Bicycle Slalom: Why One Local is Mapping City Streets Like Ski Runs

Written by Sarah Wright : sfstandard – excerpt

When Jason Ford moved back to San Francisco in May, he found a city transformed by COVID-19. Parklets were everywhere, the Financial District was a ghost town and the Tenderloin had become a flashpoint in the culture wars. He also discovered that the city had closed off many streets to cars, and that he could ride his bike from his neighborhood to the next without worrying about being hit by an automobile…

So Ford set out to build his own map of the city, one that puts safety first and shows, with a very simple color-coded system, how anyone can navigate the city along the safest, least car-centric roads. He started with an iPad and a stylus, then grabbed a pencil and some graph paper. Finally, he moved to something more sophisticated—an overlay on Google Maps. To Ford, the goal of the map was to highlight where anyone, including his 3-year-old, could ride safely. He posted an in-progress map on Twitter this month to share with locals and get feedback…

Ford’s mapping project comes at a time of heated debate about how bikes and cars should get along in the city. While cyclists have been ecstatic about the closures of JFK Drive and the Great Highway, many car-owners in the neighborhoods are opposed. The same goes for other pandemic-born “slow streets” around the city…

Many of the blue routes on Ford’s map are part of the SFMTA’s Slow Streets program, launched in April 2020. It closed some residential streets to through traffic to prioritize biking and walking, offering residents safe ways to move around the city during the shelter-in-place order. Two years later, some neighborhood streets like Lake and Sanchez streets remain open to local traffic only…

A bigger battle over the future of JFK Drive will be decided early next year. Nesrine Majzoub, marketing and communications director at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said her group has been calling on the Board of Supervisors to support existing car-free avenues and look at opening new car-free corridors in the eastern areas of the city.

​​”We’re focused on not just creating great individual corridors that are safe and protected, but also that those are connected to each other,” Majzoub said…(more)

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