EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 car | Baghdad By The Bay - Part 2

Posts Tagged 'car'

Electric Charging Stations In San Francisco

I went to my local Walgreen’s today and got a surprise. They had a charging station for electric cars. This was a first for me as I didn’t know that we had any set up yet, but had heard of talk about them being installed. All of these are owned by a company called Chargepoint.net and they charge $3 per hour to charge your electric car. While this is a cool idea, I think that when you charge your car at home and have to pay somewhere around 25¢ per KWh the price is a bit steep.

I’m not sure how many KWh hours a typical car needs to be fully charged, but I’m sure it’s less than the $65 I currently pay to fill my car up every month [we rarely need to drive outside the Sunset District, so most of our trips are short.] I also can’t exactly see why if I’m mostly driving in the Sunset District that I would need to fill up my battery on a trip to Walgreen’s less than a mile from my house when on average electric cars get about 100 miles on a charge [quoting the Nissan Leaf].

I could see if you were driving from SF to someplace outside the city that was at least a 50 mile drive and needed to be there for a couple of hours that a system like this would work well. Say we take the family out in our electric car for a drive down to San Jose for a couple of hours then it would make sense to charge up the car before we drove home, but the way we drive we would be able to do it much cheaper at home.

As you can see from the photo the charging station doesn’t have a solar panel which would make it even more green. The electric car brigade is still in its infancy and needs some fine tuning still. They’ll need to work the bugs out over the next few years, but at least it’s a good start. While people who live in the Sunset know that sun and this part of the city do not go hand in hand solar panels would still be a good addition.

I like the idea that there is a push in this city towards being more green since after watching a show last night on Hong Kong that the breathing the air there is similar to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day that I like our air quality here and if there’s people trying to make it better I’m all for that.

We still have the problem that not all electric cars have the same hook up so just because there’s a charging station there doesn’t mean you can hook your car up to it. Nissan has teamed up with chargepoint.net so that’s great if you buy a Leaf, but not so good if you’ve bought a car that hasn’t teamed up with them.  There are still some kinks to be worked out, but I think this is a good start.

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Crossing the Slot

San Francisco is a city that as my wife once quoted a person from Maine as saying, “Ya can’t get there from here.” Traveling is a difficult task because of the central hills and Golden Gate Park that has caused our transit system to bore holes through the hills to make it easier to get to downtown. The Richmond and Sunset districts occupy approximately half of San Francisco and are divided by the Slot, or Golden Gate Park. Originally, Market street was referred to as the Slot and the SoMA region was called South of the Slot, but today Market St is more of a slit for travelers than a slot.

Golden Gate Park is a massive part of the city being three times the size of New York’s Central Park. The problem with it is while it is a great outdoor open space there’s really only four places to cross the park. I’ll address each of these individually. The first is Ocean Beach where while it is a great place to drive is only two lanes in either direction That’s rather sumptuous compared to other places, but it is also subject to frequent closures due to public events such as the Bay to Breakers and other public events. It’s still one of my first choices when I have to travel to areas northwest in San Francisco.

The next is the 41st avenue [Sunset side] and 43rd avenue [Richmond side]. This is one lane in either direction with two stop signs to slow you down and leads to traffic pile ups.Quite frequently if you need to get to the northwest section of town crossing here will be slower than traveling down to the beach and using Great Highway. It’s a beautiful drive, but it will add time to your drive that feels like house when it is only minutes.

Next is 19th Avenue which while on the Richmond side is Park Presidio all the traffic reporters refer to as 19th avenue. This is the biggest three lanes in either direction transit point for getting to the Golden Gate Bridge. Because of this it is always crowded. There have been times when traveling there are smooth, but they are rare. If an accident occurs here it is usually within Golden Gate Park and will back up traffic all the way to Daly City.

