What the Hell is this, just south of the slot at Market and Second?
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I cry foul.
Hey, it’s the Masonic Avenue Street Design Study:
“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 … motorists.”
ALL RIGHT, EXACTLY HOW DOES THIS PROJECT “ACCOMMODATE THE NEEDS” OF “MOTORISTS?” OH, NOT AT ALL? THOUGHT SO. MOVING ON.
1. Engage representatives of all constituencies within the community who would be impacted by changes to Masonic Avenue…
ALL RIGHT, WHICH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE “MOTORIST” “CONSTITUENCY” WERE “ENGAGED?” ANY AT ALL? YOU KNOW, THE OCTAVIA BOULEVARD PEOPLE “ENGAGED” MOTORISTS AS FAR AWAY AS MONTEREY BOULEVARD, OUT THERE WITH CLIPBOARDS AND EVERYTHING. DID THE MASONIC AVENUE PEOPLE DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT? OH NO.
2. Improve transit operation.
THIS PROJECT WILL UNIMPROVE TRANSIT OPERATION ON AND AROUND MASONIC – THERE’S NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT. IT’S GOING TO SLOW DOWN THE BUSES THAT USE MASONIC, INCLUDING THE OCCASIONAL #5 FULTON AND #21 HAYES.
3. Improve pedestrian and non-motorized access to transit.
SO TRANSIT USERS WILL HAVE “BETTER ACCESS” TO REDUCED BUS SERVICE? I DON’T GET THE BETTER ACCESS PART – YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT A BUS STOP? ALSO, WHAT’S “MOTORIZED ACCESS TO TRANSIT?”
4. Increase the safety of pedestrian crossings.
YOU KNOW, THE PRIOR PROJECT MANAGER IS ON THE RECORD AS STATING THAT THIS KIND OF THING IS BAD TO DO LIKE NOW BECAUSE IT WOULD HURT THE CAUSE OF PUSHING THE ENTIRE PROJECT THROUGH. KIND OF SAD, REALLY.
5. Increase motorist compliance with traffic rules and regulations.
UH, WHAT, WITH TREES? IF I WANTED TO INCREASE COMPLIANCE WITH TRAFFIC LAWS, I’D JACK THE SPEED LIMIT UP TO 40 MPH. NOW, THAT WOULD HAVE SOME SIDE EFFECTS, BUT IT CERTAINLY WOULD REDUCE THE INCIDENCE OF SPEEDING, RIGHT? OR, HAVING HOURS-LONG TRAFFIC JAM UPS DURING THE MORNING AND EVENING DRIVES WOULD REDUCE SPEEDING, IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE GETTING AT?
6. Reduce the number of vehicular collisions, especially those involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
HOW? BY PLANTING TREES? WE’LL SEE. HEY DIDN’T THE RECENT OCTAVIA BOULEVARD / MEDIAN PROJECT INCREASE THE NUMBER OF VEHICULAR COLLISIONS ON OCTAVIA? YES IT DID. HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN THAT?
7. Support neighborhood vitality by creating a more inviting and accommodating public realm.
BY PUTTING IN A MEDIAN AND PLANTING TREES? SO, LET’S TAX AMERICA, CALIFORNIA, AND SAN FRANCISCO TO CREATE A “REALM” ON 3000 FEET WORTH OF STREET PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WEALTHY PROPERTY OWNERS AND PRIVATE SCHOOL(S) WHAT ARE ON THE STREET? ALL RIGHT.
To the right of this accident scene is Octavia Boulevard.
And to the left, a block away, is Octavia Street.
And in the middle, you’ll see NIMBY Green with a newish Mercedes Benz CLS sitting on top.
Via ciprofloxacin – click to expand
You see, Octavia used to be a regular old street until Redevelopment (a bad idea from the 20th century) and the failed Octavia “Boulevard” experiment (a bad idea from the 21st century) came along.
Anyway. this is what results when “activists” are valued more than traffic engineers…
Here’s your “brutal architecture” from architect John Portman over at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. Well, part of it, anyway.
The no-longer-revolving site of the former Equinox Restaurant:
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(Yes, they leave their Christmas lights, oh, I’m sorry, “holiday” lights up all year ’round, a practice considered “tacky” where I’m from.)
The whole place is nothing but concrete, plus some tiles on the floor.
This the lobby from above – tile everywhere:
But see what the employees have done? They’ve laid down some carpeting, you know, to ease the pain, the brutality:
(Especially when there’s water on the floor on a rainy day, you can’t really tell that you’re inside a building. Some guests don’t like that.)
Anyway, all the deets:
“This seminal 20-story gray concrete structure—designed by influential architect John Portman, who launched the trend toward indoor-outdoor hotel environments—is the focal point of the Embarcadero Center, where more than 100 shops and restaurants cater to the Financial District. The spectacular 17-story atrium lobby (listed by Guinness World Records as the largest hotel lobby in the world)…”
“Cozy” this place is not.
Take a visit sometime, why not?
Let’s see, where to start with horrible Octavia Boulevard.
Oh, here we go, with some bold, confident words from all the way back in 2003:
“The replacement freeway and Boulevard were charged with ensuring a level of service comparable to the previous structure and configuration. This has been achieved…”
In no way, shape, or form does the newish Octavia Boulevard have a level of service comparable to the old Central Freeway.
And, BTW, did the Central Freeway block Fell, Oak, Page, Haight and Market? Nope. Does Octavia Boulevard? Yep, every day, all the time.
(This is an example of misplaced confidence, of the hubris.)
