Monday, August 30, 2010

A Better Masonic: MTA Narrows Options to Two, Sets Sept. 30 for Next Community Meeting

One of four traffic calming options presented at the August meeting

City planners will present two sets of traffic calming measures for Masonic Avenue on September 30th in the final community meeting in a three-part planning process. Based on input from participants, staff will then develop a final strategy to take to public hearings at the start of next year. The two options will likely offer different combinations of measures discussed during the meeting held earlier this month, including removal of the current tow-away zone during morning and evening commutes, installation of bus bulb-outs at selected intersections, changes to signal timing, and installation of a separated bike lane and a landscaped median.

Staff originally planned to convene the third meeting sometime in October or November, but the recent fatality on Masonic has led to a greater urgency among city officials, Masonic neighbors, and community advocates for safer streets. Three days after the August 10th meeting, Yannick Linke was struck and killed by a motorist while riding his bike on Masonic near Turk Street. That tragedy led to calls for immediate improvements even before the current planning process completes its course.

Javad Mirabdal, manager of the Masonic traffic calming project, said the September 30 meeting will include a discussion of immediate actions that the Municipal Transportation Agency is considering. "We will be talking about what we can do that does not require a public hearing," he explained. One of those measures, according to Mirabdal, will be adjusting signal timing along the corridor, especially for southbound traffic. "Signal timing will control the front of the queue of traffic, but there's always bandwidth for cars further behind to go faster." The agency can also position speed reader signs along the street to inform motorists how fast they're driving. "This is an educational measure." Mirabdal also called for more enforcement of the speed limit, now set at 25 mph but routinely ignored by many drivers.

The community planning process will be completed within a few months. "We're going to finish this study by the end of December," Mirabdal said. "In January we may have measures to take to a public hearing. After that, the next steps will depend on the final design and getting the money needed for implementation."

During the upcoming meeting, city staff will present results from the survey that participants completed in August about which of four options they preferred. These findings guided the staff toward the design of the final two options. Planners will also discuss the costs involved for the different strategies and present more detailed designs. "The last time we showed a cross-section of changes for one block," Mirabdal explained. "The next meeting we will show the traffic calming measures for the whole corridor."

The MTA will notify residents along Masonic by mail about the purpose, time and place of the upcoming meeting.

Masonic Avenue Traffic Calming Project
Meeting #3
September 30, 2010
Thursday, 6:30 to 8:30 pm
San Francisco Day School
350 Masonic at Golden Gate Avenue
(enter on Golden Gate)

For more information:
(415) 702-4421

For previous articles in the A Better Masonic series, check here.


  1. Have they disclosed the 2 options yet?

  2. yertletheturtle: MTA hasn't disclosed the final two options yet. I believe city staff are still examining the survey results from the last meeting and refining the two options. If you weren't at meeting #2 (and didn't complete the survey), you can still send your preference among the four options to Javad Mirabdal (email address in post above)

  3. Thanks, Mike. I was at both meetings and turned in the survey. I also sent an email to Javad about what I thought was a great compromise plan that would appease all modes of transportation on Masonic:

    Implement Option B (the option with the central median & left hand turn lanes) with the following alterations:

    * Add bus bulb outs (that only bulb out to the left-hand edge of the curbside bike lane)
    * Where ever there are bus bulb outs, put the bike lane between the bus bulb out and the sidewalk (similar to options A and D) so that bikes and buses don't compete for space
    * Make the curbside bike lane permanent
    * Turn the right-hand traffic lane into an overnight car parking lane (except for next to the bulb-outs) so buses will still have the opportunity to make curbside stops

    I hope they don't confine themselves to those 4 options, as I believe the best solution would be to borrow various ideas from all 4.

  4. It seems to me that DPT or SFMTA Traffic Engineering has been in the past and in some ways in the present is reactive rather than proactive. Sure, they are fielding community input for a great future boulevard. How long has the 25 MPH ordinance been in effect and why do they drag their feet to change the signal timing until someone gets killed? It seems like the same old, same old to me.

  5. Thanks,Doug, for your comment. I find that whether in neighborhood associations or top levels of city government, there are always some individuals more responsive, more pro-active than others. And sometimes those more reticent become more ready to act over time. That said,MTA has implemented traffic calming measures on Masonic already, but many of us do want more, and sooner than later. However, something like signal light timing on a 2 way street of varying block lengths is more complicated -- and limited in effectiveness -- than I realized when I first called for a quick response on this measure.

    There's a lot of traffic engineering work to be done in this city and we, the taxpayers, are not able or willing to provide the revenue to get it all done as quickly as we ..and, I imagine, as the MTA engineers ... would like to get it completed.

    I think we're on a new track with the MTA Masonic work and the process is moving along quicker than previous planning efforts. I'm optimistic....even as we encourage and urge and sometimes get frustrated at the pace.