This morning’s Examiner has a startling story: Mayor Gavin Newsom is dreaming about going way beyond the current test auto restrictions on Market Street, and move all vehicles, including Muni buses and F-line streetcars off the street.
The article says Newsom is raising the possibility of rerouting “Muni to Mission Street or another nearby street so that Market Street could be transformed into a place solely for cyclists and pedestrians, and include such amenities as tables and chairs in the
center of the thoroughfare.”
The article says Newsom acknowledged the idea is a long way from reality. “That’s not being contemplated in the immediate term, but data
collection will afford us the opportunity to determine if that’s a
viable option,” he told the Examiner.
Several community leaders are quoted in the article as expressing skepticism of the plan. A similar plan put forward almost 40 years ago to try to turn back or reroute Muni lines off Market fell of its own weight.
Beyond the cost of moving the F-line tracks and overhead anywhere else, the lack of capacity for 12 additional Muni lines on Mission Street, or the reaction of Market Street/Union Square merchants and SOMA neighbors to the impacts, there’s the obvious inconvenience to tens of thousands of daily Muni riders on the surface of Market Street who won’t want to be forced to transfer onto overcrowded Muni Metro trains or make their surface journey even longer with a permanent detour in the wrong direction. So our guess here is that either the Mayor was just musing about Nirvana or was somehow misunderstood by the reporter.
As we’ve advocated for years, less automobile traffic on downtown Market Street is a plus. We’ve noticed during the current test that there’s still too many cars holding up Muni vehicles eastbound between Third and First, and we’d support testing additional restrictions (something Newsom also mentions in the article). The great photo taken by Todd Lappin in this post shows what can Market Street can feel like when automobiles don’t dominate. Yet there are practical limits, so we won’t be planning to enjoy croissants and a latte at a cafe table stylishly located atop the BART ventilator in the middle of a Muni-free Market Street.
But you bet we’re keeping an eye on this.