Friday, September 24, 2010

Tom Ammiano Weighs In on Masonic Traffic Calming, Urges MTA to Adopt "Option C"

Ammiano Family
Tom Ammiano with his daughter and grand-daughter

Tom Ammiano, California Assemblymember from the 13th District, urged the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) to adopt the currently-named Option C to transform Masonic Avenue into a livable corridor to benefit all. In a September 23 letter to Javad Mirabdal, MTA project manager, Ammiano noted that the street has been "long overdue for improvements" and "the recent tragic death of Yannick Linke has brought new attention to the dangers of Masonic Avenue."

Ammiano suggested that a full package of traffic calming measures for Masonic could have the same kind of impact found in other areas of the city.
Option C offers the type of sweeping changes needed to make Masonic a safer, calmer, and more livable street, one that would bbetter serve pedestrians, cyclists, MUNI, drivers and the surrounding neighborhoods. In doing so, the plan would enhance th entire Masonic Avenue corridor in much the same way that the redesign of Octavia Boulevard did for the Hayes Valley area.

At the 9/30 meeting, city staff will show design treatments for all Masonic blocks
The San Francisco Assemblymember cited the proposed improvements that Option C offers, including:
  • a landscaped median with trees
  • a series of bulb-outs to improve pedestrian safety and benefit Muni users
  • a separate bikeway on both sides of the street
  • removal of the tow-away zones
  • removal of on-street parking with expected new parking nearby
Note: the reference to "expected new parking nearby" is likely essential to acceptance of this option by nearby neighbors. Community members have previously urged the MTA to consider installing new angled parking along the north side of Turk Street to help mitigate the loss of parking from Masonic.

Ammiano wrote that he hopes SFMTA "embraces this opportunity to show a long-term vision for the transformation of Masonic Avenue from a heavily trafficked, dangerous street to an improved, livable corridor that reflects San Franciscans' desire for well-designed great streets and complete neighborhoods."
In the last few weeks other organizations and individuals have also endorsed Option C for the long-awaited makeover of Masonic, including FixMasonic, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and a number of residents who live on Masonic or within a few blocks of it. City planners will present two options -- both will be renamed and one will include the Option C features -- for consideration at a community meeting on September 30.

Masonic Avenue Street Design Study
Community Workshop #3
Thursday, September 30, 2010
6:30 to 8:30 pm

San Francisco Day School
350 Masonic at Golden Gate (enter at Golden Gate)
bike parking indoors, Muni #43 and nearby Muni #5 options

For detailed project information:
Contact project manager, Javad Mirabdal:
(415) 701-4421

For other stories in the A Better Masonic series, check here.


  1. One thing I want to hear more about: how the city will ensure the health of those trees in the median. A lot of Easy Bay cities have minimum soil volume requirements, but SF doesn't -- and as a result, we get gnarled, sickly trees like the ones on market that look like giant upside-down vulture claws.

    I'd love to see this project either adopt a minimum soil volume requirement, employ structured soil that can support pavement without hindering root growth, or use cantilevered surfaces that don't cause as much harmful compaction.

    Otherwise, we could be stuck with puny trees that die in a few years.

  2. I don't get it-- how is a median supposed to help with traffic calming? If anything, I think a median encourages higher speeds, because drivers feel safer. Also, parked cars, again, are known to slow down traffic (because there's more uncertainty about cars pulling out or people hiding behind them). This seems like a recipe for higher speeds, not lower.

  3. Alexei: On a wide street like Masonic, a median with trees helps to visually narrow the street -- making it less wide open and easy to speed through. A median alone may not stop the speeding, but a the full set of traffic calming measures can greatly reduce the impression that a street is a speedway.

  4. I am concerned about the move of the 43 bus stop from in front of John Adams to 807-811 masonic, where it will be wedged between two private driveways. The bike lane crosses from the right hand side of the road to the middle of the road in the intersection of Masonic and Hayes, which will have bikes crossing over to he left into traffic that is trying to merge right to turn on fell, at the same time that the 43 is attempting to leave the curb at 807 masonic to merge LEFT to continue it's route in half the space that it has now, without the light at Hayes and Masonic to give them room to get over the way it currently works. They are creating a huge fiasco at Hayes and Masonic, to match the already existing fiasco at Masonic and Fell.