Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Only misinformation can justify the Masonic bike project


Yesterday's hearing on the Masonic Avenue bike project ended with comments by the supervisors that demonstrated once again that they were basing their support for this project on misinformation about both the project itself and the overall safety of Masonic Avenue (I've analyzed the city's study of Masonic Avenue in some detail here). Apparently neither the supervisors themselves nor any of their staff have read it, since it actually shows that Masonic is now remarkably safe for everyone, especially considering the volume of traffic it carries---more than 32,000 vehicles a day.

At yesterday's hearing, some of those who made public comments and the supervisors themselves referred to well-publicized accidents that supposedly show how unsafe Masonic is. The death of Nils Linke, who was killed by a drunk driver late at night at Turk and Masonic, was referenced several times. From the SF Examiner story on the accident that killed him:  

On the night of Aug. 13, Nils Yannick Linke was riding a borrowed bicycle to go to a party at Divisadero and McAllister streets when he was struck from behind. He crashed and died from blunt-force injuries to his head, according to the recently released autopsy. Linke was not wearing a helmet.

This project wouldn't have protected Linke from that drunk driver.

Others referred to a woman who was killed when she jaywalked in front of the Trader Joes at Masonic and Geary, which isn't even in the project area.

Others referred to a pedestrian killed in a crosswalk on Masonic late at night by another drunk driver. Neither this project or any other "improvement" to Masonic can protect pedestrians from drunk drivers.

And the bike people quickly demagogued these incidents shamelessly to push this anti-car project on Masonic Avenue: here and here.

That Supervisor Breed doesn't know what she's talking about is reflected in a message from one of her aides (below in italics):

The outreach and planning for this project preceded her election to the Board of Supervisors. In fact the process started a few years before. Now that she is on the Board, she is committed to improving the process so that it takes your concerns into account.

Yes, of course the "process" to screw up Masonic Avenue for everyone but cyclists began long before Breed was elected. The Bicycle Coalition has been working on it for years, fanning political hysteria with misinformation and outright lies about the safety of the Fell/Masonic intersection and Masonic Avenue in general. Breed promised to implement the project on her campaign website, and she's following through on that promise (But what about Polk Street? She promised the SFBC she would support that bike project too, but she's been quiet like the other supervisors since neighborhood opposition is putting that "improvement" in doubt. Groupthinkers like to run in packs, even when they're running for cover).

The Masonic project is not about bike lanes. It’s about making this corridor safer for everyone...The truth is this corridor is fundamentally dangerous in its current design. Doing nothing will continue to put residents, transit riders, motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists at danger.

That's the opposite of the truth, as the city's design study---which actually has the unimpressive accident numbers---tells us. There are now very few injury accidents to either pedestrians or cyclists on Masonic Avenue. And I don't know of a single accident where a Muni passenger has been injured on Masonic. These folks are on automatic, deploying blocks of meaningless verbiage to justify the unjustifiable. The street now works well for more than 44,000 people every day---32,000 vehicles a day plus 12,000 daily passengers on the #43 line. "Doing nothing" would actually be the best thing to do.

We need to ensure that transit riders are better served by the redesigned Masonic.

This is where Breed's aide shows his ignorance---and no doubt that of his boss. There's nothing about this project that does anything to "better serve" Muni passengers on the #43 line. Nobody boarding the bus on Masonic has any problems with the current design of the street, but the "bus-bulb plazas"---see page 49 in the design study---in the project will do what was done on Divisadero: buses pulling up to bus stops will block the traffic lane behind them, trapping unwary motorists in the intersection. More importantly, taking away all the parking on Masonic will mean that those lanes will no longer be available as traffic lanes during commute hours as they are now, which will delay all the traffic on the street, including the 12,000 daily passengers on the #43.

Please bear in mind the lion’s share of the funding will come from the federal government, not city sources. 

That the city will be wasting federal money on the project doesn't make it a better project or any more acceptable. (I've heard Supervisor Chiu make the same argument for the Central Subway boondoggle: it's mostly federal money so who cares?)

Thank you for contacting us, Sherrie.

Supervisor Breed takes your concerns very seriously.

