Welcome to Curbed Cuts, a tri-weekly digest connecting the dots between shelter, structure, parks, transportation, and more.
Danger lurks beneath backyard chickens
The concept of urban dwellers who keep chickens in their backyards can evoke a lot of stereotypes, from a glowing image of admirable do-it-yourselfery to the worst kind of blue-collar poser-ism. Both groups—and all those in between--are ably served by publications like Modern Farmer, whose 2014 article “Raising Backyard Chickens for Dummies” still regularly appears in the social media feeds to Bay Area residents who’ve recently moved to a place where they can finally live out agrarian dreams.
One issue that goes unobserved in the dummy-targeted article (and in the San Jose Mercury News’s 2015 report “Bay Area backyard chicken coops all the rage”) is the threat of disease these feathered friends also bring to the yard.
According to the California Department of Public Health, the trendiness of urban bird farming has caused a spike in disease, with 2016 marking a record number of Salmonella outbreaks reported across the U.S., reports the Sacramento Bee.
So far this year, says the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 372 people in 47 states have gotten Salmonella between January and May of this year, with 21 of those occurring across 15 California counties. (Citing privacy issues, the DPH wouldn’t identify which counties those were.)
Many of the strains of Salmonella that befell those victims are “linked to people keeping backyard flocks of chickens and ducks,” reports Bay City News. “Live poultry, particularly baby chicks and ducklings, may have salmonella in their feces and on their bodies even when they appear healthy and clean,” they warn.
The Bee further reports, “The contamination can get on hands, shoes and clothing. Salmonella also can be on cages, coops, feed and water dishes, bedding, plants, and soil.”
On the upside, Salmonella is rarely that serious for healthy adults, causing diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps between 12-72 hours after infection. The elderly, children, and people with compromised immune systems can face health problems that are far more serious. So anyone who thinks they might have been sickened by a backyard bird (or other source) should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Bringing down bro bikers
According to Vie Bikes founder Kit Hodge, speaking at a SPUR talk on the state of SF cycling this April, the current ratio of male to female riders in SF is 73 percent male to 27 percent female. “The number of women has numerically increased, you are seeing more women, but we are still a minority of riders.”
“Women require a higher threshold of infrastructure,” says Hodge. “If you don’t get them right, no matter what else you get right, you won’t see the needle move…we have a huge opportunity to embrace SF values of gender inclusion and equity and to create parity in our bike network so they work for everyone.”
But infrastructure doesn’t appear to be the only thing keeping women from riding: Streetsblog reports this week that a recent story shows that women are still being discouraged from riding via harassment not just from drivers but from their fellow cyclists.
Here’s one account:
My pannier came unhooked and bounced off my bike that day and instead of anyone stopping to see if everything was fine, some jersey-wearing man yelled “GET A BACKPACK” while a peloton of jerks rode by.
Then again on Monday—in the rain—my foot slipped off my pedal and I swerved for a second and a man passing by yells, “GET OFF YOUR BIKE”.
Colin Browne of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, says that male riders need to “[r]esist the temptation to ascribe this rider’s experience to some sort of equal-opportunity jerkitude” and that “toxic behavior like this won’t stop unless men call each other out on it. If someone you’re riding with (or a total stranger) is being a sexist jackass, don’t let it slide.”
It’s worth noting that, according to historian Ellen Garvey, shortly after women began riding bikes in the 1890s, men raised worries that women “would damage themselves by acquiring a ‘bicycle face,’ or would get sexual pleasure from bicycling—and thus ruin their reproductive capacities.”
While those issues (about which you can learn more at a talk Garvey is leading in SF on June 13) seem laughable now, it appears that some bros are still less than psyched about ladies on bikes.
Ride-sharing before the days of “ride-sharing”
Long before the days of Uber, Lyft, Waze, or even smartphones (gasp!), there was Casual Carpool, a relatively informal carpool program launched in the Bay Area in the 1970s, notes SF Casual Carpool’s website.
The rules are simple: two riders and one driver meet up at one of the carpool pickup locations in the East Bay during the morning rush hour (5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.), and meet at locations in downtown SF for the ride back at the end of the day.
Made up of “many like-minded commuters,” it “has generally been a favorable environment with few incidents,” which is certainly not something one can say with any certainty regarding other methods of shared transportation. As app-enabled services grab all the headlines, CC thrums quietly along, with occasional coverage of the service every couple of years or so, reports that typically seem bemused at how, well, unremarkable the service seems.
This week it’s CBS 5’s turn, as national correspondent John Blackstone credited San Francisco as where ride-sharing began via CC, saying, “In an age when Uber claims its users have taken more than 600 million uberPOOL rides, and Lyft boasts of 28 million rides on its Lyft Line feature, casual carpool is the little transit system that pre-dates them all, and shows no signs of slowing down.”
According to UC Berkeley researcher Susan Shaheen “about 6,000 people” participate in a Bay Area casual carpool on a daily basis. "We found that the median wait time for a driver was just two minutes and they were doing this long before Lyft and Uber...It's completely organic,” she says.
Want to give it a try? Here’s what you need to do to dive into the casual pool.