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.

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