Man vs. Muni: Humbling defeat to the F-Market streetcar 

click to enlarge The F-Market streetcar won the Man vs. Muni battle by one minute. (Examiner file photo) - THE F-MARKET STREETCAR WON THE MAN VS. MUNI BATTLE BY ONE MINUTE. (EXAMINER FILE PHOTO)
  • The F-Market streetcar won the Man vs. Muni battle by one minute. (Examiner file photo)
  • The F-Market streetcar won the Man vs. Muni battle by one minute. (Examiner file photo)

Muni’s photogenic, historic streetcars are a nice tourist draw, but they never seem to work too well as functioning transit vehicles. By the time those lumbering vehicles seem to pick up enough speed to actually make them worthwhile, they’re stopped at one of Market Street’s many traffic lights.

Drunk on confidence from my latest triumph over the 22-Fillmore, I decided to take on the F-Market historic streetcar on a race from Seventh Street to Second Street. I aimed at finding out if those historic streetcars were actually worth their fare, or if they were little more than automotive eye candy.

3:58 Examiner photographer Mike Koozmin and I leave Seventh and Market streets, about one block in front of the F-Market. I’m feeling good about this race — traffic on Market Street looks like a mess, and the wide sidewalks are perfect to avoid any dreaded pedestrian bottlenecks.

3:59 I was optimistic about this race? Literally a half-block and one minute into this competition, and the F-Market zips by me. I start having flashbacks to my debacle with the N-Judah, but this is actually shaping up to be much, much worse.

4:00 Luck may be on my side. The F gets jammed up at Sixth Street by cars stuck in the intersection at a green light. Koozmin and I slip through the crosswalk right as the light changes, leaving the F behind and reclaiming the lead.

4:01 That didn’t last long. The F-Market once again barrels past us as we amble along helplessly. Koozmin asks me to pose in front of a topless joint, but I’ve got no time for his games — I’m planning on catching that streetcar.

4:03 We pass Fifth Street, and although it would make sense to give up on this quest, Koozmin and I stubbornly press on, hungry for glory. The F actually isn’t making much progress — it’s still only a half-block ahead.

4:05 There are about a trillion tourists milling around on Market Street — hardly ideal conditions for a stirring comeback. But as we near Fourth Street, we’re still within striking distance of the F. I keep yelling at Koozmin and pointing frantically, “I see it! I see it!” People nearby whip their heads around, probably assuming I just spotted a famous celebrity such as Kim Kardashian or Gavin Newsom.

4:06 We pass the guy famous for his “Jesus Christ Loves You” sign on Fourth Street. As the F pulls farther ahead of me, I look at that sign and think to myself, “He doesn’t today, buddy.”

4:08 As we get closer to Third Street, I’m nearly delirious with excitement, as the F is a mere 50 feet ahead of us —the closest we’ve been since getting passed. Would this be the greatest comeback in Man vs. Muni history? No — it would be the greatest comeback in the history of all competitions.

4:10 Physically bruised and battered, but with our pride intact, Koozmin and I arrive at Second Street, about one minute after the F-Market. We didn’t manage to defeat Muni this time, but I’m feeling good about the way we battled back after getting behind so quick. A moral victory? Perhaps.

4:11 Feelings of good will are squashed. A minute after we finish, a crowd of protesters demonstrating against banks and Wall Street greed floods Market Street, shutting down traffic and paralyzing Muni service. If Koozmin and I had waited just a couple of extra minutes, we would have easily dusted the next F car. Could that victory possibly have been tainted by the fact that thousands of unforeseen activists stopped traffic for 15 minutes? Maybe, but I would have taken it.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

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