How to move 200,000 people around America's Cup


I've been wondering how the city plans to move the thousands of spectators expected to show up for a series of regattas in 2012 and 2013, leading up to and including the 34th America’s Cup Final.

And today I had a chance to start perusing the city's draft People Plan which aims to move up to 200,000 residents and visitors daily to the city’s waterfront and is promising to be “the most transit, bicycle and pedestrian-friendly major sporting event in history.”

(Note to compulsive printers of online government documents: thanks to some nifty maps in this document, your printer may experience replication difficulties. For instance, I had to print everything but the maps on pages 13 and 14 of the document.)

Anyways, my preliminary review revealed that there is a special section in the draft dedicated to the "special transportation needs" of America’s Cup "participants" and that these participants include teams, event staff and, ta da!, accredited media.

“Special transportation needs for the ‘participant” group include but are not limited to staff access to race-related areas and other constricted waterfront areas," states the plan. "These activities may require unique and frequent vehicle access to various sites.”

[Note to self: Remember to check out what is required to qualify as "accredited media" for a seat in one of the vehicles frequently accessing the area.]

Just kidding, and now, back to the needs of regular people who want to see the event.

“Part of the appeal that brought the Events to San Francisco Bay was the opportunity to create a new kind of viewing experience for the highest level of competitive sailing, with races held in close proximity to urban areas and accessible shoreline instead of open seas,” states the plan's “Strategic Adaptability” section.

“The novelty of this concept creates excitement but it also creates uncertainty, in that there are few instructive examples of how spectators will choose to attend an America’s Cup Final-level sailing event in the middle of a weekend day, or how a large event in San Francisco Bay during a weekday will affect the ability of Bay Area residents to commute to work or their other daytime destinations,” the section notes.

{This sounds like the city is trying to figure out how many of us will choose to be anywhere but San Francisco on the weekends in question, how many of us who work in San Francisco are planning to play hookey to attend week day events, and how many will show up even if the Bay is swathed in fog.]

Un its draft plan,  the city promises  “to seed the strategies set forth in the People Plan with a measure of adaptability to allow for the strategic deployment of a finite amount of transportation resources across the spectrum of transportation demands associated with the Events in accordance with the expected demands of each day.”

Beyond that, the document is divided into three main parts. One itemizes likely destinations, the next describes transportation strategies to serve these key destinations, and the final section describes “additional considerations and strategies.”

To learn a) which race facilities, waterfront locations, and race viewing locations will be accessible to the public, b) which bus, rail, cable car, bike, automobile and ferry routes will be modified, and c) which parking and special locations will be added, be sure to check out the plan. And then eave your comments at the city's feedback site here.

For, as the city’s website warns, “The early draft of the People Plan is the product of analysis by city and SFMTA staff, with early input from stakeholder groups. The draft People Plan announced today will also undergo significant and further revisions, following input from members of the public, advocates, city and agency staff, the environmental community and other stakeholders in the coming months. Final approval and consideration will occur following the completion of environmental review."

In other words, review the documents now and speak your piece soon, otherwise your ideas won't have any chance of making it into the final plan.

Or at Mayor Ed Lee put it in a press release, “We are moving rapidly to meet our commitments to host a spectacular 34th America’s Cup in 2013 and set a new standard for sustainable event-planning. The America’s Cup is a unique opportunity to leverage our region’s transportation resources and our enthusiasm to deliver the most transit, bicycle and pedestrian-friendly international major sporting event in history for residents and visitors alike.”

And here’s hoping that we will all be “moving rapidly” when the regatta finally rolls into town…