Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Fixing" Masonic Avenue

Tomorrow night's Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) meeting---7:00 p.m. in the basement of the library at 1833 Page St.---will be devoted to the idea of "fixing" Masonic Avenue. Typically, HANC president Pi Ra mixes fact and fantasy in his riff on the subject in the July edition of the Haight-Ashbury Voice, the group's newsletter:

HANC's July 12 General Meeting will host a panel discussion on how a brave group of neighbors and advocates plan to address one of the biggest safety hazards in the neighborhood, Masonic Avenue. The Fix Masonic project
was started by Mark Christiansen, a resident of Masonic Avenue who has witnessed first-hand the results of a poorly engineered residential street. Mr. Christiansen began by teaming up with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition in part because he is a cyclist and because SFBC's track record with city traffic engineering departments, specifically DPT and DPW.

What's "brave" about consorting with the SF Bicycle Coalition in San Francisco? Nothing, actually, since that organization has a firm political grip on city government, with the Board of Supervisors routinely and unanimously endorsing the SFBC's anti-car agenda. 

Ra is just indulging in the kind of self-congratulation and puffery practiced by city progressives. For city progs, politics is often in large part a self-esteem exercise, an opportunity for them to tell each other how brave and good and progressive they are.

Tranforming the corridor from one that serves only the automobile to one that balances many needs is a huge opportunity, one with fewer downsides than you might think, but one which will require real political and financial capital...There's no alternative route from the Haight to Trader Joe's and beyond, so it's time that we work together in a grassroots effort to demand that the inadequate aspects of Masonic Avenue are fixed---and the sooner the better.

This shows how local progressives live in a bubble of their own construction, insulated from the political realities the rest of us must acknowledge. 

It may be news to the folks at HANC, but the city is under a court injunction that prevents it from "fixing" any streets on behalf of the city's cycling community, a small minority that exercises political influence way out of proportion to both its numbers and the merits of its anti-car agenda.

Masonic Avenue is in fact part of the city's Bicycle Plan---there are seven pages on the street in the Network Document, complete with engineering drawings---and thus subject to Judge Busch's injunction, which will remain in effect until the city completes an Environmental Impact Report on the Plan that it is only now just beginning.

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At 2:39 PM, Anonymous wenk said...

Notice how the bike people have slyly added
pedestrians to the mix when they want some
kind of privilege. It would be interesting to
see just exactly what the true numbers are for
pedestrian deaths caused by bicycles in terms
of total miles by bicycle vs total miles by auto. A quick cocktail-napkin calculation,
using ballpark numbers, would give something like:

"Each weekday in San Francisco (for example):

- 50,000 autos commute an average of 30 miles.
That equals 1,500,000 auto-commute-miles per day.

- 1000 bikes commute an average of 6 miles.
That equals 6000 bike-commute-miles per day.

There has been two pedestrian fatalities in San
Francisco due to bikes since year 2000. That is
one fatality for 3000 daily-bike-commute-miles.

So in terms of total daily commute-miles which mode of
transportation, auto or bike, poses the greater
danger to pedestrians?

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, pedestrians are on the bottom of the transportation food chain. As someone who doesn't own a car, I experience that every day in SF.

But the interesting question to me is not fatalities among cyclists or pedestrians---both of which are relatively rare---but this: How many people are injured while cycling, whether because of cars or due to other causes? There are in fact no real hard numbers on this. The thing about other traffic injuries is that there are always police reports and insurance companies involved, thus providing some reliable numbers. That's not the case with cycling injuries, which often aren't serious enough to require hospitalization or a police report. The Bicycle Plan itself laments this deficiency in accident data.

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Mark said...

hey, this is mark who started fixmasonic, no ego puffery here, honest, I just think Masonic is one of the most dangerous and poorly planned streets in town and am reminded how and why every day. Not about my property values even, as it lmay take a long time for creativity and commitment. I just hate bad planning and road rage,

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Mark: Why don't you share your ideas on fixing Masonic with D5 Diary? Will your suggested fix involve taking away traffic lanes and street parking to make bike lanes? Masonic is now one of the main North/South arteries in SF, and it's often harder to go North/South in this city than it is to go East/West. If your fix involves jamming up traffic on Masonic, it's not going to be very helpful.


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