08.20.14 // Bring Your Bike to Outside Lands

Written by Jake Ellis

It’s not car-free, but it sure felt like freedom to be out on the road, no longer encased in a careening metal box; I had just exited BART onto 16th St in San Francisco. The whole ride over—from downtown Berkeley—I planned to read The Prophet by a Middle Eastern poet, Kahlil Gibran. Instead, I had focused my attention on the shifting of the bicycles leaned up against one another on the designated BART car bike-railing. It seemed a miracle that the bikes did not detach from their precarious stack of metal and roam about the cabin as if the seat belt sign had been permanently turned off. Every time the BART car hit a bump or made a slight directional change I lurched in expectation of an oncoming disaster, praying for my bicycle to remain calmly seated: something I was apparently incapable of.

Out on the road, I headed towards Golden Gate Park for the Outside Lands Music Festival; gliding up 16th St until I hit Market, I then cut up the city grid north towards Haight St. If you follow this route, it’s roughly 2.5 miles from 16th St to Golden Gate Park, but you feel like you’ve earned every revolution per minute cresting the mountain that is Haight St—crawling past steep grade residential blocks and randomly dispersed liquor stores, you finally reach the glorious, iconic Haight St bustling with hippies, homeless, and wanna-be stoners wandering around with undefined intentions. Imagine a tour bus on two wheels: all the satisfaction of people watching, except you are your own guide.

The journey from 16th St to the right wing of Golden Gate Park took about 45 minutes if you count the time I took to stop at Whole Foods and one of the randomly dispersed liquor stores; in this way you can avoid spending fifty dollars on beers and a single slice of pizza inside the venue. I spent another 20 minutes wandering the park honing in on the booming sound of Outside Lands as I snaked along side-paths that inevitably fade into JFK Drive. After observing the SF Botanical Gardens on my left, and the Japanese Tea Gardens on my right, I had landed at the clearly designated Bike Valet—painlessly guided by the ample signage posted along the way. A group of relaxed, smiling faces greeted me. One of the workers said, “Leave your helmets and locks on the bike if you have them, it’s totally fine.” And free! A safe, secure, and free bike parking lot and I don’t even have to carry my helmet at the festival?

photo credit: kate at yr own risk via photopin cc

Bike Parking at Outside Lands (photo credit: kateatyrownrisk via photopin cc

Every year, Outside Lands continues to grow more and more massive with its rising popularity and eclectic artist lineup. This means traveling to and from the festival is and continues to be an absolute disaster. Thousands of people simply cannot pack into the inadequate number of Muni buses riding up and down Fulton. This year, some Uber cab fares from Golden Gate Park to BART were reportedly $300-400. Two years ago, my Muni bus driver drove us for 20 minutes before kicking everyone out of the bus because “her shift had ended.” We were closer to BART before we had stepped onto the bus. With a bike, I traveled to and from Outside Lands essentially for free ($8 round trip from 16th St to Downtown Berkeley BART station), and on my own time frame. I implore you, bring your bikes to Outside Lands!

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