How to get around San Francisco — advice from the locals

Craigory Sparks
9 min readJul 27, 2018


Welcome to San Francisco! You’ve made it. By now you’ve probably figured out that you can catch the Bart from either one of our two airports and have arrived downtown safe and sound. So now that you are here, you’re probably wondering how you are going to get to the nearest dispensary and what’s the best way to gallivant about the city by the bay after that. Here is a practical guide for visitors of how we locals prefer to make our way around our beloved San Francisco.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S on Howard Street

Remember that time when you wanted to go play soccer in an underwater cave, got stuck in there for two weeks, Elon Musk was going to build you a kiddie Submarine to get you out, but he ran out of time because the whole world was freaking out? You will probably never again have an opportunity to get your hands on one of those sweet mini-subs, but you can always get the next best thing to move yourself about on your trip: Musky’s $70,000 Model S electric car. The Tesla Model S is especially designed to satisfy all cravings you may have for looking good in the eyes of others. It is the essential status symbol of Silicon Valley and says ,“ Yeah, I work in tech. Yup, I love telling people, no, you can’t do that.” With its sleek high-tech interior and electronic wizardry, combined with a pair of Apple Airpods, you won’t be able to tell where the machine ends, and the human begins. Your transformation from organic person to man-droid will be near complete. Although, it will cost you a fortune to rent, park, and replace the windows every day, you can rest assure while stuck in traffic on Market Street, that all those people starting at you, as if you’re some obnoxious jerk from Atherton are really just jealous of your feelings of high status.

Swagtron SwagRoller — Self Balancing Unicycle

A one-wheeled electric extreme nerd vehicle. Courtesy Jesse Garnier

On the opposite end of the spectrum, for those who don’t care about how they appear in the eyes of others, and are okay looking like a bit of a goof, you can move about the city on one of the many varieties of one-wheeled electric extreme nerd vehicles currently on the market. You’ll find that they are kind of like riding a Segway that somebody happened to remove everything from, except one wheel, two foot pegs, and the nerd.

A spray-painted stolen Ford GoBike

Spray-painted stolen Ford GoBike. Courtesy

Before the age of Lime Bike and JUMP bikes, the type of rent-a-bikes that you could find and leave just about anywhere, there was the Ford GoBike. A rent-a-bike that had to be rented and docked at a station. They still exist, but the funny thing about this system is, that often, you rent it from one station, and upon arriving at your destination station, there are no open docks available. Well the average San Franciscan can’t be bothered by this whatsoever. After all, we have mind-numbing meetings to get to and emails that will never be read that must be written. So, we simply leave our undocked Ford GoBikes next to the other docked GoBikes in hopes that some magical bike docking gnome will dock it for us. Perhaps when the next dock becomes available, a good Samaritan, GoBike employee, or gnome will remedy this situation, but occasionally one of us San Franciscans decides the temptation of an unlocked GoBike is too great, and after riding it for a while, we then begin to think, maybe we just won’t ever return it. From there we start thinking, maybe we should just paint it a different color, so nobody can tell the unmistakable unique shape of the bike, that obviously looks like a GoBike, really isn’t a GoBike because it’s not the usual Ford blue color. So, we paint it a different color or multi-color, but eventually we just grow bored of it and leave it somewhere for someone else to enjoy. If you come across one of these odd GoBikes, enjoy, but it just may lead you to the next way we locals like getting around the city.

The back of a SFPD Crown Vic Police Interceptor

The Crown Victoria

You can ask, and ask, and ask until the cows come home for a ride in a SFPD police officer’s cruiser, but 99% of the time they will say no. Yet, when they find you commuting about on a spray painted GoBike or up to some other mischief, they will give you a ride, even without you asking for it. However, wherever you tell them you’re going, they will always ignore you, and they will always bring you back to their clubhouse. There you will have to spend some time in a cage with others who were given free rides in the Crown Vic. This is not recommended, unless you have all day to get to where you need to go, and your destination is somewhat near the cop clubhouse.

Steeno’s Mercedes-Benz 300D

“A FREE RIDE IS JUST A FREE RIDE just ask”. Courtesty KQED

Another completely free way to get about the city can be found by yelling, “Free ride!” at Jeff Steeno’s unmistakable Mercedes love machine as he’s rolling down one of our city streets. Steeno, one of the coolest members of our community, is easily identified by a green tattoo on his left forearm that reads, “Happy Everyday.” In the city that founded free love, Steeno is carrying on that tradition by giving completely free rides to anyone he hears hailing him over the clatter of his indestructible 1980s W123 diesel engine. Steeno being a former professional cab driver and the Mercedes being a 4000-pound tank, you can rest assure of getting to your destination safely and surely.


