Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hoodline gets Masonic Avenue all wrong

Garish "art" planned for Masonic Avenue

Hayeswire, Uppercasing, and the Haighteration blogs weren't known for useful or interesting posts on local issues. When Haighteration posted about The Wiggle, the comments were always a lot more interesting than the post itself. (Hayeswire gets retroactive points for not dumping D5 Diary off its blogroll, which Haighteration and Uppercasing did.)

Now the three sites have merged into one, Hoodline.

With its recent post on Masonic Avenue (Checking in on Masonic's Big Makeover), Hoodline continues the tradition of being clueless:

Remember last year, when Masonic Avenue was all over the news? Online surveys were promoted, bike lobbyists were rallying, and it seemed as if—finally—something was going to happen. Thanks to the hard work of the SF Bike Coalition, the SFMTA and the city, plans and funding were approved. And then? Silence. The plans are still happening, just not until 2015. While we're waiting for the jackhammers and bike lane-stripers to fire up, let's review some of what's coming our way to improve Masonic Avenue in the near future.

This could have been written by the Bicycle Coalition or the MTA. Yes, a lot of "hard work"---a years-long campaign of lies, actually---by the Bicycle Coalition and their PC enablers in City Hall to "improve" Masonic. 

I've done more than a dozen posts on Masonic since the last Hoodline post on the subject, including messages from and about Ed Reiskin (see this and this). There was also a website, Save Masonic, created by opponents of the Masonic bike project---mentioned later in the post---with a petition signed by 1,300 people opposing the project. Not exactly "silence" on the issue in the last year:

Bike Lanes. This was arguably the most controversial proposal for Masonic. In the past five years, 26 cyclists were reported to have been injured riding on Masonic, and one was killed. A little over a year ago, the SFMTA approved plans for San Francisco's first elevated bike lane, offering a slightly buffered level of protection separating bikes and cars and giving cyclists a space safe from car doors and buses.

Bike lanes were "the most controversial" part of the proposal? Protected bike lanes is what the project is all about. The rest is window dressing to tart up what's essentially just a bike project. The link provided for the fatality from San Francisco Appeal doesn't mention that the death was caused by a drunk driver, surely a deliberate bit of deception by Hoodline, since that accident had nothing to do with the alleged flaws in Masonic.

And no citation is provided for the 26 cycling accidents. The city's study of Masonic, the Masonic Avenue Redesign Study, says there were 19 cycling accidents in a six-year period, though there was no analysis of the accidents or who was responsible for them. Like they did to justify the Polk Street bike project, the MTA probably provided supporters of the project some numbers that don't appear in their published reports:

According to the SF Bike Coalition 12 pedestrians were hit on Masonic in the past five years, and one was killed. Designing safer intersections will be crucial in making Masonic a more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly street, and plans include timed lights, left turn lights, and "crosswalks that are pedestrian friendly and safe."

More numbers that don't appear in the city's study of Masonic and a link to an account of a woman who was killed jaywalking in front of Trader Joes on a part of Masonic that isn't part of the project area. Does Hoodline know that? Not always easy to say whether these folks are lying or just dumb:

Along with tactical infrastructure changes to Masonic, there are also artistic efforts at play. The San Francisco Arts Commission and the Department of Public Works are banding together to review proposals for a new plaza at Masonic and Geary. Three proposed projects were on display at the San Francisco Day School this summer, and included suggestions such as a 64' long sculpture, pattered[patterned?] mosaic stairs, and a creative take on signposts.

Right. Everyone has to get into the act. Ever wonder what happens to all the people who major in art in college? Stuff like this---like the "art" the city put on the median when the new and awful Octavia Blvd. opened up to traffic ten years ago.

From the link above: 

The project is a dense gestural weave of multicolored sheet metal ribbons commencing along the Geary edge of the triangular public parklet and veering up the Masonic side of the triangle in a sweep that builds in momentum and height as it unfurls at its peak, pointing the way down Masonic towards the rest of the Masonic Avenue Streetscape...

Here's a gesture for you, pal! Even the description makes it sound awful, and sure enough it looks annoyingly gaudy in the pictures. 

Insult to injury: the city is not only going to screw up traffic on Masonic Avenue---the busiest north/south street this side of Park Presidio---but we're also going to be subjected to this pretentious twaddle. The city charter should allow the public to vote on this sort of thing before it's put in place, since we're going to have to look at it for years:

Proposed changes to Masonic didn't come about without a large vocal response from residents. For months, Masonic was plastered with signs listing the attributes and downsides of Masonic improvements. A website called Save Masonic was even set up to formalize opposition to the street's upgrade. Some of the biggest arguments raised were the loss of 167 street parking spaces, congestion during the 18-month construction period, and having to park further away from locals' residences.

The loss of all that parking---all the street parking between Fell Street and Geary Blvd.---is mentioned as almost an afterthought, though everyone who lives in this part of town knows that street parking around here is already very tight.

Not many cyclists use Masonic now. How many will use it after this project is implemented? The city has no idea. Nevertheless, the city is going to deliberately screw up traffic on this busy city street---more than 32,000 vehicles use it every day---and take away scarce street parking for a small, often obnoxious minority of cyclists. What could go wrong with that?

However, it's hard to argue with safety, and residents' opposition did not in the end stop the project's progress. As London Breed stated, "To make the corridor safe is really paramount to any other issue. Masonic is clearly a dangerous, almost freeway-like corridor in the middle of our community.”

Supervisor Breed is full of shit on Masonic like she is on almost everything else. She's the worst supervisor District 5 has had since, well, Ross Mirkarimi.

My more detailed deconstruction of the Big Lie about Masonic Avenue.

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