Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Letter to SFMTA about Masonic & Turk Streets

Below is a letter I sent to the SFMTA recently about changes to Masonic & Turk Streets. You can read all about the plans to make this street safer for everyone over at Bike NOPA. This is not an official church endorsement of the plan, but written as an active member of the neighborhood. This was written before the most current collisions and fatality.  If you are inclined to write a letter/email as well send them to : sustainable.streets@sfmta.com, with "PUBLIC HEARING" in the subject line.

Jesus walked. That's not just a song by Kanye West, it's true. 

As a priest at St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church on the corner of Turk & Lyon Streets, my congregation and I are particularly sensitive to those who walk, bike, run, drive and park on the roads, sidewalks and bike paths near our church building. Their safety is often compromised because of speeding motorists on streets that look and function like freeways.

I choose not to drive regularly but walk, bus, and occasionally bike to get around the city. I am keenly aware of just how vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists can be on Masonic and Turk Streets. Both are excessively wide and cars, trucks, and buses often move far too fast through our residential neighborhood.   My congregants feel they often risk their lives getting to the church.  I regularly witness elderly members dodge speeding vehicles on Turk Street, and I see the same on Masonic. Not long ago one of our members was hit by a vehicle outside our doors following Sunday service. 

Last fall my congregation and I joined community members in a vigil to mourn the loss of a 22-year-old man, a visitor to the city, who was struck and killed by a motorist on Masonic at Turk, just two blocks from our church. In our grief for this terrible loss, we also resolved to work harder for safer streets, especially Masonic and Turk streets.

This tragecy on Masonic brought back the difficult memories of my mother being hit just three years ago at a dangerous intersection in downtown Washington, DC, My family’s lives have not been the same since. Though we are lucky she is alive, my mother's life as an avid dancer, cyclist and hiker is dramatically different since her accident. 

I have reviewed the city’s plan for a safer, more livable Masonic as outlined in the Boulevard design. I support, along with many members of my congregation, this bold reworking of a dangerous street. We understand that parking will be removed to make these changes possible. For some this will be an inconvenience, but we believe the city has a responsibility to design streets that are safe for all users.

The Boulevard plan also proposes to add parking along Turk street between Central and Baker streets, and we very much support this action as a traffic calming measure badly needed on Turk Street.

Remembering that Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. walked --- as do City College and USF students, children and parents on their way to the SF Day School or to Pacific Primary School, donors to the Blood Centers of the Pacific,  and church goers -- I encourage you to make everyone safer, by implementing the proposed improvements to Turk & Masonic Streets.


The Reverend Will Scott
St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church
2097 Turk Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

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