The political influence of San Francisco's pro-bike movement has risen steadily over the past decade to the point where the chief advocate for cyclists sits on a powerful city commission and elected officials rarely tell them no.
It's a long way from the early days, when bike enthusiasts could barely get city officials to return their calls.
But a series of attention-grabbing street protests that started 15 years ago in the form of the monthly Critical Mass rides, which attract hundreds to thousands of cyclists, put bike interests in full public view. Elected officials took notice.
"We've achieved a lot. There's no doubt about it,'' said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which boasts a membership on the plus side of 6,000, making it one of the largest advocacy groups in the city.
It was Shahum whom Mayor Gavin Newsom tapped last year to serve as a commissioner overseeing the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which is in charge of transit, traffic and parking operations in the city.
Cycling activists have successfully lobbied for more bike lanes -- even when they result in the loss of curbside parking and traffic lanes. They persuaded lawmakers to require secure bike parking in new commercial developments and fought for bike racks on buses. And despite a two-time loss at the polls, advocates pushed through a plan to ban cars along some roadways in Golden Gate Park on Saturdays.