Category Archives: Module 2

Announcement for Module 2

Bikeways and Homelessness

On Wednesday, October 11, I attended a forum on bikeways and homelessness in San Francisco. This forum came about because there have been some conflicts between homeless people camping and bicyclist using bikeways, particularly a network of bike paths under the 101 interchange at Cesar Chavez Blvd. Because city and state agencies have cleared encampments and fenced off spaces under many freeways, campers have moved onto bikeways in some areas.

The forum was an attempt by SF Supervisor Hillary Ronen and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to educate cyclists about homelessness in San Francisco, and to describe some of the efforts underway to find people housing.

About 60 people attended the event, and we heard from Supervisor Ronen, a Bike Coalition person, two homeless advocates, and a representative of Caltrans, the state transportation agency that maintains the 101 freeway.

I learned that on any given night in San Francisco, there are about 7500 people experiencing homelessness. This number has been holding pretty steady for the past few years, although there has been a rise in visible tent encampments, like the ones we saw on Division St. during our October 3rd expedition.

Speaking of Bicycles students on Division St. under a section of Hwy 100 on October 3rd, 2017.

A few panelists speculated about the rise of tent camps in SF. One person observed that many homeless people used to camp in the Mission Bay area (where we visited Dr. Bauer on October 3rd). But all the new construction in that area has led them to try to find other places to camp.

Supervisor Ronen outlined her efforts to create “Navigation Centers” — a new kind of shelter where people are treated with greater dignity (for example, you can keep your pets with you) and possessions are more respected and secure. One of these centers has opened near the 101/Chavez interchange.

Unfortunately, I had to leave before the end of the panel to get to another event, but it was a great learning experience for me. I feel that I now better understand the reasons for the current situation (as well as solutions underway), and I also have greater empathy for the people experiencing homelessness whom I’ve encountered on bike paths.

More about this issue (and link to video) in this SF Examiner article:

‘Gut-wrenching’ videos of SF bike route populated by homeless spur debate



Biking on Market St. in 1906.

Meet in front of the library as usual — bring your bike & helmet & lock. Weather forecast: warm and sunny, high 70s, moderate breeze from the north. Great biking weather.

We’ll work on these things in class:

  • body awareness in speaking and cycling
  • biking practice on campus
  • discussing and debating assigned readings (see below)
  • revising and editing posters
  • planning and schedule for Presentation 2

TASKS due 9/26:

Post: Your in-class writing about reading from last week. What is a post?

Write: A post about something that happened in class on 9/19. Include an image if possible — photo, drawing, graph or chart, image from the web, etc. Example: this post from Jordan.

Read/Watch (total of 4 things):

  1. Huff, excerpt from “How to Lie with Statistics” (PDF)
  2. Schnell, “Data Visualization” (PDF)
  3. Video: “USF Creative Activity and Research Day” (2:37)
  4. Video: Hans Rosling TED talk, “Debunking…” (20:35)


Work with your team to create a poster explaining the evidence you’ve collected. Use Powerpoint or Google Slides to create the poster.

Team Presentations on Tuesday 9/19/2017

students on bicycles riding in bike lane on John F. Kennedy Drive
Sunny bike ride in Golden Gate Park.

On Tuesday, we heard some great team presentations of evidence about the Panhandle area. Links to videos and slides below.


  1. Teams are finding great stuff — very interesting and often very thorough observations.
  2. Generally good work explaining your goals and methods.
  3. Great use of a variety of kinds of evidence (numbers, photos…)
  4. Very nice job generally with transitions, Carl Kwan style!
  5. Slides were generally very good — we’ll talk more in the future about slide design best practices and pitfalls.

Weaknesses (biggest weak points had to do with delivery, not with content):

  1. As I mentioned, conclusions were generally weak. Refer to this Canvas page for important advice about conclusions.
  2. Confidence: you discovered something interesting — now stand up there and own it!

TEAM 1: Users of the Shared Path    VIDEO    SLIDES

TEAM 2: Bike Helmets   VIDEO    SLIDES

TEAM 3: Pedestrian Path Users   VIDEO    SLIDES

TEAM 4: Roadway Users    VIDEO     SLIDES

TEAM 5: Speeds on the Shared Path    VIDEO    SLIDES

Class slides from 9/19 (look here for homework for 9/26).

Panhandle Debates

slide showing photos of the path and users, indicating unauthorized use and poor pavement conditions
Slide presenting evidence about the pedestrian path in San Francisco’s Panhandle.

We’ve been studying the Panhandle, and it turns out other people have been studying it too.

Over the past 100 years, the Panhandle has changed from a parkway for automobiles to a car-free extension of Golden Gate Park. The streets bordering the Panhandle, Fell and Oak, have changed from quiet neighborhood streets to wide, high-speed expressways.

Now there are plans for further changes–but what should those changes be? Like our class, different groups have been trying to collect information that will help us make the best decisions.

Read this post on Streetsblog San Francisco about the controversies that have arisen. Post a comment here — thinking particularly about evidence, how would you address this problem?


