Mayor Newsom Paints a Bike Lane

We don't exactly frequent the mayor's self-congratulatory press conferences. But when we heard he'd actually be painting part of a bike lane around the corner from our offices today at 1 p.m., we put down the amyl nitrate and headed out.

The requisite media circus had congregated on the corner of Fourth and Townsend Streets as the mayor, slickly dressed in a gray pinstripe suit, gushed about how great it is that San Francisco has finally lifted its four-year injunction on doubling bike lane miles in the city. "The growth is going to be exponential," he said. His gruff voice traveled nicely on the breeze, which smelled faintly of wax.

San Fran has 45 miles of cycling lanes, and, apparently, an additional 35 miles will soon coat the roadways of Townsend Street, North Point Street, Laguna Honda, 17th Street, and Ocean Avenue. The goal, Newsom explained, is to surpass the hated Portland, Oregon, as the most bike-friendly city in the realm. (He didn't mean he hated Portland, Newsom explained quickly, he just hated that Portland was winning this particular contest.)


After Newsom gushed, others like Renee Rivera, Acting Director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition; and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who had just "jammed" from the budget committee meeting, also gushed.

Then the floor was opened up for questions -- "only on this topic," one of Newsom's press handlers cautioned -- and Newsom himself tried to jam. "Let's go paint," he roared, dashing to the perimeter of the circle as if he were suddenly a participant in a game of Red Rover.

When the softball question period concluded, Newsom strutted over to the opposite side of the street, where an officially designated slice of bike lane no more than a foot long awaited. He removed his jacket and greeted a man in a highlighter yellow vest, who wielded a small bucket of white paint. "Sup, my man?" Newsom queried.

He then called out for various helpers, including Tom Nolan, chairman of the Municipal Transportation Agency board, to come forward and help. Together, Newsom and Nolan slid the paint roller haphazardly down the asphalt, creating an unruly stripe above two parallel pieces of tape.

After about a minute of work amid the cameras, Newsom handed off the paint roller and declared with Patrick Bateman-like effervescence, That's exhausting."

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