Step up your game
Being a pedestrian in 2017 San Francisco is rough. In fact, it’s deadly. More people are on the road. Drivers are killing us in record numbers. Ride-hailing companies have turned streets into cash cows. And said companies use San Francisco streets as testing grounds for driverless cars.
And yet, now more than ever before, drivers and transit agencies scold and shame ped-only commuters. From victim-blaming ads by Caltrans to West Hollywood’s absurd musical PSA, pedestrians are being told to yield to deadly gas and metal machines zipping by at 40-plus mph.
You, the pedestrian, have the right of way. Always. No qualifiers or conditions. Bikes and cars should always be on the lookout for you. I won’t infantilize you by telling you to look both ways before crossing (you already know that) or chide you for using your phone on Market Street.
But some of you pedestrians are lagging behind. Some of you could sharpen your etiquette. Here’s how.
Stay to the right
When using an escalator, stand to the right to allow people to pass on the left. Most of you know this doctrine. Some do but don’t follow it. Do it.
When texting or using your phone, veer off to the right so that the people behind you can pass. Do not come to an immediate stop, as some of you do; veer off to the right and pay mind to pedestrians behind you.
Groups of slow walkers need to stop the tomfoolery
No one likes a meandering walker, especially a group of them waddling four abreast. The pace of walking in San Francisco, save for the impaired of the disabled, should be brisk. Sunday-afternoon-in-Carmel strolls have no place on busy sidewalks. If you are a group taking up the entire sidewalk and you see someone walking up in the opposite direction, move out of the way and let people go around you.
Standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk
The plague of standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk, seen often on Valencia or Divisadero, is curable. Boorish and thoughtless, this is the “well, actually” of pedestrian behavior. It’s privileged behavior. The world is not your living room. Stand to the side, please.
Using the timed crosswalk
Three seconds left on the clock is not enough time to cross major streets without leaving you in the path of an automobile.
It’s illegal to ride scooters on city sidewalks
Razors, hoverboards, or electronic unicycles on our sidewalks are verboten in business districts. They’re also obnoxious. Move to the suburbs if you feel our sidewalks need to be hacked.
Cyclists, do not ride on the sidewalk
It doesn’t matter if an Uber is in the bike lane, that doesn’t give you the right jump on the cement. Get off your bike and walk it. (Note: It’s legal to ride your bike along the Embarcadero, but you still must ride slow to avoid pedestrian collisions.)
Display effort to cross the street as quickly as possible
Unless you are impaired or holding a toddler’s hand, do not slowly stroll, taking your time, enjoying the view. People could be walking behind you. Don’t leave fellow pedestrians caught in the red-light zone.
Look behind you from time to time
Make sure you're not blocking the path of someone moving at a faster pace.
Be careful while slaloming down the avenue, slick
Some people walk slow, and it’s beyond their control. The elderly, people with disabilities, or kids move at a slower pace. Be courteous.
Foodies blocking sidewalks waiting in line
You’re not very nice.
Sidewalks are not gyms
Newfangled outdoor exercise is great. However, some classes have seeped onto busy city sidewalks. Jogging is one thing. Sprints, marathons, group workouts on the sidewalk are beyond the pale.
Be willing to move your umbrella
Umbrellas are space hogs. Get ready to move them up, down, sideways, or in the process of folding it up, in order to be at harmony with your fellow pedestrians. Once folded, aim your umbrella at the ground.
People with strollers could use help
“Parents with kids in strollers do want your help at difficult curbs, with the door to stores and restaurants, etc.,” says Curbed Boston editor Tom Acitelli. “I used to think otherwise, until I was put in the position. Pitch in!”
Remember: Drivers kill pedestrians
Unintentional or not, drivers and their vehicles hurt pedestrians—fatally. And yet, in lieu of slowing down to save lives, drivers continue to demand pedestrians follow a litany of rules (e.g., make eye contact, don’t talk and walk, don’t listen to music and walk, don’t use phone and walk, don’t do anything other than watch out for cars) for walking in a public space. And in San Francisco, it’s not getting better. Drivers stop in the middle of crosswalks without consequence.
