A plan for sweeping safety improvements on deadly Masonic Avenue was unanimously approved by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors yesterday. It’s the final decision needed to move the project forward, though the SFMTA says planners still need to finalize the design and secure funding before it’s implemented. The agency doesn’t have a timeline for that yet, but construction is likely still a couple years off.
Michael Helquist, a member of the neighborhood group Fix Masonic, called the approval ”a huge accomplishment for grassroots organizations” like the SF Bicycle Coalition and the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association working with the SFMTA in pushing for the improvements. “This has been six years or more coming, and this is a big hurdle,” he said.
The plan would revamp most of Masonic, from Geary Boulevard to Fell Street, with features like raised bike lanes, reduced traffic lanes, a tree-lined median, sidewalk bulb-outs for pedestrians and buses, and more. The transformation is expected to calm motor vehicle traffic and help reduce injuries on the street, which residents say they’re afraid to travel on by any mode. The plan would also bring a plaza to Masonic and Geary.
The physically raised bike lanes would be San Francisco’s first, adopting the kind of bicycle infrastructure proven to make bicycling safer and more comfortable for a broad range of people in cities where they’ve been widely implemented, like Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
Roughly a dozen neighbors and advocates spoke at yesterday’s hearing, most in support of the project. Two speakers were opposed to the removal of car parking, including a store owner who said he had a petition signed by 300 people in opposition. However, surveys conducted throughout the widely-praised outreach and planning process have found broad support for the design, which was developed through community meetings aimed at creating a more livable corridor.