The 16th Street Clusterfuck


The 16th Street Corridor between Guerrero and Mission is one of the worst traffic clusterfucks in the city. Lined with boutiques, liquor stores, bars, restaurants, shops, movie theaters and apartment buildings – all easily accessed via the BART station on Mission – the corridor functions as a nucleus. A welcome center. Not just to the Mission, but the whole city.

It’s where neighborhoods collide and intersect: SoMa to the northeast, like a pair of shades. Tenderloin due north, where your mind is in the gutter. The Castro is west, like a pack of cigarettes in your jean pockets. Duboce Triangle, on your shoulder like a backpack. And the Haight, the feather in your cap.

The Mission is where it’s at.

El corazón de la ciudad.

And 16th Street is the jugular.

Since the street runs halfway across the city – a straight shot east to west, from the Bay to the Castro – it’s also a quasi thoroughfare along the southern edge of the metro area. And thus, a hotspot of activity day and night. After all, that Latino heat is what gives the city flavor.

As a taxi driver, I try to avoid the area.

The 16th Street Corridor is – in addition to all those other things – a fucking quagmire. If there ever was a reason for that word to exist, it’s the 16th Street Corridor.

With no left turns at Guerrero and Mission, once you enter, you’re trapped. You either push through or retreat down an alley. Otherwise you’ll forced to circumvent packs of drunken jaywalkers. And the inevitable army of Ubers and Lyfts.

Driving in the 16th Street Corridor is like going to war with a bunch of preschoolers. I just want to start slapping drivers upside the head. “Whatsamattawitcha! Fucken morons!”

When they’re not double-parking with reckless abandon, impeding the flow of cars, bicyclists and two Muni routes, they’re driving like complete assholes or chickens with their heads cut off.

So last Friday, when Mr. Judy calls me from Albion and 16th looking for an evac, I’m not thrilled. Nonetheless, I charge into the maelstrom, blasting Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein.”

Mr. Judy is standing in front of Monk’s Kettle giving dirty looks to passersby. I quickly pull over and he jumps in the backseat.

“Just in time,” he says ominously.

Read the rest on the examiner site.

[photo by Shaun Osburn]

2 thoughts on “The 16th Street Clusterfuck

  1. Carol Velasco

    Dear Mr. Dessaint,
    I ADORE your columns bec. I love having TRUTH hit me upside the head unashamedly. I was married to a cab-driver and continue to pursue cabs to get me places when Muni is ridiculously late or I am ridiculously late getting out of house or the time is very late 11pm ish+ with dangerously high amounts of weirdos, who may also be high
    . When young or trying to be Hip people ask if I use Uber or Lyft, I emphatically and proudly declare “NO!” Sometimes, if I have time or energy to talk to these strangers, I remind them I have feet & can walk; or I can hop Muni; or I don’t feel UNSAFE in cabs, bec I pray for a safe driver before and during the cab-ride; or a cab-ride isn’t expensive to me since I believe in paying for quality work.
    Recently I discovered the joy of driving Guerero from approx. 30th/Mission across city to my insanely stressful job on Webster/Sac.Also, I learned I move faster, taking Dolores, which has stops signs rather than street lights. As I approach Market, I return to G st to get across easier.
    Have any tips to get me faster to this destination without mucho traffic -like 101-between 8am-8:45am? or are you hitting the covers at that hour?
    Hey, I missed your column in the Tuesday July 25th Examiner! -or do you only do Fridays?

    Well, time now is 11:20pm, which is late for me. I’m hitting the hay.
    I enjoyed speaking to you via this email. I look forward to a response!
    C-Anne Victorious (and Hilarious)


    1. piltdownlad Post author

      There is a super trendoid quality to Uber and Lyft that most young users don’t realize. When your grandmother is Uber-ing, it’s the opposite of cool. More than anything, though, it lacks class. And they look stupid riding in the backseat of an unmarked Kia.

      As far as getting across town, I’m a proponent of following the path of least resistance. Church, Dolores and Guerrero all have their pluses and minuses. I usually take the street with the least amount of cars and zig zag when they get backed up.

      You’re right, Dolores is a smoother ride than Guerrero due to the stop signs as well as the median that makes it easier to turn left without backing up traffic. The only hassle is the hills. Dropping back down to Guerrero to cross Market, I would usually take 14th, which also gives you the option of taking Duboce to Buchanan, which gets you through Oak and Fell faster than Laguna. At Grove you can either switch over to Laguna or Webster, although the lights through the Western Addition on Webster are torture. Or cut over to Steiner, which has less stops. A lot of people really like Scott because it’s mostly stop signs. But always avoid Pierce.

      Sometimes it’s faster to go out of your way to get somewhere.

      Anyway, the column comes out on Fridays. Thanks for reading. And thanks for the message.

      All the best,



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