How to participate in a Pedal Powered event

The SF Bicycle Music Festival is the world’s largest Pedal Powered music festival. Follow these tips and you’ll not only know what that means, you’ll be able to fully participate!

Ride Your Bike there:

Welder and art bike creator Jay Broemmel showing up in style at Sunday Streets.

By biking to our event instead of driving, you can help us keep to our goal of being a ‘Carbon Negative’ event. Biking there makes a huge impact — bigger than recycling, composting, reusing and even pedal powering the bands on our Pedal Powered Stage. Plus, you can meet up with other festival goers and spread the word en route.  Riding there is a great warm up for dancing and Pedal Powering the live bands, and helps you clear your mind for an awesome day ahead.

We recommend bringing a lock, even though we aim to provide enough safe bike parking for all of our fans and performers.

But my bike is broken!

Really? Experience shows that 85% of bicycles considered “broken” by their owners require only air in the tires or oil on the chain, and that 75% of statistics are made up on the spot. So why not ask a neighbor this week if you can borrow a pump and some chain lube?Roadie co-captain Ariel adjusting a fan’s bike after a recent Sunday Streets event.

Even if you can only limp on in to the event on your bike, you’ll find “Bike Paramedics,” helpful bike people with tools who can make the little adjustments needed on your bike. If something’s bugging you, ask a crewmember and we’ll help you get your bike dialed.

How to ride in the LiveOnBike parade:Justin Ancheta performs LiveOnBike at the 2010 San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival. Photo: Fossil Fool.

You will not want to miss the LiveOnBike performances on the bike ride between our daytime and nighttime venues. To truly experience the Bicycle Music Festival, you have to take in a LiveOnBike performance! A LiveOnBike performance is an amplified music performance that takes place on a mobile stage in front of a large group of riders. We want these rides to be safe and law-abiding so that our festival keeps a positive reputation in the community. We will have experienced route marshals identified by patches and armbands, who will help keep our group together and safe. Please follow these simple rules:

– Some of the bikes in our group ride will be carrying live performers. These bikes generally require more concentration to ride safely. Please give these performance vehicles extra space so that their riders can maintain focus on safely guiding them through our route.

– Look for Route Marshals who will be identified by BMF patches.

– Do not ride in the oncoming lane of traffic!

– When we are on a multi-lane street such as Oak, stay to the right, keeping one lane open to allow cars to pass. Note that in the photo above, cars would have had difficulty passing the group, because we were taking up more than 2 lanes of traffic.

– How we handle stop signs: We roll through stop signs unless route marshals say to stop for safety or pedestrians. This reduces the amount of time our group spends in intersections and minimizes the delays we may cause to other road users.

– How we handle red lights and major intersections: We approach red lights and major intersections slowly, gathering our group and waiting for a green light. We try then to ride through as a single group. If the light turns red halfway through, we try to continue moving our group through the intersection unless it is unsafe to do so. Please defer to route marshals!

– Be careful of car doors opening if you are riding close to parked cars.

– Please ride predictably and in control.

– Try to stay with the main group, it’s safer and more fun for everyone.

Our 4000 watt sound system is missing one thing: Power.

photo: Celeste Lindhall

Our Pedal Powered Stage relies on you, our fans, for a steady supply of good clean Pedal Power throughout the day. Pedaling is optional, but almost everyone who comes to a Pedal Powered event will want to try pedaling for at least a song or two.

When you want to pedal, make your way to the generator bikes and let one of the Pedal Power coaches know you’re ready. The job of the Pedal Power coach is to keep their eye on the pedalers and know who is ready for a break. The coach will escort you to a bike much like a Maitre D escorts you to a table at a restaurant. The Pedal Power Coach will also help you on and off safely by stabilizing the handlebars, and then raise or lower the seat for you as needed. With the seat height correctly adjusted, you’re almost good to go.  Now is a good time to pedal a few strokes and check the gear ratio. Too hard? too easy? Ask the Pedal Power coach to help you adjust the gears until you find on that feels like pedaling up a little hill. Now you’re ready to contribute. Stay on for as long as you like.

Most of the bikes we use as generators are provided by us, but we do have one Pedal Power rig called the Biker Bar that has places for three regular bikes. In the photo above, the girl with the starry tights is pedaling a regular road bike on the Biker Bar. If you want to use your bike as one of the generators on the Biker Bar, please show it to a Pedal Power coach and we’ll get it involved.

We use “Pedalometers” to communicate the health of the Pedal Power system to our Pedalers, performers, and the sound guy. The Pedalometers are positioned close to the generator bikes. While you’re pedaling, please keep your eye on the Pedalometer so you know when power is needed.

Eat Breakfast:

It helps if the pedalers have energy, so eat some breakfast and drink water before coming to the festival.

What to wear: 
Wear your favorite festival attire or street clothes, basically clothes you can move in. No spandex needed, but if you want to suit up, be our guest! Ladies, consider wearing pants or tights underneath skirts or dresses.

Bring layers! Our festival starts in the hot sun and continues into a beautiful moonlit night. The wind can be cold at night. Don’t forget warm clothes so you can stay with us into the night!

Stay fed and hydrated. Bring a reusable cup, bottle, fork, spoon, bowl:

To reduce the amount of waste at our festival, we need you to Bring Your Own. Bringing your own is much better for the environment than even the most advanced compostable plastics, which still require manufacturing and transportation. Plus, our chefs are extra friendly with portions when you bring your own.

We’ll be serving up delicious Bike Blended Smoothies. Have one!

Our Bike Blended Smoothies are a delicious way to stay hydrated and nutrified at the Bicycle Music Festival. You can be the pedaler that supplies the power to blend them up! Bring a cup for extra-generous treatment from the smoothie chefs. Bike Blended Smoothies are one of the main sources of revenue on the day of our event, so please  try the various flavors we’ll be offering throughout the day.

Directly support the bands you like by giving tips to the Golden Geese:

photo: Dustin Jensen

Please treat the performances at Bicycle Music Festival like those of a good street performer. We rely on audience generosity to make sure our performers get paid. Our hot spandex-clad Golden Geese volunteers make their way through the crowd after each performer, shaking their buckets and calling for donations for the last band. If you want to give but need change, please ask them — they are like human ATM’s. Also, please remember that we have a dozen bands on the lineup, so bring enough to give cash to multiple bands.