January 2009: Intersection Needs Help
While we're happy that the City made the much-needed improvements at this intersection, and so far, it's working, except for one BIG problem...
Unfortunately, lots of motorists are ignoring their red "no turn" arrow and making dangerous left turns into the intersection during the pedestrian-bike green phase. We're not sure if they're honestly confused or rudely disobedient, but we are sure that the situation is causing serious dangers for bicyclists and pedestrians. Another cyclist (and SFBC member) was hit and injured in mid-January by an illegally turning motorist. (Read the story on Streetsblog)
We are frustrated that the MTA and the SF Police Department have failed to dedicate enforcement resources to
this known problem. The MTA should be demanding it, and the SFPD should be prioritizing it. There's no excuse for this
negligence. Contact the following decisionmakers to demand they enforce the dangerous intersection at Fell and Masonic:
1. SFPD Park Station commander Capt. Teresa Barrett at 415-242-3000 or SFPD.Park.Station@sfgov.org
2. MTA Director Nat Ford at 415-701-4720 or email@example.com
September 2008: Fell-Masonic Fix has arrived!After years of advocating for a safer Fell and Masonic intersection, we are relieved that a safety improvement is finally in place. On September 23, 2008, we celebrated the dedicated bicycle and pedestrian-only crossing traffic signal that was installed at this notoriously dangerous intersection (see our flickr images here). Read our Press Release (PDF 72kb)
This special bicycle traffic signal separates the crossing light into two phases--pedestrians and bicyclists will receive a white walk and green bicycle signal respectively when it is their turn to cross, and then a separate green arrow will indicate when motor vehicles can turn left. These two distinct light phases ensure that bicycles and pedestrians do not cross paths with left-turning cars. Previously bicyclists, pedestrians, and motor vehicles would proceed through the busy intersection at the same time. Cars turning left onto Masonic Ave from Fell St. will be held by a red left turn arrow, then given a green arrow once all bikes and pedestrians have crossed safely.
This key bike network improvement is possible only because the Superior Court selectively lifted the June 2006 injunction on bike improvements for the Fell Masonic intersection, recognizing the hazard the intersection poses to public safety.
If you've been through the intersection since its reconfiguration, you know it's not quite "fixed" yet. Understandably there's some confusion by both Fell St and Panhandle Path users. But we think there are also some refinements in order, such as restoring the sequence of phases to allow peds and bikes to go first after the westbound red light (as it had been for the past few years) and removing the "far side" bike signal to help simplify the cluster of lights (a complex mix of colors and shapes) and relying on the "near side" bike signal (out of sight of drivers) to cue cyclists to proceed. We'll continue to work with City staff to get this essential intersection working right for everyone, keep your eyes open and let us know how it's working for you.
April 2008 Update:The City is finally showing a much-needed urgency toward improving the notorious Fell Masonic intersection. We are pleased to report that on March 28th the SF City Attorney's Office requested an exemption from the infamous court injunction that has been in place since mid-2006, barring the City from making any physical improvements for bikes on public property until a full Environmental Impact Report is prepared (read about that situation here.)
In response to repeated requests, letters, public comment and Resolutions by the SFBC, Fix Masonic, the Bicycle Advisory Committee, the Board of Supervisors,and more, the city has acknowledged that it must act to make changes to the Fell Masonic intersection, for the sake of public safety. The City Attorney's brief requests that the Fell Masonic intersection be exempted from the Bike Plan injunction, and proposes that a dedicated crossing phase for bicycles and pedestrians be installed, during which cars would not be allowed to turn left. Cars would be held by a red arrow in a left hand turn lane until the bikes and peds have crossed the intersection safely.
July 2007 Update:In response to the recent spate of collisions and our volunteer Crossing Guard Program, on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a Resolution urging MTA to implement safety improvements at the Panhandle path crossing at Masonic including a dedicated pedestrian and bicycle crossing light phase during which cars would not be allowed to turn left. Thanks to Supervisor Mirkirimi for introducing this piece of legislation. We are calling on MTA to act quickly to fix this known traffic safety hazard now before someone else gets hurt.
If you ride on the Panhandle Pathway, then you know how treacherous the Fell/ Masonic intersection can be. Crashes happen routinely at the intersection - the fundamental problem is that both cars on Fell St. and cyclists on the Panhandle Path get a green light at the same time, when their paths conflict with one another. To make matters worse, motorists turning left from Fell onto Masonic often cannot see bicyclists and pedestrians using the crosswalk, resulting in conflict and collisions.
In March 2005, MTA made some interim improvements, including crosswalk restriping, parking removal, and an advance bike/ ped signal, in order to address both crossing visibility and vehicle speeds, however, the collisions haven't stopped. Cars still routinely violate bicycle and pedestrian right-of-way, often cutting them off and too often crashing into them.
Here's one velocitizen's argument that the city's obligation to provide safe right-of-way for cyclists and pedestrians is the paramount consideration at this intersection, and throughout the city — CEQA provides an "emergency exemption" to allow prompt fixes to known dangers like this intersection.
Here's that same velocitizen's argument that the Fell-Masonic intersection has lost its design immunity — there's no reason to fool around, just fix the intersection now before another person is hurt there.
The SFBC is calling for traffic calming measures that will SLOW the traffic turning off of Fell onto Masonic, as well as a protected bike/pedestrian crossing light phase and a separate left-turn light phase. Left-turning vehicles would be held (with a red turn arrow) during the dedicated bicycle/pedestrian phase and receive either a motorist-only green arrow, or a flashing yellow arrow. Under the yellow arrow condition, motorists would be informed to yield to bicyclists and pedestrians using the crosswalk.
Panhandle Path Crossing Guard Program
Along with WALK SF, we revitalized our Crossing Guard program during the last week of June 2007 to raise awareness about the dangers and pressure the city to make changes. Click here to read more about the program.
The SF Bicycle Coalition has met with neighborhood, civic, and merchant groups throughout the Haight/Panhandle/USF neighborhoods to gather community feedback. Of course, we're always glad to get more input and stay in touch with the community, bicyclists and otherwise. For more information, please contact: