For months I had wished I knew the percent-grade of the descent of Duncan Street
into the Noe Valley. I thought about trying to navigate the bureaucracy of SF Public
Works, but I wasn’t up to it. I have a San Francisco Bike Map, published by Rufus
Graphics, that gives some indication of the steepness of it’s streets. It color codes
streets into categories of 0-5%, 5-10%, 10-18% and over 18%. From this map I knew
the street in question was greater than 18%, but nothing more specific than that.
Last January I debated calling either the San Francisco Bike Coalition (from whom
I received the map when I joined that organization) or to try contacting Rufus Graphics,
the publisher of the map.
I tried the latter. It turns out this is a small family company, and very helpful.
I spoke to Gay Renick on the phone. I subsequently sent them an email with more detail
of what I was looking for and why I was inquiring about it. Later that day I received
the answer to my question from Jack Renick along with an explanation that he had
retrieved the information from a large city book of streets and grades in percentages.
Furthermore Jack offered to fax me a copy of the page. This is what I really wanted
in the first place but I felt it might be over reaching since I was asking for help
from people that needed to take care of their work and didn’t even know me. So I
quickly took Jack up on his offer. I emailed him that I didn’t have a FAX, but I
was coming into SF the next day; could I pick up a copy?
While I was there, I asked if I could take a photo of them for our walk website.
Then I made the mistake of positioning them staring into the Sun (and in interposing
my shadow into the picture).
Anyway in less than 24 hours from the time I first placed the phone call, I had a
print copy of what I had been wanting for months. And as a bonus it also had the
percent grade of adjacent streets including those on our return route from the Noe
Valley. I hadn’t asked for this because, again, I thought that would be a bit to
I was then able to state with confidence the percent grades of the streets we needed
to traverse and feel justified in urging infrequent hikers to seriously consider
taking the bus into and out of the Noe Valley.
Among other things they publish Rufus Guides. I am going to purchase their Berkeley
Biking & Walking Guide and also Haight Ashbury Map & Guide.
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