How Cyclists Can Get Downtown Faster by Avoiding the Wiggle: McAllister’s Route 20 Vanquishes Octavia “Boulevard”

[UPDATE: And, you know, I guess I hadn't considered the one-way streets. Particularly inbound, they can get you there fast if you're up for lights timed at 20-something MPH. I've seen people on Oak and Golden Gate inbound, but, due to geography most likely, I haven't seen that many using the outbound analogs Fell and Turk. See footnote.]

Well here we go. This shot from United 931 shows, in high relief, why you’re better off talking McAllister Street, Bike Route 20, to downtown from the Panhandle and vice versa.

You see Alamo Square inside the red box on the lower left? It’s the summit of Alamo Heights, sitting there in the sunlight jutting in from the left.

The vaunted Wiggle bike path takes you from the Panhandle through Lower Haight and then behind the Church Street Safeway to Market Street and beyond. Your preferred alternative has you leaving the end of the Golden Gate Park Panhandle by taking Baker north to Fulton to Divisadero up to McAllister. That’s the pass over Alamo Heights – it’s the intersection of McAllister and Divis. Then it’s all the way downhill to Market.

You’re going between the camel humps, between Alamo Square and Kaiser Heights (seen in the sunlight on the left side).

Via jpp123

Now it’t true that Route 20, aka the Snickerdoodle, does have you climbing up, outbound, 20 more feet vertically, net, than the Wiggle (and also inbound – there’s one block of Divis that’s uphill a bit) and it’s also true that Route 20 has a couple steeper blocks betwixt Fillmore and Pierce in the Western Addition.

But, Route 20:

Is a third of a mile shorter

Is faster*

Has better pavement

Has you waiting less time staring at red lights (which is nice when compared to the Wiggle’s concomitant Market Street section with the Octavia Boulevard obstacle, which has traffic signals biased for car drivers heading north-south using Octavia)

Avoids hated Octavia Street / Boulevard entirely (cause Octavia simply doesn’t exist as a road in the McAllister area – it’s like you have a permanent green light)

Has less traffic

Has fewer peds to deal with

Has fewer cyclists to deal with (cause, you know, especially in the Lower Haight area, you just don’t know what those cyclists are going to do)

Is, due to the factors cited above, safer

Avoids the ridonculas behind-the-Safeway-to-inbound-Market puzzle that makes no sense (that I can see – I don’t know how to get across Market at Duboce legally without getting off and walking in the crosswalk)

Has zero cops sitting around handing out tickets (because you’re avoiding Fell and Scott, and Duboce and Steiner, and Haight and Pierce, and all the other places the SFPD hangs out during those periodic stop sign and red light enforcement actions)

Has Gallery 1269 to look at (optionally)

So, I don’t care, go whichever way you want. I’m just saying the Wiggle is the wrong way to get the Panhandle (and Beyond) from Downtown.

And vice versa.

*I suppose that jinking over to Oak and taking it all the way (almost) to Market might be faster still, although you’d have to decide which side of the street to go on. (The left side has more room, but there’s no longer a dashed line to keep left lane traffic out of your way. The wait at Octavia Boulevard might slow you a bit, however.

Oh, and there’s Golden Gate Avenue as well, inbound…

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4 Responses to “How Cyclists Can Get Downtown Faster by Avoiding the Wiggle: McAllister’s Route 20 Vanquishes Octavia “Boulevard””

  1. LS says:

    “a couple steeper blocks”

    This is what it comes down to: incline tolerance.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Yeah, I guess those two blocks are analogous to the uphill stretch on Market between Octavia and Laguna but a little steeper.

  3. hillary says:

    I have been riding my bike in sf since the 1980s and I seem to take McAllister going to downtown, but coming back from downtown I seem inclined to take the wiggle going back up. The incline up McAllister is a little more formidable than alluded to in your blog post, and the housing project you ride through can have its moments….

  4. sfcitizen says:

    I see. I’ve never had issues with the projects, although I did come across a police call with three people shot at the Friendship apartments…

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