Friday, August 13, 2010

A tale of two locations

Walkscore is a website that lets you enter a street address and tells you on a scale of 0-100 how "walkable" it is. (H/t Matt Yglesias.)

Try it; it's interesting.

And here's my tale. I plugged in the address where I am vacationing and received a bright red message: 2--Car Dependent. Now there's no arguing with that. The nearest store is nearly 2 miles away; most other facilities of modern life are further. In the language of Walkscore: "Almost all errands require a car."

After trying this cyber experiment, I launched off for a more than 10 mile run, less than a mile of which was on an asphalt road. The balance was wooded hills and trails. It would be hard to imagine a better setting for that form of pedestrian activity.

Later I plugged my home address into Walkscore and got "98--Walker's Paradise". I know what they mean. There's hardly anything I can't get or do on foot in my San Francisco Mission neighborhood. Hardly anything except run, that is. I don't run on pavement -- too broken down for that. So at home I drive from my Walker's Paradise to find running room. Contradictions abound.
Though I'm away from the Mission for a few weeks, it's been great to read that my 'hood is included in the SFpark pilot project zone. By installing smart meters, traffic management technicians hope to reduce the endless urban chase for elusive parking spots by adjusting the cost of parking to fill vacancies and encourage turnover. Sound complicated? Not really so bad. Here's an explanatory video.

SFpark Overview from SFpark on Vimeo.

I'm already benefiting from this program because a couple of weeks ago I bought one of its parking cards. No more hunting for quarters for the meter; I can stick in my prepaid card and bingo, I'm set. Now other jurisdictions (like for example "no there there" Oakland) let you do this with an ordinary credit card rather than something you have to order from a special San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. But hey, this is progress.

Meter fixes though probably won't do much for the times that I find myself driving around the Mission trying to find parking. I don't do this a lot; years of experience have made me very aware of where I can usually find a vacancy. But if I time a car trip wrongly and return in the early evening, I can count on an influx of community college students filling most of the street spots. That's after meter hours end at 6 pm. They'll leave later in the evening.

The other time I (and most everyone) has trouble is when we need to get our cars out of the path of the street sweepers, squeezing about 2/3 of the resident cars into 1/2 the spots. Are there technical answers to that problem, or is it simply a cost of urban life?

1 comment:

Jane Meyerding said...

I got a good walkable score (which is not surprising). But the only "grocery store" listed for me was 7-11. Ugh! Actually, there are two real grocery stores nearby, plus two branches of the co-op I can walk to.

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