The New Castro Sidewalk Facelift Project
By Brittany Doohan
[Photos: Planning Department]
On April 3, 2013, city planners presented some new options for pedestrian sidewalk upgrades to Castro Street. The improvements, which are set to begin 2014, will include 22-foot sidewalks, brand new trees and pedestrian-scaled lighting, according to SF Streets blog.
This plan was brought forth because the traffic lanes on Castro Street are excessively wide, and the sidewalks just aren’t as pedestrian-friendly as they should be. (Most visitors, tourists and locals are pedestrians anyway). This will give pedestrians more room, calm motor traffic and improve safety. Castro, between 17th and 19th Streets, sees some of the heaviest foot traffic of the city’s neighborhood commercial streets, even exceeding Columbus Avenue in North Beach, said Nick Perry, project manager for the Planning Department, according to SF Streets blog.
Even with a 93 percent approval rate from residents, and many suggestions flooding in (rainbow-colored crosswalks — yes, that happened), some are still wary of the possible Muni delays that it could cause. With the narrowing of the street and parallel parkers, the 24-Divisadero and the 35-Eureka buses could face some delays from traffic congestion.
Peter Straus, a retired Muni planner, suggested that the parking be designed similar to Los Angeles, were there would be a buffer for parallel parkers (almost like an extra parking spot, where no one can park), which makes it easier for drivers to pull in and out more quickly. This however, could shorten the length of parking spaces and would require some parking spaces to be removed, which might upset local merchants.
City planners also talked about a few optional enhancements for Castro Street: Permanent improvements for Jane Warner Plaza at Castro, 17th, and Market Streets; a pair of bus bulb-outs on 18th at Castro; bulb-outs and a gateway median at 19th and Castro; and pedestrian bulb-outs Castro and Market (north), according to SF Streets blog.
Other proposed improvements include sidewalk leaning posts, along with colored lighting fixtures and images of GLBT “heroes and heroines” imprinted on sidewalks for the Rainbow Honor Walk [rainbowhonorwalk.org].
Residents can submit comments by April 12 on the Planning Department site: www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=3343
What do you think of these proposed improvements to Castro Street?