America's Cup Could Transform More Than Just Waterfront

By Matt Baume
|  Tuesday, Feb 8, 2011  |  Updated 6:45 AM PDT
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America's Cup Could Transform More Than Just Waterfront

Ezra Shaw

Big sailboats will come to the San Francisco Bay in 2013 if the City gets to host America's Cup.

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The America's Cup yacht race could lead to a development renaissance on the waterfront -- but it could also be so much more, according to the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association.

As the city rushes to complete construction for the race, SPUR has urged planners to consider long-term upgrades that could make the city more livable.

Among those initiatives: extending the F-Line all the way to Fort Mason, thereby connecting the city's northern shores. A tunnel already exists for the track; it just needs to be rehabilitated and reactivated after decades of disuse.

SPUR also wants to see more development of Embarcadero bike lanes. Currently, bikes are wedged in alongside fast, dangerous traffic. But under a proposed redesign, the lanes would get physical separations to make bike travel safer and more attractive.

These measures are necessary, planners say, to accommodate the floods of visitors expected for the race. If there's insufficient rail and bike infrastructure, visitors will want to take their cars, which will paralyze the city with gridlock.

SPUR also wants to open Fisherman's Wharf to pedestrians. Currently, the area is mostly devoted to vehicular transit, but it's difficult to stop and walk around. (When's the last time you went for a stroll on Fisherman's Wharf?)

All of these goals are achievable -- or at least, they would be in a city that's capable of making decisions and taking action. Whether San Francisco can rise to that challenge remains to be seen.

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