Open Letter to Mayor Lee, Director Reiskin, and Supervisor Wiener

Below is a quick letter to Mayor Lee, Director Reiskin, and Supervisor Wiener regarding a couple transit and mobility observations from my daily commute and our the Elgin Park neighborhood.

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Dear Mayor Lee, Director Reiskin, and Supervisor Wiener,

First off, I think all three of you are doing a wonderful job in your respective positions. I applaud your refreshed political leadership styles that are a positive move to reforming the political landscape in San Francisco. I have a couple items that I would like to share with you.

Dreamforce and oracle openworld
During the recent Dreamforce conference and other conferences that close Howard Street, traffic downtown was a headache and snarled mobility. It was noticeably slower travel on all modes of transit (cab, Muni – above ground, and bicycle). I believe there could have been additional measures taken to mitigate these traffic concerns, including such things as:

  • More Traffic Officers at a wider selection of intersections
  • Stronger enforcement at intersections to prevent blocking of cross traffic when the lights changed
  • Temporary right turn restrictions from westbound Mission onto 3rd Street, from 3rd Street onto Market Street and from Market Street onto New Montgomery Street
  • Stronger enforcement of Transit-only lanes on Mission Street
  • Temporary extension of westbound Transit-only lanes on Mission Street from 1st Street to 3rd Street
  • I know these just a few ideas that may or may not have merit in broader transit planning for these conferences and that your teams likely have numerous options and implications to consider. But, I believe it is important to offer feedback as the traffic situation had a noticeable impact on downtown mobility.

Kearny and market intersection
Secondly, as a daily pedestrian or cyclist that uses the Market Street and Kearny Street intersection, I believe the current configuration poses safety concerns. Several of the concerns that I see include the following, with suggested solutions for consideration: Continue reading

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Thank you CHP

Dear CHP, thank you. Thank you for blocking our bike path in Marin. Thank you for making us go out in a busy street to avoid your absurd parking job. Thank you for parking illegally in a cross walk with no regard for pedestrians and cyclist. Thank you for being so kind to only think of yourself as you pulled over this Subaru Forester with a bike on it. I mean, Forester people are nice, they probably weren’t going to try and run away from you on this dead end street, so you could have gone just 10ft further to give us a clear and safe crossing of the road. But no, that was too much to ask. So pedestrians and cyclist had to move outside of a safe crossing and into the road. Thank you CHP, check out your picture below.

For our ride details, we were cruising up through Sausalito and just hit the Mill Valley-Sausalito bike path at Mike’s Bikes. The CHP was parked at the intersection of Pohono and Shoreline Highway, see the map below.

In general though, I do appreciate the CHP. They generally keep us pretty safe and were very helpful when a car nailed my car on HWY 101.

If you find this annoying too, please send this to the CHP (webmaster@chp.ca.gov), Marin County Bicycle Coalition, and San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Thanks again CHP for the amazing parking job.

Environmental What? Hampton Inn and their styrofoam abundance

This last weekend out entire Taylor family was in Rockport/Fulton for a family reunion. We had an amazing vacation in the sweltering heat and I was sure to get my Sonic and BBQ fix (Black’s BBB in Lockhart – twice!!) while in the south. More to come on the family reunion, but in the meantime I wanted to write about the abundance of styrofoam in Texas. One, it is ridiculous. Two, it is sad. Three, there are perfectly good alternatives.

The Hampton Inn was a particularly interesting culprit. They gave us a free breakfast each day, which was super tasty and offered good variety. Granted in wasn’t Brenda’s, Mama’s, or Universal Cafe (some of our SF favorites), but for a standard breakfast, we were pretty pleased and enjoyed it. What was disappointing was the gross abundance of styrofoam. Everything thing was on styrofoam – the plates and bowls. The utensils were all plastic and the cups all plastic too, except for the coffee cups. The coffee cups were compostable paper cups — which I applaud them for — except for the fact that compostable coffee cups are as good as trash when not composted correctly. So I simply ask, what’s the point of doing compostable coffee cups when 1) everything else is styrofoam and 2) there isn’t a compost bin.

It would be amazing if the Hampton Inn would just switch from styrofoam plates to paper plates, but then make the next step to move to all compostable plates and compost bins in the garbage area in the back. The Texas heat would break that organic matter down in no time at all and there would be nutrient rich matter for all the plants, flowers, and trees on the Hampton Inn property. Even better yet, could the Hampton Inn partner with a science teacher from the local high school to do environmental studies on the decomposition of compostable matter? This would be a great learning opportunity for any classroom.

Since I don’t believe griping alone carries any merit unless there is something relevant that I will do to make a change, next time I stay at a hotel that includes a morning breakfast, I will take my own set of utensils, plate, and coffee mug so I can at least do my part.

