Castro Street Redesign Breaks Ground, Rainbow Crosswalks Unveiled

Photo: Chris Jepson/Twitter

The new Castro Street is on its way, with the Department of Public Works breaking ground today on the two-block street redesign, which will include wider sidewalks. One detail of the plan was also unveiled at the event — rainbow crosswalk designs for the Castro and 18th Street intersection.

Supervisor Scott Wiener with planners from DPW, the Planning Department, and reps from the Castro CBD today. Photo: Scott Wiener/Twitter

“This streetscape project will be transformational for Castro Street and for the neighborhood,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who secured $4 million for the project from the Prop B street re-paving bond funds, in a statement. “Castro Street is one of the busiest pedestrian corridors in the city and at the heart of both our neighborhood and the LGBT community. Wider sidewalks and an improved Jane Warner Plaza, which will allow for more street life and neighborhood interactions, will make a great and historic street even better.”

The design of the rainbow crosswalks, largely funded by the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefits District, was selected through an online poll of over 4,500 Castro residents and visitors conducted by the CBD, the Castro Biscuit wrote today.

As Wiener mentioned, Jane Warner Plaza at 17th and Castro will get some more permanent fixtures, though we haven’t see what they’ll look like yet. The project will also include new street trees, pedestrian-scale lighting, upgrades to Muni’s overhead wire infrastructure, water mains, and sparkled sidewalks and sidewalk plaques along the Rainbow Honor Walk “showcasing heroes of the LGBT community,” said a DPW press release, which said the work will be completed in October. Construction is expected to halt for the Pride festival in June and be finished in time for the Castro Street Fair, according to the Biscuit.

Image: Planning Department
  • Mark

    The striped streets are so awful, why do we have to be a parody? I literally can’t handle them

  • Jesse

    What does “literally can’t handle them” entail? What’s happening to you?

  • EastBayer

    Yes, they are horrid. Why not just proven high-viz crosswalks?

  • p_chazz

    Because this is the gayborhood where we have rainbow everything!

  • tom

    these are so tacky. but so is just about every other thing in the castro, so there’s that. hopefully they use nice bright edge lines so that after a month when the color is brown something shows up and reads “crosswalk” for pedestrian safety

  • Jamison Wieser

    $4 million dollar project which will double the size of the sidewalks and all anyone seems to care about is the crosswalk pattern.

  • omaryak

    Glad they added the white border, but it would have been much simpler to just use colored thick vertical stripes (instead of the horizontal ones)—it would still look like a crosswalk without the need to use white

  • omaryak

    Because it changes the character of the neighborhood and provides a potential visual distraction for drivers (maybe good for pedestrian safety! but that remains to be seen … on a computer screen I almost get a seizure just looking at it)

  • omaryak

    When you try to pick the rainbow stripes up off the ground, they won’t move. It’s very frustrating.

  • If you don’t like rainbows, the Castro is probably not the place for you. As someone who walks and bikes through the Castro four or five times a week, I am looking forward to the improvements (though there are ample opportunities for even more.)

  • omaryak

    I like rainbows. The crosswalks seem like overkill. But we’ll have to see them installed to know for sure

  • Jamison Wieser

    And by “potential visual distraction for drivers” you bring up the safety benefits of a jarringly different crosswalk style waking drivers out of auto-pilot.

    And by “changes the character of the neighborhood” you’ve been here right? Rainbow flags are not some odd rarity, every light pole, every trashcan, store window, for sale at Cliff’s, on a giant flagpole at the Market & Castro intersection, projected onto the former BofI/BofA/Diesel building…

    My point again is doubling the width of the sidewalk is going to have a greater effect on the character of the neighborhood, than rainbow #956.

  • omaryak

    Quality, not quantity. You’ve heard of the straw that broke the camel’s back? This is a bale of hay.

    There is a safety element, as I mentioned, but there is a distraction element too. If I’m looking too much at a crosswalk I’m not looking at who’s about to enter it.

  • Jamison Wieser

    You’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer. The engines running, but nobody’s behind the wheel. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

    Sound policy is not based on randomly selected metaphors. Just because you aren’t familiar with traffic signals and intersections work (green means go, red means stop) and make the case you are yourself a menace behind the wheel doesn’t mean the Castro shouldn’t have the rainbow crosswalk that the neighborhood wanted.

