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