Mosquito Abatement Rides

  • Posted by admin
  • On October 12, 2012

On the day before and the day after San Francisco’s 20th Anniversary Celebration of Critical Mass, two of Pestec’s Mosquito Abatement Couriers (MAC) conducted and assisted two educational rides in the City’s Mission District.

On Thursday, September 27, a current MAC crew member and a former one hosted the Mosquito Abatement Ride attended by about a dozen riders from Petaluma to Peru and Europe. Dave and the Old Vet led the riders on a short ride from Valencia & 16th to Market & Duboce Streets while describing mosquito abatement and the bicycle’s role in it.

We first stopped on Albion, a side street that parallels Valencia. There we practiced looking for catch basins (CBs, also called sewer drains) in tricky locations. The newcomers did well, finding all six CBs on that part of Albion. Dave and the Old Vet also noted that we were standing on the location of the first Mission Dolores, founded in 1776. In 1791, the Mission was relocated to its present place on 16th and Dolores Streets.

That was our next stop and there we discussed the history of what is San Francisco’s oldest building. Started as a Roman Catholic mission church, this was the place where the great fire of 1906 was halted. San Franciscans knew that if the Mission was burned the rest of the City would likely be lost. When the Mission was saved, the Mission District was saved. When the Mission District was saved, San Francisco was saved.

From Mission Dolores we rode west toward Market and then north along that street for a few blocks. The riders again proved themselves adept at spotting hard to find CBs.Whenever possible, Dave and the Old Vet allowed them to contribute their painting skills to the curbs above the CBs but could not let them apply the reduced risk larvicide.

At Duboce and Market, we all turned left to view the Bike Mural. Although all the riders had already seen it, Dave and the Old Vet pointed out something they’d overlooked.

Near its halfway point, the mural depicts a San Francisco street scene. Shown in that scene is a CB. One day just after the mural’s completion in 2010, Mona Caron, the lead muralist, was discussing it with some observers. Dave happened to be doing his job at a nearby CB. He told her the purpose of the different colored paint spots by each CB. After he explained how each paint color represents a different round of inspections and treatments, she borrowed his spray can and painted a spot next to the image of the CB on the mural. And MAC workers including Dave and the Old Vet were allowed to add to it for a few weeks afterward.

This concluded the Mosquito Abatement Ride and Pestec workers hope that the ride’s attendees take the mosquito abatement information back to their hometowns and homelands from Petaluma to Peru, Mexico and Europe. With the USA enduring our worst year ever for West Nile Virus, we only hope that this method of reduced risk Integrated Pest Management will spread quickly.

The next day, Friday, September 28, over 3,000 riders enjoyed an exciting yet safe 20th Anniversary Critical Mass.

On Saturday the 29th, the 3rd Annual Sewer Ride was held. Organized by SF Department of Public Works employees and local historians, this ride stops at various sites associated with the local history of water use and sewage. It does not ride through the sewers, although some people have asked to do that.

Of particular interest to some was the effect of the rainy season of 1861-62 on San Francisco. That winter and the following spring saw more rainfall than any other rainy season in the City’s recorded history. The Central Valley became a navigable lake the size of a few Great Lakes. San Francisco was flooded at least once that year and, as a result, the City developed a drainage system to deal with excessive water as well as sewage.

Another popular part of the Sewer Ride was a stop by a CB near the Bike Mural. Here Dave and the Old Vet reprised a concise version of the Mosquito Abatement Ride.

The Sewer Ride finished at Artspace, a gallery on Folsom Street. Along with some interesting landscape paintings and live music were some photo prints of CB paint spots done by MAC workers. This is at least the second time that a local photographer has exhibited our micro-Jackson Pollock imitations and I must admit I’m flattered. Some of the prints were on sale for $100. The Old Vet didn’t buy any of those but he did purchase a $1 button of one print.

Howard Williams in a Veteran MAC Team Member



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