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

Posts Tagged 'travel'

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.

The 48 Quintara

When Muni started the 48 Quintara bus line some where back in the 80’s I was happy because I could be a lazy guy and just walk down to the corner to catch a bus. I like many never stayed on past West Portal station, but now I’ve been given a reason to and it’s an interesting trip that shows the social and cultural stratification of the people along the route.

I hop on in the central Sunset and most of the people that are on or getting on are of Asian decent. Most of elderly or at least in the 60+ category [60 is young nowadays]. As you continue on the route the people who get on are mostly Asian again until you hit West Portal. Then the bus empties out. There might be 5 people left at most. Then as you continue on the drive up Portola into Diamond heights the crowd changes. Once you make the turn off of Clipper onto Grandview the crowd gets decidedly hip and Caucasian. I see younger people with iPhones and iPad looking at no one else except their screens. As the bus turns off of Douglas onto 24th street you now start to see the age go down. early 40’s on Grandview to 30’s on 24th and Douglas and then it drops down to the 20’s around Castro and 24th street.

As the bus reaches Valencia street all the young hipsters vacate the bus probably stopping at a cafe before going to work or the Mission campus of City College to help them develop their mad skills in graphic design or computer programing. The next stop is Mission street where the last stragglers get off to hop onto BART, which as I have noted is a nice ride. This is also the part where all the Hispanic people jump on the bus.

I find it interesting that San Francisco as a city has worked to integrate everyone together over the years making it so people of all races can live together, but when you get on the bus you see the real picture. While we don’t mind people of other races, we still like to live amongst our kind.

BART vs. Muni

Last Friday I had to meet up with a friend I’m doing some freelance work for and I had to meet her in Oakland. As you know I have a hatred for the Bay Bridge, so I suggested that if we could meet somewhere near a BART station that would work out best for me. She found a coffee shop right next to the Rockridge BART station so we had a date.

Now it’s been close to 10 years since I’ve taken a trip on BART and it was hard to remember what it was like back then. Well, 10 years ago is a long time these days. I hopped on MUNI and rode it down to Embarcadero and went up and then back down to BART. The first thing I noticed was that there were fewer people waiting for BART. The MUNI had been jammed up all the way down to Embarcadero with people who were more likely to push and shove to get their way around. BART was a whole different story.

First off, MUNI has cold hard seats that encourage you to spend as little time on it as possible. BART had nice cushioned, comfy seats that while being stained a bit and dirty wasn’t so bad. There was also lots of room on BART and less people. I do remember many years ago when I had to use BART during rush hour to travel to a rehearsal space in Oakland that was fairly uncomfortable, but nothing near what it was during rush hour in the city.

So as I’m sitting down in my comfy chair and we speed off into the transbay tunnel the first thing I noticed was that we were going fast. Then I noticed it was kind of loud. I pulled out my iPhone to run my decibel meter to find out that the average noise level was 95db with a peak of 105db. That’s louder than MUNI, but then I noticed something I never noticed on MUNI. I had 5 bars of service underwater and free WiFi access. WTF? Why doesn’t San Francisco have this? There was a guy sitting across from me who was happily surfing the web and going work on his laptop while we were cruising along just like me on my iPhone. I kind of wished I had the iPad with me as it would have been enjoyable to watch a TV show while I was cruising along.

It turns out that to watch a half hour TV show I would have had to travel almost to Pittsburgh to get the whole show in. BART is fast. It also uses the Clipper card now so I didn’t have to buy an extra ticket enroute that I would probably never use within the next 10 years. All in all, it was a nice fast trip. In the BART station the announcements were in a very well spoken, understandable English and the stations overall just seemed cleaner. There were signs that told you which stops to get off at for the various destinations around the Bay which was a nice addition as I didn’t realize how easy it was to get to places outside of San Francisco. Now if they could only find a way to put a station near IKEA and the shopping centers next to it we would travel across the bay far more often. I think I may have found an alternative to the hell of the Bay Bridge, I just need to see what’s around the stations for me to visit.

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