I leave you with two photos from the breakfast, longing for the day when the Hampton Inn takes environmental responsibility seriously, not just lip service with their compostable cups.

If you’d like to also write the Hampton Inn, please click here

Half Dome Adventure

The adventure all began, well, about four months ago when we were all sitting around having a beer at The Toronado. One of us, namely me, may have been jealous that he was the only one at the table who had not proven his worth by ascending this epicness. So one thing led to another and five gchat conversations later, a date was set and a campsite was reserved. There we had it, Paul, Robert, and I were on our way to adventure – Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

The group slowly grew to six, but just as fast as it grew to six, within a week of the trip it dwindled to five, then four and then three. What started as a grand expedition of the boys became the trek of three – with three lost to one broken arm, one weekend birthday celebration, and one blown-out back. Which randomly brings me to a subject for future introduction – the Watson Award.

Paul is my adventure buddy, we hit the slopes, the roads, the trails, the wilderness, Tramdock, Evogear, and SteepandCheap like two wanna-be outdoor bums acting like we are living the dream amid the mid-life crisis we call the working reality. So when he broke his arm during a freak bike accident on Golden Gate Bridge, the trip was bound to not be the same. But alas, it was still epic and the bromance will survive just fine despite Paul’s jealousy.

So there Robert, Neil, and I were, just approaching the trail head in Yosemite Valley. The morning was young, the bodies still groggy, and the eyes clouded by the early morning. But the air was full of anticipation and excitement, we were ready to attack. One-quarter of a mile in and we were wondering what nailed us – this slope was going to be nuts. So we plowed on through the first mile hitting a healthy clip to the first fork in the trail. We chose the more adventurous route up the steps paralleling the river gorge and the spectacular first set of waterfalls, it was amazing. The steps were meticulously carved right out of the hillside – so cool.

Onward and upward, we moved onto the next series of climbs out of the waterfall to the next big waterfall. This climb up, although not as epic as the first stairway-to-heaven, traipsed back-and-forth alongside the next waterfall, another beautiful set of stairs carved and formed so amazingly out of granite. From here we explored further through the meadow and started third ascent from the meadow to the base of quarter dome.

And then we see it, the momentous Half Dome peering in the distance, the trail of ants marching up in the most orderly of fashion. So we get our classic pictures and begin our trudge up the last quarter mile to the top of quarter dome. This is the most beautiful of granite stairways, there are no trees, just a steep granite face with switch-back after switch-back of the most perfected high-sierra masonry. Off to the left and right were treacherous drops with slopes that pierced the mind, but for those wary of heights, yep that’s me again, just tuck the head and roll on. Then you stop and realized that a 7o year old man with a vintage Army Surplus backpack says “get going ya lackey . . . sheesh kids these days”.

We summit Quarter Dome and rest amazed at the amazing view to the south, east, and north. The sheer beauty of the vast last is equally surprising and humbling. We scarf down as many sweets as our backpacks could hold, gulp after gulp of water and ponder the last quarter-mile stretch up to Half Dome. The last segment of the climb is straight up the eastern face of Half Dome, complete cables for railing and vertical wood stays. It’s pitch is steep, so the cable and wood assists are an imperative to the finely polished granite after so many pairs of feet trampling up.

Unfortunately, we were unable to ascend the last quarter-mile to the summit of Half Dome as the top had been closed for the morning due to an accident. So the wait ascend was two hours, so amid a timeline to finish before sunset, we took in our last awe-inspiring view, said our peace, and began the exciting descent. And what better way to end the evening than with pizza, beers, and a great dinner filled with stories, laughs, and the sense of accomplishment. Our thanks to Brian that despite his back flare-up, he was such a friend to have dinner ready for us and beers ordered.

Please enjoy the video below to the tune of Pearl Jam. Also, for pictures and slideshows, please click here to the picasa album.

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Melissa and Blair’s Wedding

Two weeks ago was one just amazing weekend. It all kicked off with a wonderful dinner at Tin Table on Capital Hill with the family – mom, dad, blair, jennie, jennie and david, amy and robert, and taylor and suzi. We had an amazing table, literally a tin table for all 10 of us. After dinner, we all headed over to Grey Gallery and Lounge where (slightly awkwardly) there was a gallery showing of Glitterporn. Quite humorous to see the looks on the faces of my parents.

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Oregon Getaway

IMG_1700After an amazing roadtrip that started in San Francisco and ended in San Francisco, finally after a couple months there are some pictures to share. The trip took us up the California coast to Redwood State Park, then onward up the Oregon coast, through Portland, over to Hood River, down to some hippie hot springs (end up not being our thing), and wrapped up in Crater Lake National Park. Overall a spectacular trip, will be posting a trip summary later.

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