Power to the Pedestrians!

Our cranky old commenter Cranky Old Mission Guy might be on to something:

I have an idea.

How about all us pedestrians pick one day per month to meet, link arms, and walk from one place to another — completely blocking the streets AND the sidewalks — while randomly ignoring traffic laws, common sense, and any notion of courtesy to other San Francisco residents (we’ll blame it on “the fringe element”)? I’m sure the bicycle people will be happy to show their solidarity by not trying to cross our lines!

Sure, he’s being facetious, but really — why not have a pedestrian Critical Mass once a month?

Photo by smi23le.

33 Responses to “Power to the Pedestrians!”

  1. ilikebikes says:

    because walking isn’t nearly as fun as rolling on two wheels.

  2. plumpy says:

    Pedestrians already have a place to exist. It’s called the sidewalk, and cars respect it. Bikes have to live on the streets, but get no respect.

    That’s the obvious argument against it, anyway.

    • Cranky Old Mission Guy says:

      Clearly, you have never tried to walk down a sidewalk in The Mission, Plump CAR DRIVER! Bicycle riders hereabouts pretty much own them, when they want to. Of course, I could be thinking of the Latinos and Afro-Americano bums that you prefer not to notice.

      I, for one, will link arms with them if they agree to observe our lines. I hope you will agree to join us in our movement against open streets and free traffic.

    • mcas says:

      Actually, Plumpy– you have it completely BACKWARDS. People (on foot and bike) used to be allowed in the street until Motorist Rights Groups banned walking in the street– and then they had to build sidewalks to accommodate them.

      At the same time, bikes got banned from the street and were forced onto the sidewalk, and only the 60′s-70′s were they legally allowed back on the street.

      Read Tom Vanderbilt’s “A Defense of Jaywalking” for history.

      The streets weren’t always like this– it’s only been about 60 years that cars have dominated…

  3. friscolex says:

    I would be proud to walk my bike alongside in solidarity. We’re of the same movement, us two-footers or two-wheelers.

  4. Ryan says:

    B2B but it happens only annually and limited to a bunch of bridge and tunnel twenty somethings who got lost.

  5. Rod says:

    if you wanted to equate it to critical mass, it would have to happen on the sidewalks. of course no one would do it and no one would care because pedestrians can already move freely on the sidewalks and don’t face death/injury/threats on a daily basis for doing so.

    • friscolex says:

      Daily basis, perhaps not, but pedestrians do get faced with death/injury/threats. How many of us get yelled at, in the crosswalk at that. I saw an altercation between a scooter and a ped on Kearny and Sutter about two hours ago for example. And death? Peds have been mowed down, too. Very sad.

      • Kevin says:

        I do a lot of walking in the city, and have found that it is actually other insensitive pedestrians that are my biggest problem: cafe-goers blocking the sidewalk; a party of four walking side-by-side, refusing to get out of my way as I walk toward them; and people just generally not seeming to know where they are going or how to properly put one foot in front of the other.

        Of course, there are also the idiot drivers backing out of their driveways, oblivious to the fact that people walk on sidewalks. Haven’t really had any problems with bikers.

      • Kevin, if you haven’t had any problem with bikers on the sidewalks, then you either don’t walk on Mission sidewalks, or you choose to ignore the bikers on Mission sidewalks.

        The rest of us constantly have to swerve, dodge and look behind us (without the benefit of rear-view mirrors!) to avoid being knocked-down by inconsiderate dingbats who don’t care that riding bikes on sidewalks is actually illegal here.

        And that says nothing about the issue of bikers who ride at night without a light on the front of their bike. Never try to cross a street and almost get run over by one of these idiots because, gosh, as long as THEY can see well enough to ride, who cares if no one can see THEM blasting down the street in the dark?

    • mcas says:

      Actually, you are far more likely to be injured or killed on foot in SF than on bike, per capita.

