These pictures were taken on 17th Street between Church Street and Sanchez Street looking West on June 28, 2016. These gouges next to the tracks are deep and wide posing a constant hazard to bicycles and motorcycles and wheelchairs here at the area’s main bike path. These tracks are in the center of a single traffic lane shared by bikes and cars. This was once a straight two inch “flange way” but has massively degraded over the decades since it was installed in 1972.
Just for comparison sake let’s look at the Downtown track infrastructure that our tax dollars are funding. We leave it to your imagination just whose feet those are standing on that beautiful taxpayer funded muni track but you can see their feet laying flat across those rails. Just a nice steel groove sealed tight to the pavement with rubber. The track is called grooved rail and it is designed for pavement to butt flush to both sides thus preventing the flange from growing into a degraded rut in the road.
Note the rubber sealing the pavement to the track. This goes on for miles downtown.
Note the single track and the crosswalk. No switch tracks, frogs & surplus tracks cluttering up the crosswalk impeding wheelchairs and crashing bicycles.Note the really nice wheelchair ramp. Twice as long as the one in the Castro and it is part of the natural sidewalk. In the Castro wheelchairs have to cross a street and several tracks to get to a crummy ramp on a crowded island, an overall inferior approach.These photos demonstrate two extremes in the variety of methods of integrating the streetcar tracks into the landscaping of the street. I will be uploading one or two other examples to round out the perspective as I get time.
Like these shots from 17th Street between Noe & Sanchez right near District Health Center 1 where bikes get caught all the time. This part of our street features a transition from one kind of track to another. The newer track with the concrete center area is part of the Noe Street Terminal Loop built in 1996. That track still has a groove but it is uniform and doesn’t degrade over time so the groove won’t start at 1.5 inches and grow to 5 inches as the ash fault crumbles.
This is one small section where for whatever reason the ash fault doesn’t show much degradation which is good for reference purposes. It approximates the starting dimensions of the flange way. I’m basically showing about an inch and a half wide by less than an inch deep.But, alas… most of 17th Street from Sanchez to District Health Center 1 is a much different story. [July 14th update: This stretch along the corner of Prosper Street is the scene of a terrible track caused crash where a scooter driver was carried away on a full body board. That occurred on July 11, despite our chronicling the hazard here several weeks prior as you can see and begging the SF MTA people to do something about this. And they still haven’t. fixed it.]We save the best for last though. Remember that all these pictures of 17th Street tracks with giant ruts running alongside them were taken on June 28, 2016 by me, John Entwistle, Jr. (Yes, these pictures are free to all to use.)
Remember that date as you read this quote from Muni Transit Director John Haley.
“I appreciate you reaching out to the SFMTA to articulate your concerns over the 17th Street streetcar tracks.
After receiving your letter, we immediately inspected the track to ensure that the track and pavement was in good condition. We did find one pothole that we are repairing. The trackway however was in good condition based on the inspector by our Track Department and Maintenance of Way Director.” [sic.] — Muni Director of Transit John Haley, June 23, 2016.
Take a look at this video of a mother with two children on the back of her bicycle riding over those “in good condition” tracks. Mr. Haley refused to comment about the video.