Courtesy of

If you’re into the traditional ride share you hail with your phone, we locals like to ride the less creepy, less shady version of Uber known as Lyft. We were a little upset with them for removing the huge furry pink mustache from their drivers anthropomorphized autos, but we would rather ride about in some soccer mom’s Kia than be tracked 24/7, have our fares surge at peak times, get sexually harassed, and get spied on.

Muni Bus

If you’re not bothered by random crimes, there’s always the San Francisco Municipal Bus. All I can say about the Muni, is that I once spent three days listening to around a hundred of my fellow San Franciscans yammer on about how meaningful their lives were, as we were being potentially selected as jurors on a trial that concerned a mugging on a Muni bus. During that inquisition, when each potential juror was done explaining how important they were to the world for their captive audience, the local district attorney asked if they had ever been a victim of a crime on the Muni. To my shock and horror, nearly all those who rode it regularly had had some sketchy act of violence perpetrated on them. When it was my turn, I told the DA that the worst thing that ever happened to me, was when a thirteen-year-old girl yelled at me, “shut up bald a-hole!” because I scolded her for throwing all of her trash out the bus window as we were traversing down Sutter street. I was excused after telling that and a few other inappropriate stories. But anyway, if you want to save a few bucks, and get out of jury duty, carry some mace and be safe. You’ve been warned.

Broken Bird Scooter

Courtesy of @YaBoyJayBee415/Twitter

A few weeks ago, in our fair city San Francisco we were up to our eyeballs in standup electric rental Scooters, also known as Birds. Apparently, a billion dollars can buy you an enormous amount of Bird scooters, and it got to the point where you couldn’t walk five feet without tripping over one, or five minutes before a Birdite ran you over with their rental Bird. So, we banished them and made the Bird company pick up all their trashy Birds from the bay where we threw them. So just like that, we woke up one day and all the Birds were gone. Well, not exactly all. There were a few that, for whatever reason, they lost track of. By now, these few are fully discharged of any battery power, but can still be ridden around manually, if you come across one. However, be cautious when riding, most of us locals still hate the sight of them, and just may throw a Pancho Villa al pastor taco at you, as you kick on by.


Courtesty of

In San Francisco the Fixie is not just a bike, it’s an exclusive cult for hipster luddites who wage war against all bicycle technology. Despite having giant hills all over the city that a multi-geared bike could handle with ease, local cult members choose to bike about on a fixed geared, no brake bicycle, that does not coast, with a handlebar just long enough to fit three fingers across. If you go this route, and need to stop, no worries, just contort your torso around, place your back foot on the rear tire, and press down. It takes practice to get this maneuver right, so be prepared not only to leave your heart in San Francisco, but a whole lot of skin too.

Boosted Board Electric Skateboard


Need to get to the SF General hospital emergency room? The quickest route comes by riding a Boosted Board Skateboard through the financial district. The great thing about the Boosted Board is, it doesn’t require a helmet, it’s really quick, you can split traffic in between heavy hard cars, it comes with an ambulance ride, and it’s safer than pouring gasoline over your head and setting yourself on fire. If danger with a few drops of disaster is your cup of Tea, then the Boosted Board is for you. However, you might consider taking out a life insurance policy on yourself before getting on one. This will make your dear beneficiaries reminisce about how wonderful you once were, after you’re gone.


Courtesy of Scott Loftesness

It’s a workout, it’s more fun than ice skating, if you’re really short they make you seem really tall, and random San Franciscans will shower you with love and respect for your wise choice of transportation. Rollerblades remind us locals that despite the weird weather, insane cost of living, the smell of cigarettes and poop emojis wafting in the air, despite all that, we are still in California, the most golden state in the country. The state where you can get up, munch down an avocado toast with an avocado shake, strap on your Rollerblades, and skate on down to the studio to take part in some naked yoga.


Besides these methods of transportation for your time in our foggy city, there are literally hundreds of other ways as well, but when all else fails, you can walk, really… just walk. San Francisco is a walk-able city! Just don’t text while you walk across the street, because we text while we drive our Teslas, and we will send you to the emergency room with all the Boosted Board skateboarders, Fixie cult members, extremist nerds, broken Bird Birdites and Ford GoBike thieves. Happy travels, be safe and enjoy your stay in the Bay!