Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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?

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6 Comments:

At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would guess that most YELP users weren't sitting in their cars in the perpetual traffic jams that occurred on the pre-1989 quake double-decked Central Freeway. People jokingly referred to the Central Freeway as a 'parking structure' with good reason. To allege that Octavia Boulevard traffic is actually worse than the freeway shows an intolerable level of historical ignorance, embarrassing even for a rant-fueled fictional "journalist" such as yourself.

Has Hayes Valley not flourished since the freeway removal? Has the Embarcadero not become a huge draw for tourists and locals alike since the removal of the freeway? Don't you consider that the Embarcadero is a huge financial engine for the city?

Didn't a huge percentage of Hayes Valley residents vote and actively campaign to remove the Central Freeway? Isn't the opportunity to build infill housing where the freeway once stood a very good thing?

Is that not enough evidence to convince you that the same civic improvements will happen to Division Street once we remove the remaining stub of the Central Freeway?

8 years and counting!

 
At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Is that not enough evidence to convince you that the same civic improvements will happen to Division Street once we remove the remaining stub of the Central Freeway? "

Remove it? It's brand-spanking new! It was demolished and completely rebuilt, what, 6 years ago, maybe? Why would anyone want to remove it? And removing the "stub" would make Octavia Blvd (and all the money spent there) completely superfluous, because it was built to be a feeder from/to the freeway ramp.

This is the most hare-brained idea I've ever heard, even from a bike nut.

 
At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Remove it? It's brand-spanking new! It was demolished and completely rebuilt, what, 6 years ago, maybe? Why would anyone want to remove it?"

Why? Grab a seat, you have a lot to learn...

Keeping something solely because it's new is one of the dumbest reasons for keeping something. If everyone subscribed to that logic the Pruitt Igoe housing projects would still be gracing St. Louis to this day.

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Pruitt%E2%80%93Igoe

 
At 1:20 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

We're not going to learn anything from you. A better reason to keep that freeway overpass: tearing it down will create traffic gridlock in that part of town, just like taking down the Central Freeway created a perpetual traffic jam in Hayes Valley.

 
At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We're not going to learn anything from you. A better reason to keep that freeway overpass: tearing it down will create traffic gridlock in that part of town, just like taking down the Central Freeway created a perpetual traffic jam in Hayes Valley."

Ask the neighborhood merchants whether they prefer Hayes Valley now with the traffic, oh and you know all the people flocking there to spend their money...

This country will be so much better off once we're finally rid of the boomers. Here's drinking to your health you sad old codger.

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What's this? Ageism? I see a lot of old farts on bikes, their pony tails blowing in the wind. Doesn't that count for something? Nobody is "flocking to" Octavia Blvd., where there are few businesses on that freeway-like stretch of road. Even on Hayes Street itself, there's a constant turnover in the storefronts, where one shoe boutique succeeds another. Whatever economic activity there is in Hayes Valley is happening in spite of Octavia Blvd, not because of it.

 

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