      In the past 2 years, there has only been 2 bike-related deaths (one was shot while riding; one was pushing his bike across a freeway off-ramp)– and at least 20 people killed by autos in the same timeframe…

      • Rod says:

        that would only be true if you were under the assumption that there were just as many cyclists in SF as pedestrians, you would have to adjust those numbers based on how many people bike vs walk

      • zyzzyva says:

        The golden statistic we’re looking for here is the person-mile. That is, if you have 1000 bicyclists and 10,000 pedestrians, clearly two deaths vs 20 are the same. But if the average pedestrian walks a mile a day and the average cyclist rides 10 miles a day, you now have 10,000 person-miles for each group. You have a lot more chances to get injured or killed in 10 miles of road than in one.

        The point is, *everyone* in San Francisco is a pedestrian at some point, even if only between front door and car. A far smaller number bike on a regular basis (somewhere around 5%), which means there’s roughly 20 peds for every cyclist. But in terms of person-miles, that number is far closer.

      • mcas says:

        Rod: Your Middle School teacher would be sad. I said ‘Per Capita’ meaning (total number of group) / (total number of injuries)… Biking is about 6% of all trips in SF, walking is about 18%.

        But, really zyzzyva’s statistic of miles-traveled is really the key. If injury levels of walking and biking were equal…. and if a walker travels, say, 1 mile for every 4 miles traveled by bike; and there are 3 times as many people walking, that would make each mile biked 12 times safer than walking.

        Now, the fact that walking has more injuries and fatalties per capita, that only amplifies this example, further– it’s much more dangerous to walk than ride.

  6. Dr. Plausible says:

    Rod: BS. Far more pedestrians are killed per year than bicyclists, even the SFBC says so:


    Bicyclists just whine louder.

    • plumpy says:

      There are also far, far more pedestrians than cyclists.

    • Rod says:

      plumpy, don’t let your logic get in the way of Dr. Plausible’s emotions! obviously there are just as many cyclists as pedestrians in San Francisco.

      • Dr. Plausible says:

        And what a gushing emotional outburst it was. You can measure fatalities per capita, per mile traveled, whatever, and the stats will change. But the fact remains, pedestrians get mowed down with greater overall frequency *and* per mile traveled, and pretty much any way else you want to measure it. Every source I’ve ever come across, including those from both pedestrian and cyclist advocacy groups, confirms this. But don’t let that get in the way of your persecution complex.

        http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/BikePedBen.pdf (page 42)
        (or do the math yourself from FARS)

      • Rod says:

        nice backpedaling (get it, pedaling, LOLOMG), reading pg 42, this is the only relevant quote i see

        “Between 45,000 and 50,000 people die in U.S. roadway
        accidents each year, including roughly 7,000 pedestrians and 1,000 bicyclists.
        Based on the estimates of U.S. miles walked, bicycled, and driven in this report,
        per-mile fatalities as well as injuries appear to be considerably higher for walking
        and bicycling.”

        which isn’t really relevant, maybe you can enlighten me, you seem to be much more sure about these stats than I am.

      • plumpy says:

        I would imagine per trip, bicyclists get hit more often? But that’s sort of meaningless because what is a “trip” as a pedestrian? If I walk from my car into the mall, is that a “trip”?

        So yeah, who knows, maybe “fatalities / time spent per mode” is the most relevant? Yeah, I dunno. I guess it doesn’t really matter. No matter who is right, Rod is still more annoying.

  7. tack says:

    I walk between the mission and the tendernob for my commute. I used to take the 49 back to the mission everyday until I got fed up with it randomly ending at market and taking forever to show up.

    I think that instead of being critical-mass style, why not have a walk to work day like the SFBC’s bike to work day? People are intimidated by distance on foot. But if a whole lot of people are doing it and there are pit stops, more people might consider giving it a shot.

    Where valencia bike shops might sponsor bike to work day, shoe biz might be interested in walk to work day. I will tell you… I go through shoes like mad.

    • I think that’s an awesome idea! I walk to work every day, but it would be great to have a bunch of people doing it with me.

      And to the people who think walking is safe, it’s definitely not. I constantly have to dodge bikes and cars running red lights while I am walking through a cross walk on green.

