Monday, March 31, 2014

Carpetbagging cyclist on Masonic Avenue


















District 5 resident Tim Hickey writes about Masonic Avenue ("2014: The Year Masonic Ave. Gets a Facelift," below in italics) in the current edition of Nopna News, the newsletter of the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association:

There is a plan and, finally, full funding ($18 million) for the redesign of the major arterial auto-oriented thoroughfare that is Masonic Boulevard[sic] from Geary Avenue[sic] to Fell Street. Currently a speedway generally avoided by pedestrians, cyclists, and even some drivers, the boulevard is now slated to become much safer for all users, thanks to initiative and design input from the neighborhood and positive response by the city.

Since Hickey and his family only moved to the city in 2010, maybe we should cut him some slack for all this misinformation. But he and the folks who put out the newsletter should at least get the street names right. As I've pointed out on this blog, based on the city's own studies, Masonic Avenue isn't really unsafe for anyone.

"Generally avoided by pedestrians"? Nope. From the Masonic Avenue Street Redesign Study, page 13:

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.

That's 500 pedestrians an hour at the two busiest intersections, which are also major Muni transfer points. The study also says that there's been only one "pedestrian collision"---presumably with a motor vehicle---at Fulton and Masonic in six years and only three such accidents at Geary and Masonic during the same time! Lots of pedestrians on Masonic, very few accidents.

It's true that not many cyclists now use Masonic:

The current PM peak volume was counted as 20 bikes per hour at Masonic and Golden Gate Avenue and 32 bikes per hour at Masonic and Fell Street (page 12).

There have been 19 "bike collisions" in six years on Masonic, but most of those (11) have happened at the Masonic and Fell intersection, which has been singled out by the city for special attention, with a special left turn lane and traffic light installed several years ago. And there's no indication of who was responsible for any of those accidents, but the anti-car bike zealots suggest that it was those wicked motor vehicles, even though the city's Collision Report (page 25) says that city cyclists are responsible for half their own injury accidents:

Community outcry spurred the city to action in 2008. After community meetings that attracted some of the largest turnouts of area residents for such a project, the input and approval of the plan has been nothing short of remarkable---in fact, it would be unimaginable in most suburban settings.

Oh, yes, those suburbs are so uncool. In reality screwing up Masonic for everyone---more than 32,000 vehicles a day and more than 12,000 passengers a day on the #43 line---on behalf of an unknown number of future cyclists has always been nothing but a Bicycle Coalition project, and those meetings on Masonic drew 50-100 people at most:

A sizable center median for traffic calming and pedestrian safety between lights; bus bulb plazas designed to create safer transit waiting and boarding areas; raised five-foot-wide cycle tracks with a one-foot buffer; pocket parks on the sidewalk, enhanced by plantings; 200 (yes, 200!) more trees on the sidewalk and median through this section; 45 new light fixtures on the road and 80 new pedestrian light fixtures will make this street almost unrecognizable when the project is complete.

There is now no pedestrian safety problem. Nor is there any safety problem for people getting on and off the #43 Masonic bus. In fact, as people familiar with the "bus bulb plaza" design installed on Divisadero already know, that design often traps unwary motorists in the intersection behind the #24 bus when it stops for passengers. 

Lots of "plantings" and 200 trees! This will make Hickey feel like he never left the suburb whence he came.

Hickey parachuted into the neighborhood---or pedaled in, as the case may be---with a strong pro-bike bias. As soon as he got here, he and his wife joined the Bicycle Coalition, and the next year they gave the lobbyists for his special interest group money ($500-$999).

Last year Hickey peddled the Bicycle Coalition's line on Polk Street to C.W. Nevius.

From the March-April 2014 edition of the NOPNA News:

2014: The Year Masonic Ave. Gets a Facelift
By Tim Hickey

There is a plan and, finally, full funding ($18 million) for the redesign of the major arterial auto-oriented thoroughfare that is Masonic Boulevard[sic] from Geary Avenue[sic] to Fell Street.

Currently a speedway generally avoided by pedestrians, cyclists, and even some drivers, the boulevard is now slated to become much safer for all users, thanks to initiative and design input from the neighborhood and positive response by the city.

The final design and engineering work is scheduled to begin this year and construction in December. In the past ten years Masonic has been the site of dozens of minor to critical and fatal injuries caused by speeding vehicles.

