Saturday, May 24, 2014

No more Bay to Breakers

"Fun" at Bay to Breakers

Peter Hartlaub in the Chronicle covered the race this year (Bay to Breakers: A gangrenous limb of a footrace). He would like to see it continue, and he even has some suggestions about how to save it, but he's not optimistic. I say put a stop to it:

...I’m big on predictions (by choice or public demand, the race will be canceled in the next three years) and low on solutions. I’ve included three below, but two are merely stopgaps. I fear that the expanding problems that I’ve witnessed firsthand, both as a runner and reporter covering the event, are irreversible.

The main problems with the race — specifically what’s going on around the Panhandle — remind me of other situations that were passively “managed” by the organizers and city leaders, until tragedy or sheer size forced an elimination of the event altogether. Every year, just enough Bay to Breakers changes are made so city leaders can look a TV camera in the eye and list the things they’re doing, while the actual problems continue to expand.

The current state of Bay to Breakers is comparable to Halloween in the Castro, and two events from my college years: Halloween in Isla Vista near UC Santa Barbara and the Poly Royal festival at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. In the final case the event was canceled, and returned a few years later under another name. That result may be the best chance for Bay to Breakers: A time out, and then a carefully planned revival...

...Banning drinks on the course if anything has sent more people to the Panhandle, which has turned into a bacchanalian free-for-all, infringing on a larger group of surrounding residents each year...The city’s response? Fence the park in, and let the cops monitor the scene mostly from outside the walls. You know your city’s leaders have no answers when they’re borrowing ideas from “Escape From New York.”

I spent about two hours in the Panhandle yesterday, and observed one serious moment of police action inside the walls, when I watched two SFPD officers force a hot dog vendor to leave. So let’s get the rules straight: Walking around with your penis hanging out while drinking vodka can go unpunished, but trying to feed your family by selling delicious-smelling bacon-wrapped hot dogs is a criminal offense? You know the battle is lost when the only two sober people in the park are being kicked out.

This year was definitely worse than last year, and last year was worse than the year before that. There were more drunks leaking into the surrounding neighborhoods in 2014, and there’s an increasing feeling of aggression to the crowd. Two years ago the partiers seemed to want to get drunk or get laid. This year I got a stronger vibe that some of the young men were coming to fight. Reports from residents support the observation.

I suspect the enforced closure of Alamo Square Park in 2014 drove more revelers to the Panhandle. And I suspect the residents who live near Haight Street, many of them longtime homeowners with loud voices that can be heard by City Hall, will resent this fact. We’re going to reach a breaking point in a year or two or three...

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At 4:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old Man yells at cloud

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You think only old people dislike this annual, city-sanctioned march of vandals to the sea?

At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes. If you were 25, you'd be out there running drunk and naked. Makes me shudder to think about it.

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Me too. But that doesn't make it right. Like Halloween in the Castro, Bay to Breakers needs to be stopped.

At 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why are grumpy old farts like yourself more important than the 18-34 demographic?

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What makes you think that even the 18-34 demographic favors Bay to Breakers?


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