Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Fixing" Masonic Avenue

Tomorrow night's Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) meeting---7:00 p.m. in the basement of the library at 1833 Page St.---will be devoted to the idea of "fixing" Masonic Avenue. Typically, HANC president Pi Ra mixes fact and fantasy in his riff on the subject in the July edition of Voice, the group's newsletter:

HANC's July 12 General Meeting will host a panel discussion on how a brave group of neighbors and advocates plan to address one of the biggest safety hazards in the neighborhood, Masonic Avenue. The Fix Masonic project
was started by Mark Christiansen, a resident of Masonic Avenue who has witnessed first-hand the results of a poorly engineered residential street. Mr. Christiansen began by teaming up with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition in part because he is a cyclist and because SFBC's track record with city traffic engineering departments, specifically DPT and DPW.

What's "brave" about consorting with the SF Bicycle Coalition in San Francisco? Nothing, actually, since that organization has a firm political grip on city government, with the Board of Supervisors routinely and unanimously endorsing the SFBC's anti-car agenda. Ra is just indulging in the kind of self-congratulation and puffery practiced by city progressives. For city progs, politics is often in large part a self-esteem exercise, an opportunity for them to tell each other how brave and good and progressive they are.

Tranforming the corridor from one that serves only the automobile to one that balances many needs is a huge opportunity, one with fewer downsides than you might think, but one which will require real political and financial capital...There's no alternative route from the Haight to Trader Joe's and beyond, so it's time that we work together in a grassroots effort to demand that the inadequate aspects of Masonic Avenue are fixed---and the sooner the better.

This shows how local progressives live in a bubble of their own construction, insulated from the political realities the rest of us must acknowledge. It may be news to the folks at HANC, but the city is under a court injunction that prevents it from "fixing" any streets on behalf of the city's cycling community, a small minority that exercises political influence way out of proportion to both its numbers and the merits of its anti-car agenda.

Masonic Avenue is in fact part of the city's Bicycle Plan---there are seven pages on the street in the Network Document, complete with engineering drawings---and thus subject to Judge Busch's injunction, which will remain in effect until the city completes an Environmental Impact Report on the Plan that it is only now just beginning.

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