San Francisco

‘Better Market Street' Plan Wants to Create Safer Commute for Cyclists and Pedestrians

One of San Francisco’s most travelled streets may soon be blocked off to private traffic

One of San Francisco’s most traveled streets may soon be blocked off to private traffic.

It’s all part of a larger vision for a “Better Market Street” which wants to create faster transit and more public spaces by cutting down on cars.

The proposal would ultimately affect a 2-mile stretch of Market, beginning at Market and Octavia and stretching almost down to the waterfront.

Public transportation would be plentiful, private cars would not.

And it’s in the name of safety, supporters say. Market Street is part of a fraction of city streets accounting for three-quarters of the crashes. So safety, and mobility, are now part of the game.

“There’s 20 times more collisions on Market Street, than on similar streets in the state, or even in the country,” said Cristina Olea, project manager for a “Better Market Street.”

New renderings show what Market Street could look like in 7 or 8 years, with bike lanes at the sidewalk level, buses and cyclists abounding and no private cars.

“Inside the cycle lanes, it’s fantastic — I feel safe, I feel secure,” said cyclist Arron James Bryan who is visiting from London, one of the cities already moving in this direction, of what Bryan calls, “pedestrianization.”

“They’re trying to do a lot more measures to get cycle riders out into the streets. Taxi drivers, on the other hand, don’t like it very much — it’s taking up a lot of viable real estate, in terms of road lanes,” Bryan said.

In this version, taxis will be permitted on market, but not Uber and Lyft cars, which are considered “private.”

At a packed open house, project manager Cristina Olea tried to allay some concerns.

“You’ll still be able to cross Market. You’ll still be able to use Market. it’s going to be prioritized for people who are taking transit, and for people who are walking and biking,” Olea said.

No more “pecking” around the edges, Olea said. The new plan would mark wholesale change.

But so far, only the first of five segments, from 5th to 8th streets, has actually been funded.

Olea calls it a “showcase” to drive more investment for a street often blanketed by congestion and even drug activity, and displacing that, with development.

As for private cars, it’s not a ban, per se, but restrictions for turning onto market are set to take effect early next year.

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