Fill in the Tracks – Market & 17th St. Crosswalks

Update July 23, 2018: Being one of the many people who have been flipped off their bikes and thrown into the middle of the intersection of Castro & Market streets by a 30 yard stretch of unusable rail that SFMTA refuses to remove or fill-in I am continuing to monitor and call for mitigation for this hazardous condition being maintained to this day. Muni Bosses defend this bit of rail in the linked interview claiming they will be using that rail for the work in the Twin Peaks Tunnel or in a potential emergency. As the following photograph shows, the sidewalk has now been expanded to cover one of these controversial rails in concrete. This proves my original point, that these rails are not ever going to be used and they should at least be filled in where they imperil bicycles and impede people with mobility challenges from crossing the street.

Here they have completely entombed the track with concrete. No trains coming through here!
But where the same tracks cross the road & pedestrian crossing areas they have huge steel cased ruts which are a serious proven danger that could & should be filled-in. Safety First.

Original article: July 15, 2016 — An immediate action that would make several pedestrian crossings and a pedestrian plaza safer for bicycles and accessible to the mobility challenged at this intersection between Harvey Milk Plaza and Jane Warner Plaza. This proposal is to fill in the cracks in the two (2) sets of MUNI LRV tracks from the Eastern edge of the crosswalk in Jane Warner Plaza all the way to the Western edge of the westernmost crosswalk in that humongous intersection.

Both sets of tracks are completely sealed flat into the pavement West of the westernmost pedestrian crossing for at least a hundred yards. So there is no question of MUNI needing these particular tracks. What I am suggesting is that they be filled in in the crosswalks to remedy an absurd oversight. Tracks such as these trap bicycles, wheelchair front wheels, small wheeled mobility assistance devices, baby strollers, and are generally considered to be an impediment to access.

Filling just these very specific and short (approx 100 foot) stretches of open grooved rail would be a big step forward for bike safety, pedestrian safety and disability access on this critical and dangerous corner.

This suggestion is proposed at a time when Jane Warner Plaza is about to be resurfaced. What a great time to make it ADA accessible. I think, legally speaking, they are supposed to make these ADA upgrades at the time they do new construction. Here’s an excellent article from Hoodline on July 20, 2016 explaining about the $150,000 dollar grant to fix up the Plaza and how it will (and won’t) be spent.

The following photographs offer an overview followed by a close-up tour of the grooves from the Castro Street F-line stop wheelchair ramp and boarding island crosswalk all the way across Castro Street to the sealed up tracks that go for a long distance before entering an old tunnel. We then cross Market Street and follow the second set of tracks from the tunnel sealed tight till they open the gap upon entering the crosswalk. We follow them back to Jane Warner Plaza where we ponder the huge steel X tracks that sprawl across the walkway thinking of how nice a single curved rail would be instead.

The overview:

Market Castro & 17th Streets

Yellow circles are sealed in track, arrows indicate the areas we want sealed in.

Close up tour of the rails

We start with the F-Market streetcar directly behind us on the tracks facing West. Note the right hand turn. That track is all we need here. The straightaway heading due West should be paved in tight. This immediately simplifies the crossing.


We only need the track that curves toward the right here.
Fill the straightaway in from here on…
Fill in both these flanges flat to the plaza floor.
It’s a plaza, don’t cut it in half. Let wheels roll as they need throughout this area.
Take the step, go from train yard to open accessible plaza space.
These flanges should be entirely filled flat to the surface.

This pedestrian walkway could use some snazzy paint along with some crack filling… Onward to the West…


This is a pedestrian crosswalk, not a train yard. Make it flat for wheelchairs.
Note the right hand track is sealed in completely. No trains here.
A wheelchair and bike trap right in the middle of the cross walk.
One side sealed, the other wide open. Why?


Note the ramp to the walkway with the rut blocking the path to the North.


Imagine getting caught in the crack and run over while trying to get free.
Or imagine the whole crosswalk smooth like this…
Finally, at the West edge of the walkway, filled in flat as glass.
Filled in for over a hundred yards, flat like water.


There is an urban myth that these tracks are emergency tunnel exits. They’re not!


Sealed tight to Collingwood & Market Streets just past Harvey Milk Plaza.
Here is the Tunnel to Eureka Station, AKA the Ghost Station.


At this point we cross Market Street and head back along the Westbound track, emerging from a tunnel exactly like this one on the North side of Market Street. Like this one, that track is sealed tight as a drum, flat as a pancake from the tunnel gates right down to the crosswalk. Then it too opens up to terrorize wheels big and small. Strange…

Facing East on Market Street. Rails sealed tight.


Still sealed nice and tight, even the double rail section.


Still holding tight as we head for the crosswalk.
Looking quite good as we enter crosswalk from the West.
Step over the gap! Opens up wide to catch the bike lane from uphill, an SF treat from hell!!
This crack has thrown bicyclists for decades, including me in 1988.
It’s even got it’s own little garden. This crack deserves a Facebook page.
Countless San Franciscans have kissed this pavement coming off Twin Peaks.


Another crosswalk garden.
The tracks are only open in the crosswalks. Sealed tight for the cars.


Open for business as we approach the big crosswalk to 17th Street.
Two rails open wide head to 17th Street through the big crosswalk.
Two more rails impeding the pedestrian walkway.


Duck under the rolling flower pots, which we love.
We enter beautiful Jane Warner Plaza heading East on 17th Street.
These are not useful tracks, they are a barrier to access and should be filled at this point.
Imagine this with just one track, the straight one headed East gone.
This diamond is ridiculous. This should be a simple curve with no intersecting tracks.


The two rails on the left should be filled back to the far edge of the crosswalk.
This is the border. From this edge on East MUNI keeps this track open.
My transportation consultant indicating the border line with his paw.
Tracks behind K-9 colleague get sealed shut. This clears the crosswalk from the North.
Two more rails that can go. Turn that X into one curved rail.
Removing these two rails and simplifying the X into a single curved rail would clean up the approach to the wheelchair boarding platform from the South.
Seal this rail in to the left edge of the crosswalk.
Our transportation expert awaits on the boarding island at Castro F-Market stop.
And that’s the walking tour, thanks for coming along.

And if you happen to be interested the situation just a block or two down the street does need some attention. We are seeing a lot of serious injuries on track/pavement that SF MTA swears is good as gold. But we measured a five inch rut on these same tracks and MTA is ignoring us when we ask them to fix it. They keep saying their track inspector says its fine. Look at that picture of the woman being placed on the backboard at 17th and Prosper and tell me that pavement is fine! I say their track inspector is blind.






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