2006/08/27

It's Frogger on the Streets of San Francisco

1998 was a bad year for Babylon by the Bay. That year we had 53 vehicular fatalities of which 32 were pedestrians or bicyclists. That's a pedestrian killed by a cager once every 11 goddamned days! And this year, we're on track to equal that number. In other words, the moment I step out of my San Francisco flat I have 1 in 22,000 chance of dying under the wheels of some idiot's car. It's f*cking Frogger out there, and I'd be about 200 times more safe if I took a 737 to work instead of walking!

Ironically, in a bout of tremendous wrong-headedness, the City is once again placing the emphasis on pedestrians: Countdown timers at crosswalks, brighter markings, and education programs. But in the end, we need to deal with the cagers because, let's face it...Granny not making it across the intersection before the countdown timer expires isn't going to cause a fatality, and a mobility impaired person isn't going to speed up because you've given them a "death clock".

Here are some ideas. How about confiscating the vehicles of red-light runners? And if you're a bus driver? You lose your job. Period! How about we increase the fines for speeding downtown by a factor of...oh say...10! Better still, how about we close downtown to cars altogether. Don't like it? TOUGH! I too old for video games, even one's where I'm the goddamned star!

17 Comments:

"Here are some ideas. How about confiscating the vehicles of red-light runners? And if you're a bus driver? You lose your job. Period! How about we increase the fines for speeding downtown by a factor of...oh say...10! Better still, how about we close downtown to cars altogether."

I couldn't agree more, Froggy. After participating in my second Critical Mass the other night, I'm convinced this city would be so much better without cars all over the damn place. The land within the city limits roughly forms a seven by seven mile square, which should be easily navigable by bicycle or on foot, with public transportation available for those who are less mobile.

You're right. It's time the city focused on protecting us pedestrians/bicyclists rather than "educating" us.
That'd be one way to help end America's octane addiction!
I thought it was cute when Australia started doing away with marked cross walks because they gave peds a false sense of security.
Traffic lights are even worse, as drivers are too busy monitoring them to watch for peds.
On Sydney council just installed crossing lights in a popular 'little Italy' precinct. The transport authority will force them to remove this little ped helper because it throws out the bus timetables.
PT, in the battle between car and pedestrian, the car always frickin' wins. Cagers need to get this through their heads and take responsibility.

Lew, would be cool wouldn't it. It's too bad there are so few cities in the US where living without a car is a viable alternative.

Cartledge, we had a similar problem here. We had GATSOs for red light running in our South of Market area, and they worked! But the state forced them to be deactivated by claiming that there were no stats to support that they were effective. (There were the state choose to ignore them because they hadn't been 'approved' by CalTrans.)
Out on my AM run on Thursday I counted no less than four red-light runners that could have snuffed my ass if I didn't look both ways twice. And, you can always count on the Muni drivers to run the yellow and red lights, and for what? an on time schedule? Fuck. Like they are ever on schedule?

It is like frogger out there, by fine amphibious friend. Be safe.
Those cars are mostly from someplace else. Take a look at the commute in and out. I bet at least 80% of the cars have one person in them while the carpool lanes are empty.

SF has one of the better transportation systems. Between MUNI, BART, Caltrain,, etc., there is no reason to drive a car to work (or even downtown for almost any reason). I survived just fine.

I had a car for the last 2 of the 15 years I lived there but I didn't drive it except to leave town.

Downtown is a disaster.
I am a walker and do not even own a car but, how on god's green earth one can keep on walking up those deep hills of SF? I was there once quite a while ago but my heart rate is still way up.
So how about Melbourne? From the Age:
An elderly man has died in hospital after being struck by a cyclist in Melbourne's south on the weekend.

The 77-year-old Mentone man was crossing Beach Road at a traffic light near the intersection of Naples Road in Mentone at 8.30am on Saturday.

