Man vs. Muni: San Francisco Examiner reporter races sluggish 22-Fillmore bus 

Riding on the 22-Fillmore seems like a decent time, in theory. The lengthy route travels through a number of historic neighborhoods and crests hills that offer up some impressive views.

But as a mode of transit designed to move passengers efficiently from Point A to Point B, it is flat-out miserable. With only one lane in each direction, the heavily commercialized Fillmore Street is a crowded, congested nightmare.

Personally, I have no ties to the 22-Fillmore. I’ve only ridden it sparingly (fortunately), and it’s never caused me to miss an important meeting (I’ve had at least one in my life), or forced me to show up late for work.

But I do know that it’s slow, and after getting drubbed by the N-Judah in my last Man vs. Muni competition I had to pick an easy target to restore my confidence.

On Thursday afternoon, I set out to tackle the 22-Fillmore in an 11-block competition stretching from Sacramento Street to Turk Street. The results were encouraging.

3:25 After waiting around for 10 minutes, San Francisco Examiner photographer Mike Koozmin and I finally catch our first glimpse of the 22-Fillmore, cresting the hill about three blocks from our stop. We take off immediately, giving us about a one-minute head start in this race.

3:26 During our monthly Man vs. Muni races, Koozmin and I have taken a rather liberal stance toward California traffic laws regarding pedestrians. This approach has almost got us pancaked by about 10 different cars. None, however, has come as close as the blue van that almost ended Koozmin’s life while we crossed California Street. Undaunted by the near-death experience, Koozmin stares down the driver — and the shrieking infant in the back car seat — as we press on.

3:27 While crossing Pine Street, I take a peek back at the bus and witness an ideal scenario: delivery trucks idling, cars double-parked, and the 22 struggling to navigate through it all. Right now, I’m the only person in San Francisco who’s actually happy to see a parking cop handing out tickets, because his cute little money-collecting vehicle is further gumming up the works on Fillmore.

3:29 With the memories of our pasting by the N-Judah fresh on our minds, we find no qualms in crossing Sutter Street on a red light. The 22 is only a block away and coming on strong. We reaffirm our conviction that breaking traffic laws is morally right if we have a chance to humiliate Muni.

3:30 The moment I’ve been waiting for. While we push on past Post Street, the 22 becomes mired in a passenger boarding mess. Stuck at Sutter Street, the bus isn’t budging an inch. I knew hiring the Anonymous protestors to set up shop at that location was a good investment.

3:31 This race is turning into a blowout. As Koozmin and I run our third consecutive red light at Geary Boulevard, the 22 is still stuck haplessly at Sutter Street.

3:33 The 22 finally lurches forward, but it’s way too late. I’m crossing Eddy Street, and the only thing weighing on my mind is the fact that I never learned how to do cartwheels. Instead I unveil some trendsetting dance moves. I can see the locals furiously scribbling down notes.

3:34 We reach our final destination — Turk Street — a solid three blocks in front of the 22. I don’t know if it’s the thrilling victory, or the three 5-Hour Energy drinks I took down earlier, but my heart is pumping with pride. Yeah, it was probably the energy drinks.

3:36 The 22-Fillmore finally creaks up to Turk Street, much to the relief of the crowd of people at the stop.

3:37–3:47 While casually walking back (I’m talking sloth-like) to Koozmin’s car on Sacramento Street, we actually beat the 22-Fillmore again. Koozmin wanted to take the bus, but I insisted on walking — it turned out to be the right call, as we nipped the inbound 22 by about three seconds.

One day, two Man vs. Muni victories (OK, only one officially).

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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