Willie Brown’s successors don’t look so bad when reading the former mayor’s windshield perspective drivel in his latest Chronicle column.
It’s hard to imagine San Franciscans once again electing a mayor who responds to a spate of pedestrian injuries by lambasting everything but the primary cause: reckless driving. But according to yesterday’s column from the increasingly out-of-touch Brown, San Francisco wouldn’t be plagued by “increasingly unsafe streets” if only we had more freeways and fewer people walking and biking:
We have only ourselves to blame for San Francisco’s increasingly unsafe streets.
We tore down the Central and Embarcadero freeways and in the process dumped thousands of additional cars onto the already crowded streets, many driving at nearly the same speed they did on the freeways.
We encouraged more people to ride bicycles, then all but exempted them from following traffic rules.
We brought thousands of pedestrians into downtown, then allowed them to jaywalk at will, often with their heads buried in their latest mobile devices.
We tell the cops to write more tickets, then when they do, some supervisor accuses them of racial profiling or picking on the poor.
And now, in the name of tech, we’re allowing hundreds of ride-share gypsy cabs onto the streets without commercial driver’s licenses.
Ten years after Brown left office, even the SFPD is re-shaping its policies around what its data shows — that the vast majority of pedestrian injuries are caused by reckless driving. Not that we should expect data to be relevant to a man who seems to base his transportation and street safety views on no data or empirical evidence whatsoever.
Apparently, little has changed since September 1996, in Brown’s first year as mayor, when his limo driver hit Karen Alexander in a crosswalk. Hold on to your jaw as you read the Chronicle’s report of Brown’s casual dismissal of the incident:
“The car literally bumped me three times,” Alexander said of the Thursday morning incident. “I started out walking in the crosswalk and ended up on the hood.”
Alexander said the mayoral limousine, with Brown inside, struck her, bruising her leg. She said she was crossing Broadway at Kearny Street at 7:40 a.m. Thursday when the limo hit her at a slow speed.
“The driver was looking to the left and trying to turn right on Kearny. He didn’t even see me,” Alexander said.
“I was so shocked that I couldn’t even speak. It really galled me that they treated me that way.
“I had no idea who was inside, then I saw a window roll down and Willie Brown’s face. Instead of saying “Are you hurt?’ He said “You’re not hurt, are you?’
“Then they just drove off without waiting for my answer – like nothing happened.”
Brown could not be reached for comment Thursday night. He was quoted on KRON-TV saying that he believed that the woman walked into the car. The same broadcast showed a large red bruise on Alexander’s leg.
Yep. That happened.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Willie Brown column if he didn’t interject an irrelevant anecdote to illustrate his contempt for bicycle riders:
The other day as I was getting into a cab, a cyclist shot by at a speed that made my head spin.
The cabbie said: Where are you going?
I said: “I’ve changed my destination. Follow that bicycle.”
And we did, watching him weave through traffic and blow through stop lights like some kind of slalom racer.
Willie Brown, bicycle stalker.
As a reminder, Brown was the mayor who declared war on Critical Mass. So anecdotes like these come as little surprise, though they’re still chilling to hear from a city official, especially one who we’re naming the west span of the Bay Bridge after. Times have certainly changed, but Willie Brown, empowered by the Chronicle and the platform the paper gives him, is still a fount of poisonous invective.
H/T Fran Taylor for the 1996 article.