Bike zealots fan hysteria over Masonic Avenue
Since Leah Shahum is in voluntary exile in Amsterdam where bicycles roam free, Michael Helquist (pictured above, after he fell off his bike) of Bike Nopa has filled the vacuum and appointed himself Anti-Car Demagogue in Chief. Helquist has adopted Masonic Avenue as a cause, issuing a series of hysterical bulletins packed with disinformation about a street that now efficiently handles more than 32,000 vehicles a day and on which Muni's #43 Masonic line carries 12,000 passengers a day. This major north/south city traffic artery does this with few accidents and little danger to anyone---cyclists, pedestrians, or motorists---according to the city's own numbers. Helquist is pushing the hysteria to a fever pitch now that the final city-sponsored community meeting to determine exactly how it's going screw up the street is this Thursday evening.
One of Helquist's recent propaganda bulletins contains a bit of cluelessness and unintentional comedy in a statement by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano:
Option C offers the type of sweeping changes needed to make Masonic a safer, calmer, and more livable street, one that would better serve pedestrians, cyclists, MUNI, drivers and the surrounding neighborhoods. In doing so, the plan would enhance the entire Masonic Avenue corridor in much the same way that the redesign of Octavia Boulevard did for the Hayes Valley area.
Since Ammiano now spends most of his time in Sacramento, he and John King may be the only people in the city who haven't noticed that Octavia Blvd. is a complete traffic and planning fiasco, perpetually jammed with freeway traffic to and from Fell and Oak Streets, with more than 45,000 cars a day creeping through the heart of the Hayes Valley neighborhood.
If you think Octavia Blvd. has "enhanced" the Hayes Valley neighborhood, you're going to like what Ammiano, Helquist, the Bicycle Coalition and the city are determined to do to Masonic Avenue.
The Option C plan Ammiano refers to takes away street parking on Masonic to make bike lanes, thus rendering obsolete the present system that removes street parking during commute hours to create extra lanes when traffic is heaviest. Plan C means that there will soon permanently be only two lanes in each direction, which means a perpetual traffic jam like Octavia Blvd. and, by the way, slowing down the busy #43 Muni line. How's that for "transit first"? In reality we now live in a Bikes First city, where our Muni system---the only realistic alternative to driving for most city residents---takes a back seat to the bike people's anti-car agenda, which is also the city's official policy, as Mayor Newsom announced two years ago.
If the city is going to slow down traffic on Masonic, it's also going to slow down a Muni line that carries more than 12,000 passengers a day---to create a street that the city's bike people feel "comfortable" riding on. What could go wrong with that?