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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 10-28-10, 02:32 AM   #1
zeppinger
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Cycling in San Francisco in 1906

This video was taken in 1906 just a few days before the earth quake hit San Francisco. Many of the people who appear in the film have just days to live. The film was made simply by placing a camera on top of a trolley car and letting the city roll by.

In the video you can see private automobiles, trolley cars, buses, pedestrians, horses, buggies, carriages, bicycles, and on and on. What amazes me is how so many different modes of transportation on present yet everything seems to run pretty smoothly. It reminds me of some of the videos I have been watching of traffic in China and India. Organized chaos but it seems pretty effective. I don't know why, 100 years later, we suddenly have such a hard time integrating anything outside of the private automobile into our transit system.

Enjoy the video!

From the website:

"Take a trip back in time. This 11-minute reel of film, shot from a cable car on Market Street, captures a city full of life and promise-which was destroyed only days later in the great earthquake of 1906."

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?...#ixzz13dlySeTc

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?...g=mg;60minutes
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Old 10-28-10, 06:53 AM   #2
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the bikes and cars go about the same speed - which is also the speed of someone running fast.

we sacrifice a lot by making room for cars to go 5 times faster.


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I don't know why, 100 years later, we suddenly have such a hard time integrating anything outside of the private automobile into our transit system.
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Old 10-28-10, 07:30 AM   #3
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Yes, this is true but from the look of the people just sort of standing around on the side of the road it doesn't look like any cared that they were not going five times faster.

What I mean to say is that, do we really need to go five times faster and are cars so expensive that we have to be five times as busy to pay for them?
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Old 10-28-10, 09:10 AM   #4
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Yes, this is true but from the look of the people just sort of standing around on the side of the road it doesn't look like any cared that they were not going five times faster.
For then, that speed was considered fast. You don't usually need what you don't know about. 40 Mb hard drives used to be considered massive. But now people wouldn't even think of turning on a computer that didn't have 100 or 1000 times that much memory in RAM.

Me, I have a cell phone, and use it several times a year. My cousin who is a couple of decades younger is glued to his and says he wouldn't know what to do without it.

It's all about expectations.
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Old 10-28-10, 11:41 AM   #5
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What I mean to say is that, do we really need to go five times faster and are cars so expensive that we have to be five times as busy to pay for them?
Problem is because we had vehicles that could go five times faster we seemed to spread the design of cities and suburbs (which didn't exist before) 10 times further apart.
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Old 10-28-10, 03:28 PM   #6
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Fascinating! Thanks for posting. My father was born in S.F. in 1900. What a treat to take a trip down Market Street as he must have done so many times!

You've got to hand it to a city that never got rid of its streetcars and cable cars and which has grandiose plans for improving its cycling infrastructure.



http://sf.streetsblog.org/2010/10/19...-path-forward/
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File Type: jpg Valencia-Street..jpg (78.1 KB, 22 views)

Last edited by Ekdog; 10-29-10 at 01:29 AM.
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Old 10-28-10, 10:08 PM   #7
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I seen that Video before and it's just amazing how the motorist were taking all sorts of risk. It scares you how they cut off the trolley and nearly killed or injured so many peds on the road. In a way, some things never change because they are still taking huge risks today.
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Old 10-29-10, 12:31 AM   #8
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I reacted to the film on a few different levels. On one level, I found it a bit heartbreaking: The traffic was a bit chaotic, but much slower, more diverse and somehow more human. Our cities have become much less user-friendly since this film was made. On another level, I thought about the 1906 earthquake, and how it leveled San Francisco, and how they pretty much rebuilt the whole city within a few years. And I compared that effort to what's happened in New Orleans roughly 100 years later. The comparison isn't very favorable. Finally, I noticed that none of the cyclists in this film are wearing helmets. What were they thinking?!
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Old 10-29-10, 02:19 AM   #9
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I reacted to the film on a few different levels. On one level, I found it a bit heartbreaking: The traffic was a bit chaotic, but much slower, more diverse and somehow more human. Our cities have become much less user-friendly since this film was made. On another level, I thought about the 1906 earthquake, and how it leveled San Francisco, and how they pretty much rebuilt the whole city within a few years. And I compared that effort to what's happened in New Orleans roughly 100 years later. The comparison isn't very favorable. Finally, I noticed that none of the cyclists in this film are wearing helmets. What were they thinking?!
Ya I think thats a good way to put it, the traffic seamed more human. Its hard to judge how fast everything is actually moving since it could depend on the speed of the camera. I would guess the trolley is going about 10-15 mph. Some of the stuff that looks risky might not have actually been all that bad. I didn't see anyone getting hit and killed to the tune of 50,000 a year like we have today in the US.

The point has been made, which is a good one, that the higher speeds of cars have lead to our cities being more spread out. The roads and everything around them have also had to widened and traffic now takes up huge portions of our cities. Thats not even mentioning parking lots! I just think that we might have given up a lot more than we bargained for.

Bragi, you were joking about the helmets right? I think I notice a car driver wearing one!
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Old 10-29-10, 02:36 AM   #10
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I reacted to the film on a few different levels. On one level, I found it a bit heartbreaking: The traffic was a bit chaotic, but much slower, more diverse and somehow more human. Our cities have become much less user-friendly since this film was made. On another level, I thought about the 1906 earthquake, and how it leveled San Francisco, and how they pretty much rebuilt the whole city within a few years. And I compared that effort to what's happened in New Orleans roughly 100 years later. The comparison isn't very favorable. Finally, I noticed that none of the cyclists in this film are wearing helmets. What were they thinking?!
Aye.

Ops: great post. Thank you.

Ps: anyone know what music that was?
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Old 10-29-10, 02:45 PM   #11
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I'm not convinced that traffic was really that chaotic - it's possible that the presence of the camera caused people to swerve back and forth in front of the trolley. Remember, cameras back then were huge and a lot of people might have gotten word about the filming.
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Old 10-29-10, 04:37 PM   #12
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Monderman!
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Old 11-05-10, 09:07 PM   #13
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Amazing video and music. Still, I was disappointed at the small number of cyclists visible; perhaps, then as now, they are riding on the less busy side streets? In that way this video doesn't jive with my imaginings of cycling's "golden age." Otherwise it's lovely.

Did anyone else notice how thin everyone was? The only fatty I spotted was a pot-bellied policeman, the rest else looked quite slender.
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Old 11-05-10, 11:28 PM   #14
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Maybe the mass transit was so good that no one care to bike much? The city was smaller then with virtually no suburbs. Combined with all the hills, SF might not have been the model city for cycling during its "golden age." This particular street also has some very prominent railroad tracks which might have made it more dangerous for cyclists and thus, be avoided.
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Old 11-06-10, 05:08 PM   #15
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Yeah, zepp--the famous hills of SF would be a big challenge--bikes didn't have gears back then and I don't think the brakes were very good either.
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