Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Better Masonic: SFPD Targets Speeding Motorists on Masonic Beginning Today

SFPD will step-up enforcement of the 25 mph speed limit on the Masonic corridor beginning today. Captain Teresa Barrett told BIKE NOPA that Park Station officers will ticket speeding drivers during morning and evening commutes and the off-peak hours when motorists tend to exceed the speed limit more frequently. "We'll stagger the monitoring," Barrett said, "between different times of day and night from Fell to Turk especially."

SFPD's increased surveillance comes in the context of the recent hit-and-run fatality on Masonic and the city's plans for traffic calming on the corridor. Barrett referred to the tragic collision August 13th on Masonic at Turk that left 22-year-old Yannick Linke dead after a driver struck and killed him while he was bicycling. "It was a terrible incident," she said. Barrett added that she has viewed several collisions on Masonic herself. When she first took command of Park Station two years ago, Barrett wrote a letter to city officials directing their attention to the traffic hazards on Masonic.

When asked about the role of enforcement in reducing speeding, Barrett described it as just one part of the solution for safer streets. She also believes that radar trailers -- roadside digital displays that alert drivers to the speed they're travelling -- can be effective tools to educate motorists who exceed the speed limit. The grassroots group Fix Masonic, the North Panhandle Neighborhood Association, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, and Masonic residents have increased calls for measures to reduce speeding on the street since Yannick Linke's death three weeks earlier.

Barrett countered often-heard suggestions that enforcement alone is all that is needed to make Masonic safer. "We have so many other thoroughfares in this district that need watching," she said, "that we could never provide constant surveillance of Masonic." Traffic engineers refer to the "three E's" for traffic calming: Enforcement, Education, and Engineering. With its increased monitoring of speeding and willingness to employ speed displays, Park Station is doing its part to cover two of the three. (With the city's fiscal crisis, however, SFPD will need public support to maintain its focus on Masonic traffic safety and not be diverted too frequently to other problem areas).

The community planning and design process recently undertaken by the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) and other city departments* reflects an intent to implement the final E, for Engineering, on Masonic. Neighbors have attended two meetings to date to help determine traffic calming measures that will reduce speeding and increase safety for all road users. A third and final meeting is scheduled for September 30th to select a package of changes to the corridor that may include removal of the tow-away zone during commute hours and using that "extra lane" to install a separated bike lane, a landscaped median, bus bulb-outs at intersections, parking removal, and other options. The intent of such a safety makeover is to transform the street so it functions less like a neighborhood freeway and more like a neighborhood thoroughfare that keeps traffic moving smoothly without endangering lives in the process.

* The Department of Public Works and the Planning Department are collaborating with the SFMTA on the Masonic project. During the last few years, the MTA implemented several safety improvements to the Masonic corridor including lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, adding yellow-laddered crosswalks at school crossings, changing signal timing at a few intersections, and removing a double turn lane at Oak Street, and installing a bicyclist and pedestrian signal light at Fell Street.

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

For more information: javad.mirabdal@sfmta.com
(415) 702-4421

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

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