Connecting offline at SF’s street events

city hall

I read recently that loneliness is on the rise as a population health issue. The article explained that social isolation can be as damaging to health as 15 cigarettes a day and obesity and is being exacerbated in an age of technology. Another article explored ways people can more consciously expand their gaze beyond apps and online profiles to open themselves up to opportunities to connect with people in person. So how easy is it to connect in San Francisco… in person?  Continue reading

Accidents waiting to happen on San Francisco’s streets

No pedestrian crossing

Photo credit: Gary Kavanagh

previous blog post about Vision Zero wrote that the policy aims to fix San Francisco’s known dangerous locations, informed by injury data. That got me wondering about San Francisco’s unknown dangerous locations. Will Vision Zero have the scope to identify troublesome locations before a serious accident occurs? Continue reading

Vision Zero’s a Hero!

It blew me away to learn how common pedestrian deaths and serious injures are in San Francisco. Here’s the very map that made me gasp and reach for my husband’s shoulder in shock.

Pedestrian deaths and high injury corridors - source: sfgov

Pedestrian-Vehicle injuries and high injury corridors – source: sfgov

“What kind of community have we moved into?!” I shrilled in disbelief as I pointed to the concentrated areas of red and skulls right in the heart of downtown San Francisco.

The San Francisco Department of Health report that around 100 people are killed or severely injured in traffic incidents in San Francisco every year. On top of that, at least 800 more people are injured. Judging from the map, it was no surprise to learn that 60% of deaths and severe injuries took place on only 6% of the city’s streets. San Francisco sure has it’s danger hot-spots.

And then the mighty Vision Zero Hero came to save the day! Continue reading

Caltrain bike overload is a ‘land use issue’

Bikes boarding Caltrain – Photo credit: Richard Masoner

It’s no secret that my favorite way to make healthy choices easier for people is to influence change in the ‘physical environment’ around them. That is, for example- the street structures/ sidewalks/ bikeways, distance between people and healthy food and distance between homes and employment.

Therefore, something said in a public comment by Adina Levin at a Caltrain Board meeting really stuck with me. She urged the Board not to think about bike + train riders a special interest group, but about the need for bike + train commuting as a ‘land use issue’. Continue reading

Faster than you could cook a pizza

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It’s pretty normal to let machines do our washing and dishes, let other people farm/grow our food,  make our clothes,  fix our cars and mow our lawn. It’s even increasingly normal to have a cleaner come around and clean our homes. Technology has advanced and times have changed. Rather than do all our household chores ourselves, we choose to spend more time specializing in what we’re good at (usually our job) and what we enjoy at the opportunity cost of paying for others (or machines)  to do our chores. From an economic perspective, it’s also much more efficient and productive to leave the farming and textiles to the experts.

So why doesn’t the same principle apply to cooking dinner?

Logically, ordering take-away and delivered meals is just paying someone else to do the cooking while we use our time to work or do something else we enjoy, right? Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be quite reality…  YET. But why not? Why does society still frown upon take-away and delivered meals beyond the occasional treat? Not to say it isn’t popular, but it’s a bit naughty isn’t it?

Continue reading

Getting on the advocacy train

Bike parked at a Caltrain station (Photos credit: Brad Greenlee)

Bike parked at a Caltrain station (Photos credit: Brad Greenlee)

In Melbourne, working to create healthy environments always felt like an uphill battle. Probably because we were trying to intervene in systems driven by economic, social and legal factors that we hardly understood, let along had an influence over… you know, such as supply and demand?

Systems which determine things like the types of foods available,  housing density and street design. All factors which impact on what people eat and how they get around, which in turn impact on health, but which are not normally recognized as such. There were always more direct and powerful factors influencing the local area and community.

In the team, we’d get all passionate in our discussions about creating a “community demand for health”. Getting the community to ask for healthier food,  city structures and walkable/rideable streets. Surely community demand would be a powerful force which couldn’t be ignored! Continue reading