When a Monday pedestrian death brought grievances from the district’s supervisor Gordon Mar, Mar himself took some grief from a local Twitter celebrity over shutting down Slow Streets in the Sunset.
It is a common, perhaps formulaic, but certainly tasteful gesture that when a San Francisco resident is killed unexpectedly, an elected official takes to Twitter to eulogize the victim and decry the circumstances that led to that person’s death. Such was the case with a Monday traffic collision in the Sunset District that killed one pedestrian and hospitalized another. (The driver was reportedly traveling over the speed limit and blew through a Stop sign). The district’s supervisor Gordon Mar posted the tweet below, vowed a community meeting on traffic safety, and complained to KGO about “a lack of enforcement by SFPD in issuing traffic citations in preventing this.”
I’m heartbroken and angry to report a pedestrian fatality in the Sunset. Two seniors were struck and one of them killed by a driver racing east up Santiago who didn’t stop as they crossed the street at 24th Avenue.— Gordon Mar 馬兆明 (@D4GordonMar) October 24, 2022
Mar is not exactly going out on a limb on that one. The Chronicle ran an August piece on how stunningly few citations SFPD issues for traffic violations. But given Mar’s role in scaling back Slow Streets in the Sunset District, he got some blowback from probably the most internet-famous Muni driver in the city, who replies, “Remind me if you’re the same supervisor who demanded the removal of slow streets in the Sunset?” This is a good zing.
Remind me if you’re the same supervisor who demanded the removal of slow streets in the Sunset? https://t.co/enciJ2Pikw— Mack, yes, That Mack (@that_mc) October 24, 2022
The discourse escalates, but first some background on Twitter user Mack, yes, That Mack, otherwise known as real-life Muni driver Mc "Mack" Allen. Allen gained fame with a viral Twitter thread (seen below) fine-tooth-combing the Muni martial arts fight scene in last year’s Marvel Studios hit Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. This made him something of a Muni celebrity, earning him podcast appearances and stints at the popular spoken word show Muni Diaries Live.
Finally watching Shang-Chi, here as a bus operator to rate the SFT transit factors of The Bus Scene:— Mack, yes, That Mack (@that_mc) November 13, 2021
But back to the Slow Streets squabble: In April 2021, Supervisor Mar took the lead in eliminating some Sunset District Slow Streets, replacing that system with a watered down version called Sunset Neighborways. This effectively “un-designated” some (but not all) Sunset District Slow Streets, allowing all cars to return, but instead installing “speed humps, traffic circles, crosswalk upgrades, and traffic diversion at targeted locations.” Several Sunset school principals had clamored for the change.
When you traded safe roadways by schools for more expedient passage for cars, school drop off and pickup were made both less safe and more dependent on cars. If a child is hit by a car at a school, that’s on you, and the principals, who asked for it.— Mack, yes, That Mack (@that_mc) October 24, 2022
Obviously this did not please Slow Streets fans, “Your heartbreak and anger need to spend today focusing on where your priorities lie: with the expedited movement of cars or the safety and vibrancy of human beings,” Mack responds. “When you traded safe roadways by schools for more expedient passage for cars, school drop off and pickup were made both less safe and more dependent on cars. If a child is hit by a car at a school, that’s on you, and the principals, who asked for it.”
That last sentiment may be a little much, particularly for someone who drives a motor vehicle for a living. (Muni buses have hit pedestrians too!) And while the corner in Monday’s accident is not and never was a Slow Street, there is the larger matter that Mar has actively scaled back Slow Streets, and helped bring cars back to the Great Highway. As such, Mar can be rightfully labeled “pro-car” by pedestrian and bicycle activists.
Mack, please join us in pushing SFMTA to move faster and be bolder for the Sunset Neighborways project: https://t.co/oz2D9hnQES— Gordon Mar 馬兆明 (@D4GordonMar) October 24, 2022
Mar did actually respond, but took the high road, saying “Mack, please join us in pushing SFMTA to move faster and be bolder for the Sunset Neighborways project:”
Is the “pro-car” label a political liability for Supervisor Mar? He is up for reelection just two weeks from today. Though it’s unclear if his challenger Joel Engardio has a ton of support among the Slow Streets set. So this may or may not be a wedge issue for Mar electorally. But he will be remembered as the supervisor who nixed some significant car-free streets, whether he ends up serving one term or two.
Image: Bennett W. via Yelp