Missing From this Year's Bluegrass Festival: Hundreds of Bikes Hanging From Trees

Categories: Local News
This year, no pick-your-own bike farm
The San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks has taken steps to prevent a repeat of one of the most distinctive features of the 2009 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival: Tree branches festooned with hundreds and hundreds of bicycles left by concertgoing owners who ran out of traditional places to park their bikes.

Last year, trees in the area surrounding the festival's stages sagged under the weight of bicycles as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition-run valet parking area on Overlook Drive filled up early Saturday and Sunday. Some complained that the bikes damaged the trees.

2009 bike valet parking filled up by morning, exposing trees to a steel and aluminium onslaught

The Bicycle Coalition had hoped to convince event organizers to expand the amount of space dedicated to valet parking in order to prevent such a fiasco this year. But that wasn't to be. Instead, Recreation and Parks officials stepped in with a plan to create several large self-parking areas, while assigning staff to urge attendees not to hang their bikes on tree branches.

Park officials will set up rows of police barricades -- for use as bike racks -- along JFK Boulevard at Transverse Drive, along JFK past Lindley Meadow, and at the Fulton park entrance along Crossover Drive. Additionally, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will operate its usual valet parking area along Overlook Drive.
If you're going come to the festival and hang your bike in a tree, minimize damage by doubling or tripling up on a tandem

See how easy that was?

"We're excited to partner with the San Francisco Bike Coaliton to offer enhanced amenities in our park this weekend," wrote Department of Recreation and Parks general manager Phil Ginsberg. "Concertgoers have several options available to them this year that make transportation to the park easier than ever, including paid bike parking and increased service on MUNI's 5 Fulton and N Judah lines.  I hope to see everyone out there."

Update: The illustrious blog SF Citizen informs us of an outrageous, unanticipated stunt, apparently pulled by Hardly Strictly Bluegrass organizers, banning bicycles from JFK Boulevard. Author Jim Herd notes that the bike ban seems to serve the purpose of providing better access to the swarms of Lexuses and Audis bearing Warren Hellman "Friends and Family" passes, which for the past few festival editions have blanketed areas of the park not occupied by concert venues. Per Herd:

This year, you're much better off just driving in if you can get a Friends and Family pass for your car. Not sure how you'd get one but lots and lots of people seem to have them.

Are bicycles in parks hazardous? Or are concert festivals a hazard to cyclists?

In the following photo, taken by Herd, we see "another Lexus making it past Checkpoint Charlie into a free parking space. The Yellow pass is key."

Jim Herd
What are public parks, after all, if not exclusive ares for the friends of rich people to park their expensive cars?

Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously attributed comments explaining Recreation and Park policy regarding bike parking to agency spokesman Elton Pon.

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