Tandem Scofflaw Dad on the Panhandle

We watched this video in class on 2/28. The video demonstrates a few issues we’ll talk about over the next few weeks:

What are the challenges involved in a re-design of the shared-used path in the Panhandle (the video shows some of the different users and differences in speed)?To what degree do/should cyclists

To what degree do/should cyclists strictly obey traffic regulations (the video depicts a cyclist with a child running a red light)?

How has new cycling-specific infrastructure changed San Francisco’s streets (the video depicts construction of a separated bike lane on Oak St. and a bicycle traffic signal at Oak and Broderick)?

We can talk more effectively about these challenges if we collect evidence– through interviews, surveys, observation, counting, and measuring.

Using Evidence

For the next few weeks, we’ll focus on evidence.

Presenting the right evidence for your audience and purpose, and presenting evidence in the right way, is essentially for your credibility.

Additionally, we want people to base important decisions on evidence. When a doctor treats me, I want the treatment to be based on evidence (as opposed to tradition, belief, opinion, or superstition). When a new bridge is built, I want the engineers to make decisions based on evidence rather than gut feelings.

As we’ve discussed in class, there are heated debates about the use of bike helmets. In many US states, helmets are required for children, but no US states require them for adults. The primary purpose of bike helmets is to reduce fatal injuries, and there is good evidence that they reduce fatal injuries. However, new knowledge about traumatic brain injuries such as concussion has raised concerns about helmets and non-fatal head injury.

Watch three videos and write a post about the use of evidence in arguments about bike helmets. The first video is about effective communication of technical or scientific ideas. The next two are arguments about bicycle helmets (pro and con).

Don’t hesitate to google these speakers to find out a bit more about them.

Melissa Marshall, “Talk Nerdy to Me.” Marshall is a scientific communications consultant and faculty member at Penn State.

Mikael Colville-Andersen, “Why We Shouldn’t Bike with a Helmet. Colville-Andersen is a designer and urban planning consultant.

Fred Rivara, “The Importance of Bike Helmets.” Rivara is a physician and professor of pediatrics in Seattle.



For further thinking (optional), watch this video about a new kind of helmet, which is essentially an airbag for your head:

Here’s the site of the Swedish company developing the airbag helmet:

Finally (and again optional), consider this opinion piece by Eben Weiss, US author and cycling advocate, who argues against mandatory helmet laws in the US:


To Do for Class Day 12 (Thurs 9/29/16)

You have three main tasks to complete for Thursday: read, write, prepare.

Warning: these will take longer than just a few minutes, so plan ahead & don’t do everything at the last minute.


Read a selection on “Using Field Research” from Envision: Writing and Researching Arguments (Alfano and O’Brien, 2014).


Post to your blog a Write-Out for your 2-minute talk (see below).


Prepare: 2-minute topic proposal for S2, using the two points below as a guide:

  1. “I’d like to find out more about…”
    describe area or topic of interest
  2. “My plan for gathering information is…”
    describe research methods

Use 1 or 2 slides, as appropriate.


Class Report for Day 11 (Tues 9/27/16)

Today we worked on group presentations to demonstrate knowledge of course materials and share new knowledge with others.

Teams of three were assembled on the spot to discuss field observations in relation to two assigned readings, Chris Carlsson’s “I’m in a Hurry, so Slow Down!” (blog post/essay), and John Zimmer’s “The Third Transportation Revolution” (blog post/essay).

Sample slides from presentations:



A “Sustainability Hackathon” will be held at USF on October 8th. Information sessions tomorrow, Wednesday 9/28.

More info below (from Hana Mori Böttger);

What is a hackathon?
You are presented with a problem, and you work in a team to find a solution.
What’s the problem/theme?
Propose a solution that will help promote good habits of environmental sustainability here on our campus.
What kind of solution?
The format of your solution is up to your team. Maybe it’s a physical thing that is placed around campus with info or actions for people to take. Maybe it’s a smartphone app that everyone can use to access info about resources available to them. Maybe it’s an educational campaign that can be launched on campus. No limit to the form your solution can take!
How is it judged?
Your team’s proposal will be judged on feasibility, impact, and innovation. There will be a panel of judges including experts in the fields of sustainability, design and social impact.
Who’s on a team?
Teams will be mixed majors, mixed by area of study: arts/humanities, business/social science, and sciences.
How do I start?
Come to the orientation/kick-off meeting for more info and to form teams. Bring potential teammates with you, or meet someone new and form a team that night.
ORIENTATION MEETING is Wednesday, 28 September 2016, 7:00-8:30pm in McLaren 251.
Is there food?
Is there ever. Pizza at the orientation/kick off, and food all day at the main event/competition day, Saturday 8 October.
Are there prizes?
Yes! Each member of a winning team will go home with a prize, plus there is a strong possibility of your concept being developed and implemented on campus.
Come help make a lasting difference at your beloved school.
Any questions? Email Hana at