The outreach and planning for this project preceded her election to the Board of Supervisors. In fact the process started a few years before. Now that she is on the Board, she is committed to improving the process so that it takes your concerns into account.

The truth is this corridor is fundamentally dangerous in its current design. Doing nothing will continue to put residents, transit riders, motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists at danger. In the interest of public safety, Supervisor Breed chooses to move forward with this project. But in doing so, she will absolutely address your concerns and work to mitigate any negative impacts of the project.

The Masonic project is not about bike lanes. It’s about making this corridor safer for everyone. There have been several serious accidents recently and neighbors along the route pushed for changes to make it safer. Something has to be done to make it safer.

But she understands your concerns.

She drives a car and has to find parking in Lower Haight everyday (which is almost as hard as finding it in Nopa). She is working hard to offset the parking impacts. We are meeting with MTA, City College staff and others to look into:

Expanded and improved residential permit areas

Opening the Target store, blood bank, and/or John Adams college campus lots for evening parking
Changing side street parking to diagonal instead of parallel to increase spaces
Working with USF to develop programs that encourage students to bring fewer cars into the neighborhood during the day, e.g. by busing, carpooling, living closer to campus, etc.

I am optimistic that we can offset the parking losses along Masonic.

In the next few weeks we will be meeting with MTA and the Fire and Police Departments to ensure the project will not impact emergency vehicles’ access. We will also discuss all of the Target store and ADA and access issues that have been raised. We need to ensure that transit riders are better served by the redesigned Masonic.

Please bear in mind the lion’s share of the funding will come from the federal government, not city sources.

Supervisor Breed is working hard to improve safety along Masonic and make the area more hospitable for residents like you.

Conor Johnston
Office of Supervisor London Breed 
415-554-6783

Labels: , , , ,

21 Comments:

At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly. You can't be wrong so they must be.

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I make an argument based on the documents. Why don't you at least try to come to grips with it?

 
At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You cherry pick the documents.

 
At 4:56 PM, Anonymous Gregski said...

Rob, we gotta love Breed's list of initiatives to mitigate the looming massacre of parking spaces. But wait. Haven't we been told for years that when we make life miserable for cars the cars will just diappear, replaced by bicycles?

According to cyclpath orthodoxy there should'nt be any need to replace the lost parking. Yet, with the exception of the UCSF "programs" that is what all of Breed's initiatives do. This letter is a de-facto acknowledgement that the "mode shift" is at best nothing more than a religious prophecy.

 
At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok you're right, feel better?

 
At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't need to. We won. Your move.

 
At 9:50 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"You cherry pick the documents."

I've cited the city's own study on Masonic. Are there more important documents I've ignored?

"Ok you're right, feel better?"

This isn't about me and my "feelings." It's an important public policy for the city.

"Don't need to[come to grips with the argument]. We won. Your move."

This is an honest comment. The MTA, City Hall, and our spineless, dim-bulb supervisors can't present an honest, fact-based argument, but they can exercise their power.

 
At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Jesse said...

Because people don't appreciate 40 miles per hour in their residential neighborhood, dangerous turns when they're crossing the streets or side streets. Everything proposed hasn't helped and people going through the corridor don't seem to have any problem driving recklessly.

You give absolutely no legitimacy to what people experience on this avenue. You never give any credit to those honest comments that express genuine concern of the corridor, so don't be surprised when no one values yours.

 
At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mitigate the looming massacre of parking spaces

PLEASE - SOMEONE THINK OF THE POOR PARKING SPACES!

Only one of Rob's fans can anthropomorphize a piece of asphalt.

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Look, those people live near one of the busiest streets in a major American city. Their "concern" is understandable, but the city's own reports say that Masonic isn't really dangerous, especially considering the volume of traffic it carries every day.I often cross Masonic on foot---always with the light and with care---and I often ride the #43 bus.There are stop signs and/or stop lights at every single intersection between Fell Street and Geary Blvd.

I direct your attention to page 13 in the city's Masonic Avenue design study, where it says "Walking Conditions" at the top of the page. From the bottom of that page:

"According to recent counts,the intersection of Masonic at Fulton Street has the highest volume of pedestrian traffic with an average of 1,013 people counted between 5-7pm.Masonic at Geary had the second highest volume,with 938 people."

