The focus of HANC’s June 2016 meeting was an examination of what real change in transportation might look like for the Haight Ashbury and for our city more broadly. HANC’s guide for this exploration was Jason Henderson, a professor of geography at San Francisco State University.
Our journey started at the global level. As other countries plan for prosperity and mobility we cannot afford the environmental cost of them emulating the US love affair with the automobile. The US has 0.786 vehicles per person, more than 10 times the rate in China, which is already experiencing gridlock and alarming pollution. Both the US and developing countries need transportation solutions beyond the personal automobile.
Partly because of its urban nature, the Haight Ashbury already has a low rate of car ownership at 0.48 vehicles per capita, close to San Francisco’s average of 0.47, and more frugal than the auto-besotted Marina at 0.65. 3,360 households in the Haight have no vehicle at all; that’s 41% of renters, but just 9% of homeowners.
A common measure of car use for urban planning is daily vehicle miles travelled (VMT). In San Francisco, this rises pretty evenly from a low of 1-3 VMT among downtown residents, to a high of around 45 VMT along the San Mateo county line and near Ocean Beach. The Haight comes in at a little under 20 VMT, which like much of San Francisco is driven greatly by people commuting to jobs outside the city.