How to Bike on Alabama Without Biking Up Alabama (Hint: Follow the Bernal Chicken)

Alabama Uphill
I bike down Alabama in the morning to get to work, which, with the combination of awful pavement, loose gravel, and the 67 bus (which seems to only come when I am biking) feels like tempting death. On the way home, there’s no way I can make it back up that hill.

Or, there WAS no way! Another cyclist let me in on a little secret:

This route has steep parts, but there’s some flat in there, the roads are in better shape than Alabama, and there’s less traffic. It’s so pleasant, in fact, that I’ve been biking down the hill this way, too.

The Lower Haight has The Wiggle. Maybe it’s the season, but I think this looks kind of like the outline of a peep. Is Bernal too laid back and private to name a bike route? (NO! — Ed.) I’m not suggesting we get signs or bikes painted on the road, but based on the shape of the route, let’s call this shortcut the Bernal Chicken, just among friends?

PHOTO:Looking up Alabama Street, by Telstar Logistics

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About Molly Samuel

Molly joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.
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14 Responses to How to Bike on Alabama Without Biking Up Alabama (Hint: Follow the Bernal Chicken)

  1. Brent says:


    I *run* down Alabama sometimes, but come back a much longer way (on the Mission side). I’ll have to see if running _up_ the Bernal Chicken is a reasonable way to end a long run.

  2. Amy K. says:

    I’m too chicken to try it!

  3. james franicevich says:

    As I peddle up Alabama I turn on Ripley to Folsom. I’ve found that works best for me to reach my
    home on the SW side of the hill. But, I always fantisize how fantastic it would be to have a rope pull
    that bicycles with riders could attach to on Alabama right up to the Bernal Hts. Road.

  4. Almostnative says:

    Funny, I don’t have any trouble going up the hill. The beemer does just fine in 1st gear.

  5. Geoff H says:

    I’ve lived in Bernalwood for two weeks now and I stumbled upon the same route for my moped ride home. I tried to make it up Alabama on the first day and that only ended in embarrassing failure. I’m on board with the “Bernal Chicken”. Maybe I’ll emblazon it on my helmet…

  6. curious if its good enough to warrant bike lane signs.

  7. bernalgirl says:

    I just realized that on a hill with many surprises, Esmeralda wins as the most confusing street. That must plague visitors to no end.

  8. SamosetLookout says:

    Thanks for the route tip. This is sufficiently flat enough that I’m now able to ride the fixie all the way up to Bernal Heights ave.

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