Bike commuting in the San Francisco Bay Area parallels the idealism of mobility and open Internet culture. From mountain biking founded in Marin County, CA to iPhones designed in Cupertino, CA, the world’s top mobile companies exist in a bikeable radius around San Francisco.
Understanding systematically flawed government regulation is a battle that the San Francisco bicycle community knows all too well. Stalling for years to add bike lanes to city streets, zealots proposed that adding bike infrastructure would be detrimental to the environment because of the impact of cars having to circle for parking would create more pollution. Similarly, telecoms are one of the most heavily regulated industries in the US, so it’s no wonder why the the inclusion of NSA domestic surveillance equipment into the AT&T Folsom St San Francisco offices was only just another legal order. Meanwhile in San Francisco startup offices like Twilio, they are innovating telephony accessibility to the next generation of mobile communication developers, and whereas you’ll also find bike racks and transparent legal language on their website.
The empowerment of mobility also creates economic opportunity. A bike commuter is more likely to frequent local businesses, reinvest those $4 otherwise spent at the pump, and has reduced healthcare cost from the physical benefits such as lowering the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. The same enabling spirit of human peddle power is also the essence of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial can-do attitude. See a gap in the retail clothing market? Design your own fashionable women’s biking pants. Want to fight the absurdity of archaic incumbents in the market? No ID, registration, or class pedigree is required to begin turning the wheels of the next wave of technology innovation.
The joyous feeling of biking, not sitting in traffic, and setting your own pace when coming into the office are not the only things that Bay Area bikers enjoy. The independence to create, have your own culture, and build communities are also the fundamental basis of online social networks today. Local SF groups such as SF Bike Coalition, SPUR, and Critical Mass have organized individuals into actionable groups to create real change for livable cities. Online empowerment organizations such as Change.org, Facebook, and Twitter, are all based in the Bay Area and built for mobilizing citizens.
Biking and Internet freedom are both not without their criticisms. A world made safer from cars by stop signs on every corner might not be accepted by every cyclist. Neither is the universal right of online anonymity free from Government monitoring or unfiltered Internet access. “Don’t Be Evil” Google corporate has also been an innovator for on-campus bike programs enabling Googlers to bike from one office complex to the next, but also garners billions from advertising technology measuring consumer’s online interactions.
In the end, biking, mobility, and iPhones are only tools that can be used to get you to your destination. Don’t get me started on furry Burning Man bikes and the weirdness that also exist in harmony on the Internet.