Last fall, San Francisco kicked off a year long improvement program for Market Street including art, music, greenery and running trial programs to improve traffic flow.
While Muni busses and streetcars carry the most passengers, bikes account for well over half the total number of vehicles on Market Street.
In 2013, Market Street is scheduled to be repaved and more than just laying asphalt, it’s an opportunity to make structural improvements such as widening or narrowing the sidewalks, relocate boarding islands and create taxi drop off pockets.
To learn as much as possible before starting that design process, a trial program has underway since the end of September to test whether diverting private cars off of Market Street can reduce congestion for other users. Cars heading east on Market have been diverted at Eighth and again at Sixth Streets to see if what the effect would be of nudging drivers onto the parallel streets in SOMA where there is less bike and transit ridership.
So far the results have been encouraging: cars diverted off Market aren’t bunching up any of the parallel streets and Muni lines sped up by 1% from just those two changes. If you’re on a bike the difference is night and day, traveling downtown is no longer a matter of life or death.
One lessen already learned from the trial is Eighth Street just has too much going on at the corner with pedestrians exiting Civic Center Station, shuttle busses and a boarding island to be good location for cars and bikes to negotiate around each other.
Starting Tuesday, January 26, private car traffic Market eastbound must turn right at Tenth and Sixth Streets.
Starting tomorrow, January 26, that mandatory turn will move two blocks up to Tenth Street where the pedestrian volume crossing the street is lower and there are no boarding islands for cyclists to negotiate along with the car traffic. The new arrangement will be evaluated over the next six weeks.