Where to go for kids to ride a bike

I do not mean to offend anyone.

We have strictly adhered to social distancing. I have not even taken kids out for a walk and we rely 100% on contactless delivery.

When I tend to the front yard, I wear a mask.

I am sad that my kid learned to ride a bike a week before the SIP order and his shiny new bike is sitting in the garage. He’s wobbly and isn’t a proficient rider yet. He keeps asking when he can go out and ride his bike again...

We used to go to a local elementary school to practice riding. I think it’s closed now.

Is there a good place to go to practice bike riding in Oakland/Berkeley/Alameda or do we just need to be more patient?

We don’t have flat streets in our neighborhood to practice riding. Seriously regretting buying a house on a hill...

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

Just walking around my neighborhood the past few weeks I've seen a few places that would be good for little kid bike riding but you'd probably need to park nearby and walk over with the bikes. The Claremont hotel is closed right now and their lower parking area is accessible to little kids on bikes - I saw some there today. There's a small employee lot in front and a larger one in back near the tennis courts. There are a lot of paved plazas on the UC Berkeley campus - maybe look on google maps for likely spots. Clark Kerr campus has some open areas near where the Cal Youth camps were held. Saw some tricycles and scooters there. Good luck!

I would try Kensington Park (there is a small circular track excellent for learning how to ride, or empty basketball court), or one of many empty parking lots at various schools, etc. As long as you keep distance, you should give you intrepid bike rider a welcome respite from the long and difficult time at home. Good luck!

There are many nearly empty parking lots to choose from - the BART stations, shopping areas, etc. Basketball courts are a good option too. There are several streets closed to through traffic in Oakland as well and those are decent options. I have seen some people in Berkeley put up signs in the street that kids are playing to “soft close” the block so their kids can practice riding in the street - not legal, but effective and frankly a better use of street space at this point.

If you’re serious about physical distancing, I would not recommend the Bay Trail, Ohlone Greenway, or popular parks. Many people are still using those and they do not distance (and many are still not wearing masks either). Nor would I recommend sidewalks, they are too narrow for proper distancing. I’ve been taking my kids on residential streets in Berkeley and Oakland, but they were solid riders before the shelter in place started. I really wish Berkeley would soft close some streets like Oakland is doing to create an abundance of space for kids to walk and bike where there isn’t crowding. But the city doesn’t seem interested. 

Some people are using BART parking lots (Rockridge, North Berkeley).  It might be too crowded, then again, skateboard parks are reopening, so there might be more space for bicycle riding kids!  It's great to hear that!

Also, I walk by golden gate fields--they have a huge parking lot.  No cars allowed, but I see bike riders going through there.  It's not very crowded. 

good luck!!!

I've taken my daughter to the MLK shorelin epark near the oakland airport and also the middle harbor shoreline park near the port of oakland. Both are pretty flat and great for learning to ride a bike. Also there wasn't a lot of people so social distancing was easy. The caveat was that this was a month ago when the weather wasn't as nice as it is now.

The Rockridge BART station parking lot is blissfully empty and a great place for beginning riders. Sometimes there are skateboarders/riders using the lower half, but the upper half has always been empty when we're there.

I think BART parking lots especially North Berkeley could work also perhaps school parking lots could work. In regards to SIP it is fine and encouraged for kids to get outside to run, play, ride scooter etc. They need that. 

You could try the DMV parking lot after 5 pm, and that overflow parking lot at the Claremont Hotel is a great idea (it's on Tunnel Rd). Also, here is a map of closed streets in Oakland, which we've been walking, jogging, and biking on. Depending on time of day, they can be pretty deserted: https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=b2f8989fdb514d2fb511067a11ad65f0&extent=-122.2896,37.8028,-122.2366,37.83

We have had good luck bike riding and scootering at office building parking lots in our neighborhood. In fact, our daughter really prefers the open space of a parking lot to paved paths and tracks that require more precise steering.

We've been walking to a local church's parking lot. We go early in the day and never see anyone else there (except once, an employee of the church stopped by to pick up mail or something and yelled out that she was happy to see us there). 

We go to Kensington Hilltop School and to 1000 Oaks School to ride. We wear masks.

We've been doing stroller pushing sessions with my toddler out near Almanac/Bladium in Alameda.  It's EMPTY. Like post-apocalypse empty.

If you have a car to get out there, it's super easy, but buses are still running out there as well.

Cesar Chavez is nice because it's fairly contained.

