Rally, petition to demand safety boost on Masonic Avenue

An excessive speed limit, dangerous intersections and an overall lack of pedestrian safety are some of the concerns community residents have raised about Masonic Avenue, an arterial pathway in San Francisco that is home to a Muni line and a city-sanctioned bike-path route.

Today, neighborhood and safety groups will hold a rally in front of the San Francisco Day School on Masonic and Golden Gate avenues to raise awareness about neighborhood concerns.

According to Caitlin Kelly Henry of The Safety Network, a 500-signature petition advocating for more traffic-calming measures will be delivered to the Municipal Transportation Agency after the rally.

The petition follows a resolution unanimously passed by the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 12 that urged the MTA to develop funding and planning options for an extensive overhaul of Masonic Avenue. The 43-Masonic Muni busline runs along the street, as does San Francisco’s Bike Route 55.

Mark Christiansen, founder of Fix Masonic, said a major reworking of the thoroughfare is necessary.

“There isn’t just one problem,” Christiansen said. “Each person in this neighborhood could give you a dozen different concerns about safety on this street.”

Christiansen said lowering the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph — the standard for residential neighborhood streets — would be an essential start. Introducing a timed turn signal on Fell Street and Masonic Avenue — where many bikers and pedestrians enter pathways in the Panhandle — would also be helpful in increasing safety, Christiansen said.

The intersection at Fell and Masonic had the fifth-highest number of bicycle and automobile collisions from 2002-06, according to Rachel Kraai of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The MTA does have a general overall plan for the Masonic corridor, but funding for the project has yet to be identified, according to department spokesman Judson True. In the meantime, the agency has already implemented various improvements on the street, including lengthening the yellow light at Masonic Avenue and Turk Street to prevent automobiles from speeding through the intersection.

The MTA is also looking at installing a red arrow light on Fell Street that would prevent automobiles from taking a left onto Masonic while pedestrian and bicyclists are entering and leaving the Panhandle, True said.

wreisman@examiner.com

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