EDITORS NOTES It’s a good thing the Giants were at home Friday night, or I might have tried to drive across the Bay Bridge. Always a bad idea after work, always a worse idea on a Friday, when the backup starts somewhere around SF General Hospital. I spent almost two hours getting past Berkeley one Friday when I thought we could leave at 3:30 and beat the traffic. When the Giants are in town, it’s impossible.
It’s so crowded nobody drives there any more. Or something like that. I didn’t.
Instead, I got on my bike and rode to BART, took the Richmond train to North Berkeley, and rode a few blocks to a birthday party on University Avenue. Cost $7.70, I think, for the round trip. Took less than an hour each way, including biking home up Bernal Hill. The late train back was party central, with the bridge and tunnel crowd all decked out in club finery and a woman singing full-volume along with her phone.
“How was I?” she asked me. “Ready for American Idol,” I said.
I could have been stuck in traffic.
This is how life is going to have to be in the future, and it’s not a bad picture. One of the main reasons I like riding my bike in San Francisco, and I hate driving, is that I know exactly how long it’s going to take me to get somewhere on two wheels. On four, it could be 15 minutes, or it could be an hour.
The thing is, we’re so used to the idea that cars are the fastest way to get around — and in some places, sometimes they are. If we fixed up the city the way we should (which would mean changing not only the lane patterns but the directions of some streets) cars would almost always be the worst and slowest way to go most places.
Either way, in this Bike to Work Day issue, were explore the idea that speeding around town at 30 miles an hour in your personal can isn’t a natural right of all people. In fact, Jason Henderson, a professor at San Francisco state who I interviewed argues that the most environmentally sound thing we can do in urban areas might be to … slow down.
Hard to imagine, that. This city runs on speed: Tech speed, work speed, party speed, frenetic speed … I can’t imagine not being in a serious rush for a large part of my day. It’s nice, sometimes, to think about the alternative.