Medians are the New Traffic Circles – Final Masonic Avenue Meeting Tonight – Point Counterpoint with Rob Anderson

[UPDATE: The meeting’s done – it’s going to be Gateway, Boulevard, or nothing. Your choice.]

Remember the traffic circle imperative that was foisted upon us seven years ago? Oh man, did that ever suck. But, there were studies that showed how magical and great traffic circles would be. So the experiment began.

Everybody knows that it was a massive failure, but somehow the welcomed death of the Waller and Page Street traffic circles was “sad,” or something, for some people:

“Coalition project manager Josh Hart, however, acknowledges the circles may need some fine-tuning to better protect pedestrians and bicyclists. ‘People should give them a chance,’ he said. ‘It would be really sad to see this experiment fail.'”

No fine tuning was needed as fine tuning wasn’t the problem. The problem was the traffic circles themselves.  

That’s your history lesson for the day.

Now, forget about traffic circles where they don’t belong – the new flavor of the month is the median filled with trees. It’s the latest thang. You’ll see them on troubled Octavia Boulevard, Divisadero and, soon enough, Cesar Chavez.

One problem with medians is that they take up space. And, if they have trees installed, the other problem is that the blessed trees can never be moved or cut down or nothing.  

Speaking of which, we’re going to get a median on Masonic Avenue. Find out all about it at the meeting tonight at Richie Riche’s alma mater on Golden Gate if you want.

The wide sidewalks of Masonic attract pedestrians from all over town. The early-morning shame walkers, not that there’s anything wrong with that, surely appreciate all the elbow room:

Now, the new medians wouldn’t necessarily be so bad but the property owners of Masonic have encroached upon the insanely-wide sidewalks and there are a bunch of trees that Forever Never Shall Be Moved that hem in the traffic lanes. So, even though a huge number of parking spaces will be removed, a good portion of that freed-up space will go for the median.

Oh well.

And now, on to Point Counterpoint with Rob Anderson. (If he has an MI over it (but I don’t think he will), I’ll take it down.) That’ll be it for now.

The last “community workshop” meeting on exactly how the city is going to screw up traffic on Masonic Ave. will be held on Sept. 30.


That the city is in fact going to deliberately screw up/”calm” traffic on Masonic is already a forgone conclusion.


Why is the city determined to screw up traffic on Masonic, which now works well for Muni’s #43 line and more than 30,000 vehicles every day? Because the city’s cyclists find riding on busy Masonic “scary”, and what the city’s bike people want they get here in Progressive Land.

I’d say that the bulk of the push comes from area NIMBYs. 

Since the last meeting, a cyclist was killed when he was hit by a motorist at Turk and Masonic. The bike people have shamelessly used that accident to push the city to screw up traffic on Masonic,


even though the accident happened late at night,

Objection, relevancy. What does it matter the time of day?

was caused by a drunk driver,

Yep. Your opponents would consider you quite rude for mentioning this fact, Rob, as it’s EXTREMELY OFF-MESSAGE.

and had nothing to do with the design of Masonic Avenue.

Disagree. It had something to do with the design of Masonic 

The city lists among its bogus “objectives” for Masonic Avenue (below in italics) to “improve transit operation.” That’s simply a lie, since the #43 Masonic bus—the only Muni line that operates on that part of Masonic—now runs well between Geary Blvd. and Fell Street, the part of Masonic the city and the bike people want to screw up.

I don’t think that “the bike people” specifically want to screw up transit, but yes, that very well might be the result. I think the current approach from the City is to talk about “access” to transit, like “improved” bus stops and whatnot.  

Also on the list is this nonsensical objective: “Improve pedestrian and non-motorized access to transit.” Since “motorized access to transit” makes no sense, “non-motorized access” simply doubles down on the nonsense.

I thought of what “motorized access to transit” could be but now I can’t remember what that was. Agree it’s a stupid phrase.

Even though the city’s own numbers show that there are few accidents on Masonic, it includes safety as one of its objectives: “Reduce the number of vehicular collisions, especially those involving pedestrians and bicyclists.”

I’m all for fewer accidents, regardless of the current level. The problem is that aesthetics is the primary concern of this effort on Masonic. Somehow, aesthetics will lead to safety is the thinking.

The #43 line now carries more than 12,000 passengers a day, and Masonic efficiently handles more than 32,000 vehicles a day. Hence, the “calming” of Masonic on behalf of a minority of cyclists will screw up traffic for more than 44,000 people a day on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition and an unknown number of cyclists who might use the new bike lanes after Masonic is “calmed.” This is how politically correct traffic management is done in San Francisco, where anti-carism is the ruling orthodoxy.