Community outcry spurred the city to action in 2008. After community meetings that attracted some of the largest turnouts of area residents for such a project, the input and approval of the plan has been nothing short of remarkable---in fact, it would be unimaginable in most suburban settings.

A sizable center median for traffic calming and pedestrian safety between lights; bus bulb plazas designed to create safer transit waiting and boarding areas; raised five-foot-wide cycle tracks with a one-foot buffer; pocket parks on the sidewalk, enhanced by plantings; 200 (yes, 200!) more trees on the sidewalk and median through this section; 45 new light fixtures on the road and 80 new pedestrian light fixtures will make this street almost unrecognizable when the project is complete. Walk Score may have to create a score over 100 with this design.

Construction is, alas, part of life in an urban environment and Masonic residents will certainly see an abundance of it for about 16 months, but when the mask comes off they'lll have the newest and prettiest streetscape around. The residents of NoPa should be proud of their participation in this change and can look forward to reaping the benefits of the new, more livable section of the city in the future.

I look forward to writing the article welcoming the new street in 2016. Stay involved NoPa! Details and links related to this project can be found at the nopna.org site.

Tim Hickey has lived in NoPa with his wife, Leah, and two-year-old son, Liam, since 2010. He joined the NOPNA board to be more involved in his neighborhood and make a difference in the community. He has a special interest in transit and bike/pedestrian safety.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

9 Comments:

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In modern usage in the U.S., the term carpetbagger is sometimes used derisively to refer to a politician who runs for public office in an area where he or she does not have deep community ties, or has lived only for a short time.

Tim Hickey moved to SF in 2010 per your information, but you show no indication that he moved here specifically to influence what happens on Masonic, he moved here because he wanted to move to SF. Once here, he should be allowed to weigh in on anything related to where he lives - that's called Democracy.

Carpetbagger is a term specifically used to describe someone who moves to an area specifically for political gain. Or even for someone who doesn't move, a la Tom McClintock being the D4 Congressman in California despite not living in that District.

You like to be the grammar/dictionary police, surely you understand your misuse here - as such you are simply using the term as a pejorative in order to foment an ad hominem attack. Whether Hickey has lived here for decades or not is not relevant.


 
At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a disaster for Masonic. It will cause even more pedestrians and bikes to clog the street and slow down traffic. Is there still a chance to file a CEQA appeal based on how much pollution this will cause?

 
At 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous#1, no, he came specifically to ruin Masonic and cause pollution with his meddling. Just like all bikers.

 
At 9:13 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Har har. You bike jerks try so hard to be clever and you always fail, which is why you're anonymous, right? Deep inside your tiny little brains you know that your're dumb and dishonest and thus can't put your name on your comments.

"Whether Hickey has lived here for decades or not is not relevant."

Of course. But Hickey is not only a relative newcomer but he gets everything wrong, even the names of the streets. It's also "democracy"---no need to capitalize it---when I point that out. Yes, I'm using the term "carpetbagger" in a broader sense than its original, post-Civil War definition. But it's interesting to note that so many leaders of the great bicycle movement came here from other parts of the country to show the rest of us how to redesign our streets to suit their PC standards.

 
At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still don't get why there's no CEQA suit for the Masonic plan? The CEQA suit on the bike plan stopped the bike plan cold for 5 years, didn't it? Why not do that here?

 
At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But it's interesting to note that so many leaders of the great bicycle movement came here from other parts of the country"

No, it's not. Any group - except one perhaps called "4th Generation San Franciscans" in this city is going to be predominantly transplants - by the simple math that the majority of the residents of this city were not born here. I understand that math is hard for you.

 
At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I imagine happened is that the city very carefully does the EIR for every single street improvement so there's no chance of a CEQA suit. That's all I can figure from the fact that Rob & Mary haven't filed one since the big one they did on the bike plan. Either that or they're too expensive to file for every single project so R&M are saving up for a big one.

 
At 8:46 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"What I imagine happened is that the city very carefully does the EIR for every single street improvement so there's no chance of a CEQA suit."

Wrong! The city just does whatever it wants to do regardless of the law. City Hall understands how time-consuming and expensive litigation is, and they have an army of lawyers to defend their illegal acts in the City Attorney's office.

 
At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So guys have basically given up on the CEQA angle at this point?

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home