Is there a good resource for pedestrian safety in action?
There sure is: Vision Zero aims to end all serious and fatal traffic injuries by 2024. In 2013, a near-record of 21 pedestrians and four bicyclists were killed by lethal traffic crimes, including a 6-year-old girl and an 86-year-old man.
According to Vision Zero, “Over 50 percent of the people killed in traffic crashes in the city are pedestrians (even though only 20 percent of the trips taken in the city are by foot); the national average for pedestrians killed in traffic violence is only 14 percent.”
Learn more, take to the streets, and walk with pride.
These old railroads once defined the Bay Area
UPDATE: The original version of this map was published in April 2015.
David Edmondson, who blogs about transportation at the Greater Marin, once used archival timetables to create a map of Marin's Northwestern Pacific Interurban commuter line, which shut down in 1941. Now he's done the same thing for the railroads that crisscrossed the Bay Area, painstakingly reconstructing the routes of every train in the region using a 1937 edition of the Official Guide to the Railways.
The resulting infographic mashes up the routes of bygone railways in one new, modern supermap.
"While we do have old maps showing where the rails were," Edmondson writes, "these are rail maps, not service maps."
To make the map, Edmondson copied the timetables of railways and analyzed their speeds, frequencies, and downtime at stations to create a visual service map.
As Edmondson told CityLab, parts of the old routes are still in use today: Caltrain still follows the blue lines from San Francisco to San Jose, and the forthcoming SMART train will trace part of the former Northwestern Pacific line from Cloverdale to San Rafael.
Edmondson also created rail maps in additional cities, including the Washington, DC–Baltimore region.
Comes with atrium, extended roof deck, and gold bathroom
Sitting across the street from Grace Cathedral, Gramercy Towers is a contemporary high-rise that doesn’t look like much from the outside. But once inside this penthouse, now on the market, a 1980s quasi-European vibe sets in.
Coming in at two-beds and two baths, the highlight of this top-floor home are the recent additions—an atrium and roof deck. Not just any roof deck. A massive roof deck. A roof deck so big that it almost matches the living space.
Wait. Scratch that. This pad’s true jaw dropper is the bathroom—a loo decked out in wall-to-wall mirrors, gold tile, and brass.
The decor is a lot. Like, a lot. But in this era of suffocating minimalism, a lot isn’t a bad thing.
Other luxe amenities include a landscaped drive-in courtyard; 24-hour doorman; health club with an indoor pool, fitness equipment, spa and sauna.
Asking is $2,295,000.
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Hey y’all! Josh here reporting in from beyond the
grave vacation to tell you that Uncle Lumpy loves you all too much to favor one commenter over another, so there’s no COTW this week. But I still wanted to remind the Los Angeles-adjacent among you that you should come see me in Chats on Cats, a live late-night talk show all about cats, tomorrow at 10:30 pm at UCB Sunset!
I’ll be talking about my emotional journey with the feral cats I’ve been feeding and trapping and fixing in our neighborhood — if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you’ve seen lots of pictures of them, but now you can get the full, funny story. Plus there are lots of other hilarious people on the show — don’t miss it! You can buy tickets here ($7, with $1 from each ticket going to Spay Neuter Project of Los Angeles) or see the Facebook event here.
And as ever, we must give thanks to our advertisers:
- Two Party Opera: A daily comic that features the Presidents of the United States as they live on the stage of history with the day-to-day news of political mudslinging.
- Oh hey, and don’t forget, I wrote a book! You can get it in hardcover, paperback or ebook forms. It’s called The Enthusiast, and it’s about trains, comics, stealth marketing, capitalism, and joy.
If you would like to buy advertising on the Comics Curmudgeon, and get a text shoutout in these posts, get the details on my BuySellAds page.
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Get ready for future shock now
With a new public poll, San Francisco City Hall is looking into the future. But its crystal ball is a bit hazy, and maybe even a little bit cracked.
