More Auto Restrictions on Market Street?

A nice summary on SF Streetsblog about today’s SFMTA Board discussion on possible further restrictions on automobile traffic on Market Street east of 10th Street. Market Street Railway is a strong supporter of actions that speed F-line service (and other Muni lines) on Market.

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F-line boarding island at Fourth Street

The current restrictions, which seem to have been accepted by everyone, including Downtown businesses, force eastbound automobiles to turn right at 10th and again at Sixth Street. But automobiles driving north on cross streets are free to turn onto Market at Sixth or any point eastward and stay on Market all the way to its end at Steuart Street. This causes boarding delays for Wharf-bound F-line streetcars at Fourth Street (where all automobiles continuing east on Market have to share the track lane). Automobile traffic on Market also causes backups when they try to turn right at New Montgomery and First Streets.
The difficulty of tweaking traffic patterns on Market is that it is the dividing line between two different street grids that aren’t aligned with each other. Some drivers use Market for a block or two after being forced onto a northbound one-way street after leaving a garage, and are just looking to find a street that heads south. Forcing automobiles like that into the tighter grid north of Market could greatly worsen already bad traffic there. We could end up with unintended consequences, like gridlock among cars crossing Market that blocks the intersection and holds up Muni Market Street service in both directions. (We already get that ofttimes in the afternoon rush hour at First Street.
So, we’re empathetic to the difficulties here, but welcome more “trial periods” like the one that tested the forced turnoff concept on Tenth and Sixth. Trials are cheap and easy, and no one’s ego is on the line if something doesn’t work. So, here’s an idea from us to start with: force automobiles that turn onto Market at Sixth to turn off again at Fifth. That will help out at the Fourth Street F-line island, where we really need help!