Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Big Lie about Masonic Avenue lives on

In another story that reads like a joint Bicycle Coalition/MTA press release, Examiner reporter Joe Rodriguez continues to mislead his readers about Masonic Avenue:

The new [Bicycle Coalition]leader said holding the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to key bike lane construction timelines on Second Street and Masonic Avenue — two dangerous streets for cyclists — is a key priority (New interim bike coalition director starts today).

Rodriguez includes the falsehood about the safety of Masonic Avenue---especially for cyclists here---whenever he writes about that street (here and here). Is he dishonest, stupid, or just a crappy reporter? Probably a little of each, and his editor apparently shares his shortcomings.

There's no evidence to support the claim---or at least no evidence the public can evaluate, since the MTA and the Public Health Dept. now provide lazy journalists numbers that support whatever "improvements" the city wants to make to our streets, like the MTA's lie about Valencia Street supports its lie about Polk Street

We get this on Masonic from the Bicycle Coalition:

For years, Masonic Avenue has been one of the most dangerous streets in San Francisco. In five years, 122 people were injured and two killed.

Where did those numbers come from and from which five-year period? Where and how were those people hurt, and who was responsible? The numbers apparently came from the city, but you won't get any specifics from the Bicycle Coalition special interest group, which waged a long campaign of lies to get the city to adopt the radical Masonic Avenue bike project that will remove all the street parking---167 spaces---on Masonic between Fell Street and Geary Blvd. to make protected bike lanes.

The Bicycle Coalition, Walk SF and Streetsblog need to foster the notion that city streets are dangerous to further their anti-car agenda and make it harder and more expensive to drive for everyone in San Francisco, slowing traffic enough to make it safe for six-year-olds to ride bikes on the streets of the city. Even the city's children are an accessory to the bike movement.

Several years ago I analyzed the only city document that discusses the safety of Masonic Avenue in any depth, the Masonic Avenue Redesign Study of 2011, which shows that the claims about Masonic, based on the city's own numbers, are simply untrue (Big Lie on safety to justify screwing up Masonic).

Brian Goebel, a former Streetsblog editor, joins the disinformation campaign in a KQED News article:

Over the last year, the SFMTA completed “quick and cost-effective” safety projects at more than 200 intersections, amounting to 13 miles of roadway improvements on high-injury corridors. Transportation officials say a number of safety projects slated to start construction in 2016 should make a big difference. Those projects include long-awaited street redesigns on Van Ness Avenue for bus rapid transit, Polk Street and Masonic Avenue.

Click on the Polk Street and Masonic Avenue links Goebel provides and you learn that both are supposedly "streetscape" projects, which is part of City Hall's Big Lie campaign on behalf of the bike lobby, since both are essentially bike projects tarted up with some landscaping and other "improvements."

What about the claim that Masonic Avenue is now particularly "dangerous" for cyclists? From my analysis several years ago:

On page 12 of the Masonic Redesign Study, we learn that there have been 19 injury accidents to cyclists on Masonic between 2004 and 2009, an average of 3 a year for that six-year period. But the study fudges the numbers for Masonic overall by including 11 cycling accidents at the Fell/Masonic intersection, which, as discussed above, is really a separate issue---an intersection issue---and not because Masonic between Fell and Geary is poorly designed and unsafe. Without those 11 accidents, the total would be only 8 cycling accidents on Masonic in six years!

Nor is there any analysis in that study to figure out who was responsible for those cycling accidents, but it's safe to say that at least half of them were due to recklessness by the cyclists themselves. 

The changes made to the Fell/Masonic intersection were also based on lies and hysteria spread by the Bicycle Coalition and their enablers in City Hall, a tactic they've used successfully ever since.

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