Gridlock Returns to SoMa

While the CDC pushes more single-occupancy driving, it's painfully obvious that won't work in San Francisco

The scene in SoMa yesterday afternoon, May 28. Photo: Parker Day
The scene in SoMa yesterday afternoon, May 28. Photo: Parker Day

If one doesn’t think about it much (and also neglects to consider infection rates in Seoul, Tokyo, and other cities with high transit use) it might sound like a good idea to favor driving solo over transit as a way to reduce the chance of contracting COVID-19.

Except for one huge problem: in San Francisco and much of the rest of the Bay Area, there’s simply no room for more cars. Doubt that? Check out this tweet and video, shot yesterday by advocate and Streetsblog tipster Parker Day:

As Day mentions in his tweet (and Streetsblog USA covered today) the CDC is encouraging people to drive.

Except that, as SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin said in an interview in April, “…if San Francisco retreats in a fear-based way to private cars, the city dies with that, including the economy. Why? Because we can’t move more cars. That’s a fundamental geometrical limit. We can’t move more cars in the space we have.”

Does the city need to replace hermetically sealed windows on trains and buses with ones that open to allow cross ventilation? Probably. Does it need to disinfect transit vehicles more frequently? Surely, and that’s happening. Should the city require masks and enforce social-distancing requirements? Yes, and that’s also happening.

Should Caltrans open a lane on the Oakland Bay Bridge to bikes, so people can use the safest, in terms of germ transmission, means for getting between the East Bay and San Francisco? Yes. And if government is going to promote subsidies for a means of transportation, how about electric bikes?

But encouraging more people to drive private cars to San Francisco? Good luck with that.

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