  8. Neo Displacer says:

    it’s funny when someone tries to be funny but ends up being serious instead. I think this idea is capital. Why wait for government sanctioned street closures when a motivated mob linked via twitter could take over entire blocks. I will gladly walk with my fellow Missionites down the middle of any street in the neighborhood except Valencia. I suggest we start at 14th and Folsom and work our way south stopping at Truck? Rite Spot, Donnington, Schmidt’s, quick side trip to El Trouble, back to Folsom, then turning on 24th and stopping at the Irish bar on Van Ness, the Mexican bar at BART, and ending at The Attic. This has to be done ala CM during evening rush hour so we can fuck up the sanazay bound commuters driving through the Mission when they should be on 101.

    • tack says:

      This sounds like santacon/santarchy. Giant bar crawl. Maybe we could organize this and call it “Christmas in July”.

    • Dr. Plausible says:

      “This has to be done ala CM during evening rush hour so we can fuck up the sanazay bound commuters driving through the Mission when they should be on 101.”

      Right, because we really need drivers who despise bicyclists *and* pedestrians. I’m an avid pedestrian (if there is such a thing), and much in favor of pedestrian rights, but I think this is just as much of a dick move as Critical Mass is. Go find a more productive way to feel important and righteous.

      • Neo Displacer says:

        dude where’s your sense of civil activism. Boy MLK really did a dick move when he marched in Selma (oh I know false equivalence, civil rights are way more important) Think of it this way, there is BART, there is AC transit, there is Caltrain yet every night at 5:00 Folsom is jammed with auto commuters.

        I mean this is a real problem I think. I don’t believe the city should subsidize the burbs by making our streets into alternate highways and I don’t believe we should continue to support wars for oil.

        Somewhere on the interwebs I saw 3 design alternates for a single lane Folsom. So these plans tend to get shelved until there is some popular movement, something you might call critical mass, occurs and the voila! The plan is dusted off and built

  9. john b. says:

    Only in San Francisco could walking be seen as some sort of struggle in which people try and devise ways to “protest” or create some sort of pro-walking movement. I’m just hoping the jokes on me. I seriously prefer trolls to pussies at this point. But pussy pussy will always be #1, just to be clear.

  10. KH says:

    Cars already take over all major thru-ways – (look at the Bay Bridge for an example) – all the time, all day long. Taking these streets back for a bit of time with hundreds of us in solidarity is just a drop in the bucket of the use of all these government-funded paved roads. I like the idea of the pedestrians taking over, but we should all give ourselves car-sized cardboard cut-outs so that we take up as much space as cars. This was done by an Austrian politician on his walking commute to illustrate how much space cars take up in the small streets of his city…but I can’t find any links to this rad dude.

  11. Actually, Allan, I was thinking about proposing that we eat Irish babies to alleviate world hunger, but Jonathan Swift pretty well already covered that one.

  12. MrEricSir says:

    The tranny march down Dolores last night looked an awful lot like a pedestrian Critical Mass.

  13. mitch in the richmond says:

    Only a douchebag like cranky geezer would say this BS about bikes trying to run down peds….there is never a time when any serious rider of ANY conveyance WANTS to hit a ped…it’s a major hassle to do so. It’s the same with skaters…..scared people flinch and jump out of the way of “THOSE MANIACS!!!” and actually cause the problem. If everyone just holds their line we can all flow together. Everyone fails from time to time (cars that turn right without signals), but generally speaking there is no need to protest anything…just stop being a pussy and flow.

  14. Kevin says:

    Here’s an interesting story from BCN today:

    By Bay City News Service
    A pedestrian was briefly knocked unconscious when she was hit by a
    bicyclist as she walked across the Golden Gate Bridge this afternoon,
    according to the California Highway Patrol.
    The accident was reported at 12:34 p.m. on the eastern sidewalk at
    A 64-year-old San Francisco man was riding his bike north on the
    sidewalk when he struck the pedestrian, a 54-year-old woman from Ireland, CHP
    Officer Chris Rardin said.
    The woman’s teeth were broken and she briefly lost consciousness,
    Rardin said. When she came to, she complained of pain to her wrist.
    She was taken to St. Francis Memorial Hospital for treatment.
    The bicyclist was uninjured, Rardin said.