I wrote this to Mr. Wiener:
Hi Scott– As a neighbor of both you and John Entwistle, I’m writing about the condition of those Muni tracks along 17th Street where the city-designated bike lane peters out two blocks before reaching the Castro.
When he posted online a video showing one of the tumbles that bicyclists take while riding that stretch, he struck a nerve and reminded me that even as experienced as I am, just a few months ago I managed to cross those tracks at the wrong angle when they were slick with moisture–and now have a scar on my wrist to prove it. Some less-experienced bicyclists have reported reluctance to ride in the city after hitting those tracks.
If a car or train were coming at the wrong moment, we could see a fatality there, as occurred along Market Street when a bicyclist hit tracks there not many months ago.
Motorists who don’t ride bikes have this response: watch out, be more careful. To them, my response is this: when city and state governments build roads for motorists, they don’t just tell drivers to be more careful. Our tax dollars are spent in many ways, big and small, to reduce consequences to drivers. Would we build an overpass without guard rails? Would we build a major intersection without stop signs/stop lights? Are we satisfied with the safety features of cars made in the 1950s?
Should we accept that a careless mistake can lead to fatality?
Bicyclists have enjoyed many improvements over the years I’ve lived here in San Francisco, but there are still places where we’re living with safety designs that go even farther back than the 1950s.
Rather than accepting the MTA’s statement that they occasionally use certain mostly-idle tracks around our City, we should require the MTA to formally justify continued existence of idle tracks. Safety conditions along 17th (and some other parts of the city) are deplorable the way they are.
Please have the MTA pave over those idle/under-utilized tracks. Also, please provide a way for injured bicyclists to report incidents to the City, with warning signage at high-risk locations (something like “Muni Tracks / Bicyclists Beware / Report injuries at 311”), so we can demonstrate the ongoing cost.
-Rich B. on Dorland Street