The SF Municipal Transportation Agency is testing out new street markings to help cyclists safely negotiate hairy intersections where bike routes and rail tracks meet.
The SFMTA added guidance markings this week to the intersection of 17th and Church Streets, where the 17th Street bike lane  meets Muni’s F-Market and J-Church streetcar lines. Car parking spots near the corners were also removed to improve visibility  and provide more room for cyclists to maneuver safely.
The dashed lines and sharrows direct cyclists to cross the tracks at nearly a perpendicular angle, which minimizes the risk that bike wheels will get caught in the track crevices — a common bicycling hazard  in San Francisco. Similar treatments have been used in Seattle .
“We’ve heard reports of crashes at 17th/Church and are trying this design to determine if it’s effective in improving the angle people take when they ride across the tracks,” said Mike Sallaberry of the SFMTA’s Livable Streets Subdivision. “We’ve taken some observations already and will continue to do that to see if the design could be improved or applied elsewhere.”
Although SFMTA planners have also discussed adding similar markings at the bike and transit junction of Church and Duboce Avenue, Sallaberry didn’t say if those will be implemented.
Similar track-crossing markings were included in the 17th Street Bike Plan project, which originally proposed extending the bike lane west of Church. The plan was revised to cut the bike lane short, to avoid directing bicyclists to ride in the narrow space between parked cars and passing trolley cars. Instead, bicyclists are expected to share the lane with trolleys.
Removing the car parking lanes on that block of 17th, while politically contentious, could provide a much safer space for people cycling on the street, but there are no known plans to do so.
More photos after the break.