As bike races pedal away, city's oldest aims to stay

As major cycling races pedal away from San Francisco’s streets to avoid paying steep fees for road closures and extra police officers, The City’s oldest cycling event will press on Monday with more than 800 riders circling downtown streets.

Several streets in downtown San Francisco will be shut down to traffic Labor Day to make way for the 34th annual Metromint Giro di San Francisco.

“This is such a cool event on the streets of San Francisco,” said Scott Lowe, co-founder of San Francisco-based Soma Beverage Co., which has sponsored the event for two years. “We wanted to turn it up a notch … put more into it financially and make this a little bit more of a high-profile race.”

But growth of the criterium will be challenging in San Francisco.

In recent years, at least one prominent race has left The City because of high fees.

Three years ago, the San Francisco Grand Prix was permanently canceled because organizers could not agree with The City about pay for police and other services.

Last year, the Amgen Tour of California, which kicked off the race the first two years from the Ferry Building, did not pass through San Francisco at all, instead beginning in Palo Alto. The reason for the change, according to tour organizers, was to vary the course each year. Next year’s tour — the fourth annual — which starts in Sacramento, will again pass through The City.

That leaves two criteriums running through The City’s streets, including the Giro di San Francisco and the San Francisco Twilight Criterium, which is Sept. 13.

Lowe said what differs between races like the Giro di San Francisco and the now-defunct Grand Prix is that the course is relatively small and therefore does not require heavy fees.

“[The Grand Prix] was a completely different world … it was a much larger loop,” he said. “The expenses we are talking about, it’s a completely different world.”

Metromint Giro di San Francisco

The City’s oldest bicycle event will begin Monday at Levi Strauss Plaza, located at Battery and Union streets.

COURSE LOOP

Route will be closed to traffic.

South on Battery Street, left on Green Street, right on Front Street, right on Vallejo Street, right on Sansome Street, right on Greenwich Street and right on Battery.

MUNI IMPACTS

The 10-Townsend will be rerouted to accommodate the closures.

Source: SFMTA, Metromint Giro di San Francisco

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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