A Few Thoughts as I Depart Streetsblog San Francisco
Today was my last day as editor of Streetsblog San Francisco. Just like the day I published my first story, I spent the morning talking to bicyclists at a trouble spot. One of the great joys of this job has been interviewing people in the field. Some of my best moments have been spent talking to strangers. I’ve learned so much from those encounters.
I took this job three years ago because I was angry at the state of the streets in San Francisco. While we’ve made a lot of progress in that time, we still haven’t arrived at the game-changing moment. So none of that anger I had when I was first hired has subsided. An advocacy news organization like Streetsblog will continue to be crucial in the years ahead to ensure the change that is so needed on our streets.
As I depart, three things are heavily on my mind, and disturb me as both an advocate and a journalist: the high numbers of bicyclists and pedestrians who continue to be killed and hurt on our streets by drivers, the inertia and dysfunction in all levels of San Francisco city government that is preventing safer streets, and the great veil of government secrecy that still exists despite our local Sunshine Ordinance. That’s why I plan to continue my career as a journalist, fighting to knock down these walls.
I’m relieved to know that OpenPlans is committed to keep Streetsblog going. It is a bittersweet moment for me to write this last post to you. OpenPlans is in the process of searching for the next person to run Streetsblog SF, and in the meantime you’ll still be able to tune in every day for your morning headlines fix.
I owe a great deal of thanks to so many people. Thank you Streetsblog founding editor Aaron Naparstek for hiring me. I could never have done this without former Streetsblog deputy editor Matthew Roth, who turned me into an advocate, made me a better writer and has become a great friend. Former Streetsblog reporters Michael Rhodes and Aaron Bialick were great to work with, and helped me immensely. I continue to be inspired by the legendary historian and activist Chris Carlsson, whose writing contributions were always a treasure. Streetsblog editor-in-chief Ben Fried also made me a better writer, and his tireless work on behalf of the organization is also inspiring. Thanks for all your support Ben.
Also, thank you Leah Shahum, Andy Thornley, Kit Hodge, Marc Caswell, Neal Patel, Kate McCarthy, Brook DuBose and many others associated with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Michael Helquist of BIKE NOPA has been one of my closest advisers and friends. Tom Radulovich of Livable City sat me down and gave me a kind of Sustainable Transportation and Land Use 101 when I first started, and he is one of the brightest minds on the issues. Elizabeth Stampe at Walk SF has done an excellent job since she took over as executive director, and the organization is more high-profile than it’s ever been. Thank you also to Walk SF President Manish Champsee. Susan King and Beth Byrne at Sunday Streets are two of my favorite people, and I’m going to miss working with them. I learned a great deal from Dave Snyder, now the executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition, and we had some great times. Jason Henderson’s insight has also been invaluable. David Alumbaugh, Andres Power and all the talented folks at the Planning Department’s City Design Group were very, very helpful. I know I’m forgetting quite a few people here, but thank you all for making my job easier.
And of course, my thanks to all of you, our great community of readers. You’ve kept me honest. I’ve met some of you in the bike lane, and your passion and smarts on the issues continue to impress me.
I get annoyed that Critical Mass is frequently dismissed as a fringe event for scofflaw cyclists, but it’s been really key in sparking so many movements around the world. And that’s where I plan to be tonight to celebrate my great run at Streetsblog and the road ahead. Perhaps I’ll see you.