Today was the "car-free" day in San Francisco. What this amounted to
was four blocks of narrow, office-building Montgomery Street being
blocked off for all of four hours, except for cross streets. No one
had much idea why the road was barricaded, and the puzzled
pedestrians kept to the sidewalks, by habit. I took the opportunity
to stroll down the middle of the road mid-morning, accompanied by at
most one or two others per block. Some booths were being set up but I
couldn't get back to see what the final picture looked like before
the traffic was turned loose again.
This was about as modest a beginning to an "official" car-free
movement as there could be, but it was heartening to see even a token
action take place. More encouraging was the "unofficial" initiative -
the city's monthly Critical Mass event happily coincided with
the "car free" day, and the bicycle party seemed to have blossomed as
rarely before, with great numbers of silent two-wheelers happily
flummoxing the Market Street motorists. In addition, there was a
Halloween-caliber turnout of costumed pedalers today.
The next step isn't hard to envision, though it may be very hard to
bring off, even for a few hours - block Market Street during the
afternoon rush, and let the bicyclists take it over. That would bring
a smile to my face.