At the time, the "Hell Ride" - a weekly communal ride involving cyclists in groups of 100 or more - was taking place along Beach Road.
I guess we have that good here in Belgium. Pedestrians and bikers have absolute right of way (even bikers in the street where there is no bike path--which is rare). If you hit a biker or ped here, the fines are massive (and so is your legal liablity). I haven't driven in over a month--the husband just uses the car when he has to travel for work. Since walking and biking are so easy, most people do that instead. I wonder if that also has something to do with the fact that gas is over $7/gallon?
My god, you people have no sense of FUN. Ya'll should get into your Hummers, and take aim at pedestrians. Points are scored: you get 1 point for every mobility challenged person in a crosswalk; 2 points for people on bicycles; 2 points for police. You win the game if you score ten points, or hit a pregnant nun.

All downtown areas should be free of automobiles - parking should be in lots, which frankly should be free; and public transportation needs to be accessible and frequent. When I lived in Chicago, I rode my bicycle or took public transportation to work. Here in Los Angeles, I have to drive - and I hate driving.
I guess trafic everywhere is out of control. I know it sure is here. If you think they are going to stop at a traffic light, get ready to be hit. You can usually count five cars to go through after the light has turned red. I don't know if there aren't enough cops or what it is.
WS, in the Tendernob where I live, it's drivers turning left from a one way to a one way. They don't slow down. They don't look for pedestrians. It's like they figure since their view is obstructed, they figure there are no people in the intersection. F*cking morons!

Granny, I don't know about that SF only has 750K residents, but we have 465K cars! Though you're right we have a very extensive transit system, and nobody should need a car here.

Pekka...welcome. Two words...public transit. Buses, cable-cars, streetcars, BART. We've got it all. But as to the hills...nature's gym, I say. :-)
Cartledge, how compact is Melbourne and how good is it's public transit? My experience with Sydney is that it's pretty spread out. Very unlike Brisbane (the other Australian city I've visited) where living without a car would be very doable.

Sothis, I'd kill for pedestrian "use" laws like the ones in Europe. Never happen here unfortunately. Back in Northern Virginia (where I used to live), bicyclists didn't even have a right to the road.

Diva, yeah I thought about that Hummer thing, but where would I park it?

PoP, perhaps catching red-light runners is more difficult than catching speeders. Don't know.
kvatch, I didn't use a car in Sydney for years. Melbourne is spread out too, but transport is good.
Just depends where you livwe and what you do, but we cool folk always like to live in the heart...
Don't dismiss those countdown timers--they really are helpful, as far as they go. But apart from that, I agree with your proposed solutions.

It's time the city focused on protecting us pedestrians/bicyclists rather than "educating" us.

I really wish I could believe in some sort of victim-based solidarity between bicyclists and peds, but I can't. In my experience, bicyclists have even less regard than drivers for a pedestrian's right of way (with less dire results, granted, but still--fucking obnoxious).

And don't even get me started on Critical Fucking Mass, which fucks over peds (ever try to cross the street when those selfish fucks are riding against the light?) and transit riders just as much as it does individual drivers. Critical Mass has never been about anything other than the 'right' of bicyclists to disregard the rules of the road when they feel like it.
That many cars? I must have been hanging out with the wrong crowd. We all took MUNI although some of the people who lived out in the avenues and had garages may have had cars they used on weekends as I did.

You're probably right though. The city has changed a lot since I first moved there many years ago and not for the better.
In my experience, bicyclists have even less regard than drivers for a pedestrian's right of way (with less dire results, granted, but still--fucking obnoxious).

Tom, though I agree that there are many bicyclists that ignore the rules of the road--and let me be clear I have no sympathy for them--they simply aren't having to manuever a 2 ton vehicle. So...less responsibility IMHO. That said, rules-of-the-road-wise...ticket the hell out of 'em if they run a red, fail to signal, etc...

Granny, nope car-wise it's definitely not better. Car sharing is helping, but it hasn't gone nearly far enough.

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