Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Chronicle's story on Masonic Avenue #2

Michael Helquist fell off his bike

More on the Chronicle's story on Masonic Avenue ($26 million plan to slow speeding traffic on SF’s Masonic Avenue):

Neighbors either love or hate the changes, which have been in discussion or design since 2008 after more than 500 neighborhood residents signed a petition demanding the Municipal Transportation Agency do something about the street. They complained that speeding cars made the street dangerous, noisy and generally uncomfortable.

Like the Examiner, the Chronicle repeats the lie about the mythical petition supporting the Masonic Avenue bike project. Like the Examiner, the Chronicle reporter apparently didn't ask to see a copy of the petition. I've been looking for it for years. There is, however, a petition opposing the project signed by more than 1,300 people:

It’s an increasingly familiar conflict as transportation planners try to figure out how to divvy up the city streets to accommodate the needs of growing numbers of bike riders, pedestrians and drivers looking for quick ways across town and places to park.

According to the latest Bicycle Count Report, there are actually fewer cyclists on city streets, but the Chronicle still hasn't even done a story on the report. At least the Examiner did a story, though apparently the reporter didn't read the report, and the only sources he cited were the Bicycle Coalition and the MTA, the agency that conducted the count:

The community outcry for a safer Masonic preceded the city’s Vision Zero commitment, which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024, but still the street is a poster child for the program. It ranks among the city’s most dangerous streets. Between 2009 and 2014, 113 traffic collisions took place on Masonic between Geary and Fell Street, including 14 that involved pedestrians and 24 that involved bicyclists. Two were fatalities.

There has been no "community outcry" for a safer Masonic, except the one orchestrated by the Bicycle Coalition and its "Fix Masonic" front group. The reporter doesn't bother to question "the city's Vision Zero commitment," which is only a slogan, not a reality-based safety policy.

Like the Examiner, the Chronicle reporter simply accepts the numbers handed out by the MTA to justify the project. Back in 2011, the MTA provided similar accident numbers in its Masonic Avenue Redesign Study. But it also provided some analysis of those numbers on pages 12-14.

On page 12 we learn where cycling accidents happened on Masonic but not how or why. Street design or bad behavior? Even in this study, the MTA fudges the figures: In a six-year period, 11 bike accidents happened at Fell and Masonic, which is about East/West traffic at an intersection that has nothing to do with the rest of Masonic Avenue, which is a North/South street. Subtract the Fell/Masonic accidents, and there were only 8 bike "collisions" on Masonic Avenue in a six-year period!

From page 12 in the Masonic study:

Since this data was collected, several bike traffic safety improvements have been made by SFMTA at the intersection of Fell and Masonic. In 2010, a bicyclist was killed by a fatal collision with a motorist at Masonic and Turk.

Yes, a cyclist was hit and killed by a drunk driver in the intersection of Masonic and Turk. It's a lie to use that accident to justify this project, since even separated bike lanes can't protect people in intersections

The other Masonic Avenue fatality mentioned by the Chronicle was a pedestrian hit by a drunk driver in a crosswalk in the same intersection, another accident this project couldn't have prevented.

What does that study say about pedestrian safety on Masonic? As I pointed out in the previous Masonic post, take for example the Fulton/Masonic intersection, which is used by more pedestrians than any other intersection on Masonic:

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 (page 13).

On the same page, we learn that there has been only one pedestrian accident at that intersection in that six-year period! 

The city doesn't provide any analysis of the other accident numbers it gave to the Chronicle's reporter, and presumably he didn't ask for any:

“Masonic Avenue is essentially a mini-freeway,” said Patrick Gollier, a planner in the transportation agency’s livable streets division. “It prioritizes vehicular traffic over any other users and the dismal safety record really speaks to that fact. It really doesn’t reflect the urban environment it runs through, and it doesn’t reflect the values and priorities of the community.”

The above is pure bullshit unchallenged by the Chronicle:

Michael Helquist, 67, a writer who lives on Masonic near Golden Gate Avenue, has been an active participant in the planning process for about 10 years. He said the plan addresses community concerns and should slow traffic, something painted speed limits on the streets and electronic signs displaying drivers’ speeds have failed to accomplish.

Helquist is a liar and a demagogue. Click on the "Michael Helquist" label below to find 20 posts on this blog chronicling Helquist's deceptions about Masonic Avenue.

One thing Helquist and the hed on the Chronicle story gets right: This project is designed to deliberately jam up traffic on one of the busiest North/South streets in the Bay Area. 

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments:

At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I walk along Masonic every day. All the bicycles on this street ride on the east side sidewalk, because it is very wide. I have a hunch that this will continue even after this project is completed.

 
At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they're serious about pedestrian safety, why are there walk signs timed so that only able-bodied people at full speed can get across in time? I have to almost run to get across Geary at Masonic without getting stuck on the island through another whole cycle of lights. And I DO have to run to get across Masonic at Euclid.

I've tried contacting the city about this and it practically takes an Act of Congress to get the timing changed. I spend a lot of time in NY, and I never encounter a light there that doesn't give elderly pedestrians enough time to cross.

 
At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They FINALLY put in a pedestrian countdown recently at Turk at Masonic. They've had them for years on all sorts of little streets that have no traffic at all, but there was none until a few months ago at this major intersection. I'd bet that this was the cause of some of the accidents on Masonic. Maybe they should have tried some simple things like this before deciding to redesign the entire street.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home