Friday, April 29, 2011

SFMTA Sets Public Hearing for Masonic Redesign: Friday, May 13, 10am

Proposed mini-park to enliven a bleak section of Masonic at Geary

Masonic as a proposed Complete Street with safer use for all modes of transportation

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is ready to take plans for the redesign of the Masonic corridor to a public hearing before a hearings officer. Late this afternoon, SFMTA released the official announcement of the meeting that will be mailed to Masonic area residents and posted throughout the nearby neighborhoods. The flyer includes the traffic calming elements proposed for the blocks between Fell and Geary as well as the traffic configurations to be removed. The meeting is set for Friday, May 13, at 10 am in City Hall, Room 416 (Hearing Room 4).

The Masonic hearing will consider the proposed Boulevard design that includes measures to improve safety, livability, and improved transportation. The elements of the plan were developed with Masonic residents and community members in the summer and fall of 2010. Several surveys -- conducted by the SFMTA as well as neighborhood associations -- have reflected significant support for the full package of changes now proposed by city planners.

A new element to the proposal is the addition of 20 new parking spaces along the north side of Turk Street between Central and Baker streets. The new 45 degree, back-in, angled parking will help mitigate the removal of parking along Masonic. The wide transportation lanes of Turk can easily accommodate the angled parking, and there are no driveways along much of the proposed stretch.

As previously discussed, the Boulevard proposal includes several features to keep the vehicle traffic to the 25 MPH posted, add a safe separated bikeway for cyclists, improve pedestrian crossings, and enhance Muni bus stops. A full-length landscaped median with and a mini-park at Geary will encourage motorists to maintain legal speed and provide residents with a greener, more attractive environment.

The specific changes to be considered at the hearing, as noted in the official announcement:

Masonic Avenue, east side, between Fell Street and Geary Boulevard

Masonic Avenue, west side, between Geary Boulevard and Hayes Street

Masonic Avenue, east side, between Fell Street and Geary Boulevard
Masonic Avenue, west side, between Geary Boulevard and Hayes Street

Masonic Avenue, between Geary Boulevard and Fell Street (5 feet wide)

Masonic Avenue, west side, from Golden Gate Street to 80 feet southerly
Masonic Avenue, east side, from Golden Gate Street to 80 feet southerly
Masonic Avenue, west side, from Fulton Street to 80 feet northerly

Masonic Avenue, west side, from Fulton Street to 80 feet southerly

Masonic Avenue, west side, from Geary Boulevard to 110 feet southerly (8 feet wide)
Masonic Avenue, east side, from Turk Street to 80 feet northerly (8 feet wide)
Masonic Avenue, west side, from Fulton Street to 80 feet southerly (8 feet wide)
Masonic Avenue, east side, from Hayes Street to 80 feet northerly (8 feet wide)

Masonic Avenue, both sides, from Fell Street to Geary Boulevard (raised cycle track)

Masonic Avenue at Ewing Terrace

Turk Street, north side, between Baker Street and Central Avenue (adds approximately 20 more parking spaces)

Opinions on these proposed changes may be filed in writing prior to the hearing with the City Traffic Engineer at the Sustainable Streets Division, One South Van Ness Avenue, 7th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103-5417. Written opinions may also be transmitted to the Sustainable Streets Division via fax at 415.701.4737. Submitted opinions will become part of the official public record and will be brought to the attention of the person(s) conducting the hearing. Information on the proposed changes may be obtained from the Sustainable Streets Division at the above-referenced address or by telephone at 415.701.4500.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Medic on Wheels: From Hospital to Clinic to Office, Kurtis Opp Bikes Everyday As Much As He Can

Kurtis Opp leaving CPMC/Davies for next stop

Convenient, secure parking at CPMC Davies Medical Center

Kurtis Opp has been part of the local medical community for 20 years, since 1991, and the last dozen of those he's relied on his bike to get around town. He lives in the Mission and bikes via the Wiggle and the Panhandle to St. Mary's Hospital on Stanyan street. Four days a week he bikes "six to nine minutes" from his home to Davies Medical Center at Duboce and Castro. Add his office hours at the Mission Neighborhood Health Center and working with colleagues at other clinics and Opp logs a lot of miles every week on two wheels.

“I bike everyday as much as I can," Opp explained from his dermatology office at Davies. He even finds time to bike to workout sessions at Bush and Van Ness. For him, biking is part of a healthy life. But it's also the best way for him to keep a busy schedule without worrying about slow traffic and parking hassles.

Opp is a San Francisco native who attended SF State and then graduated from Stanford University's Physician Assistant program. His first medical job was in cardiac surgery followed by urgent care in an Emergency Room setting. In 1993 he started working with a pioneer of HIV/AIDS care, Marcus Conant, MD, who began one of the first HIV- related clinics in the country at UCSF. Opp has been heavily involved in HIV work since then. He took a position at Davies Medical Center as a PA-C in 2003 with a focus on medical dermatology. "HIV dermatology is my specialty with skin cancers and HIV cancers," Opp said. His Davies practice also includes cosmetic dermatology. In addition, Opp works as the HIV dermatologist at St. Mary's Hospital, takes appointments at Mission Neighborhood Health Center, and treats people with HIV seeking liposuction injections.

Opp sees bicyclists with injuries all too often. "Most have been seen in an ER somewhere first, but then they seek follow-up care. It happens every five to six weeks." Many of his patients report injuries due to getting doored or from slipping on Muni tracks. On his daily rides, Opp said he is annoyed with the frequency of motorists blocking his way. "I would like to see more police enforcement of double parking in the bike lanes.”

Not many of Opp's colleagues at the Davies office building ride, but he noted that the bike racks at the medical center are usually full. His own biking passion has taken him on four AIDS rides from San Francisco to Los Angeles and another from Fairbanks to Anchorage. He learned to keep his bike helmet on at all times while riding. "Wearing helmets and safe biking was ingrained in us on those rides. Now I don't leave anywhere without a helmet and my high visibility jacket." Or his matching pink and orange pig on his handlebar.

Friday, April 22, 2011

North Panhandle Eyesore on Track for Removal; Work Set for New Fire Escapes

Scaffolding serving as fire escape on Lyon street at Golden Gate
After years of wanting the ugly structure to come down, North Panhandle residents are likely wary about any news that the four-story scaffolding sidling the apartment building on Lyon at Golden Gate may actually be seeing its final weeks. But that appears to be the case. Pat Buscovich, a developer working with the owner of the apartment building, told BIKE NOPA that the process to replace the structure with a real fire escape is underway.
"Once we get the go-ahead, it will take six weeks or more to fabricate suitable fire escapes. We have a manufacturer lined up and ready to start. During that time we will prepare the building so it will be ready for the fire escape to be bolted to it. We will get the larger unit for the Golden Gate side of the building installed first. Then we'll be able to dismantle the scaffolding along Lyon one floor at a time as we put up the exits on that side."
Few manufacturers remain in the fire escape business, according to Buscovich. "The code for the equipment changed in 1995 and many steel fabricators stopped making them since then." The fire exits for the Lyon building are expected to cost $30,000 or more. Over the several years that the scaffolding has been occupying the 40 feet of curb space, the owner might easily have purchased the equipment for the cost of the rental fees.

Buscovich said contractors were at the site yesterday and had begun the preparation. His reading of the situation is that everyone wants to bring this long story of tenant/landlord conflicts and complications among city agencies to an end. "The owner wants it done, the residents want it to happen, and I'm sure the neighbors are ready to see this over with."

Although BIKE NOPA previously suggested the permit granted for ongoing work might be simply one more delay after several years of inaction, it now appears that the owner is ready to proceed and the city has signed off on the project. A building permit to do so is essential. We hope the next chapter in this story includes photos of the new fire-escapes and a scaffolding-free street.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baker Street Gets Curb-to-Curb Treatment, Smoother Bike Lanes Ahead

Asphalt-grinding and spitting leviathan visits Baker Street

A smoother surface for all street users

Scrape the old, repair the holes and get ready to go smooth

Bike parked and waiting for the smooth ride

Baker Street from Turk to Fell is about to become one smooth ride for anyone travelling by bike, bus, or other vehicle. Following sewer and water repair work on the much-used north-south route, several blocks of Baker are being "milled and filled" with the old asphalt removed and a new layer added. Once completed the newly re-surfaced blocks -- matched with those repaved a few months ago -- will be one long smooth ribbon. Bicyclists will especially appreciate the new surface between Fell and Hayes where several years ago the city repaved the traffic lanes but left the bike lanes rutted and worn.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SFMTA Begins Re-Striping Masonic Traffic Lanes; Second Person Injured in Monday's Red-Light Running

Before: lanes on Masonic hardly discernible

After: Northbound travel lanes on Masonic

Re-striping from Fell to Turk

SFMTA crews started re-striping the badly faded traffic lanes of Masonic Avenue last Friday, beginning with the northbound side of the corridor. As of Tuesday morning, fresh thermoplasty stripes had been applied from Fell to Turk streets. Hopefully, this morning's showers will cause only a temporary delay on completing the work in both directions. Other traffic calming measures due to appear are stenciled 25 MPH advisories on the pavement and merge indicators.

Although the work was planned for several weeks, the Masonic striping occurs in the midst of renewed concern about the safety of the corridor. A 35-year-old woman was struck by a motorist running a red light on Masonic at Grove yesterday morning. She broke both legs and suffered internal and head injuries. The woman was jogging through the crosswalk with the right-of-way at the time of the collision. The motorist hit her and then continued through the intersection and collided with another vehicle. A second person was also injured and taken to the hospital. SFPD Park Station has announced that officers will focus their traffic enforcement operations along the Masonic corridor for the rest of April.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jogger Hit by Red-Light Running Motorist on Masonic, SFPD To Resume Enforcement Tomorrow

Pedestrian injured this morning on Masonic. Photo: Matt Smith

A 35-year-old woman was struck and seriously injured this morning by a red-light running motorist traveling on Masonic at Grove. The motorist struck the woman and continued through the intersection colliding with other vehicles, according to Capt. Denis O'Leary of SFPD Park Station. Tomorrow morning SFPD will place officers along Masonic to enforce the 25 MPH speed limit and to cite motorists who fail to stop for red lights.

The woman was jogging and in the crosswalk at about 8:30 a.m. when she was struck by the motorist. Capt. O'Leary said her injuries were extensive. "She was taken to the hospital. She has two broken legs, head injuries, and internal injuries," he said. "She needs our thoughts and prayers."

The motorist stopped -- or was stopped as a result of the collision with other vehicles. No arrest and no citation resulted. O'Leary explained that California law does not permit officers to give citations unless they witness the incident. A "notice of violation" can be given but that action often follows a conference with the station sergeant. O'Leary said he would check into the status of such a citation. He stated that a Traffic Division officer, rather than one from Park Station, filed the police report.

First reported by Matt Smith of SFWeekly, the collision and injury is one of several that have occurred on Masonic. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has installed a number of traffic calming measures in the last nine months, but additional steps promised for early this spring have yet to be taken.* These include re-striping badly faded travel lanes and including directions for motorists to merge where the number of lanes on Masonic change, and painting 25 MPH on the street surfaces. Yet many observers and city planners agree that significant risk reduction will only result when Masonic is re-designed to better cue motorists to drive within the speed limit and when changes are made to increase safe travel for pedestrians and bicyclists as well.

As previously reported, a Masonic traffic calming plan -- dubbed the Boulevard -- is expected to go to a public hearing in May or soon thereafter. Today Javad Mirabdal, project director of the Masonic re-design study, confirmed that a hearing in May remains possible. "We don't have a date yet," he said, "but we're trying to bring it in May." Mirabdal presented the Boulevard plan to a Citizens Advisory Committee last week. He said they are taking the necessary steps moving toward the hearing and, hopefully, approval.

After hearing of this morning's collision and injury, Cheryl Brinkman, a member of SFMTA's Board of Directors, said she intended to do everything she can to support traffic calming on Masonic.
"It's heartbreaking to continue to have drivers disregard the safety of all other road users. Thank goodness the woman was not killed by that car driver and no one else was killed. I feel frustrated that some car drivers just don't seem to care."
For other articles in the A Better Masonic series, check here.
* The SFMTA stated this afternoon that the striping work began last Friday and will require about a week to complete. The several wet days of March created a backlog in bike lane striping projects and pushed back the Masonic work.

Personal view: Striping bike lanes is a top priority and we celebrate each occasion, but the daily hazards along Masonic deserve priority.

Friday, April 1, 2011

SF Bike Party Spins Through NOPA Tonight

SF Bike Party Spins Through NOPA on Hayes to the Panhandle

A party-on-wheels is coming to NOPA tonight, and you don't want to miss it. The San Francisco Bike Party is unlike any other bike ride in the city. It's hugely popular with a 100 or so cyclists, it starts mid-evening, makes stops along the way to, yes, party, and goes to great lengths to be safe and wise about rules-of-the road.

NOPA's own neighborhood bike group, NOPA VELO, has touted themes like Patty Hearst, Maria von Trapp, David Broderick with his duel-to-the-death, but we've never taken on something like ROBOTS AND CYBORGS. With this great weather and high spirits in town, this is the perfect Friday evening outing.

Here's the SFBP organizers spin on the 4th SFBP ride:

Join us for the 4th San Francisco Bike Party! We have an amazing route planned and with a break in the rain, it’s time to get out! Get your nerd on with this month’s theme of Robots and Cyborgs. The ride will take a leisurely tour of Golden Gate Park, the Sunset and Haight St, while rocking to mobile sound systems, and stopping to regroup and party along the way. We will have t-shirts available with a suggested donation price of $20 -- exact change appreciated!

How We Ride
  • Stay in the right lane
  • Stop at red lights
  • Leave No Trace
  • Ride predictably and in control
  • Roll past conflict
  • Ride Prepared
  • When in doubt, “Bike Party!!”
Your First Ride With Us?
We try to maintain a leisurely cruising speed. Routes are designed for a wide range of riders to keep pace. Though, with hundreds of riders on different types of bikes, some will find hills more challenging, or have flats and mechanical troubles. Before the ride, make sure your bicycle is in good working order. You should be comfortable riding San Francisco streets which may have traffic, train tracks, occasional steep hills, and other hazards. Bring friends and make new ones riding at your speed. Within your friends be prepared with a flat kit or to fix basic mechanical troubles. If you see someone in need, it’s good bike etiquette to help. That’s also a great way to make new friends in the biking community. Which is what the Bike Party is all about!

San Francisco Bike Party 4th Ride: Robots and Cyborgs
Friday, April 1
Gather 7:30 PM, Rollout 8 PM |
Meet Civic Center (Larkin Street - between Grove & McAllister)

Stay in the Loop: