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Open Letter to the S.F. Board of Supervisors: Fix this Deadly Grate in Golden Gate Park

The front wheel of my bike, showing how it fell into one of the gaps between the grates on the ramp in Golden Gate Park (the blue tape is part of a handle I made so it’s easier to carry on the bus). Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

As Streetsblog's regular readers are aware, three weeks ago I crashed on a dangerous grate in the middle of Golden Gate Park. Efforts to get it fixed were sloughed off by Jan Berckefeldt of the Music Concourse Community Partnership, which is responsible for the grate. I think it's of interest to readers to publish my efforts to get this resolved before another cyclist is injured. Tuesday morning I went back with my bike wheel to take more pictures to illustrate why this grate is so dangerous. Below is an email I am submitting, with the photos, to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Dear Supervisors, Mayor Breed, City Attorney David Chiu, and city staff:

I was in a bike crash in Golden Gate Park at the garage entrance at 10th and Fulton on July 19. My front wheel fell into a storm drain grate and I was catapulted onto the concrete, smashing my left hand, head, and right shoulder.

How my bike landed after I crashed Tuesday, July 19.
How my bike landed after I crashed Tuesday, July 19.
How my bike landed after I crashed Tuesday, July 19.

As seen in the photos, the grate, which runs across the entire entrance to the garage, has multiple gaps that are wider than many standard bike tires. There are two rows of grates across the ramp.

PXL_20220809_160414205

I emailed the park and others about this hazard. My emails were passed along to Jan Berckefeldt, President and Managing Director of the Music Concourse Community Partnership, who apparently is responsible for maintaining this section of street inside the park.

This was her reply:

Hi Roger: I am President and Managing Director of the Music Concourse Community Partnership (MCCP), the owners of the Music Concourse Garage. I have reviewed your photos and visited the area itself. Bicycles and skateboards are prohibited in the Garage for safety reasons. I am wondering why you were riding on an automobile ramp entering the Garage. That would pose a danger to drivers and yourself.

As you may know, I'm also the editor of the advocacy blog Streetsblog San Francisco. I wrote more about the crash here.

It's disturbing to read that the manager of the garage knew the ramp was dangerous and chose to do nothing about it. Furthermore, it's ridiculous to claim bicycles are prohibited from the garage. There's bicycle parking inside the garage in multiple locations, as required by city planning and the legislation that authorized the garage's construction. There are even online materials specifically directing cyclists to the ramp where I crashed.

One of several locations for bikes inside the garage where its management says bikes are banned. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
One of several locations for bikes inside the garage where its management claims bikes are banned
One of several locations for bikes inside the garage where management banned bikes. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

There is also a dedicated bicycle path that leads to the Fulton Street entrance (left in the photo below). There are bicycle stencils on the ramp itself:

Tell me again why I wouldn't think its' fine to bike here?
The entrance to the ramp
The entrance to the ramp

A sign banning bikes was added *after* my crash, but it is positioned flat on the retaining wall in a way that nobody would see it before it was too late to avoid the grate. Either way, banning bikes is not the solution.

I hope you agree it's unacceptable to leave a de facto bicycle booby trap in the center of Golden Gate Park. Due to a good helmet, heavy gloves, and luck, I am expected to recover from my injuries.

The next person looking for bicycle parking might not be so lucky.

My hand after the crash
My hand after the crash
My hand after the crash

I hope you will work to remedy this situation as soon as possible.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Sincerely,

Roger Rudick

Note to readers: after I took the pictures of the wheel Tuesday/this morning, I went to the corner to wait for the 5 Fulton to get to a follow-up appointment with my orthopedist. I noticed a Rec and Parks truck parked just ahead of the stop with a worker inside. I knocked on the window and asked him if they have a welding shop in his department. He said they do, so I explained what happened and showed him the pictures of my bike wheel in the grate (he gave me his email so I could also send them to him, which I did). He headed to the ramp to have a look. In my experience, it's managers such as Jan Berckefeldt who are the problem--the front-line workers are generally pretty amazing. I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't a crew out there right now welding metal to the grate to prevent other bicyclists from crashing.

As to the orthopedist appointment, things are looking good and I should make a full recovery. Let's hope the grate gets fixed and I'm the last cyclist to crash there.

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