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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