One of the improvements proposed for Masonic: mini-park at Geary
After years of urging the city to stop the speeding and improve safety on Masonic Avenue, the Board of Directors of the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association (NOPNA) decided in January that it was unprepared to support an actual plan to do so. Instead, the board has asked neighbors to take the Masonic safety survey developed by city transportation planners. The NOPNA directors stated that the results of that instrument will guide their decision about improving Masonic.
NOPNA seeks to represent all residents who live within the association's border streets: Masonic to Divisadero and Fell to Turk. Everyone who lives within those 30 square blocks is eligible to take the survey whether they attend NOPNA meetings or have paid dues.* The board selected a relatively brief period of time for neighbors to complete the survey, from February 6th to February 15th.
It is important for anyone who wants to stop the speeding on Masonic and make the corridor safer for all users -- pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists -- to take this survey.
More than 200 neighbors participated in the community planning for a better Masonic last year. That three-meeting process narrowed the options for the corridor from four to two to one. A majority of the Masonic neighbors selected the Boulevard plan as the best way to stop the speeding and increase safety while making Masonic a street that residents and neighbors will appreciate. As previously covered, the Boulevard proposal will provide a full-length landscaped median, a mini-park at Geary, landscaped sidewalks, bus bulb outs at intersections, 200 new street trees, and a separated bicycle track. To allow space for these safety measures, street parking will be removed between Fell and Geary.
The NOPNA board is late to engage in the process, and the survey it has now presented asks neighbors to select between the last two options: the less-complete Gateway version and the Boulevard proposal. City planners have already incorporated the community's preference for the Boulevard into its final report and its recommendations to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The Ewing Terrace Neighborhood Association, Fix Masonic, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition have already endorsed the Boulevard proposal. A majority of University Terrace neighbors who participated in a separate survey last year also favored the Boulevard.
Nevertheless, it is important for neighbors who consider safety the top priority for Masonic to take this latest survey, to register their support, and to send a message to the NOPNA Board. The most important factor for people interested in safety for bicyclists is Question 5:
- to ensure that the separated bicycle track is installed, select "strongly prefer" for the Boulevard Option's bike facility AND for the parking plan. The bike facility is not possible without adopting the parking (removal) plan.
For those who have followed the Masonic planning process, the survey will require less than five minutes. Others are strongly encouraged to read the final report -- or at least the most relevant sections -- that details the extensive outreach to Masonic neighbors, the community process, the survey responses, and block-by-block images of all the improvements to come under the Boulevard plan.
* The NOPNA Board also seeks opinions from those in other nearby neighborhoods and encourages those residents to take the survey as well.
Disclosures: Several years ago I served as NOPNA president for two terms and was a member of the board of directors for six years. I have urged members of the current board to conduct greater due diligence and real engagement with the community process to make Masonic safer.
For previous articles in the A Better Masonic, check here.