The ConnectSF survey invites everyday San Franciscans to advise the city on the possible future so as to “prepare and build the best possible transportation system for San Francisco.”
ConnectSF is an amalgam of several different city agencies, including the Planning Department, SFMTA, and Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
The city does plenty of polls and surveys testing the citizenry’s attitude about public services, but this one goes in a strange direction.
Each time you click through, the survey site presents you with a hypothetical scenario about what San Francisco might look like in the year 2065 and then asks how you feel about that potential future.
“The scenarios are not predictions,” ConnectSF is quick to warn. “Each scenario is intended to help highlight possible changes ahead and how the city prepares for them.”
Some of the possible futures seem fairly plausible, like this one which sounds like the real San Francisco with the volume turned up:
By 2065 San Francisco has become a desirable but elite city with services that work well for wealthy and established residents. Less wealthy people mostly live outside of the City and commute in to work. For those who can afford it, the quality of life is high.
Other scenarios get more outlandish. In one, a mass economic depression squashes SF’s economy and the city breaks down into semi-autonomous sub governments each based around particular neighborhoods trying to provide services on their own turf.
Another possible future sounds a little bit like a cyberpunk novel:
In 2065, the free market is the major force in San Francisco. Government has taken a back seat. Public works and services such as operating public transportation, public education, and maintaining other public services are contracted out to private companies. Decisions that affect San Francisco are primarily made by corporations along with a handful of elected officials and the remaining City staff.
Each scenario gives poll subjects some basic info about life in 2065 (population increased or decreased, taxes up or down relative to current levels, public transit faster or slower) and then asks you to rate this possibility as either acceptable, unacceptable, or neutral.
The city is in effect conducting public opinion polls of alternate dimensions and future timelines.
While this sounds a a plot for a Star Trek sequel rather than a tool for shaping public policy (none of the proposed 2065’s mention the founding of Starfleet in San Francisco, for the record), it is nifty to consider the possibilities of each fantasy future.
And hey, maybe the city will actually learn something about transit planning priorities from all of this. Somehow?
- ConnectSF Survey [Survey Monkey]
Make a wish
As Curbed’s Transportation Week draws to a close we consider: What’s missing from this picture?
Almost every San Franciscan thinks the city could use more of something or another. What’s the crucial missing ingredient that would make getting the city better?
Perhaps it’s time to return to more popular and efficacious modes of transit: more ferries, more cable cars, or even more private mass transit? Or are new technologies like self-driving cars, flying cars (it could happen), Hyperloops, and automation the key?
Leave a comment and let us know what you think should get (and keep) San Francisco moving in the years to come.
Although I came in last during Curbed’s city challenge, a transportation-themed competition among myself and the editors of Curbed sites in Los Angeles and New York, it’s important to remember that, chronic Muni delays notwithstanding, San Francisco still has one of the best transit systems in the country.
And as much as I love to bemoan our city’s transit infrastructure—rightfully so—I wouldn’t live here without it.
Come on, folks. What other city on the west coast has two underground subway systems? What other city has a ride-hailing system for its queer populace? What other city has historic streetcars that take you directly to In-N-Out?
As a diehard pedestrian whose work, social life, and food/drink requirements are all within a five-block radius of my SoMa apartment, the challenge allowed me to step outside my comfort zone.
The biggest surprise was how fast it took to get from SFO to Fisherman’s Wharf. For denizens of Baghdad by the Bay, those two locales could be the north and south pole. But getting from point A to point B wasn’t entirely horrific.
As vehicular driving in the city has turned into a waking nightmare, which is only getting worse, I take solace knowing that San Francisco is still a place known for its choice public transportation. (That being said, BART still has ways to go before making transportation safe and accessible for people with disabilities.)
Which is why I, a driver with two car crashes to his name, continue to live here. Not for the Victorians. Not for the Castro. Not for the burritos. I live here for that packed Muni train and that damn bus that never comes on time.
Fellow public transit nerds, I wear the bronze medal for all of us.