Now look at the sidebar to the right of that paragraph that tells us that between 2004 and 2009---a six-year period---there have been only three (3) accidents at the Geary and Masonic intersection and a grand total of one (1) accident at Fulton and Masonic.

Those numbers do not describe an unsafe street that carries more than 32,000 vehicles a day.And, by the way, there's no indication of who was responsible for those accidents, the pedestrian or the motorist.

 
At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the city's own reports say that Masonic isn't really dangerous"

Please give a citation for a report from the city that uses that syntax - that Masonic isn't really dangerous.

If you instead say "here are the numbers" then please provide a cross reference from City documentation that says that those numbers translate to "not really dangerous".

 
At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The louder they scream, the more we know we are getting something done,"

- The Bike Lobby

 
At 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those numbers do not describe an unsafe street that carries more than 32,000 vehicles a day.And, by the way, there's no indication of who was responsible for those accidents, the pedestrian or the motorist.

You are making a subjective statement. Can you provide objective statistics from roads with similar conditions?

 
At 9:55 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"If you instead say 'here are the numbers' then please provide a cross reference from City documentation that says that those numbers translate to 'not really dangerous.'"

"You are making a subjective statement. Can you provide objective statistics from roads with similar conditions?"

You guys are very deep in denial on this issue.Why's that?Bad conscience?After all the city is going your way, even though, by its own account, the safety issue is bullshit.I repeat, according to the city's own numbers, there was only one (1) pedestrian accident at Fulton and Masonic in six years at an intersection that has "an average of 1,013 people counted between 5-7pm." (page 13)

 
At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Translation: You won't do the comparison vs. other roadways.

 
At 12:47 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, I won't because I don't have that information, but the city does. Why don't you ask the city to do it?

 
At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Gregski said...

They won't ask the city because they're not truly curious. If they really cared about how Masonic's carnage statistics compare to similar streets and roads they would have previously insisted that the MTA and the project's other enablers prove their point about Masonic being a blood alley by sharing the comparative data.

Seeking data is a habit of skeptics , not of the Faithful. Has the SFBC or the MTA ever queried cyclists to find out the reasons why so many people continued to take up cycling during the bike-lane injunction years?

Masonic-vs-others was indeed a worthwhile question to get answered. Personally I would likely have found it persuasive if statistics had shown Masonic to have a significantly higher incident rate than Van Ness, 19th, Lombard, Folsom, Gough, Bush, et al.

 
At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you ask the city to do it?

You are making an unsubstantiated claim in order to change the status quo, a status quo which I prefer. And you are asking *me* to do *your* work for *you* to enhance your ability to make *your* case which *I* disagree with.

Do your own homework, you cheeky bastard!

 
At 10:43 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

My "claim" about the safety of Masonic Avenue is in fact substantiated by the city's own numbers in its Masonic Avenue Redesign Study (pages 11-14), which you apparently have failed to read, though I've provided the link for you.

There's no place to go to find the information you/we want. All we have to go on in evaluating these streets is the Redesign Study on Masonic and the city's annual Collision Report. Since neither of those documents shows that Masonic is particularly unsafe---the Redesign Study shows the opposite, as I've pointed out---the city's case is unproven.

There's a pattern here of bogus safety claims by the city to justify these bike projects.I'm apparently the only one writing about these issues willing to take a look at that: the city made that clearly untrue claim to justify the Fell/Oak bike lane project, which I pointed out at the time.

Next the city made another phony safety claim to justify the Polk Street bike lane project. Fortunately, the people of Polk Gulch weren't buying it, and they continue to resist/reject the MTA's attempt to take away street parking to make a bike lane on Polk Street.

Now the city is making the same clearly false claim about Masonic to justify taking away 167 street parking spaces to make bike lanes on behalf of San Francisco's most obnoxious, unpopular special interest group.

The burden of proof is on City Hall to justify this project, which, based on the numbers in their own Redesign Study, they clearly can't do. But a compliant Board of Supervisors is allowing them to do it anyhow.

 
At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The burden of proof is on City Hall to justify this project,

Not anymore

 
At 11:45 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

That's right. You and City Hall and have lost the argument intellectually, but the project is going ahead anyhow.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home