Friday, December 03, 2010

More disinformation on Masonic Avenue

Maybe Examiner reporter Will Reisman should go to work for MTA or the Bicycle Coalition, since his latest piece on Masonic Avenue reads like a press release from those organizations:

The removal of parking spots, installation of a grade-separated bike lane and construction of a center median on busy Masonic Avenue are supported by more than three-quarters of the people who responded to a recent survey. The roadway, which is a major north-south artery in The City, has often concerned community members because of the speed of traffic and high rate of accidents.

It's simply untrue that there is a "high rate of accidents" on Masonic. Take a look at the city's own numbers presented at the first meeting on how to screw up Masonic back in June. First, the volume of traffic Masonic carries: 32,165 vehicles every day (page 26), and 12,765 people ride the #43 Masonic bus every day (page 27).

Between 2004 and 2009---a six-year period---there were only 27 "bicycle collisions" at intersections on Masonic between O'Farrell Street and Oak Street (page 29), an average of 4.5 a year, not by any reasonable interpretation a "high" number.

During the same time, there were 17 "pedestrian injury collisions" at intersections on Masonic between Geary and Oak Street (page 31), an average of less that three a year.

During that same time, there were 118 "collisions"---presumably collisions of all kinds, including those involving motor vehicles---at all intersections on Masonic between O'Farrell and Oak Streets, an average of fewer than 20 collisions a year for a part of a street that carries more than 32,000 vehicles every day.

Except for Masonic and O'Farrell, where there were 7 "injury collisions," none of the intersections on Masonic Avenue made the city's list of "Highest Collision Intersections" in 2008 (San Francisco 2008 Collisions Report, available from the MTA). And the O'Farrell/Masonic numbers for 2008 seem to be an anomaly, since that intersection didn't make the city's three-year "highest injury collision intersection" list (page 14).

Hence, the safety argument for screwing up traffic on Masonic is simply untrue, especially when you consider the high traffic volume on that part of Masonic.

And the "survey" Reisman refers to involved only 109 people who showed up at the last city-sponsored meeting on Masonic in September. So 109 people---most of whom were bike people, of course---validate the city's plan to screw up traffic on Masonic Avenue to make bike lanes, a street used by more than 32,000 vehicles and 12,000 Muni passengers a day.

The truth is that the city and the Bicycle Coalition have been determined to screw up traffic on Masonic for years. All the community meetings have only been window dressing for a decision that was already made.

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At 12:27 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

Of course they were bike people since they don't agree with you.

And you still don't take into account the fact that many people don't use that stretch of road for anything but driving since it is so unpleasant to be around cars going 50 mph. Or how about trying to cross any of those intersections? Best to just stay away if the status quo continues. No people means no accidents.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I often cross the intersection without any problem at Fulton and Masonic, since I shop at that Lucky market and catch the inbound #5 bus there. And I often ride the #43 Masonic bus.

After you bike people and you fellow travelers in City Hall screw up Masonic, which streets are next? Franklin? Gough?

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

I'm neither a "you bike people" or "you fellow travelers" - whatever the hell those mean. I'm sure they are meant as insults, but they really don't make any sense.

I'm also not touching Masonic, I'm just saying that maybe there are reasons for numbers outside of the narrow scope in which you are interpreting them. Also, if the neighborhood (I know you don't think any of these people actually live there or it's a SFBC front or whatever tin-foil hat scheme you think up) wants Masonic calmed, then the neighborhood should get Masonic calmed. Residents well being is more important then 1 min saved on a commute home.

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You won't comment on Masonic and then proceed to do so in fact-free manner, along with the "tin-foil hat" slur. What an asshole! Why comment when you really have noting substantive to say?

At 4:01 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

Well, they (the bike nuts and parklet nuts) tried to screw up Noe St. at 24th with that insane plaza/baby stroller parking lot idea.

We stopped them. And I'll do my part to keep stopping them where it doesn't make sense and causes major disruption to normal traffic patterns, retail loading, and loss of parking.

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Jones said...

Take a look at the newly installed radar speed signs for about a half hour and count how many people actually obey the limit. Also make not of exactly how fast those cars are going through the neighborhood.

I live on Masonic and there's usually not a day that goes by that I witness some near hit, or someone blazing down the road recklessly. Regardless of why this is happening, I can't say I'm going to shed any tears if traffic slows down to reasonable levels.

As for the Masonic "study" - I don't put much trust in it and I'm really surprised for someone who doesn't trust the city to really care about those numbers. If you have a building that isn't to code that has the potential to hurt a lot of people, you can't just do a study to see how many people get hurt or killed every year. You fix the problems with building. That's how I view Masonic Ave.

I also commute back and forth to San Jose daily and I don't witness this huge jam up that you're talking about all the time with Octavia. It's certainly not the fastest route, but today I got through the corridor during Friday rush hour in about 5 minutes. It's not perfect, but certainly not "screwed up". Let me know about your firsthand experience.

Judging by the dialogue though your blog, it doesn't seem like you want to learn from anyone, or really take a balanced look at the needs of a community and traffic. All I really see is posturing, banter, and your desire to be correct, which is easy to do with a blog.

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Octavia Blvd. and the other streets in Hayes Valley are jammed with traffic starting sometime every afternoon, depending on what day of the week it is. As I've pointed out a number of times, something like Octavia was inevitable once city voters chose to not rebuild the Central Freeway. What's galling about Octavia is that city progs are in denial about it, that somehow 45,000 cars a day through the heart of Hayes Valley is some kind of triumph of planning. Instead, they're still congratulating themselves for getting the freeway torn down.

Also, instead of leaving the neighborhood alone to absorb all the traffic that used to go over it, the city is compounding the problem with the Market/Octavia Plan (6,000 new housing units, 10,000 new residents, 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness) and allowing UC to rip-off the old extension property for a massive housing development a block off Octavia (450 new housing units and 1,000 new residents). And Tom Ammiano wants to turn Masonic Ave. into another Octavia Blvd!

I suspect that you could train radar guns on any busy street in the city and find that many people are exceeding the speed limit. So what?

I "care" about city's numbers on accidents because the city's traffic folks can count; you can find traffic numbers for almost every street in the city on MTA's website. And every year they put out "collision" reports on injury accidents on city streets, which are clearly getting safer for everyone over time. Considering the huge traffic volume handled by Masonic, it's a remarkably safe street for everyone.

"Balance"? Bullshit. Only a handful of cyclists use Masonic now, and they are going to be the only beneficiaries of the remodeling, the primary goal of which is make them feel "comfortable" riding their bikes on an important North/South street in the middle of the city.

By the way, the city's traffic count for Masonic was done last May in the middle of the recession, which means that even 32,000 vehicles a day is an underestimate of traffic during a normal economy.

Oh yes, let's screw up traffic for tens of thousands of people so that the bike people can feel "comfortable" riding their bikes on Masonic. Talk about narcissism and selfishness!

But then you're talking about a political movement that tried to sneak the 500-page Bicycle Plan through the process without doing the required environmental analysis, a crude power play by a cabal of elitists who have contempt for the majority. City Hall and the cyclists know what's best for the people of SF, whether they like it or not!

Don't like my blog? Then don't read it, asshole. I'm sure yours is much better. Oh, wait...

At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect that you could train radar guns on any busy street in the city and find that many people are exceeding the speed limit. So what?

Again - Rob Anderson states he does not care if people speed. He cares if cyclists roll a stop sign at 5 MPH - behavior that is not dangerous - but could give a rat's ass if drivers speed - behavior proven to be dangerous.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

I'm gonna be bummed when they screw up Masonic with cycle tracks. It's gonna be right-hook city, plus it'll slow me down on my bicycle.

Right now, if I'm heading south, I can step into my tallest gear and bomb downhill with all the cars at like 40mph. It's exhilarating!

At 7:35 PM, Blogger mw said...

Don't know if you saw this, but thought you would be interested in what Willie Brown said in his Sunday Chron column:

"San Francisco's new bike lanes are a disaster waiting to happen. I learned this on a cab ride from downtown to Salle Plano and events on Market Street, right through the heart of the new lane configurations. Cabs and buses now share the same on Market as the trolley tracks...

So I said to the cabbie, Lets take a look at a couple of the other one-way street. Lets go to Sutter."

We went a couple blocks down Sutter and you would not believe it. The bike lane is in the middle of the damn street."

This tells you something when Willie Brown - who does not even drive himself around - is outraged. The backlash is just getting started.

At 9:10 AM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

And the back lash is going to grow.

thanks for the comments by Willie Brown.

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's Willie Brown?

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

They are sharrows on Sutter (not a bike lane).

And Market street is mostly sharrows where Willie is talking about. Bikes have full use of the lane, the sharrow markers just point that out to motorists.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

Can't wait to see how they screw up Cesar Chavez. I'm all for lots more trees and walkable sidewalks, but the bike lanes and traffic will not mix well, due to the danger component. And where will the bike lanes go when they get to the depressed roadway under the freeway? How is that going to work safely, both for bikers and drivers?

At 2:37 PM, Blogger mw said...


Oh well. That makes all the difference. I suggest we just spend a few million dollars more that we don't have in order to educate the 700,000+ residents and millions of commuters and visitors to the city on exactly WTF a "sharrow" is...

Because I can assure you - the overwhelming majority of drivers in this city have no idea what you are talking about, and have no more idea than Willie Brown what those drawings on the road are supposed to mean.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

You don't have to know what it's called to know that it signals where the cyclist should be in relation to the lane. That is pretty obvious.

At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see Rocky's Dad is clearly a "YES IN YOUR BACK YARD".

Listen rd - you don't live in the Mission, it's not their responsibility to provide a freeway for you. That street sucks. Everyone there hates it. Hey ho, it's got to go.

Noe Valley - land of putzes.

At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And uh... rocky - there are already separated bike paths completely off the roadway crossing the 101 at Cesar Chavez. The lanes will lead to those....

At 11:40 AM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

Yes, Cesar Chavez in it's current shape does suck. And I said I'm all for more greening that street. You seemed to have missed that point, as usual.

Bike lanes and reduced traffic lanes will not mix well there. And besides, the bike lanes, once again will cost a lot of money and will be used by the priveleged (I mean entitled) few, mainly young while males.

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

Owning a bike is for the privilaged? My goodness.

And they are putting in a 14' median, you can't blame that on the bikes. There is your extra lane for cars plus some. Also, the median will help speed traffic up, not slow it down.

At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bike lanes and reduced traffic lanes will not mix well there.

Get rid of the traffic lanes. QED.


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