    I preferred the theatre tile pattern, but maybe that would confuse drivers into thinking they’re on the sidewalk.

  • omaryak

    Oh, excuse me. I’m sorry not every driver can be as brilliant as you are! There’s nothing random about the metaphors used for road design. They are the way they are because they are time-tested for safety and instant recognizability.

    I voted against the theater design, but I will bow to your superior taste on that one. In retrospect it would have been nicer, especially with the white border.

  • Jamison Wieser

    You have an incredibly low standards if understanding traffic signals is your idea of brilliance. I guess the light’s on, but nobody’s home. Roads are designed the way they are from time-tested, as well as scientifically proven studies and controlled testing. Have you even read the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices?

    Since you mention it, as a professional designer I think it’s highly likely I do have a more thought out basis for my decision. Notice how I’m not saying superior or making it a matter of taste.

  • omaryak

    I’m sure a designer would think that—I’m a designer too. I think it may be a matter of taste and it’s ok to admit that.

    Safety is not just about signals. Pedestrians can and do choose to enter the roadway at any time.

  • ZOMG the rainbow crosswalks are distracting me from all the rainbow flags, rainbow T-shirts, and anodized rainbow nipple rings on display! Guess I’ll have to crash my car now.

  • omaryak

    It’s all fun and games until someone gets hit. Based on your comment, it could be someone in a rainbow-colored pantsuit 😛

  • omaryak

    To be clear, I am not opposing a rainbow-colored design. I just think it could be shaped differently to be more tasteful and more obvious to drivers as to its function.

  • omaryak

    So I did a little research, and the design I’m referring to is the continental crosswalk. It’s now standard everywhere else in SF because it had a positive impact on driver and pedestrian behavior.

  • jka

    It would be much better if you could actually see these crosswalks. I drove through the intersection yesterday and the crosswalks were barely visible. To boot, I drive an SUV – it sits up high – and I still couldn’t see the crosswalk very well. This was at 4PM on a very sunny day. For safety reasons I’d recommend they lose the pin stripes (hard to see against the dark pavement) and paint each color in full. I understand people voted on it, but let’s be safe here.


Drivers Hit Two Seniors in Two Days at Castro and 19th Crosswalk

Two seniors were injured by drivers in a crosswalk at 19th and Castro Streets in separate crashes on Tuesday and Wednesday. Bryan Goebel, Streetsblog SF’s first editor, and his neighbor Hank Cancel happened upon the aftermath of the crashes. Both victims sustained minor injures, according to Goebel and Cancel. But they said close calls with […]

Bulb-Outs: Noe Valley’s Getting Them, Outer Balboa’s Got Them

Two business corridors are getting a boost from sidewalk bulb-outs: Balboa Street in the Outer Richmond recently had some finished, and 24th Street in Noe Valley will get them this fall. The dozen-odd sidewalk extensions on outer Balboa were completed in May as part of a larger project under construction since last year that also includes […]

Noe Valley Gets Sidewalk Extensions and Decorative Crosswalks on 24th

City officials celebrated new brick-trimmed crosswalks and sidewalk bulb-outs on 24th Street in Noe Valley at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today. The changes will make for a more pedestrian- and transit-friendly environment on Noe Valley’s commercial corridor. At Castro and Noe Streets, the transit bulb-outs — curb extensions at bus stops — will help speed up Muni’s 24 and […]

Planning Dept. Presents Draft Designs for a Ped-Friendly Castro Street

The city’s effort to make Castro Street more welcoming for pedestrians took a step forward yesterday, when the SF Planning Department presented preliminary design concepts at a packed community meeting. The plan [PDF] would improve the pedestrian realm on the commercial corridor with wider sidewalks, sidewalk seating, pedestrian-scaled lighting, small plazas, and greening, while reclaiming some […]

City Moves Forward on a More Pedestrian-Friendly Castro Street

San Francisco’s world-famous commercial strip on Castro Street, which gained a popular pedestrian plaza in 2009, is poised to become a more inviting destination as the SF Planning Department develops plans to widen the sidewalks and install other improvements from 17th Street to 19th Street. The sidewalks on Castro, currently 12 feet wide, could reach widths up […]