Weekend Roundup: The ‘Great Pushback’ Begins, Memorial for Those Taken by Traffic Violence

...and no Caltrain holiday train this year

San Francisco's Great Highway after it was given the "freeways to boulevard" treatment in April, 2020. Photo: Matt Brezina's twitter
San Francisco's Great Highway after it was given the "freeways to boulevard" treatment in April, 2020. Photo: Matt Brezina's twitter

Here are a few Streetsblog news nuggets to start your weekend.

Let the ‘Great Highway’ pushback begin!

If anything good has come out of the pandemic, it’s that it has forced cities to reexamine how they use their public spaces. Some cities, take Paris for example, have transformed almost overnight into a place where it’s now safe to ride a bike or a scooter down the street. It’s also given the Bay Area lots of new ‘slow streets’ and ‘open streets’ to enjoy. One of the greatest ones is, well, the Great Highway–what had been a fast, polluting highway despoiling a beautiful beach is now an open space safe for biking, roller skating, and all sorts of recreation.

But all of that may be about to end.

Apparently, District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar is calling on the County Transportation Authority to turn it back over to cars, out of what is ostensibly a safety concern over cut-through traffic diverted through the neighborhoods he represents. Of course, Streetsblog, and advocates, want D4 to have much-needed features to calm traffic and keep streets safe. But turning public space back over to the near-exclusive use of motorists can’t be the answer.

Read Mar’s full letter here.  Sign the petition to make the Great Highway into a park permanently. And try to attend Mar’s virtual town hall on the issue, Nov. 21 at 10 a.m., especially if you live in his district. Register for the Zoom link HERE.

Memorial for lives taken by traffic violence

A shoe memorial from a past event (this one in Chicago). Photo: Streetsblog/John Greenfield
A shoe memorial from a past event (this one in Chicago). Photo: Streetsblog/John Greenfield

On Sunday, Nov. 15, the advocates for Walk San Francisco are holding a memorial and ‘call to action’ for the nearly 200 people killed on San Francisco streets since 2014. The memorial, which will be held on the steps of City Hall, will include:

  • 188 pairs of shoes and placards with the names of the 188 people who have been killed in traffic crashes since 2014.
  • Flowers and mementos, as well as an area to honor those who have survived crashes.
  • Loved ones of traffic crash victims holding large memorial photos.
  • Signs: “Slow Our Streets” “Speed Kills.”
  • AT DUSK: City Hall and Coit Tower will be lit up in yellow lights.

From the group’s release:

Holding an in-person event is of great importance to those who have been directly impacted by traffic violence. This event is a needed space to grieve, to remember, and to lift up stories that must be heard. Due to COVID, we are designing this year’s event with very limited attendance and strict safety protocols.

If you are someone who has been personally affected by a traffic crash and want to attend, please let us know so we can share more details. Whether you want to remember a friend or loved one, or you are a survivor of a crash, we invite you to participate.

Those wishing to attend are urged to RSVP here so Walk SF can manage the number of attendees.

Caltrain cancels Christmas train

The holiday train (seen in 2018) has been cancelled this year. Photo: Caltrain
The holiday train (seen in 2018) has been cancelled this year. Photo: Caltrain

Caltrain’s measure RR passed, so the railroad won’t be shutting down. And when the COVID pandemic is over, it will finally be in a position to run an all-day schedule and operate its new electric trains more like a European-style regional rail system. However, in the short term it’s still had to cut a bit–including, in light of the challenges of COVID, the traditional holiday train, which will remain at the North Pole train yard this year.

From Caltrain’s release:

The agency decided that the longstanding holiday tradition, which typically occurs during the first weekend in December, could not safely be held in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Holiday Train began in 2002, bringing a decorated show train down the Peninsula with Santa, Rudolph, Frosty and a host of other holiday characters to entertain families. This event gave attendees the opportunity to donate toys to the Salvation Army and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots program, in order to make sure all Bay Area families have a happy holiday. Since the inception of Holiday Train, generous Bay Area residents have brought more than 60,000 toys to Caltrain stations, overflowing barrels with toys.

Caltrain encourages fans of this event to share photos and videos of past years with the hashtag #HolidayTrain2020, and to support charities that are supporting families in need this holiday season. Caltrain also released a video in which Santa Claus sends his regrets for having to cancel this year. The agency is hopeful that the event can be safely held in December 2021.

And a year after that, the holiday train will have a bright red nose for a headlight on a new, electrically powered holiday train.

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