San Francisco a pedestrian's paradise

With iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the natural beauty provided by the Pacific Ocean, it’s no secret that San Francisco provides vistas that few other cities in the country — or even the world — can match.

“Whenever I speak with prospective visitors, I always talk about the fact that you can walk from the ocean to the Bay in two hours,” said Angela Jackson of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I strongly discourage renting a car because The City is so walkable.”

Matching the eye-popping scenery is a dense cityscape that allows residents and visitors easy access to amenities such as shops, markets and parks — a primary reason San Francisco recently was anointed the “most walkable” city in the nation by www.walkscore.com, on online organization based in Seattle that collects data on pedestrian activities in every major U.S. city.

San Francisco walker Sue Bee said Pacific Heights receives her vote for best neighborhood for fitness.

“Per block, it’s probably the best neighborhood in The City for exercise,” she said. “When I come here, I usually park my car about a mile from where I’m going if I have time, so I can get some extra walking in.”

Neighborhoods such as Chinatown and Haight-Ashbury draw walkers for their compact collection of restaurants, markets and retail stores, while open-space areas such as Golden Gate Park and Crissy Field are a drawing ground for outdoor enthusiasts.

San Francisco native Michael Arnelle said walking — and taking public transportation — is easy in his Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

“One reason the Haight is a great place to walk is because you’ve got so many public transportation routes nearby,” Arnelle said. “Plus, when the weather gets nice, and all the tourists come out, you get to see all the beautiful girls.”

And despite boasting some daunting hills, northern neighborhoods, such as Russian Hill, North Beach and Pacific Heights, don’t lack for walkers. Sherman Wang, a North Beach resident for 40 years, said her neighborhood has diverse offerings for walkers.

“North Beach is a great place to walk because it’s a mixed cultural area with a very distinctive character, and the crown jewel is Washington Square Park,” Wang said. “It’s very flat, but if you want to go up the hills to get some great views, you have that option.”

Making The City all the more accessible is the amount of resources available to walkers. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition offers a biking and walking map that highlights topographical changes in The City, so pedestrians can avoid steep hills. The San Francisco Department of Public Health has maps that showcase heavily used arteries so walkers can steer clear of areas with high-traffic volume.

For tech-savvy walkers, Google Inc. just launched a walking-directions service and MapQuest offers a similar service for cell phones. Additionally, Walk Score provides an online database for people to search for the closest spots to grab a bite to eat or laze in a park.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Saunter with caution: Streets can be dangerous

The City is not yet ideal for walkers, according to the head of a local pedestrian advocacy group.

Neighborhoods such as the South of Market area, with its bustling one-way, multilane streets, and 19th Avenue, home to a state highway, are dangerous spots for walkers, according to Maneesh Champsee, director of Walk San Francisco.

Last year, automobiles colliding with pedestrians resulted in 798 injuries and 24 fatalities, according to reports from the San Francisco Police Department. Both of those figures are down from a decade-high in 2000, when 961 pedestrians were injured, including 30 deaths.

“San Francisco is a great place to walk; however, I think we need to do more to make it safer,” said Champsee. “Reducing traffic speed should be a top priority. If a car is speeding, it’s more likely to hit someone, and if it hits someone while speeding, it’s more likely to result in a fatality.”

Champsee pointed to traffic-calming efforts at 19th Avenue, which include doubling the amount of fines for traffic violators and an increase in pedestrian countdown signals, as evidence of necessary changes.

“Walking down a busy city street is not that enjoyable,” Champsee said. “The best walk is one where you don’t have to hear every single noise of The City.” — Will Reisman

Bay Area NewsLocalTransittransportationwalking

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police release an image a cracked windshield on a Prius that Cesar Vargas allegedly tried to carjack. Vargas, who was shot by police a short time later, can be seen in videos jumping on the windshield and pushing a Muni passenger who disembarked from a bus. (Courtesy SFPD
SFPD releases videos of deadly police shooting

Cesar Vargas killed after reports of carjacking with knife

New legislation would make sure supportive housing tenants don’t pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent.. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner))
Supportive housing tenants could get more help paying the rent

Supportive housing tenants struggling to pay rent could soon see their payments… Continue reading

Organizers of the San Francisco International Arts Festival had planned to use parts of Fort Mason including the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery to host performances by about a dozen Bay Area arts groups. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Arts festival sues city over permit denial

Organizer says outdoor performances should be treated like demonstrations, religious gatherings

An oversight body for San Francisco’s mental health programs may be restructured after questions were raised about its management and lack of effectiveness. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Behavioral health oversight body looks for new start — and staff — after mismanagement

Members of an oversight body for San Francisco’s behavioral health programs said… Continue reading

The City requires the recycling or reuse of debris material removed from a construction project site. <ins>(Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
<ins></ins>
Permits proposed for haulers of construction debris to achieve zero-waste

San Francisco plans to tighten regulations on the disposal of construction and… Continue reading

Most Read