The last is at Stanyan Street which most people ignore because even though it is two lanes in either direction, it’s a nightmare of traffic to wade through even though people supposedly ignore it. The Stanyan street corridor is one of the most congested streets of the city. I always use it as a last resort because even during the day when you would expect little traffic it has lots of traffic.

There are a few other areas you can use to get around such as the Lincoln Blvd and Fulton Street areas that run parallel to the park, but those usually get congested during rush hour because they’re the only areas with wide enough lanes to allow drivers to travel over the speed limit [c’mon admit it who hasn’t hit 60 mph on one of these streets?]

When I used to live out closer to the beach I used to enter on 41st Avenue and actually drive through the park in the mornings. It was a leisurely drive that few people take. While it is on the slow side, it is quite pleasant overall. It may add some time to your trip, but at least you’ll have a smile on your face.

San Francisco needs to realize that with half of the city being taken up with residents of the Richmond and Sunset districts that it needs to find an easy way to get there from here. Richmond residents have Geavy Blvd to get them downtown that while large is frequently crowded. The Sunset has no direct route to downtown by car except the Oak Street/Fell Street corridor along the panhandle which in the mornings is a nightmare to travel. SFMTA riders have access to downtown via West Portal station, yet Richmond riders have only the 38 Geary to get them downtown. Yes, there are other busses in the Richmond, but they take you twice as long as the Geary.

The next Mayor of San Francisco will have to take a look at finding a way to get the citizens of San Francisco from here to there quickly and efficiently.

Grizzly Bears? In Golden Gate Park?

Today’s column comes from The Western Neighborhoods Project, run by Woody LaBounty. Woody has collected a group of people who remember the old days from their own stories and ones that have been passed down to them by relatives. I’m trying to dig through my archives of stuff my Mom used to tell me about how the city had changed from when she was a kid. I’m glad her vision was going because she’d probably not like today. So here’s another one from the Good Ole days file.
Golden Gate Park Children’s Playground 

Golden Gate Park Children's Playgroundby Pat French Swendsen

(Originally published in theRichmond Review andSunset Beacon,January 2002)

Yes, there were grizzly bears in Golden Gate Park, near the Children’s Playground.

Far from the benign setting of swings and sand boxes, the bears roamed gloomily in a sunken, almost underground, alleyway near smelly, dank dens where the bears lived.

Before they were removed from the park, the giants of the wild were confined in this cavernous layout as people peered down on the bears from above, standing on strong iron bars.

The playground at that time contained a wonderful corkscrew metal slide. It had nice architectural touches, including stairs that looked like fancy furnace floor vents. Sometimes on hot, sunny days the slide would get very hot, but that was never a problem—the trip down was always swift.

There were also elephants in the park. Children could ride in a seat on the elephant’s back along a designated path: two rides for a nickel. I never found out where the elephants went at night or where they came from (retired from a circus?), but it was an exotic ride that for a few moments transported us to India, where we felt important and powerful.

One of my fondest memories of the Children’s Playground was getting into a scooter that would go down a concrete path from the top of a nearby hill to the bottom. An eager young man always started our journey at the top when we were securely seated in the Kiddie Car. When riding in the cars, the “clickity clack” of the wheels could be heard as we sped along. It was marvelous.

The nearby merry-go-round was a whole other scene, with its mirrored panels and glockenspiel sounds coming from a loud music box. At the end of a ride, there would be a rush of kids coming to grab their favorite animals for the next ride.

Sometimes we barely had three seconds to get off the animal before someone else was trying to get on. For many children, a dream ride was on the line.

Everyone had their favorite rides on the carousel—the giraffes were wonderfully high but didn’t move and the chariots where mothers sat with their toddlers were a choice of last resort.

The swings at the old playground were different than today, with the seats of the swings being made of heavy wooden rectangles that gave many a youth a bloody nose for standing too close. Other features at the park included steel ladders that were mounted horizontally so we could swing on them rung-to-rung.

That was a long time ago, but I still have many fond, poignant memories.

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