Now, what kind of signal timing does it take to accommodate a 3000-mile-long freeway ending on Market Street. Well, let’s take a look here. Do you notice that Market street peds have about four seconds to begin the journey across Octavia during the 95-second cycle? Why is that? I mean, that means that any given ped on Market has over a 95% chance of having to stop and wait for all those cars on Octavia to go by. Is that fair? Now, what about cars and streetcars and bikes and buses and whatnot heading outbound on Market – do you think it’s much better for them? Well, it’s not. Just 20-something percent of the traffic signal cycle allows traffic to flow uphill on Market at the Octavia Intersection. Why are the lights so biased in favor of the cars driving through on Octavia, you know, as opposed to Market Street?
Check it (oh yeah, that’s some homeless dude coughing at the end there, not me.)
Now, the term “fork-tailed doctor killer” used to be the nickname of the Beechcraft Bonanza, you know, the plane what killed Buddy Holly on the Day That Music Died. But that whole V-Tail sitch got addressed and now, Beech makes those Bonanzas with regular old straight tails. So let’s recycle this phrase and use it for Octavia Boulevard, why not?
Here’s the fork of the tail:
Now, how can I justify blaming the whole “Boulevard Movement” fad of the aughts for an famous accident that killed that UCSF doctor if the UCSF van driver ran a red light? Well, take a look at this:
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See? Sometimes half the lanes of Oak have a red light and the other half have a green. Does that make sense? Well, if you’re struggling to make pathetic Octavia work and you don’t want traffic routinely backing up to Golden Gate Park, well then you yourself would be tempted to do whatever you could to help Octavia flow.
Does this unorthodox design factor in human nature, you know, the nut behind the steering wheel? No, it doesn’t. The fact is that car drivers, those sheeple, follow the pack. If the car to the right goes, then they want to go.
Of course, drivers should do better, but we need to factor in their behavior when we design roads, right?
What we shouldn’t do is to let Hayes Valley insiders, that very small but very influential group, to design anything for the rest of us.
And BTW, why on Earth are left turns allowed on inbound Market onto Octavia? Could it be for the convenience of those Hayes Valley insiders? Check it out. You’d think that Hayes Valley types would be satisfied with being able to make a left at the prior intersection or the next intersection, but no, traffic on Market has to wait on a dedicated signal for a dedicated lane of drivers.
Does that make sense?
Why not this? Why not narrow Octavia dramatically and just give up on the whole boulevard experiment? Just take out the frontage roads and all that on-street parking and those medians and that would be a good start on “completing” the Horrible Octavia Experiment, turning it into a “Complete Street.” Even the Great Designer of Octavia admits now that the boulevard is too wide.
And let’s get rid of that left turn lane that was built just for the NIMBYs of Hayes Valley. Why should Market Street, the more important one, take a back street to Octavia, which is basically a glorified freeway onramp?
And why not give people on Market Street half the time of the light signal and then the people on Octavia the other half? Wouldn’t that be more fair?
Or, we can continue to value higher condo prices and “trendy restaurants and high-end boutiques” over everything else in this world:
“Before the destruction of the Central Freeway, condominium prices in the Hayes Valley neighborhood were 66% of San Francisco average prices. However, after the demolition and subsequent replacement with the new Octavia Boulevard, prices grew to 91% of city average. Beyond this, the most dramatic increases were seen in the areas nearest to the new boulevard. Furthermore, residents noted a significant change in the nature of the commercial establishments in the area. Where it had been previously populated by liquor stores and mechanic shops, soon the area was teeming with trendy restaurants and high-end boutiques.”
Do you know how painfully cheap it is to record on video a problematic street intersection 24-7 in this day and age?
Well the City & County doesn’t, that’s for sure.
Anyway, here’s your red light camera at Oak and Octavia – perhaps it will prove useful today.
Here’s another view, from back in the day:
Looking south from Fell:
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The UCSF shuttle van:
How did Octavia boulevard end up being so gosh darn wide? Even The Creator, who likes wide, says that Octavia ended up being too wide in Her opinion.
Why are there parked cars and trees and medians all over dangerous Octavia Boulevard? Why don’t we get rid of all that and focus on safety instead?
Or that’s my guess, anyway, based on where this one’s pointed and the two white lights that are all set to go flash flash like a camera speedlight.
Check it out at the dangerous intersection of Oak and the hated, 133-foot wide(!) Octavia Boulevard:
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Hey, the people who run Octavia Boulevard – are they the same people who run MUNI?
Looks that way…
See it on the right up there?
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Well, not really.
But read all about the craziest new building in California after the jump.
This isn’t my “preferred option,” but it’s the preferred option, so there you go.
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How much will this cost?
Tens of millions, before overruns. $50,000,000 per mile or about $50,000 a parcel depending on how you look at it.
Who’ll pay for it?
Local, state, and federal taxpayers, just like the Bridge to Nowhere (let’s do something for Alaska) and the Chinatown subway (let’s do something for District 3).
Why does the public hearing notice enumerate the dozen-and-a-half parking spaces to be added but then leave out the hundred-something parking spaces that will be taken out?
Because this is a political document written by a politician.
Well, is there a cheaper, safety-only option to go along with the SFMTA’s “preferred option?”
Not that I’m aware of. Safety improvements have been held hostage over the years on account of this big maghilla project. The Project Director will tell you that if you ask him.
Do you have something against wide medians filled with trees that can never ever, ever, ever be removed for any reason at any time in the future, the likes of which can be found on Octavia and Divisadero?
Any advice for cyclists in the mean-time?
Yes. Cyclists should stay the hell off of Masonic between Turk and Fulton. Use the wide, underpopulated sidewalks, and, if you want, run the red light at Golden Gate to get a head start on traffic going downhill to Fulton.