Friday, September 10, 2010

MTA to Install Speed Radar Signs on Masonic as Immediate Traffic Calming Measure

Representative speed radar sign Photo: Richard Drdul on Flickr

The Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) expects to install long-term speed radar signs on Masonic Avenue this month in response to growing public concern about safety hazards on the busy corridor. The signs will be installed on posts -- rather than using the portable, temporary display boards on trailers often parked along streets. One sign will be placed for each traffic direction, northbound and southbound.

Javad Mirabdal, MTA manager for the Masonic Traffic Calming Project, said the agency is considering use of the signs and expects them to be in place by the end of September. "We have to arrange for getting power to the signs and determine the best placement for the display," Mirabdal explained. He added that he and other traffic engineers will assess where speeding occurs most frequently and where the speed is most dangerous to other road users given the considerable changes in grade along Masonic.

The decision to place the radar signs comes a few weeks after the alleged hit-and-run collision in which a motorist struck and killed 22-year-old Nils Yannick Linke, a German tourist riding his bicycle on Masonic near Turk street. Linke's death was the first bicyclist fatality in two years in the city, and it led to increased calls for safer travel on Masonic from MTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford, District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, and several neighborhood and advocacy groups including the North Panhandle Neighborhood Association, Fix Masonic, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. The SFBC has proposed interim bicycle lanes for the most dangerous section of Masonic, between Ewing and Fulton Streets as an interim measure.

When installed, the radar signs will join two other traffic calming measures now underway. MTA will also re-time the signal lights on Masonic to counter speeding, where possible. That effort is complicated for a street like Masonic with its two-way traffic and blocks of varying length. Tuesday of this week SFPD Park Station stepped-up enforcement along Masonic to warn and ticket motorists who exceed the 25 mph speed limit. Officers will be monitoring the street during both peak and off-peak hours. The 25 mph limit was adopted after Fix Masonic gathered more than 500 signatures of area residents who urged the city to control speeding on the street in 2008.

The MTA, the Planning Department, and the Department of Public Works started a series of three community meetings beginning in June of this year to guide the planning and design of traffic calming measures on Masonic. The second meeting was held on August 10th, just three evenings before Linke was killed. The third and final meeting is scheduled for September 30th, details below.

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:
(415) 702-4421

For previous articles in BIKE NOPA's A Better Masonic series, check here.


  1. Southbound, I think the best placement would be in front of the USF athletic field. Juice could come from the traffic signal at Golden Gate or possibly solar? Downhill velocity combined possibly with traffic signal timing would make this the best point to notify drivers of their speed and to hopefully correct it before entering the Fulton St. intersection, which I believe to be one of the most accident prone in the corridor.
    A prime Northbound position is in front of the modern addition to Mount St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth at 150 Masonic. This is near the end of a long flat block between Turk and O'Farrell where vehicles reach higher speeds. Hopefully drivers would adjust their speed down before entering the congested area between O'Farrell and Geary Blvd. Electricity could come from the O'Farrell traffic signals.

  2. I just completed a survey of the 25 MPH signs between Haight and Geary and found five in the northbound direction and two in the southbound direction. They all were quite visible with no line of site obstruction. There is a street lighting pole in the southbound direction half way between Golden Gate and McAllister where I would like to see a radar sign placed. Unfortunately my northbound recommendation (above) has no electrified pole that is not obscured by tree foliage in the immediate area. I would sure like to see a radar sign placed somewhere on northbound Masonic between Turk and O'Farrell.

  3. Thanks for your on-the-street research,Doug. I thought there were more signs but I haven't looked lately. Now if only the posted speed limits got drivers to follow...let's hope the extra enforcement and the speed radar signs do just that.

  4. I found a possible position for a northbound radar sign today. A street light pole just south of the three way intersection with Ewing Terrace. It may require some minimal tree trimming.