Thursday, March 05, 2009

Leave Masonic Avenue alone 2

Goodplanner writes:
Masonic Avenue is only one of three signal-controlled roads between the Great Highway and Divisidero suitable for traffic. The others are Park Presidio and Stanyan. There is an active proposal to take out a lane on Van Ness.

Meanwhile, Park Presidio congestion is so bad that it takes three of four signal cycles to clear lights at places like Fulton and Lincoln during rush hours. Much of this traffic is going to/from jobs in places like Marin and San Mateo Counties (and remember that 22 percent of San Francisco does not work in San Francisco).

The issue with Masonic has to be looked at in a larger context of trying to get across San Francisco. Should we be encouraging traffic off of Masonic and onto Stanyan or Divisadero?Shouldn't residents of all of these streets have at least some input, or should be ignore neighborhood concerns and add traffic in front of people's homes without really telling them?

Some roadways are suitable for bicycle lanes. Some are better left alone for cars to drive, and bicyclists should be discouraged from these streets.

Masonic is a scary experience for traffic, buses, pedestrians and bicylists; it does need to be rethought. However, the program should be based on how to make things safer for everyone---and not just summarily give it over to bicyclists. The SFCTA's willingness to do further study illustrates how several of the Bicycle Plan projects are proposed in a vacuum of neighborhood discussion; still, the study should be better funded to do it right, and it should include everything from Arguello to Webster.

There seems to be this thought that getting rid of traffic shifts people to other modes. Have you tried to get a seat on Muni lately? Everywhere we start taking lanes in the Bicycle Plan, we really need to add more bus seats during peak hours---or forgo the project; to just take lanes makes things worse for everyone.

Rob writes:
"Some roadways are suitable for bicycle lanes. Some are better left alone for cars to drive, and bicyclists should be discouraged from these streets."

Masonic is one of those streets, because traffic moves so well and quickly between Geary and Fell in spite of all the traffic lights. I ride the #43 all the time, and it moves very well---now. According to the DEIR on the Bicycle Plan, it won't continue to do so if the city takes away traffic lanes to make bike lanes.

"Masonic is a scary experience for traffic, buses, pedestrians and bicylists; it does need to be rethought. However, the program should be based on how to make things safer for everyone---and not just summarily give it over to bicyclists."

I agree that Masonic shouldn't be given over to the bike people, but I disagree that Masonic is now particularly dangerous for anyone, especially passengers on the #43 line. Neither the MTA's San Francisco 2007 Collision Report of October, 2008 nor the 2005-2006 San Francisco Bicycle Injury Collision Report---both available through the MTA website---show that Masonic Avenue is particularly dangerous for anyone, though I wouldn't ride a bike on that street. But then I wouldn't ride a bike anywhere in SF.

The San Francisco 2007 Collision Report
doesn't list Masonic on its list of 17 of the "Highest Muni Injury Collision Areas" in the city. It does, however, list the #43 as one of the "Highest Injury Muni Collision Lines," with 15 such collisions over three years, 2005 through 2007. Compare that total to 44 injury collisions for the F Market streetcar or 35 for the #38 Geary line. But it doesn't say on what part of the #43 line those accidents happen, and, since the #43 isn't listed on the Highest Muni Injury Collision Areas list, I suspect most of these accidents happen on other parts of the line, like when the #43 turns onto Haight Street off Cole Street on its way to Masonic Ave. The Bicycle Plan applies only to Masonic between Fell Street and Geary Blvd.

"There seems to be this thought that getting rid of traffic shifts people to other modes. Have you tried to get a seat on Muni lately? Everywhere we start taking lanes in the Bicycle Plan, we really need to add more bus seats during peak hours---or forgo the project; to just take lanes makes things worse for everyone."

Exactly. The bike fantasy involves the assumption that if you punish drivers enough they'll abandon their cars and take up cycling instead, that if you take away a traffic lane and/or street parking on Masonic to make bike lanes, cycling on that street will take a quantum leap. There's absolutely no evidence for that assumption, and, as you say, it's only going to make traffic worse for everyone. But don't forget that the bike people like traffic jams, so that they can weave in and out of stalled cars, trucks, and buses and thus demonstrate the superiority of their transportation "mode." That's why they opposed the garage under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park. The bike people oppose anything that makes it convenient to drive in the city, which is why they want to screw up Masonic Avenue for motorists.

I agree that Muni is the only serious alternative to driving a car in the city, but the SFBC and the bike people aren't really interested in Muni, as you can see from their website, where it's rarely mentioned. It's all about bikes with them, and their anti-car bias---which they aren't shy about proclaiming---treats city drivers as if they are the enemy, even though there are 465,905 cars, trucks, and motorcycles registered in SF, more than 1,000 Muni vehicles on our streets, all our goods are delivered by trucks, and millions of tourists drive in the city every year.

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9 Comments:

At 1:14 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"I agree that Muni is the only serious alternative to driving a car in the city, but the SFBC and the bike people aren't really interested in Muni, as you can see from their website, where it's rarely mentioned"

Typical sleight of hand. Of course MUNI is not a priority of the Bike Coalition - it is after all the "Bike" Coalition. But your comment is completely misleading - membership in the bike coalition does not preclude membership in transit organizations, where those issues are addressed. If you looked at the intersection of SFBC and WalkSF or Rescue Muni you would see a sizeable overlap.

