Saturday, May 28, 2011

Couldn't have said it better myself

Photo by Michael Helquist of Bike Nopa

Anonymous, a resident of the neighborhood, contributes this:

"I have lived in this neighborhood on and off for 50 years and often use Masonic to cross town. I have never seen an accident or people driving recklessly. MTA and the politically well funded Bike Coalition have a plan that feeds into high density. This is not necessarily what many neighborhood groups want. Their goal will destroy this beautiful city as we know it."

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At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Al Fraoulen (Hayes & Masonic) said...

Here's a quote from me.

""I have lived in this neighborhood on and off for 20 years and often use Masonic to cross town. Every damn time I'm on that street I see a near accident or people driving recklessly. MTA and the politically well funded Bike Coalition have a plan that will (thankfully) improve this street and calm it down once and for all. This is what all neighborhood groups with a brain want. Their goal will make one of the lousiest streets in the city a million times nicer."

At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many years did it take before you got such a comment?

I'm guessing you were on of the car nuts who wanted to rebuild the Embarcadero freeway as well. Now it's a thriving tourist spot and created substantial economic success, and it's only getting better. Instead of costing the taxpayers tons of money in maintenance, it now draws tourists and their $$$.

Check out what these Walk Nuts are suggesting:

- A road diet, removing lanes to narrow the street and reduce speeding
- A tree-planted median; the trees will visually narrow the street
- Expanded sidewalks (bulb-outs) at corners and bus stops to shorten crossings and increase visibility
- More visible crosswalks to improve pedestrian visibility and encourage yielding
- Separate cycle tracks to provide a buffer between cars and pedestrians

I can only imagine the apocalyptic results if any of these changes get implemented. I guess they're just too stupid to realize that it's a works well for everyone who owns a car, and anyone who avoids it.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

This is a dumb comment, Anon. The people in Walk SF are in fact either stupid or liars in their statements about Masonic, as I document in this post.

I've written about how you anti-car folks try to conflate the Embarcadero freeway with the Central Freeway, but, unlike Hayes Valley, the Embarcadero was never primarily a residential neighborhood. Taking down the freeway there was a good idea. The only problem is that Willie Brown and Rose Pak came up with the Central Subway boondoggle to compensate Chinatown for losing the Embarcadero traffic link.

At 5:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Money talks, bullshit walks. If they are lying and so damn stupid, how come they are getting results. Oh - I see *everyone* except you is a stupid liar. And since this is a democracy of dunces, that makes you a truthful, smart, loser.

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, not everyone is actually a liar. Most people are almost endearingly sincere, but they mostly believe what they want to believe regardless of the facts.

I find it hard to believe that Elizabeth Stampe, who's the head of that group, didn't know about the city's annual collision reports that contradict her assumption that there's a big emergency safety issue for pedestrians in San Francisco. If she's sincerely ignorant, she shouldn't be heading up that group. The city's reports over the past several years tell us that there are actually fewer accidents and fatalities for pedestrians over the past 10 years.

Michael Helquist at Bike Nopa seems sincere, but he's never written anything on the city reports that I read and write about, and it's not clear he's even read them. They're easily available on the MTA website. The folks at Streetsblog also ignore these reports, presumably because they don't support the fashionable anti-car perspective, but it's not even clear that they're familiar with them.

The people at the SF Bicycle Coalition are a special interest group that's not going to provide anything like a balanced view of traffic issues. They also ignore these reports, though I don't call them liars.

Is the city lying when it tells us, with figures to back it up, that our streets have been getting safer for years? I doubt it, because, for one thing, they base much of their findings on numbers they get from the state.

I find it hard to believe, too, that the guy who did the community presentations on Masonic last year is doing anything but singing for his supper. Take a look at the Powerpoint presentation he brought to the first meeting. It tells us that, first, there are more than 32,000 vehicles that use Masonic every day. And, second, that there aren't very many accidents on the street, especially considering the volume of traffic. Since it's his presentation, he knows the numbers. Nevertheless, in his opening remarks he pretended to believe that Masonic presented a significant safety problem, which is simply untrue. In my mind, his presentation thus comes very close to being an out-and-out lie.

I don't assume that people who disagree with me are liars, but, like the people I discuss above, they are making a case that the facts don't bear out, and they have been whipping up hysteria about Masonic and the overall safety of city streets that's simply unsupported by the facts.

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I forgot to provide the link to the Powerpoint presentation I refer to above.

At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

once again - "getting safer" does not mean "safe". You look at those numbers and think "safe". you look at numbers for bike accidents and think "unsafe". Leah Shahum looks at the exact same numbers and thinks "Masonic - unsafe". "Cycling - safe, can be more safe".

Safe is not an objective term.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, there's no such thing as perfect safety on any street. We can all do better on safety, on recycling, on rotating our tires, etc. All I'm saying is that, considering the volume of traffic, that Masonic handles every day, it has very few accidents of any kind, and the numbers---i.e., the evidence---support my interpretation of the "safety" of Masonic Avenue.

