Even before changes were made to traffic flow, bikes made up more than 50% of the vehicles on Market Street while Muni carries more people than all other vehicles combined.
Last fall the SFMTA began a traffic trial project on Market Street. For an initial six week period, eastbound traffic was required to turn right off of Market at 8th and 6th Streets. It was a test to see what the effect would be of nudging traffic off Market to better inform the upcoming project to repave and make changes to San Francisco’s main boulevard. After encouraging results the first six weeks, including a 1% increase in the speed of Muni and positive feedback from cyclists, the trial was extended and the first turn moved from 8th to 10th street.
As Streetsblog reported, the project proved to be a success with benefits far outweighing the negative impacts. Mission Street absorbed most of the diverted traffic without noticeable problems, and while transit travel times increased by 3% it was offset by the 5% savings seen on the many more lines (including the F-Market & Wharves historic streetcars) which use Market Street. Taxi drivers also responded positively and for cyclists (including myself) it might as well be a different street entirely.
What might be most promising for the future of Market Street is such dramatic changes came from just two right turns at two intersections. Repaving Market Street will offer chances to make many other small changes that can also have major impacts such as extending or relocating bus islands, creating new taxi pullouts, retiming lights and better marked bike and bus only lanes. Likewise the negative impacts on traffic can also be addressed with planning efforts now in the works to improve SOMA as well.
We at Market Street Railway look forward to seeing more improvements as the following and reporting more as the Better Market Street Project continues and public outreach begins later this year for the future repaving and redesign of our grand boulevard.