San Francisco has THE WORST pedestrians of any city I’ve ever been in, including cities in Asia where pedestrians deliberately jump out in front of cars in the hopes of having their medical bills covered for life. As a city resident who drives, cycles and walks all over the city on a regular basis, I am uniquely qualified to opine on who is most to blame for the swirling maelstrom of despair that is SF traffic. The buses, aka “MUNI”, are definitely the main culprits, but the pedestrians are not far behind. Here are the three worst kinds of pedestrians in San Francisco:
#1: Crack Heads & Bums
It’s like they have somehow managed to perfectly synchronize their aimless wanderings to coincide with the exact middle of the green light for oncoming traffic at every intersection. I have not once seen a bum cross the street or even begin to cross the street at a time when he/she had the right of way. They will simply meander out into traffic, with never a glance left or right to check for a semi coming toward them at 50 mph, totally oblivious, taking their own sweet fucking time getting to the other side. They don’t just do this at piss-ant little intersections, either. They do this on the freakin’ interstate.
For some reason that is beyond me, the drivers just put up with it. They never honk or flash their lights or use a snowplow attachment or blast “MOVE, BITCH!” on their stereo. Last week some guy just left his shopping cart in the middle of Market Street while he wandered around scaring small children on the sidewalk, blocking traffic in both directions including a trolley and a duck boat full of tourists, but the only people who seemed to notice or care were the frightened children and me. At least those tourists got the “real SF” experience.
“Crack heads and bums are #1?” you say? Seems a bit obvious, I know. #2 is more of a surprise…
#2: Business Men/Women/People in Suits Going to Stupid Fucking Oracle Conventions and Staying at the W
Aaarrrggghhh! Maybe they can turn the motor of the world or whatever, but these people cannot cross the street for shit!
Here is a dramatization of what you can see happening on virtually every corner of the Financial District and Union Square during the business week:
The next version of Grand Theft Auto should include hordes of these idiots in suits pouring out of some convention center and blindly entering the street where they are easy pickings for you to crush under your 4x4.
Ok, the last group is...
#3: EVERYONE ELSE
You all suck. No one here can cross the goddamn street properly to save their life. In New York and Chicago, the tourists may stand around gawking on street corners, but the residents quickly herd them along by forming a phalanx and poking them with sticks. The ones that fail to move quickly enough are simply knifed and tossed aside, and it’s all very humane and efficient.
San Franciscan pedestrians, on the other hand, cannot be differentiated from tourists except by reference to their hipster clothing and distastefully disheveled appearance. Behaviorally, they are completely identical. Do they stand and stare in the exact middle of where people are trying to walk? Yes. Do they stand on the corner waiting for the “Walk” sign when there are no cars anywhere in sight? Yes. When they get the magical “Walk” signal, do they proceed as if that somehow indemnifies them against all risk to life and limb posed by buses, cars, bike messengers, and stray bullets? Absolutely.
Frighteningly enough, crossing the street seems to be what SF pedestrians are *best* at. What they are undoubtedly worst at is walking. In all my years biking along the Embarcadero, I have yet to see a person who could walk in a straight line. It makes me think those sobriety tests are rigged because, drunk or not, no one here can do it. All the work that has gone into creating the perfect stochastic random walk function was wasted. All they needed to do was tag a bunch of SF pedestrians and map their progress from the Wharf to AT&T Park. Even the guy from Pi couldn’t find an algorithm to describe that randomness.
If you’re interested in what you can do to avoid being a total douchebag pedestrian, here are a few tips:
1. If there’s somewhere you can move safely that brings you closer to your ultimate destination, move there. Now.
2. If you do not have wheels and are not crippled, do not stand in the middle of the sidewalk ramp. That ramp is for wheelchairs and mulefa only. The rest of you can bend a fucking knee to descend from the curb.
3. When walking in a group, it is not appropriate to walk 5 abreast, thereby blocking the sidewalk for everyone else.
Corollary A: Groups tend to walk more slowly than individuals, thereby magnifying the rudeness of forming a human roadblock.
Corollary B: Depending on your size and the width of the sidewalk, it may be equally rude to walk two abreast, particularly if you are a burly Russian man afraid to be seen walking too close to another man in San Francisco and prone to large gesticulations that effectively double your width.
4. You can greatly reduce the likelihood that you will be run over by cars, bikes, skateboards, or buffalo if you move in a somewhat predictable manner. Generally, this means you should walk in a fucking straight line.
Let's see if we all can't work together to make this world a more tolerable place, eh?