Every month I look forward to reading the Sunset Beacon cover to cover, including Supervisor Gordon Mar’s monthly column. A recurring theme I see in his words, including in his February column, is a professed dedication to making San Francisco more hospitable to families with children. I don’t buy it.
If Supervisor Mar truly cares about families, why does he consistently support actions that make it more difficult and expensive for anyone who must drive a vehicle?
I raised two children in San Francisco, and know from first-hand experience that generally speaking, it is families, more than anyone else, who must drive cars. Bikes and buses simply don’t cut it when you have to drop kids off at school at 8:40 a.m. and still to get to work at a reasonable time that’s acceptable to one’s employer. The constant shuttling of children to soccer practice, dance lessons, doctors’ appointments, birthday parties, and the like doesn’t work on a bicycle. Buying food at the supermarket to feed one’s family for a week costs $150 and results in far too many groceries to carry home on the bus.
Each outing to the zoo, park, Exploratorium, or beach means lugging strollers, toys, sports equipment, shade structures, diaper bags, food, etc. Yet Supervisor Mar constantly supports policies such as road closures, lane removal, and less and more expensive parking options, which hurt families most. Not to mention that when drivers are forced to detour out of their way because, for example, the Great Highway- – the safest north/south route for cars, having no cross streets- – or some other road is closed to cars, a far greater safety risk is created as frustrated drivers instead navigate through neighboring residential streets (burning unnecessary fuel to boot).
It’s one thing to encourage transportation alternatives to cars and efforts to curb auto emissions. Make Muni free. Establish free bike-share programs. Provide rebates and other incentives on bicycle purchases, and on electric and hybrid vehicles. But if Supervisor Mar truly is concerned about the needs of families, he needs to stop with the policies designed to punish drivers. The belief that by making driving such an unpleasant and expensive experience that people will simply abandon their cars is not realist for anyone, but especially not for families.
San Francisco consistently “wins” all surveys of the least family-friendly big cities in the nation, and we all know families who’ve left the City because raising children here became too difficult. Anti-car is anti-family, and until he stops promoting policies that make it difficult for people who drive, Supervisor Mar should stop asserting that he is “pro family.”
Charles Perkins, Sunset District
Categories: letter to the editor