5 Reasons to Ride Your Bike to Outside Lands 2019

bike leaning against a tree in golden gate park
Nice days in Golden Gate Park.

So you’ve got your ticket to Outside Lands this year and you wanna know “How should I get to the Outside Lands Festival in 2019?” I’ll spare telling you all the horrors of the crowded buses and lack of parking, and instead go straight to the best and easiest option: riding a bicycle (or an e-scooter if you can find one). OSL doesn’t like to tell you that (which is why I’ve declared that Outside Lands Isn’t Doing Enough for Sustainability), but I’m here to share the secret.

The wind in your hair, a speaker strapped to your rack with some pre-festival tunes, the beautiful Panhandle park gliding by you, it’s gonna be a fun ride! If you were on the fence here are some reasons why you should ride your bike to Outside Lands, along with some tips sprinkled within.

1. Free Parking: Bike Valet to Keep Your Bike Safe

bike valet map
See the bike valet and self-park in the lower right corner of festival map. The online map is terrible resolution, but it says “Jump bikes, skip scooters, self park, and bikeshare” on the little bike icon on the right side of the map.

When you bike to Outside Lands, you’re treated like royalty. They have a FREE bike valet to keep your bike safe while you’re there. People are watching your bike all day, and you don’t even need a lock to put it there. I always carry a ulock with me so in case I want to stop for an errand, but you could ride your bike to Outside Lands with your fancy road bike and not have to worry about a thing! You can even leave your helmet, pannier bag, and anything else that can connect to the bike so they don’t lose it. (Don’t forget the very strict bag policy means a pannier bag probably won’t be allowed inside the festival.)

At the end of the night, you may think think there will be a line at the bike valet. NOT TRUE! I’ve gone along with the rest of the crowd and the bike valet volunteers are extremely fast at getting bikes back to their owners.

Just remember to pass all the bike self-parking on JFK while you ride in and go up to Outlook Drive where the bike valet is. Here is a great time lapse of some bike valet action from a past year.

2. Avoid the Traffic & Crowds

If you look at the traffic and public transit to Outside Lands now, it may not look that bad, but on the day of you might be surprised to see the ETA creep up as the rest of the festival goers head over. Just ride a bike or scooter to to Outside Lands and skip the traffic. You might even meet some fellow festival goers on the bike ride over. You can tell them about the bike valet if they try to self-park.

Again, the bike valet is a great way to avoid crowds. Even at the end of every night I’ve never had to wait in a line for the bike valet to return my bike.

3. You’ve Been Wanting to Ride in Golden Gate Park Anyway

You know you’ve always been telling your friends you should do that bike ride through Golden Gate Park, but you haven’t gotten around to it. Well, now you can all do that great bike ride since you’re going to the festival anyway!

To find the best route, check out Google Maps and the SF Walking & Biking Map.

google maps biking route to outside lands
I had to drag the route a bit to make it the “easiest” route. Google tells you to go straight west on Page St, which works but has some tougher hills at spots and you don’t get to go through the Panhandle park!

4. Dust Off Your Rusting Bicycle

Colorful Fun Burning Man Bicycle

That bike you barely ride around the city. Now’s your chance to use it. Pump up those tires and take it for a spin.

You can even take your Burning Man bike that sits in your apartment basement waiting for that one time of the year. Well now it can be used twice a year. No need for locks, the free bike valet will take care of it for you. And you should already have plenty of lights on it right?

5. Try Out Those Rideshare Bikes and Scooters

rows of jump bikes
Jump Bikes as far as the eye can see in 2018. In 2019 there was no hub, you could just park the JUMP bikes in the self-park area.

On the Outside Lands website they mention JUMP Bikes & Skip Scooters both plan to have a hub near the festival entrance on JFK Drive. If it’s your first JUMP ride, they have a coupon: OSL19D. Last year in 2018, the GoBikes had a special valet service on JFK as well. I would assume that Bay Wheels will be there even though it’s not officially sanctioned ($$$) by Outside Lands.

gobike bay wheels bike valet
Last year in 2018, GoBike (now Bay Wheels) had a dock with valet attendants and plenty of bikes!

Just remember that grabbing one of these bikeshares or scootershares on the way home may be tough if you leave at the very end of the night. The companies will try to stock plenty, but you never know. You may end up taking a different form of transit home, but if you have an after party to go to, maybe that’s exactly what you want.

If the bikeshares fail you, there are plenty of bikes to rent around San Francisco for the day.

Don’t Forget Your Bike Lights!

If you’re riding home after the last act it’s gonna be dark for sure. Bikeshare bikes and some rentals have built in lights, but otherwise you should grab some on your way to the festival or before you go.

All the bike shops should be open on your ride there, so stop in at one of them to pick up some lights. The cheapest options usually run less than $20, especially if you just get a rear light. If you have enough time to order on Amazon, they’re much cheaper. These are really nice, rechargeable, easy to use lights. Or here are the cheapest bike lights I could find. This comes with 4 lights (2 front and 2 rear), so you can even have an extra for your friend who doesn’t remember their lights.

Have fun! If you decide this bike commute was great and want to do it again, be sure to check out some of my other posts like supporting better infrastructure in SFsecuring your bike, how to avoid cars in the bike lane, and other tips.

Happy Biking!

PS – If you didn’t see at the beginning of this post, you may also be interested that I’ve declared that Outside Lands Isn’t Doing Enough for Sustainability after some of this information was more difficult to find than expected.

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