San Francisco is famous as one of the most walkable cities in the world.  But it’s also a paradise with those with a passion for pedal power.   

Bicycle enthusiasts can enjoy easy pedaling along the Golden Gate Bridge or through the Panhandle. But if you appreciate a good bike workout, San Francisco provides the perfect uphill battle. 

On any route, cyclists can take in colorful neighborhoods (www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/neighborhoods ) and spectacular views. With its scenery, flat areas and mild grades, this city of 47 square miles offers a variety of challenging courses for the beginner or advanced rider.  The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition offers a bicycle map with bike routes and hill grades. For more information, visit www.sfbike.org. San Francisco neighborhoods that are especially bike friendly include:

• Golden Gate Park is off limits to cars on Sundays on John F. Kennedy Dr., allowing for 7.5 miles of cycling.  Watch for roller bladders who share the road. Some points of interest include the Japanese Tea Garden, the deYoung Museum, California Academy of Sciences, the Dutch Windmill and Stow Lake.

• The Golden Gate Bridge is more than a mile and half across.  When the winds are brisk, the ride can be quite a workout. Monday through Friday, the east walkway is open to cyclists and on weekends, it's the west walkway. On the Marin side at the end of the Vista Point parking lot is a bike lane parallel to Highway 101, which then turns off to Alexander Ave. The road winds through Sausalito offering a beautiful view of the bay. The Golden Gate Bridge also links to the waterfront Bay Trail of Crissy Field and the Marina District, a four-mile, flat stretch of bike path set aside just for bicycles.

• To ride to the Marin Headlands, ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and take Alexander Ave., under Highway 101 into the Marin Headlands. The uphill climb may be tough on the legs, but the spectacular view of the city, bay and Pacific Ocean will make the trek worthwhile. The one-way distance from the Vista Point parking lot on the San Francisco side of the bridge to Sausalito is about 3.5 miles.

• The Marina District, in the northern part of the city, offers several residential, art deco buildings, the Palace of Fine Arts and the Exploratorium; the sidewalk in Aquatic Park offers a flat area for beginning riders. Keep biking west of the Palace of Fine Arts and you will find the 1,400-acre Presidio, newly converted (since October 1994) from army base to national park. Several roads go through the Presidio's greenery, which offers a park-like atmosphere with large, thickly wooded areas. While riding along Lincoln Blvd. in the Presidio, check out the great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands.

• With its three bicycle lanes, the flat three-mile sidewalk along Ocean Beach (Great Highway) provides a good workout and can be incorporated into a longer tour of the Sunset District. Ride south on the Great Highway for two miles past the San Francisco Zoo to Sloat Blvd. and turn right onto Lake Merced Blvd., then ride the five miles around the lake and nearby golf courses.

• An added challenge for Great Highway bikers is to ride north from Lake Merced toward the Cliff House, and prepare for a 200-foot ascent. Veer right onto Point Lobos Ave. after passing Seal Rocks in the Pacific, then turn right on 43rd Ave. and coast downhill to Golden Gate Park and enter at Chain of Lakes Dr. East, which takes you back onto John F. Kennedy Dr.

• For those courageous enough to venture into the bustling Financial District, weekends are best (when traffic is light). Bicycles with wide tires are recommended because of the cable car tracks.

• Along Fisherman's Wharf on the northern edge of the city, riders can pass by tempting seafood stalls and retail complexes, then continue west towards Aquatic Park, with Hyde St. Pier and its antique boats. Be warned, though, that crowded conditions on weekends may force cyclists to get off their bikes and mingle with the pedestrians. Be sure to cross cable car tracks at a right angle.

• For a whole day's journey, follow the 49-Mile Drive (www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/maps/49miledrive.asp), mapped by the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. Begin at the Civic Center and look for the "49-Mile Scenic Drive" signs, which will take you around most parts of the city.

 Several bike rental and tour companies offer bicycle rentals around San Francisco:

• Avenue Cyclery  756 Stanyan St.  415-387-3155  info@avenuecyclery.com  http://www.avenuecyclery.com  Media contact: Andrew Yao, 415-387-3155 

• Bay City Bike Rentals and Tours  2661 Taylor St.  415-346-2453

 Or

 1325 Columbus Ave.  415-346-2453  baycitybike@baycitybike.com  http://www.baycitybike.com  Media contact: Jeanne Orellana, 415-827-2453

• Bike and Roll San Francisco  899 Columbus Ave.  415-229-2000  info@bicyclerental.com  http://www.bikeandroll.com  Media contact: Dan Miller, 415-229-2000

• Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals & Tours  2715 Hyde St.  415-202-8888  info@blazingsaddles.com  http://www.blazingsaddles.com  Media contact: Ross Halvorsen, 415-282-1975 

• Golden Gate Park Skate & Bike 3038 Fulton St. 415-668-1117 http://www.goldengateparkbikeandskate.com Media Contact: Dave Hobie, Owner, 415-668-1117

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  For general information on hotel packages and reservations; events; activities and transportation in San Francisco, visit www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com.  For lodging reservations, call 800-637-5196 within North America or 415-391-2000 elsewhere.

The San Francisco Visitors Planning Guide is available at the Visitor Information Center, 900 Market St., at the corner of Powell and Market streets, lower level, Hallidie Plaza.  A visitor's kit may also be ordered online at www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com, by phone at 415-391-2000, by written request to the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, 900 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94102, or via email to vic1@sanfrancisco.travel.  Domestic and international shipping charges apply.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop links with more than 30 international points on 25 international carriers. The Bay Area's largest airport connects non-stop with more than 65 cities in the U.S. on 20 domestic airlines.  For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit www.flysfo.com. Note to editors: To access and download images from the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau’s online photo gallery, click on the link http://www.sfcvb.org/travel_media/photolibrary.asp.