Monday, February 09, 2015

San Francisco Citizen does Masonic Avenue

















The Masonic Avenue project is the largest, most significant bike project in San Francisco to be okayed by City Hall. It will permanently eliminate the parking lanes---and 167 parking spaces---on Masonic between Fell Street and Geary Boulevard to make protected bike lanes.

Those parking lanes are now converted to traffic lanes during commute hours, which means that all the traffic on Masonic will be funneled into fewer traffic lanes, thus slowing down traffic for everyone who now uses the street---more than 32,000 vehicles every day and more than 12,000 daily passengers on the #43 bus---to benefit an unknown number of future cyclists. Few cyclists now use Masonic.

It's an ambitious, radical project that will surely have a negative impact on this part of town, with traffic delayed on Masonic itself and spilling into the surrounding neighborhood. The city calls it a "streetscape" project, but, like the equally radical Polk Street bike project, it's essentially a bike project tarted up with some landscaping and other "improvements" to the street.

For such an important project, there have been few attempts in the local media to report about it, and those attempts have been flawed by ignorance and poor analysis, like the Hoodline story last year and this NOPNA newsletter account.

Now comes San Francisco Citizen, a blog by a guy who actually lives in the neighborhood. Apparently triggered by the city's cutting down old trees---"ARBOR-GEDDON"!---on Masonic to make way for the project, his sloppy, free-association post links no documents on the project to provide information and context.

The city's Big Lie justifying this bike project is that it's all about safety, which makes these sentences in the Citizen post unacceptable: 

We did lose a bike rider to a severely drunk driver a few years back on Masonic. Such an accident would be less likely to occur after the coming changes.

Not true. This refers to Nils Linke, who was riding a bike when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver in the Turk/Masonic intersection. From an Examiner story:

On the night that Linke died, 36-year-old Josh Calder was driving an older-model Mercedes at the intersection of Masonic Avenue and Turk Street when he struck the 22-year-old cyclist, according to police (emphasis added).

Even if this separated bike lane project had already been implemented, it wouldn't/couldn't have protected Linke, since separated bike lanes don't cross intersections. Linke might have survived the accident if he'd been wearing a helmet, since he "died from blunt-force injuries to his head."

More from SF Citizen:

IS IT TRUE THAT SOME PEOPLE ON AND NEAR MASONIC STRONGLY OPPOSE THE PLAN? Hell yes. People put homemade signs in their windows.

Yes, there's an online petition posted by Save Masonic opposing the project that's been signed by more than 1,300 people.

BENEFIT CYCLISTS? Perhaps. This, see below, is what people do these days, for the most part---they ride their bikes on the wide wide sidewalks, going uphill, for the most part, as I’ve been doing for a couple decades.

Few cyclists now use Masonic Avenue, but they are the only people who will benefit from the project. How many cyclists will use the separated bike lanes after the project is implemented? No way of knowing, but it won't be enough to justify jamming up traffic for everyone else that now uses Masonic.

The only serious city study of Masonic, the Masonic Avenue Redesign Study, includes a traffic count that found an average of 32,165 vehicles a day using Masonic. That count was done in May, 2010, in the middle of the Great Recession, so it's surely a significantly larger number today.

SF Citizen calls the project "a big pork barrel project using money from the Feds and Sacramento."  It's a $28 million project, with $10 million of that from the Feds.[Later: Wrong! It's an $18 million project]

This project was the result of a years-long campaign of lies about safety on Masonic by the Bicycle Coalition and its enablers in City Hall.

SF Streetsblog joined the campaign of shameless lies about Masonic, using accidents that couldn't have been prevented by this project to whip up hysteria about the street.

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5 Comments:

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

BENEFIT CYCLISTS? Perhaps. This, see below, is what people do these days, for the most part---they ride their bikes on the wide wide sidewalks, going uphill, for the most part, as I’ve been doing for a couple decades.

Few cyclists now use Masonic Avenue, but they are the only people who will benefit from the project.

--> If the cyclists are currently riding on the sidewalk, and they move to the lanes, won't that benefit pedestrians?

 
At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Deane Hartley said...

Rob, in addition to your well-founded criticism of the bike lobby's favorite projects I have noted your regular skepticism about "smart growth" policies that in practice encourage real estate development without adequate enhancements to the transportation infrastructure to support them. It turns out that the Masonic project is where both of your concerns intersect, thanks to the faithlessness of our local politicians.

The upcoming Masonic disaster is being funded in part by a "One Bay Area" grant. This source of funding has been formally designated for transportation upgrades in specific dense development corridors. A program like this could alleviate some of your smart growth concerns, in theory at least.

But the Masonic corridor is NOT a designated One Bay Area corridor. It is receiving the funding thanks to a loophole in which districts ADJACENT to designated corridors can be considered eligible.

Even when smart growthers come up with a genuinely smart idea it will guaranteed to fail, once its feckless administrators are faced with the will of a small, loud special-interest minority.

http://www.sfcta.org/funding-opportunities/onebayarea-grant-home

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"If the cyclists are currently riding on the sidewalk, and they move to the lanes, won't that benefit pedestrians?"

According to the city's own study of the street (page 13), Masonic is now remarkably safe for pedestrians.

Take the Fulton/Masonic intersection, used by more than 1,000 pedestrians between 5pm and 7pm: the study cites only one pedestrian "collision" in six years!

And I've never heard of a serious collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian on those wide sidewalks.

No, that separated bike lane won't benefit pedestrians---or Muni passengers on the #43. It will only benefit an unknown future number of cyclists.

 
At 12:44 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Seems to me you and SF Citizen agree in principle on most of the points. I'm not sure what it does to call his writing style sloppy - it is just what it is and IMO okay for a blog. He's usually pretty decent on linking to materials.

 
At 2:59 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

His post is not only fact-free it gets important things wrong: about the Nils Linke accident, about how the project came about (after a long campaign of lies by the SFBC), about the Big Lie about safety, and who the project will benefit (only cyclists at the expense of everyone else).

 

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