After years of seemingly-endless discussion, the quest to remake San Francisco’s Market Street took a step forward, moving beyond talk and studies to action. In a six-week trial that began today, motorists traveling inbound on Market Street are encouraged to turn south off of Market at 10th Street, and are required to turn right on 8th and 6th Streets. The goal is to discourage motorists from using Market for long-distance car trips, thereby reducing traffic congestion and easing the way for numerous Muni routes and bicyclists.
The pilot study for the intersections at 8th/Market and 6th/Market is only the first step in a long-term plan prepared by the SFCTA, which consists of a variety of changes — incremental ones like those that began today, along with more ambitious recommendations — that will eventually transform Market Street into a premiere urban space and improve its functionality as an important corridor for transit riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Although cars are not planned to be banned outright, a combination of forced southward turns and restricting turns onto Market at key through-traffic intersections will substantially reduce auto traffic, by making Market an even less desirable street for motorists than it is now.
I stopped by the intersection of 8th and Market today, at about 9:00 a.m. At that time, the new operation proceeded pretty smoothly. Only a couple drivers were confused and attempted to steer straight through the intersection; but traffic control officers were there to guide motorists to turn south on 8th, while keeping the crosswalk safe for pedestrians. The Chronicle noted that bicyclists outnumbered motorists on inbound Market. Judson True of the SFMTA and Leah Shahum of the SF Bicycle Coalition were on hand to do interviews, field questions, and generate interest and goodwill toward the Better Market Street project.
New signage has been posted in advance of the intersection, putting motorists on notice about the required southbound turn. Drivers lined up in the southernmost lane of Market Street to turn right, opening the adjacent lane for buses, bicyclists, and taxis:
Meanwhile, on eastbound Market Street immediately east of 8th Street, the street had occasional moments of peaceful emptiness during the morning rush hour:
We were reminded about the purpose and value of remaking Market Street in the first place — and even a small, low-cost, incremental measure like forcing motorists to execute a right turn was noticeably effective. The lack of cars cleared away space for the comfortable and unhindered movement of Muni vehicles and bicyclists: