San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

is planning to remove all parking along Masonic Avenue from Fell Street to Geary Boulevard, reduce the travel lanes during rush hour so there will only be two lanes in each direction at all times (except the West (southbound) side of Masonic for the block between Hayes and Fell, which will be three lanes), install a concrete median strip with trees in the middle of the street, and install bike lanes at both curb lanes (concrete cycle tracks, above the roadway and below sidewalk level). There will be bus bulbouts, so when buses stop to load and unload passengers, only one travel lane will be moving. In order to cross Masonic and to access the bus stops, pedestrians will have to cross the cycle track. MTA estimates the project will cost $18.2 million. The actual final cost is anyone's guess.

The Masonic cycle track project will have the following impacts:

  1. Be dangerous for cyclists and for drivers pulling out of driveways. Drivers' ability to see cyclists will be limited. Also, cars pulling out of driveways on a busy street such as Masonic can only do so when motor vehicle traffic is stopped by a red light. Some cyclists don't always obey traffic signals, vehicles could be pulling out of driveways when they don't expect any traffic, only to hit an unexpected cyclist. Because some cyclists don't use lights, this will be even more dangerous at night.
  2. Result in the loss of around 167 street parking spaces. The actual number may be more because MTA counts 20 linear feet as a parking space, but some of the parking spaces along Masonic between driveways are less than 20 feet and may not be included in the count. Also, residents of Masonic will no longer be able to park across their driveways.
  3. Increase congestion on Masonic, especially during rush hour.
  4. Increase traffic on nearby streets, as some drivers avoid the increased traffic on Masonic.
  5. Increase pollution in the area, as drivers circle further and longer in search of parking, and as traffic on the nearby streets is increased.
  6. Jeopardize public safety by slowing down emergency response time.
  7. Make it much more difficult for residents on Masonic to: load/unload people and packages; have items delivered; have visitors; move in and out of their homes; and have construction, maintenance, painting and other work done.
  8. Make it harder for businesses to get deliveries of their products.
  9. The major parking loss will especially hurt seniors and disabled people, who are limited in how far they can walk and how many streets they can cross. It will also make it more difficult for them to have home visits from caregivers, Meals on Wheels, physical, respiratory, occupational and other therapists, and repair services from wheelchair repair companies.
  10. Increase the personal safety risk at night for residents returning to their homes and visitors returning to their cars after visiting friends, as they will have to park further from their residence or their friend's home. The risk will especially increase for the most vulnerable - women, seniors and disabled people.
  11. Currently, vehicles going eastbound on Geary turn right onto southbound Masonic using a dedicated right turn lane before Masonic, thus avoiding having to go all the way to Masonic. The project will remove this lane, so both vehicles turning southbound and those proceeding straight on Geary will have to go all the way to Masonic. Congestion will increase, especially with the additional traffic from the Target store.
  12. Create a chaotic, congested mess on Masonic and the surrounding areas during the 18 month construction period.
Motor vehicle traffic on Masonic was over 32,000 vehicles per day in 2010 (measured by MTA at Masonic at Fulton). Because many automobiles carry more than one person, more than 32,000 people ride on Masonic on a typical day. The 32,000 vehicles were measured when the former Mervyn's building at Masonic/Geary was empty and before the new Target store. With the new Target, this volume is increasing. In contrast, per SFMTA, during the 90 minutes of peak rush hour there were only 31 bicycles at Masonic/Golden Gate and only 32 bicycles at Masonic/Fell, in each case for both directions combined.

Masonic Avenue can be improved without creating these dangers, impacts and hardships, and without spending $18.2 million. Most collisions on Masonic are at intersections. Safety can be increased by better traffic signal timing. The bicycle signal at Masonic/Fell has reduced collisions. The traffic signal planned at Ewing and the pedestrian countdown signal at Turk - both expected to be installed in 2014 and long overdue - are likely to increase safety. So would resurfacing the pavement on Masonic, improved lighting and constructing safe curb ramps. And rather than encouraging a cyclist to use one of the busiest streets in San Francisco, the route along nearby Baker Street is a safer route already used by many cyclists that has far fewer motor vehicles, no buses and essentially equivalent terrain. Improvements should be made along this route.
Click here for a description of an alternative bike route.

What can you do to help save Masonic? The project was approved by the MTA Board of Directors in September 2012, and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority in June 2013 and $10.2 million of federal funding was approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in September 2013. In order to get the federal funds, MTA has to submit enviromental documents under the National Environmental Policy Act. Design engineering is scheduled to take from now through the end of 2014, with construction beginning in April 2015. But major projects have a way of slipping and going over budget.

This harmful project will happen unless you get involved! It's imperative that you contact Mayor Ed Lee, the Board of Supervisors, Supervisors London Breed, Eric Mar and Mark Farrell, the MTA Board, Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin and potential funding sources, and ask them to stop this disaster in the making. It's also critical to attend meetings of the Board of Supervisors and the MTA Board.

See updates page for more information.

Click here to learn more about how you can help, including a sample letter and a flyer.

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