Pedal On: There’s a New Bike Repair Shop in Bernal Heights

Great news for local fans of human-powered vehicles: There’s a new bicycle repair shop and frame-builder at 1637 Florida Street (between Precita and Peralta) on Bernalwood’s North Slope.

Actually, it’s two businesses in one: Bernal Bike for basic bicycle service, and Kroyer Cycles for frame repair and frame-building. Both are overseen by Sam Kroyer, a skilled bike mechanic who spent 12 years working at the venerable Valencia Cyclery in the Mission.

But don’t look for a regular storefront facade; Bernal Bike operates from the garage of Sam’s house, and we’ve received assurances that the business is fully licensed and blessed by the landlord. Business manager Erin McLachlan wrote Bernalwood to say:

Know us by the bike rack and the welcome sign.  Kroyer Cycles is owned by Sam Kroyer, a bicycle mechanic for over 25 years and a Bernal resident for 16 years.  The shop performs full-service repair and maintenance, custom builds, frame repair and warranty service.  We carry inventory of replacement parts and necessities.

Photos: Kroyer Cycles

The Oxalis Weed: An Uninvited Guest That Never Leaves

Every winter after the rain, oxalis starts popping up. Maybe even during the rain; I don’t know for sure. But one thing is certain: On that day when you glance up on a walk and think, “oh, it’s green again,” part of the reason for the change in color is oxalis.

Bane of gardeners, this aggressive weed grows in yards, between sidewalk cracks, on hillsides, in planter boxes. The oxalis we all hate is Oxalis pes-caprae, a native of South Africa. (Which also gave us ice plant. Thanks a lot, South Africa.)

Oxalis is just about impossible to get rid of. Our La Lenguan neighbors have it, too. Actually, it’s all over the city. I’ve never had any luck eradicating it. I’ve heard that what you really have to do is dig down and remove every single god-forsaken bulb. One of these letters to the Chronicle from 2007 suggests getting chickens. So there’s that option.

It’s also known as sourgrass–and also, apparently, as Bermuda buttercup (though I don’t think I’ve ever heard that one before). In small quantities it’s even edible. You can chew the flower stalk or eat the leaves; it’s kinda peppery-lemony, like a woodsy lemon drop.

Oxalis afficianados will point out that not all oxalis are bad. In fact, we even have some nice native ones, including redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana), which grows in redwood forests. But the oxalis known as oxalis is a serious pain. To part on a really cranky note, this essay by science writer David Quammen explains much more eloquently than I ever could why most weeds suck.

Get Your Wine On: New “Liberty Wine Bar” Opening Next Week

Are you a oenophile? Do you know someone who is a oenophile? Or do you simply enjoy saying the word “oenophile?” If you answered in the affirmative to any of these questions, you’ll be glad to know that the folks at Liberty Cafe are opening a new wine bar next week.

From Grub Street:

Cozy up, Bernal wine-os: On February 1, theLiberty Café (401 Cortland) is re-launching its wine bar in the carriage house out back, called the Liberty Wine Bar, serving snacks, charcuterie, and small plates as well as a selection of fine wines from around the world. Also, as a generous introduction to their wine list, they’re hosting two free wine tasting events on Thursdays in February.

Grub Street also has a copy of the menu and wine list, right here.

House Portrait: Folsom Street Skull House

Skull HouseAmid all the predictable (if tedious) gnashing-of-teeth one hears about the transformation of Bernal Heights from the working class enclave it was a few decades ago to the middle class oasis it is today, it’s nice to find some pockets of downmarket freakishness that are still rough-around-the-edges, despite the passage of time.

Here’s a good example: The Skull House, midway up the hill on Folsom, on Bernal’s north slope.

Skull House
Images by Telstar Logistics

Crime Watch: Coordinated Muggings (and How to Avoid Them)

Over on the Bernalsafe mailing list, there’s been a flurry of chatter for the last few days about a rash of muggings (and attempted muggings) that have taken place recently along the Tompkins Street corridor, just south of Cortland.  Most of the crimes seem to involve well-organized groups of goons who operate in coordinated pairs from opposite ends of the block to entrap potential victims from multiple angles of attack.

One commenter posted an account of one such incident last week, along with some useful tips on how to avoid becoming a victim yourself. (Hint: YELL!) Republished here by permission:

I’m writing both in response to the recent post re: Almost Mugged and to alert you to an on-record mugging this past Saturday night, 1/22.

I — and my neighbor who was mugged — live on Prentiss, between Tompkins & Jarboe Streets.

My neighbor got off the bus on Cortland to pick up something @ the JC Super on Cortland/Ellsworth. Walking home from Cortland (Cortland / Folsom / Jarboe / Prentiss) he was followed by a group of 6-8 young men between the ages of 18-23. He was unaware that they were following him until they jumped him, mid-block on Prentiss.

Like the other poster, the group was split into twos — all walking separately, but coordinated; easy to miss if you’re not really paying attention.

They followed him to Prentiss street, grabbed him, beat him on his body & face, and took his cell fone. His wallet, in his front pocket, was left on his body b/c when he fell to the ground, his body hid its location. Only when he bit the arm of the man who was holding him around the neck from behind, was he able to scream for help.

His housemate heard his screams from down the street, and came running. I heard him from my bedroom, which was directly across the street, and I called 911. The group split up and ran in every direction. I stayed on the fone w/dispatch while 2 police cruisers arrived quickly. Dispatch also sent an EMT — which eventually took him to the hospital for stitches over his eye and a scan to confirm no broken facial bones.

Oddly, he was actually mugged in front of several houses that have very bright motion-sensor lights.

Bottom line: Be safe. Don’t walk alone if you can help it. Be aware. Do not walk while on your fone /checking email, etc.

My neighbor does not have life-threatening injuries. He will be OK. But the trauma — facial injuries and emotional — is heartbreaking.

The police told us (me and a few neighbors who came out) that there have been a number of these coordinated muggings lately (here in Bernal Heights, the Mission, and other neighborhoods), and that it’s really hard to catch them w/out physical identification. Many of them have a “get-away” car just a few blocks away and use their cell phones to arrange pick-up.

Tip from the police: If you are mugged/attacked, or see something suspicious, ACT. Scream, yell, run. Get a look at their SHOES; they spend $ on their shoes and will not “drop” or leave them as they flee from a crime; they WILL drop identifiable clothing — hats, jackets/hoodies/vests — as they run.

Image: Crime map for the week of January 17, 2011, from San Francisco Crimespotting