterial street, the train goes on judah, bikes go on kirkam and walkers on irving. Not every area has the space of the sunset, but having lincoln be pretty much a dedicated car road with a few buses and street parking usually only on one side of the road. Lincoln fits 3 lanes going each way and generally seams to have a good speed, but Divis has a lot more to deal with than lincoln.

  • @google-dc2adec9358dc5098f133bf152182773:disqus You’re proving my point, though. Lincoln is an ugly proto-freeway with a concrete median and the people who live along it suffer all-day traffic and noise mere feet from their door. You might call it convenient, but it’s yet another example in our city of housing being cheaper by dint of being right on a traffic sewer. A traffic sewer that’s right next to our biggest, most popular park. 

    @KarenLynnAllen:disqus Certainly, Vienna and Amsterdam are to be envied. Problem is, thanks to the lack of good transit policy that would cause traffic around here to be self-limiting, cities that emphasize arterials look like Palo Alto, Berkeley, and Seattle–lovely if you want to tool around with your kids or cycle to your elementary school, and terrifying if you want to actually go anywhere and run errands on bike (and often, on foot).

    I’m very much off topic now. But really, thanks for the tips on alternate routes to avoid the Wiggle by car. I haven’t tried all those.

  • Bicyclists (and drivers) watch out for that “jackass” on a bike in front of you to actually stop at the stop signs in the wiggle, too. I don’t want to be rear ended again.

  • Andy Thornley

    Just to pile on to what others have already said so clearly:
    Don’t take my turn, and I won’t take your turn. It’s the Golden Rule of crowded
    spaces, the cornerstone of civilized streets (and it’s helpful when you’re
    playing poker, too, lest someone break your nose). I’ll never hassle you for
    rolling your bike through a STOP sign, it’s just a big red helpful reminder
    that maybe you should be giving way to someone else, especially people on foot
    / in wheelchairs (and even where there’s no STOP sign I’d be so happy to have
    you think about other people as you move through the neighborhood, any
    neighborhood). It pisses me off just as much when I’m cut off by a selfish jerk
    on a bike as when I’m cut off by a selfish jerk in a car, and it makes the
    wonderful Wiggle a bit less wonderful every time somebody steals somebody else’s
    right-of-way, whatever the respective modes. Give way the Idaho way today, for
    a compassionate and happy San Francisco . . .

  • True, you can’t say you’re for the Idaho stop if you’re not yielding to the right-of-way.

  • B4daylihgt

    Here is my advice, 

    Speed around pedestrians, wildlife, and slower cyclists. Bicyclists slow down We all know 15mph 20mph is achievable. However do you like a truck  passing you at 60 MPH ? If your a motorist slow down you loose eye contact after 20MPH and fatality increases from this speed point onward. Communicate and be seen. 

    Everyone make eye contact with other road users where possible. Persons outside a motor vehicle use audio signals for passing.  Smile and wave, have a good time. There can be many safety enhancements to make yourself more visible. Be predictable (follow laws) and point or signal your intentions when paths are encountered. Be self aware rear view mirrors (clip onto glasses)  bring a valuable viewpoint  for pedestrian and cyclists alike. 


  • A further thought on signaling – It is very helpful to signal *before* you do something. If you wait to signal until the moment you are actually turning, this doesn’t really help anybody. True for bikes and cars alike.

    Bikes, if you’re going left, be in the left or center part of the leftmost lane. I often see people on the Wiggle scooting around the righthand side of cars as they approach a lefthand turn, only to turn left directly through the path of the car they have just passed on the right. This is rude & confusing to drivers, especially if you haven’t signaled your left turn.

    The same applies for right turns – be on the right or center part of the rightmost lane. This is less of a problem for cyclists since we tend to be more comfortable on the right side of the road.

    When stopping the at Scott/Oak traffic signal, it’s courteous to allow right-turning vehicles berth to turn right. In other words, use the bike box! If the bike box is crowded, it’s polite to notice if there’s a vehicle behind you trying to turn right who could get by if you moved just a smidge.

    Bottom line- look ahead, plan ahead, signal ahead, notice what other road users are doing.


City Sets Out to Create Safer, Greener Streets on the Wiggle

The Wiggle could be transformed into a greener, more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly route in the coming years thanks to a new planning effort launched by the SFMTA and the SF Public Utilities Commission. At an open house community meeting yesterday, planners shopped potential treatments like traffic diverters, traffic circles, bulb-outs, and raised crosswalks that could […]

Envisioning the Wiggle as a People-Centered Greenway

The SF Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) has posted new visuals on its website depicting how streets on the Wiggle could be transformed into greener, traffic-calmed streets oriented toward safe walking and bicycling. The Wiggle, the flattest route connecting the east and west parts of the city, is already a magnet for bike traffic. However, as the SFBC notes, new riders can […]

Misguided Enforcement Precedes ThinkBike Improvements on the Wiggle

The Wiggle — the growingly popular, mostly-flat bicycling route connecting SF’s eastern and western neighborhoods — should become more bike-friendly in the next year. After consulting with Dutch bicycle planners, the SFMTA is planning new upgrades to increase the safety and comfort of people walking and biking on the route, including “green-backed” sharrows, zebra-striped crosswalks, […]

New Options Arise for Greener, Calmer Streets on the Wiggle

Plans to create calmer, greener streets on the Wiggle came into clearer focus Tuesday after the SFMTA presented more refined proposals for raised crosswalks and intersections, bulb-outs with greenery, traffic circles, traffic diverters, and other safety improvements. The proposed treatments [PDF] are aimed at improving stormwater drainage while also calming motor and bicycle traffic. One […]