Being older in a youthful San Francisco

By Sally Stephens: sfexaminer – excerpt

If you listened to a transistor radio in 1966, like I did, you heard James Brown sing, “This is a man’s world.” The song drove many to fight male chauvinism. If it was written in today’s San Francisco, Brown might instead sing, “This is a millennial’s world.”

San Francisco in 2015 is being planned by and for people in their 20s and 30s. Take a look around City Hall and you’ll see mostly young people staffing government and city agencies. Maybe it takes a certain youthful enthusiasm to deal with an irascible public, powerful special interests and noisy opponents.

The San Francisco millennials are designing is one that meets their needs, wants and expectations. Unfortunately, it’s also making life harder for older San Franciscans…

Or consider the ongoing tension between bikes and cars. A bike is a great way to get around when you’re young and fit. But as you get older, it gets harder to ride safely. You might discover that you can’t turn your head as far to the side to see what’s coming up behind you as you once could. The fear that even a minor spill could result in a broken hip keeps many seniors off bikes.

As you get older, you just can’t carry as much as you once could, so taking the bus to shop becomes harder. Uber, Lyft or ride-hail companies get expensive, if used frequently. Is it any wonder many Baby Boomers prefer to drive?

Yet San Francisco’s many millennial policy makers have decided to restrict cars in favor of bikes on many city streets, reduce parking and consolidate bus stops. While the planners’ young friends enjoy the bike lanes and faster transit, my fellow Baby Boomers and I have more and more difficulty getting around The City…

After working here for a few years, many of San Francisco’s young city staffers will likely move somewhere else, either for a job, family or just because they’re young and want to see more of the world. As they age, they won’t have to live with the consequences of the policies they are crafting in San Francisco today.

When they finally do get older, millennials who stay in San Francisco may well find themselves singing a different tune when they discover they designed a city that makes few accommodations for seniors like themselves… (more)

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