Good (and Maybe Bad) Changes for Masonic

May 13th is shaping up to be a big day. Not only is it a Friday the 13th — spooooooky! — but the SFMTA has scheduled a special hearing on the Masonic Upgrades for 10am. Also, it’s the day after Bike to Work Day, so you may have to hear your coworkers complaining of sore quads.

The Masonic hearing is standard procedure for any modification to city streets: establish this, rescind that. It’s a bit jarring to see Masonic’s planned transformation laid out in such stark terms. Barring any unforeseen objections (which NEVER happens), the new Masonic will have a lovely median, cycle track, and safer speeds.

But Rescue Muni, which still exists, has its concerns. There’s the potential for increased congestion, since the car capacity will be diminished. That may be true, but it’s hard to gaze into the crystal ball with much certainty on this issue. Typically, when street capacity is shifted away from cars and towards more desirable modes of transportation (bikes, buses, peds), there’s a month of consternation and then traffic stabilizes.

If congestion does materialize and then lingers, it would affect the 43-Masonic, which is already a creaky, crowded, pokey bus line.

Muni a Hotbed of Theft and Assault

It’s every cyclist’s nightmare: you stick your bike on the bus rack, board the bus, glance away for just a moment, and then BAM someone runs off with your bike. According to one driver, there’s been an increase in those types of thefts lately.

A Muni Diaries reader reports a close call with an attempted bike thief. It all went down around 7th and Market (the thief was probably one of those shifty-eyed Twitter employees who’ve been lured into the neighborhood), and it was only thanks to a stuck bike arm that the guy wasn’t able to run off with the bike.

The scariest part: the cyclist had the presence of mind to U-lock her wheel to the frame, but the thief’s intention seemed to be to just run away with the bike, so the lock wouldn’t have deterred him. Eek.

What can you do to prevent such monstrous behavior? At the very least, loiter at the front of the bus and watch your bike like a hawk. And if you want to be really safe, U-lock your wheel to the rack.

Another Muni Diaries reader spotted a different type of crime: creeps busting into the cabs of trains to steal transfers and whatever else the driver might have lying around (newspapers, Unisom, a Foreman grill, etc).

And over the Bayview, some ladies pepper-sprayed some other ladies and stole their phones. The details are a bit hazy, but it looks like they might’ve all known each other. DRAMA.

At Least there are no Terrorists on Muni

Don’t worry, everyone: the terrorists haven’t come for Muni or BART … yet.

After the recent conclusion of some unpleasant international affairs, local transit agencies took a few extra security precautions to make sure no evildoers are lurking around the trains and planes.

So far, so good: the beefed-up patrols have managed to prevent whatever malfeasance someone might have been cooking up, if someone was even bothering to do so, which they might not have been.

On the bright side, it might mean fewer bike thefts. But it also has resulted in some delays here and there, with N-Judah riders evacuated from a train Monday morning.

That caused transit backups throughout the system, which in turn caused Greg Dewar to become grumpy. His mood was fouled even further my a Muni driver who started yelling at passengers for not pressing a button hard enough and for not using a (nonfunctional) Clipper reader.

Meanwhile, the Examiner’s Will Reisman has discovered that walking is only slightly slower than taking the 14.

Taxi Frustrations

Could cabs in San Francisco possibly get any less convenient? Yes, apparently: Willie Brown reports that the MTA is strong-arming cab drivers into forking out a 5% surcharge on credit card transactions.

As a result: cabbies will probably start (justifiably) declining to accept credit cards, at least during peak times.

And speaking of cabs, has anyone ever gotten Cabulous to work? That would be such an awesome app if only they could get more than 4 cab drivers to actually use it.

SF State Clipper Tricks, Safer SOMA, Safer Muni

Sometimes, when Akit is explaining something, it feels a bit like listening to Suze Orman. It all seems so simple, but then when you try to explain it back, you realize that you actually don’t understand it at all. So if you are an SF State student who uses a Clipper card, you’d better just go read Akit’s blog yourself rather than having to suffer through our attempt to unravel the complexities of transfers.

And good news for the Rincon Hill/SOMA area: the SFMTA is working on some safety upgrades that include speed limit signs and signal timing to address the pedestrian hazards posed by too-fast traffic. Mike Sugerman blames old people, but he’s probably still bitter about his thwarted attempt to evade Muni’s Proof of Payment system.

Now, if only Muni would listen to its employees when it comes to safety. If you’ve got some time, check out the above video in which Muni employees creep into an eerie blue spotlight to talk about what happened when they reported safety problems.

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