I'm also saying that this campaign on the alleged safety of Masonic and the city in general seems to be a deliberate disinformation campaign to support the anti-car agenda in SF. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe Walk SF had no idea that the city puts out annual collision reports, maybe the folks at SFBC also never heard of and/or read these reports, and simply forgot to mention them on their websites.

And maybe I'm the fucking Pope from Rome.

At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The MTA is making streets safer by implementing the bike plan.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

If you had actually read the report I discuss in this post, you would know that the drop in accidents and fatalities began long before the Bicycle Plan was proposed.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have lived in this neighborhood on and off for 50 years and often use Masonic to cross town. I have never seen an accident or people driving recklessly."


At 11:39 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Not necessarily so. I've lived in this area for a long time and often cross Masonic and/or shop at Lucky market, and I've never seen an accident on Masonic, though I have seen some reckless behavior by motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. But that's true for every street in the city.

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Bob Gunderson said...

Here are the basic facts.

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Rob Anderson didn't see it, it never happened.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

And if you don't read the city's annual collision reports, they don't exist.

At 4:39 PM, Anonymous whir said...

Yes, there's no such thing as perfect safety on any street. We can all do better on safety, on recycling, on rotating our tires, etc.

Well, I mean, that's exactly what the SFBC, Walk SF, and related advocacy organizations are trying to do - to improve safety on the street. Obviously the current rates don't seem terribly unsafe to you, but your threshold for what constitutes "safe" is not the same as theirs. (I'm having trouble envisioning the SFBC press release: "SFBC congratulates city government for 5 continuous years of only six annual cyclist injuries on Masonic"?)

Furthermore, I'm not sure the 2009 collision report is really all that great for your side of the argument - the main big picture graphs on pages 4 and 5 show the number of collisions essentially holding steady or increasing over since 2004, and the cyclist collision graph shows cyclist injury collisions on an alarming upwards curve since then, almost doubling from 316 in 2004 to 531 in 2009. In general, I think all street users would agree that the numbers should be declining.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

My quarrel with Walk SF is not that they want to make our streets safer. Who doesn't? But that Elizabeth Stampe ignores the city reports that show that our streets are in fact getting safer over time. You cite the graph on page 4 and claim that the number of accidents "essentially holding steady" since 2004, but the significant numbers are from 1999 (4,304 accidents) amd 2009 (2,877 accidents), a whopping decrease of 1,427 in injury accidents in only a ten-year period. And even between 2004 (3,038 accidents) and 2009 (2,877 accidents) there's been a decrease of 161.

On page 5, we learn that fatal accidents have gone from 41 in 1999 to 30 in 2009, a 25% decrease.

On page 23, we learn that injury accidents to cyclists were indeed up from 364 in 2000 to 531 in 2009. But, as the report says, that total surely means only that there are more people riding bikes in SF: "This increase in collisions has coincided with a statistically significant increase in the number of bicyclists riding on various city streets as measured by annual counts taken by the SFMTA documented in the Citywide Bicycle Count Report (December 2010)."

At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait - I thought nobody was going to switch to riding bikes?

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

Why would you think that?

At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 11:54 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Safe" is a relative term on every street in the city, since accidents can and do happen all over the city. But considering the volume of traffic Masonic carries every day, it has remarkably few accidents.

Mike Helquist at BikeNopa waves the bloody shirt every time there's an accident on Masonic, but for a factual perspective check out last year's Powerpoint presentation the city made at the First Meeting on How to Screw Up Masonic:

On page 26, we learn that Masonic carries more than 32,000 vehicles every day.

On page 27 we learn that the #43 Masonic bus carries 12,765 passengers a day.

On page 29 we learn that there have been 29 injury accidents to cyclists on Masonic over a six-year period, an average of less that five a year (there's no indication of who was responsible for those accidents, but it's safe to say that cyclists themselves caused half of them).

And on page 31 we learn that there have been 18 injury accidents to pedestrians in that same six-year period, an average of a whopping three a year! A bloodbath!

Considering the volume of traffic on Masonic, it has to be one of the safest streets in the ciy.

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Considering the volume of traffic on Masonic, it has to be one of the safest streets in the ciy [sic]."

"It has to be" because your very existence depends on it.

Two major crashes due to excessive speed inside a couple days. That is a design failure.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You mean people never speed on a well-designed street? Right. As soon as you get your bike lanes on Masonic, people will never speed on that street again.

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care about the bike lanes, I care about pedestrian safety.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

As the numbers show, Masonic is not in fact unsafe for pedestrians. 18 accidents in six years is not a big number for a street that handles 32,000 vehicles a day and 225,000 a month. And there's no indication from that number who was even responsible for those accidents, but, like cyclists and motorists, pedestrians are often reckless and irresponsible on the streets of the city, which can lead to their injury.


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