"Millions of tourists drive in the city every year"

and of course, they hate bikes.

http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/03/04/sunday-streets-will-expand-to-six-days-this-year/#more-1668
*******************************
"Last year, up to 15,000 bicyclists, pedestrians, rollerbladers and others turned out for two very successful pilot Sunday Streets. This year's events still need to get through the permitting process, a move expected next week, but there is no opposition. The first event in just six weeks along the waterfront from the Giants ballpark to Aquatic Park enjoys the support of many Fisherman's Wharf merchants who were previously opposed.

"We really need to embrace it otherwise we may be the ones losing out on it," said Karen Bell, the executive director of the Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District."
****************************
Last year the Wharf people were up in arms about Sunday streets - it will hose up traffic for the tourists coming to the wharf. Now they are begging to be included, because they figured out they will MAKE MORE MONEY that way.

Obligatory Masonic Observation: There are lower incidents on Masonic specifically because people on foot or on bike avoid it - despite the fact it is a more optimal route than other routes. The statistics are subject to the observer effect - nobody gets killed there because they are afraid if they go there, they will get killed. But this means that they accept inconvenience instead, solely for the convenience of someone else. Bad Planning.

 
At 4:41 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Since your tiny little brain is so crammed with BikeThink, you fail to understand anything that could possibly counter that ideolgy. The Bicycle Coalition genuflects occasionally in obeisance to this being a Transit First city, but they like to pretend that riding a bike in SF is a realistic alternative to driving a car for the rest of us. And they refuse to acknowledge that if you take travel lanes away from cars---aka "Death Machines"---they will also degrade Muni service, which already has on-time problems. Of course tourists don't "hate bikes," a meaningless formulation that you dim bulb bike nuts like to use for anyone who doesn't share your religion. But most tourists do use the streets with their rented cars or their own cars. If you screw up traffic for cars, you're also fucking with our largest industry, which is tourism.

Of course you want to change the subject from Masonic Ave. and what the DEIR says about it to Sunday Streets. You probably don't remember the original complaint the Fisherman's Wharf merchants had with the event last year: it was snuck through the process by Mayor Newsom and the bike people without even consulting them. If it's good for business, I'm all for it, but it did make it harder for people in the contiguous neighborhoods to move around, as news reports noted at the time.

I don't know that people "avoid" Masonic; I use it all the time, both on foot and on the #43 line. The point I make in the post, which you typically didn't read carefully, is that there's no evidence that it's unsafe for anyone.

 
At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Goodplanner said...

"Masonic is a scary experience for traffic, buses, pedestrians and bicylists; it does need to be rethought. However, the program should be based on how to make things safer for everyone---and not just summarily give it over to bicyclists. "

I guess my choice of words is not entirely the best, but I did want to draw a distinction between "scary" and "unsafe". Even though the accident rate is lower than average, as you say, a person is often unsure about what is going on.

 
At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Goodplanner said...

"Typical sleight of hand. Of course MUNI is not a priority of the Bike Coalition - it is after all the "Bike" Coalition. But your comment is completely misleading - membership in the bike coalition does not preclude membership in transit organizations, where those issues are addressed. If you looked at the intersection of SFBC and WalkSF or Rescue Muni you would see a sizeable overlap."

If there is any sort of "overlap" I suspects its becasue the SFBC encourages members to join other groups. But since you opened the book, here is a posted quote from the WalkSF web site about irresponsible, uncivil bicyclist behavior:
"Presently SAN has documented that approximately 80% of bicyclists that travel on the sidewalk do so by riding their bicycle. At the same time SAN has documented about 20% of it’s members have been struck by a bicyclist within the last 2 years. "

RescueMuni appears to ignore bicyclists. Outside of an aside about the City budget in May 2008, there is no mention of bicyclist support anywhere on their web site.

I hardly think this appears to be any sort of "overlap" from a policy standpoint; it seems to be at best an "overlap" from a membership standpoint. I bet many of the SFBC members have Yahoo IM accounts too (making them Yahoo "members"), but that doesn't mean that what's good for Yahoo is good for the SFBC and vice-versa!

 
At 12:06 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I disagree. I use Masonic all the time---on foot and on the #43 line. The only scary incidents I've had on Masonic is, while waiting for the #5 Fulton bus at Fulton and Masonic: seeing cyclists speeding down Masonic heading south toward the Fulton/Masonic intersection. Truly frightening, almost suicidal behavior.

 
At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in the park today and saw a bunch of happy-looking people walking, biking, and skating with their kids. I'm outraged that they screwed up traffic so much.

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The subject under discussion is Masonic Avenue, Anon, but thanks for sharing.

 
At 3:45 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Masonic, as is, sucks. It is a street inside a major city, not a freeway. It should be calmed and made safe as a traffic artery.

And fortunately for me, Obama and his *Republican* Secretary of Transportation agree on priorities.

http://bikeportland.org/2009/03/11/sec-lahood-you-have-a-full-partner-at-the-us-dot/

 
At 9:59 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

There's absolutely no evidence that Masonic is now unsafe. The only part of Masonic that appears in city accident reports is the intersection of Fell and Masonic, and even those numbers are pretty low. By "calming" you and the bike nuts mean "jamming up the traffic" that now flows freely and efficiently between Fell and Geary.

 

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