Monday, August 20, 2018

I'll miss Stanley Roberts

Too bad Stanley Roberts is leaving. The city should pay him to stay so he can continue scolding everyone---cyclists, pedestrians, motorists---for indulging in "really, really bad behavior" on Bay Area streets, as Commander Ali put it several years ago.

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Counting bike commuters on new Masonic Avenue

Photo: Kevin Hume

Now that the new Masonic Avenue bike lanes are officially open, how many cyclists are using them?

I've noted for years that the city had no information that many cyclists even wanted to travel North/South in this part of town.

To sample the bike traffic on Masonic Avenue this morning, between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., with a cup of coffee from Starbucks, I sat on the new bench behind the bus stop at the Fulton/Masonic intersection.

8:00 a.m.: northbound cyclist

8:15 a.m.: southbound cyclist

8:28 a.m.: northbound cyclist on the sidewalk

8:29 a.m.: northbound cyclist

8:30 a.m.: southbound cyclist

8:34 a.m.: northbound cyclist

8:35 a.m.: two southbound cyclists, one on the sidewalk

8:35 a.m.: southbound cyclist

8:40 a.m.: southbound cyclist

8:43 a.m.: northbound cyclist

8:44 a.m.: northbound cyclist

8:45 a.m.: northbound cyclist.

8:48 a.m.: two northbound and two southbound cyclists

8:49 a.m.: northbound cyclist

8:52 a.m.: northbound and southbound cyclist

8:53 a.m.: southbound cyclist

8:54 a.m.: northbound cyclist on the sidewalk

8:57 a.m.: southbound cyclist

That's 23 cyclists, with 20 using the bike lanes and 3 using the sidewalk. That's one cyclist every three minutes using the new bike lanes.

During that hour, thousands of motor vehicles passed by, with traffic moving well in both directions. 

That tells me that my concern that the Masonic Avenue bike project would cause serious traffic congestion during commute hours was baseless. (Before this project, the two parking lanes on either side of Masonic---a total of 167 parking spaces between Fell Street and Geary Blvd.---were turned into traffic lanes during commute hours to handle the extra traffic.)

The Masonic Avenue Street Redesign Study (page 14) tells us that Masonic handles 32,165 vehicles a day, not counting bicycles. But that count was made in May, 2010, in the middle of the Great Recession. Eight years later in a booming economy, the number of vehicles using Masonic is probably higher.

The Redesign Study (page 12) on bike traffic:

The current PM peak volume was counted as 20 bikes per hour at Masonic and Golden Gate Avenue and 32 bikes per hour at Masonic and Fell Street.

If cyclists from Masonic and Fell were going North on Masonic, why didn't they get counted at Masonic and Golden Gate? They probably turned off on Hayes, Grove, Fulton, and McCallister to head downtown before they got to Golden Gate Avenue, though from my view I didn't see any cyclists doing that this morning. But I wasn't looking for it, either.

Anyhow, the 20 bikes an hour in the 2011 Redesign Study is consistent with this morning's numbers. That is, there hasn't been a rush of cyclists to use the new bike lanes, which supports my suspicion that there never were a lot of cyclists who wanted to go North/South on Masonic in this part of town in the first place.

The city has never had any information on that, since they were operating on the if-you-build-it-they-will-come assumption. Even though this is a small sample, it suggests that the assumption is false.

What's the moral of the story? That City Hall allowed itself to be played by the Bicycle Coalition's long campaign of hysteria about safety and of disinformation to spend $26 million on a project eliminating 167 scarce parking spaces to create bike lanes for a very small number of cyclists.

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