Bettering San Francisco’s Market Street

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.

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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.

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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.

Comments: 4

  1. hey MTA
    wake up!
    has anyone actually seen what those changes have done to the traffic on Mission street between 10th and 3rd?? First off, that stretch has only 2 lanes in each direction and one of those lanes is for buses and taxies only everyday til 6pm. That leaves 1 lane to handle all the eastbound traffic. To complicate things, that bus lane changes sides of the road, forcing passenger cars and busses to interweave!
    And lastly, I live on sixth and market, and the only pedestrians that benefit from this new change are the crackheads and section 8 recipients who now have the freedom to waltz across the street with even more carelessness then they did before.
    Oh wait one more point!
    What is the cost of having 4-8 MTA transit cops sitting in the street at market telling cars to turn off and issuing warnings? I feel like i need a fourth colored waste basket in my kitchen to handle all of MUNI’s recent decisions!!

  2. Awesome news — Market has been faster for buses and streetcars since the closure. I hope they make it permanent!

  3. Cars were indeed forced off at 8th, and now 10th; and other cars (perhaps some of those thus diverted) turned onto Market at 5th, without impediment. After 6th street, no one made any effort to keep cars out of the diamond/bus-taxi lanes which of course are also the “F” line tracks. None of this takes into account the nightmare that is evening rush hour at 4th and 1st streets, and to some extent 3rd, let alone the Friday afternoon escape rush, when cars cross without room and close the intersections.
    Aside from rush hour, I didn’t find navigating Market all that problematic before the forced turn-off at 8th/10th, nor have the changes been all that beneficial to me, either on the “F” line or on a bus.
    What the “F” line needs is to have the lower Market signals–outbound–coordinated so that they can board and run, and not have to wait for every signal, almost every time, from Drumm to 3rd. Cars have to be kept off of the tracks, especially at the boarding islands, and something needs to be done at 1st, where buses turn to the Transbay, where cars and traffic back up in both the turning lane and the bus/streetcar lane.
    Other ways to speed up the “F” is to make fare paying more clear, easier, efficient. Word should be sent out to the hostels especially to make sure tour guides collect fares and not expect each of their twenty passengers attempts to pay cash individually. The other tourists need to know which way the Wharf is.

  4. “Cars have to be kept off of the tracks, especially at the boarding islands.” That’s fine, but the right lane can’t be turn-only then. At some intersections, the only way to go straight is via the track lane. I don’t know everywhere this happens, but Eastbound on Market at 4th might be one of them?

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