17th St. & Hartford — Pedestrian Safety Upgrade Proposed

One wouldn’t think this particular intersection would be a serious problem meriting curb extensions and raised crosswalks at first glance. It is.

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What we need on that corner.

This is where 17th St. dead ends at Castro St. where the streetcars stage and depart from. Aside from the Chevron station cars have no cause to pass through here. Likewise this is the end of Hartford St. which is three blocks long total and parallels Castro Street but tends to be very lightly traveled. Hartford-mapbig

The issue here isn’t a large volume of cars but the odd manners in which the cars that do cut through that corner are driving. Some cut up 17th Street and want to turn left onto Hartford Street at an uncomfortably high rate of speed. Others do the same move in reverse approaching from Hartford St. and hanging the right onto 17th St. But the most difficult are the ones who use that little stub of 17th Street to access or depart the Chevron station. They zip around the streetcars and tend to really get going in that short space.

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Taxi busting a U-turn on 17th St. at Hartford.

The reason these high speed approaches and maneuvers are stressful for pedestrians is that they have to watch for cars approaching fast from at least three directions simultaneously as they try to cross either 17th St. or Hartford Street. Now imagine being a person in a wheelchair doing that while you cross 17th St. at that corner. (A hypothetical question since there are no curb ramps to allow a person in a wheelchair to cross at that labeled pedestrian crossing.)

Several disabled people have requested curb ramps at that intersection already and it appears that DPW is listening and may be planning to get this work done pretty soon. But the DPW plans only include ramps. Nothing more.

If we are already going to demolish and reconstruct the corners we must consider the additional safety measures now. Curb bulb-outs on 17th Street would help in many ways. And a proper raised pedestrian crossing for Hartford St. would be worth it’s weight in gold.

What is a raised pedestrian crossing one might ask? The best local example I could find is at 18th St. & Shotwell St. Let’s take a look.

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18th & Shotwell Street raised crosswalk.

What’s the condition of the curb right now? Lets take a look…

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17th St. North Side. Plenty of room. Nobody can park here anyway cause it’s a red zone. No reason not to bumb out the curb here a good five feet.
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The curb on the North side of 17th St. is crumbling and needs replacement anyway.
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17th St. South Side. Red zones already, need to reconstruct already. Five to seven feet into 17th Street would be a major change with a ramp built in. Very doable!
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Hartford St. This should just be a raised crosswalk. Both existing curb cuts are substandard and need to be replaced anyway. Slow down turning cars and kill two birds with one stone.

This intersection is the Eastern entrance path to Jane Warner Plaza and in essence the whole Castro Street Business District. It ought to be safe and welcoming to all. And likewise it serves to transition the business area into the neighborhood living quarters where we would all like to see courteous driving and consideration for children crossing the street. It’s also a major hub for The City’s beloved historic streetcars with passengers loading and unloading directly into the street.

Update (July 1, 2017): Upon further investigation we observe that there is only one (1) stop sign at that intersection. That solitary stop sign directs drivers headed North on Hartford to stop before turning onto 17th St. Drivers on 17th Street are not required to stop at that intersection at all. Just pause if they see a pedestrian crossing. Or just roll the corner without stopping at all. This is completely legal and hazardous as hell.

Some more photo’s of this horrible spot.

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Two bike paths (unmarked), a pedestrian crossing, a streetcar terminal on a dead end street terminating in a pedestrian plaza with no stop signs.
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That pedestrian crossing sign really commands respect. Not!
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How about stopping at this point? Think about where you are driving for a second…
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Raise this sidewalk six inches to match sidewalk level. Redo the corner to bulb it out and increase the sidewalk area. Add proper ADA curb ramps.

‘Nuff said!

2 comments

  1. In my experience, that last block of 17th Street is much busier than one would expect. Many cars go into that Chevron station not to buy gas but to cut through to Market Street.

    Like

  2. Hi John,
    thank you for your pictures and write up. I think you have a good plan. 18th and Shotwell has a raised crosswalk primarily to prevent local flooding. It is not particularly to slow traffic.

    Like

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