Friday, July 18, 2008

Two Reasons to Like S.F., Other Stuff

1. Sewage treatment plant to be renamed after President Bush.

2. SF is "most walkable" city in America. (Chronicle article. Website that does the ranking, where you can enter any US address and get a score,

Northern Virginia house I grew up in: 20 (out of 100)
SoCal place my folks live now: 42
Average place as undergrad: 71
Average of bay-area places: 85

3. I like Al Gore.

4. There was a judge that economists really like in the early to mid 1900's named Learned Hand. Is there any more literally meaningful name than that? The only other one I can think of is Ethiopian marathoner Dire Tune, but that doesn't necessarily have a straightforward connection to distance running. Anybody got any better ones?


  1. When you include the Bay Area's populace (and take into account resident's percentage of car ownership as an indicator) I would think the walk-ability numbers would slip.

    Do all bridges across the bay have bicycle and pedestrian access? What is the monthly cost of an unlimited transit pass and what percentage of inhabitants use mass transit + walking for commuting and errands?

    Certainly if you section off the main four square miles of San Francisco and say "this is the walkable city" it is true but for the entire metropolis I'd say it's not. I'd think better examples of bicycle/pedestrian/transit bliss can be witnessed in Copenhagen or Amsterdam, not to mention countless old Euro cities.

    And though New York pedestrians can walk across all bridges except the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (where there is a free ferry from Battery Park) it's the 24 hour a day mass transit that makes it "walkable".

    And don't take this as hating on San Francisco and the Bay Area. I've loved all my time spent there. But I think the website needs to adjust it's criteria a bit, and looking at car ownership and total access to mass transit could be useful indicators.

  2. All very good points. I actually don't think SF is very walkable myself (although I must admit to being basically SF-illiterate) I just think the idea of being able to type in any address you want is kind of neat. The site admits a lot of its flaws here.

  3. I never knew my dad's love for Learned Hand was an economist thing. And google "aptonym" and you can find lots of better ones; the collection on the Freakonomics blog is pretty good.

    And it's not an aptonym, but my favorite funny name is a guy in my dad's childhood ward named Gay Call. The name itself is pretty good, but even better is the fact that he had several daughters, who were then referred to--innocently, by Idahoans--as the "Gay Call girls." Heh.

  4. I think it goes without saying that every European city you can think of is exponentially better in walkability, as most of these cities were established at times when cars were not yet invented. As a result, not only is it a short walk to any church wherever you might live in Paris, Munich, or Rome, but the fact that it was always necessary to have shops of all kind within walking distance has helped influence the development of the cultures in Europe. Although it would be easy enough for every Parisan to take the Metro to get to the supermarket to buy bread, it is an indelible part of their culture to have fresh bread on every corner.

    I also think it's a given that the study doesn't include the surrounding suburbs of the city when accounting for the walkability of a given city. The purpose of the study was to show the walkability of any given area, not it's surrounding areas. Walkability of bridges is a mute point since walkability is a measure of having access to to all amenities without haveing to drive. Oakland is hardly within walking distance if you live in San Francisco (unless you're Garret, in which case Sacramento is also within walking distance). The Brooklyn bridge is just over a mile long, the bay bridge is 8 miles long. However, you can easily cross the bay by mass transit. As the study indicated, mass transit is important for walkability.

  5. OK, a musician named C. Sharpe Minor is also pretty cool. I still like good old Learned, though.

  6. the pitching coach for the cincinnati reds is named dick pole. that has nothing to do with pitching or coaching, but still, what a name.