Geographer maps San Francisco’s bike politics

Copenhagen has a lot more in common with San Francisco than most people think, says San Francisco State geography professor Jason Henderson.

While many look to the capital of Denmark as a Nordic idyll where the drin of bicycle bells outnumbers the blare of car horns, Henderson says it went through the same political fights to get there. “It’s not a magical unique place, actually, and that opens up the doors to possibility,” says Henderson, who spent a 2016 research sabbatical in Copenhagen and has a forthcoming book about the two cities.

Speaking at a recent Nerd Nite, Henderson gave some gears to grind as San Francisco heads into June 5 elections. Politics matter – how streets are configured, how much car ownership is taxed, how much space is allocated and protected for car parking and who decides these issues – and the daily habits of politicians matter, too.

“It’s important if we’re going to have not just a bicycle city but a truly sustainable transportation city,” he says. The problem? Few San Francisco politicians are really behind the bike as a method of transportation. Continue reading

Going anywhere? Check Italy’s strike predictor first

In most countries, people check the weather forecast before leaving the house.
They may also check traffic. Or, with skyrocketing gas costs, prices at the pump.
In Italy, people check the strike-o-meter, or scioperometro, a strike forecast published on the Internet.

Italians, with strong union representation, are some of the most active strikers in all of Europe. They are fourth with an average of 113 days lost per 1,000 workers in protests.
As a freelancer who usually works from home, they don’t affect me that much. But the law of travel in the Bel Paese states that if you have to go anywhere, especially from one city to another, more than once in a month you’ll get nailed by some sort of transport strike.

A recent view of upcoming strikes, including ferry personnel.

Often they pass for civilized – called and announced well in advance and only for a few hours – but if you get caught in one, it is a real nightmare.
I’m still working through the scars from being stranded at Malpensa airport for seven hours in an attempt to get to Budapest. The strike per se only lasted two hours. Unfortunately, the only other flight to Budapest was five hours after that.
Malpensa (whose name aptly translates into “bad thought”) has to be one of the biggest, emptiest, cruddiest airports around.
Almost everything (including restaurants, clothes shops, food shops, most newsstands and the spa) had shuttered on a Saturday afternoon. Opting to take refuge at Burger King nursing a Moretti beer was preferable to hanging out at either the pharmacy or the chapel. Even worse? If I had checked beforehand, I could’ve booked directly on the next flight.
The genius behind the strike-o-meter is that it groups all the strikes into one national calendar, so you don’t get caught out by some small union paralyzing traffic in Rome.
Here’s this month’s forecast:
May 5
Airport personnel strike in Milan, noon to 4 p.m.
24 hour national train strike
May 12
National airport personnel strike, noon to four except in Rome, 10-6 p.m.
May 23
Alitalia pilot strike, 10-6p.m.
You have been warned.