I’m not sure how things will shake out, exactly. The primary losers will be the people who park on all the spaces that get taken out. I think you might be off by an order of magnitude about how many people ride busese on Masonic on any given day. The stat I say was lass than 2000 bus riders per day on this stretch of the #43. Could be wrong about this tho…
That’s part 1, here’s part 2:
That’s pretty funny.
Michael Helquist … of Bike Nopa has filled the vacuum and appointed himself Anti-Car Demagogue in Chief.
As is his right, of course.
Helquist has adopted Masonic Avenue as a cause, issuing a series of hysterical bulletins
packed with disinformation
about a street that now efficiently handles more than32,000 vehicles a day and on which Muni’s #43 Masonic line carries 12,000 passengers a day. This major north/southcity traffic artery does this with few accidents and little danger to anyone—cyclists, pedestrians, or motorists—according to the city’s own numbers. Helquist is pushing the hysteria to a fever pitch now that the final city-sponsored community meeting to determine exactly how it’s going screw up the street is this Thursday evening. One of Helquist’s recent propaganda bulletins contains a bit of cluelessness and unintentional comedy in a statement by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano: Option C offers the type of sweeping changes needed to make Masonic a safer, calmer, and more livable street, one that would better serve pedestrians, cyclists, MUNI, drivers and the surrounding neighborhoods. In doing so, the plan would enhance the entire Masonic Avenue corridor in much the same way that the redesign of Octavia Boulevard did for the Hayes Valley area. Since Ammiano now spends most of his time in Sacramento, he and John King may be the only people in the city who haven’t noticed that Octavia Blvd. is a complete traffic and planning fiasco,
Yep. Octavia is a disaster. It’s FUBARed beyond all recognition.
perpetually jammed with freeway traffic to and from Fell and Oak Streets, with more than 45,000 cars a day creeping through the heart of the Hayes Valley neighborhood.
The latest numbers have it as a little higher than 45k per day. As high as 60k sometimes.
If you think Octavia Blvd. has “enhanced” the Hayes Valley neighborhood, you’re going to like what Ammiano, Helquist, the Bicycle Coalition and the city are determined to do to Masonic Avenue.
Believe it was the voters that made the call to tear down the perfectly fine, earthquake-retrofitted Central Freeway remnant we had. Michael Yaki, of all people, had the right idea but he was ignored…
The Option C plan Ammiano refers to takes away street parking on Masonic to make bike lanes, thus rendering obsolete the present system that removes street parking during commute hours to create extra lanes when traffic is heaviest. Plan C means that there will soon permanently be only two lanes in each direction, which means a perpetual traffic jam like Octavia Blvd. and, by the way, slowing down the busy #43 Muni line.
I don’t think Masonic will be get as bad as Octavia. The issues on Masonic will be focused on the morning drive north and the evening drive south.  
How’s that for “transit first”?
It’s not transit first at all, of course, as you know.
In reality we now live in a Bikes First city, where our Muni system—the only realistic alternative to driving for most city residents—takes a back seat to the bike people’s anti-car agenda, which is also the city’s official policy, as Mayor Newsom announced two years ago. If the city is going to slow down traffic on Masonic, it’s also going to slow down a Muni line that carries more than 12,000 passengers a day—to create a street that the city’s bike people feel “comfortable” riding on. What could go wrong with that?
Again, I feel that the bike people are not the prime movers in this movement.

The City and County of San Francisco invites you to the third and final: Masonic Avenue Street Design Study Community Workshop September 30th, 2010 Thursday 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

San Francisco Day School 350 Masonic Ave.(Enter on Golden Gate Avenue)ADA Accessible
Meeting Information: Come join us for the third and final community workshop of a new street design study for Masonic Avenue, focusing on the area between GearyBoulevard and the Panhandle, with the goal of calming traffic on Masonic Avenue and improving access and safety for all modes of transportation.
The City wants to hear your input on ways to improve this important corridor so that it safely and efficiently accommodates the needs of all users. To this end the SFMTA, along with the Department of Public Works and the Planning Department, have conducted two community workshops on June 15 and August 10, 2010 to identify how Masonic Avenue can be redesigned to achieve this goal.
Based on the input received from community members in the June 15 workshop, four options were developed. At the August 10 workshop, these four options were presented and a survey was conducted to gather community input on various elements of each option. Since that time, City staff has been working on combining preferred elements to develop two refined options which will be presented at the upcoming workshop.
Proposed changes to the Masonic Avenue corridor being discussed include:
Addition of a median and other traffic calming features
Improved pedestrian crossings
Addition of bike facilities Partial or full removal of existing on-street parking
Increased landscaping and tree planting
Enhancements to transit stops
Removal of daytime tow-away restriction
During this third meeting, city staff will give a brief presentation on existing conditions, review the options presented at the second meeting as well as the results of the survey conducted, and present and solicit comments on two street design options.
The goal of this last meeting is to gather input on the most favorable/practical option.
About the Project
The primary goal of the Masonic Avenue Street Design Study is to identify how Masonic Avenue between Geary Boulevard and Fell Street can safely and efficiently accommodate the needs of all roadway users, including but not limited to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and Muni. Objectives:
1. Engage representatives of all constituencies within the community who would be impacted by changes to Masonic Avenue including, but not limited to, residents on Masonic Avenue, residents on side-streets, merchants, school representatives, bicyclists, Muni passengers and pedestrians.
2. Improve transit operation.
3. Improve pedestrian and non-motorized access to transit.
4. Increase the safety of pedestrian crossings.
5. Increase motorist compliance with traffic rules and regulations.
6. Reduce the number of vehicular collisions, especially those involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
7. Support neighborhood vitality by creating a more inviting and accommodating public realm. Contact Javad Mirabdal415.701.4421

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3 Responses to “Medians are the New Traffic Circles – Final Masonic Avenue Meeting Tonight – Point Counterpoint with Rob Anderson”

  1. James says:

    t’s nice to see someone take a rational approach to the issues with Masonic and Octavia. If only more people were like you and not the anti-(whatever) movement.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Well, you know, he _was_ on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, so millions of people have seen the stipple illustration of him, the one that took four hours to make.

    He had a dead-bang winner of a lawsuit for a few years, anyway. Probably one of the most famous and successful NIMBYs in American history.

    And I think he’s still the go-to guy for many reporters around town looking for quotes…