Saturday, May 04, 2019

Reiskin's legacy #1: Masonic Avenue

Ed Reiskin's legacy at the MTA is littered with failure, and the Masonic Avenue bike project is the most significant, visible, and apparently long-lasting failure.

Few cyclists are using the gaudy bike lanes as I pointed out last year. My count has been verified since then. I cross Masonic almost every day, and I rarely see any cyclists using the lanes. And the Southbound traffic is noticeably backed up by 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, since it no longer has the parking lane to convert to a traffic lane during the evening commute.

Reiskin was quoted by SF Weekly last year:

“We were having close to 20 crashes a year just on Masonic alone,” says SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin. Post-renovation, he said that “we have taken what used to be essentially a mini-freeway that was dividing a neighborhood in our city and have replaced it with a beautiful, safe, inviting street that knits together the community, and will make it much much less likely that anyone will be severely hurt let alone killed on this street.” But even Reiskin acknowledged that “this project is not perfect, and we will continue as we do with every project to evaluate its performance and identify ways to make it even better.”

Reiskin deploys the safety lie about Masonic, including the Nils Linke lie without naming him. Who's going to challenge that except yours truly? Not the SF Weekly or the SF Examiner. The Chronicle has rarely written about Masonic, which is odd, since it usually joins the city's GroupThink mob on bike issues. (Its only Masonic story in 2016 belatedly joined the media mob with the usual bullshit found in the Weekly and Examiner stories.)

There's no way to make the Masonic Avenue bike project "better," since it was so poorly conceived in the first place. As I pointed out over the years---I've posted about Masonic Avenue more than 200 times since 2007---the city had no idea whether there were many cyclists who wanted to travel North/South on Masonic to justify this major $26 million project.

Instead, Reiskin simply adopted and endorsed the Bicycle Coalition's years-long campaign of disinformation and hysteria about Masonic's alleged safety issues to justify this dumb project. 

Reiskin rejected the idea of performing some kind of traffic test on Masonic before the project was implemented with a surprisingly lame justification.

What Reiskin's Masonic Avenue fiasco suggests: many of the SFMTA's failures during his administration of the agency since 2011 are essentially intellectual errors, a failure not only to base decisions on facts, like the Masonic project, but a failure to think clearly about project proposals in the first place.

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At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deadly boondoggle choochoos / the legacy of “Smart Growth”

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Baby talk and infantile comment from someone who didn't read the post he's commenting on, which has nothing to do with smart growth or trains.

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I commented on this before. I am biker in fairly good shape but still don't use Masonic, have always used What a total waste of dollars, but it is more aesthetically pleasing than before...but not sure it was worth the money.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Aesthetically pleasing"? You mean it isn't cluttered up with all those parked cars now that City Hall eliminated 167 parking spaces between Fell and Geary?

Yes, that $26 million was poorly spent on little-used bike lanes. But the city took the opportunity to do some underground work---mostly plumbing, I think---while the street was dug up, so the money spent wasn't a total loss.

The city can always find enough money to do what it wants to do, even when projects are dumb like this one (See also the central subway project).

But that money could have been better spent on, for example, paving the city's streets, which are always among the worst in the country.

No, it was essentially an intellectual error, as the city caved to political pressure from the PC bike lobby and its enablers in City Hall. There never were enough cyclists who wanted to go north/south in this part of town to justify the bike lanes, something the city should have known long before the dumb project was implemented.


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