Lots of young kids and parents ride in the north Berkeley Bart parking lot.  They are quiet and empty for making big loops.  Lots of space for social distancing.  

I've seen families riding & scootering in front of Studio One near OakTech.  And 42nd St is blocked off for peds & bicycles.  Also West St in W-Oak.

I agree with the posts re: empty office parking lots. Other places we've been to recently are:

1) the Cal campus, which is huge, largely unoccupied and has lots of bike paths and parking lots that aren't being used; and

2) Tilden Park, where numerous roads and lots are blocked off. Lake Anza Road and the Lake Anza parking lot are both blocked off, and there is convenient parking at the Merry Go Round. The Little Farm parking lot is also closed to cars, and there are spots to park just outside of the gates.  

Aquatic Park is a great place for kids learning to ride. After they get proficient enough to steer and keep clear, there is the Bay Trail nearby. I am there every Sunday and there are lots of family groups, and solitary riders, of course.

Head over to the Cal Campus. It’s quite empty but open. The plaza in front of Zellerbach Hall and Sproul Plaza are two large flat places to practice. Also many wide paths on campus with few pedestrians right now. It’s perfectly legal to exercise outdoors under the current order. We take our kids out for walks or bike rides every day. Please don’t feel bad about doing it!

Go down by the marina--there are huge empty parking lots that are great for bike riding for kiddos! 

Bella Vista Park in Oakland has a circular green surrounded by an asphalt pathway. I'm not sure how much use it has been getting, though.

Middle Harbor Shoreline Park has long, flat stretches of pathway with beautiful views of San Francisco, and hardly anyone around--probably because the grass is covered in goose poop always. But it's ideal for little bike riders.

Most church parking lots in my North Oakland neighborhood are closed, and there are much BIGGER empty parking lots if you take 24 to the Orinda exit, turn right and just head down Moraga Way. At both Holy Shepherd and St Mark's, I've seen a couple of kids at a time riding around.

I went for a picnic on the UC Campus last Sunday off Bancroft Avenue near Hertz Hall.  There were lots of parents teaching their kids to ride.  It's the part of the campus across from Cafe Roma at the end of College.  It was wonderful to watch the kids take off.

Have you tried the old naval base in Alameda, lots of open, flat space. What about the parking lot by Golden Gate Fields? Bay Trail? All are great options. 

Schools should be closed and locked.  They fear large thefts and vandalism.  Try the Berkeley Marina of Golden Gate Fields.  

Thanks for wearing a mask and keeping your distance.  This is something we all need to be doing.

Head out to the end of distillery row at the naval base in Alameda. There is a killer open paved area where can kids can rip around freely 

Alameda is a great place to go bike riding.  The whole island is flat.  We're on the east end, and the streets are empty enough to practice social distancing easily.  I go jogging every day in the neighborhood, and the side streets have very few cars on them these days so it seems to me a safe place for kids to practice riding.

I taught my kids to ride on a gentle hill at UC Berkeley. The campus isn't completely empty but when I walked through last week there were few people and lots of safe wide paved areas without cars.

Try the parking lot at Little Farm in Tilden. It's blocked off, but there is parking along the street and I've seen kids practicing biking, roller skating, etc. in the blocked off parking lot. It's large, flat and paved. Just no bathrooms so be prepared!  I've also seen people making use of BART parking lots and UC Berkeley parking lots.  The are some above the Lawrence Hall of Science and various ones sprinkled throughout the campus that might work too.  Good luck!

I'm not sure where you are located but Emerson in Oakland is still open and great for riding. Also, have you checked out Oakland's 'Slow Streets?'


Our daughter was maybe a little further along than your son (pretty confident riding around a playground but very scared of cars so hadn't ridden on city streets). We've actually found SIP to be a great opportunity to teach her how to ride on the street with fewer cars. Oakland is blocking off more and more streets and we are able to get to one of them by riding about 10 blocks from our house, but you could also just drive to the nearest one and bring your bikes. There are still occasional cars and you have to stop for cross traffic but in the space of a few weeks our kid has become fairly comfortable sharing the road with cars as well. We bike 4-5 days a week and it's been a pretty amazing transformation. Not everyone out there is wearing masks but our whole family does. I highly recommend checking one or both of these out.

Go to the parking lot of a closed business. I know there’s an empty large parking lot at Planet Fitness at MacDonald Ave. And King Middle school in Berkeley is open from 11AM-1PM Mon/Wed/Fri for food distribution. Lots of space there to socially distance and ride a bike. Good luck!

8th and Virginia, basketball courts, lots of parking on street