June 15, 2016
Honorable Edwin M. Lee, Mayor City Hall, Room 200 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place San Francisco, CA 94102 MayorEdwinLee@sfgov.org
Re: A plea for help to stop the needless bike wrecks on 17th Street between Church and Noe Streets.
Dear Mayor Lee,
I moved here thirty years ago during the AIDS epidemic and fell in love with San Francisco. This city inspired me to earn a degree in Chinese from San Francisco State University and I still remember my building in the Castro shaking during the Loma Prieta earthquake. But today I am writing you to ask for help solving a problem that has confounded me and countless bicyclists in this town for a long time.
There are two sets of train tracks on 17th Street west of Church Street that are a legacy of the BART system era re-routing of MUNI. The stretch between Church and Noe Streets is especially dangerous because bikes often need to cross the tracks to maneuver around vehicles. The gaps alongside the tracks are between two and four inches wide and they trap both bike tires and quite a few motorcycles. Because this is a major and growing bike thoroughfare we are seeing more bikes and a seriously high number of ambulance calls for major injuries to the tune of several times a week.
The newest trend is parents with small kids on their bikes. When my home security cameras caught a mother with two children smashed to the pavement by the track across the street with three fire trucks and an ambulance responding and carrying her off I got upset enough to investigate. It turns out that track is not even in regular use of any sort. You can see the tragic video at: offtracksanfrancisco.tumblr.com.
These tracks need to be filled in immediately and the 17th street bike lane that goes from Church Street all the way to the Bay should continue right into Jane Warner Plaza at Castro Street. I suspect MUNI would argue reflexively against losing even an inch of track but a very strong case can be made that they do not need these tracks even if the F-line moves back to Cameron Beach yard. Better, safer alternatives to the 17th Street cut from the J-Church to the F-Market lines exist ready to use right now.
What alternatives are better than 17th Street for the F-Line historic streetcars to enter and exit service via the J-Church line? For entering service they should just stay on Church Street all the way to Market Street and just hang a right. For taking the streetcars out of service at the end of the day they can turn off Market Street at Duboce and cruise under the old mint taking the left onto Church Street behind Safeway. The MUNI guys have told me this would work right now with no changes needed.
Filling in the flanges and throwing some paint down on the street would be a definitive end to 400 feet of extremely hazardous unneeded track located alongside Everett Middle School which hosts a wonderful bicycle learning program for their students complete with bikes. It would stop an endless stream of ambulance calls. But it will only happen with your help. On behalf of myself and several dozen of my immediate neighbors I beg you to help us solve this problem. If I can assist in any way please let me know.
John Entwistle, Jr.