It was 2014, around the time when Travis Kalanick referred to Uber as his chick-magnet “Boober” in a GQ article, that I’d realized congestion in San Francisco had gone insane. Before there was Uber, getting across town took about ten minutes by car and there was nowhere to park, ever. With Boober in play, there was parking in places there never were spaces, but the streets were so jammed with empty, one-person “gig economy” cars circling, sitting in bus zones, mowing down bicyclists whilst fussing with their phones, still endlessly going nowhere, alone, that walking across the city was faster.
To be fair, you wouldn’t know there were 5,700 more vehicles a day on our roads if you’d just moved here. Nor if you were pouring Uber-delivered champagne over yourself in a tub of stock options while complaining about San Francisco’s homeless from the comfort of your company-rental Airbnb where artists or Mexican families once lived. But as usual, I digress.
So, witness my surprise face at a city study released this week confirming that Uber and Lyft have “caused a bigger headache on San Francisco streets than population and job growth combined,” reported Streetsblog SF.
Locals, like me, no doubt also wore the same face of grim non-surprise while reading this week’s news about Google’s scary driverless car experiments on our streets. Back in 2011, according to The New Yorker, then-Google engineer Anthony Levandowski took a Waymo car onto a local freeway (where it wasn’t supposed to be) and caused another car to “pinwheel” in traffic. Levandowski’s co-worker later needed multiple surgeries after the alleged accident. The New Yorker reported that the engineers simply left the other car behind.
That was at the same time Google+ kicked a lot of people off its service — and in some instances, outed them — over its “real names” policy. Same as with Facebook’s “real names” cleansing and outings, SF Bay Area’s LGBTQ communities were disproportionately impacted by this policy. All I’m saying is, companies like Google seem to have a dangerous disconnect from those of us in the world outside their confines.