San Francisco

Pedestrians, Bicyclists Have High Hopes For New Market Street Private Vehicle Ban

Pedestrians and bicyclists were hopeful on Tuesday - the first day that private cars were forbidden from turning on to Market Street between Third and Eight street in San Francisco.

"It gets pretty close on a bike," Rachel Falchi said while riding a bicycle. "And cars are part of it. Hopefully, not having cars in the picture will help us navigate better."

"I think I've been taken out a couple of times by a bus or taxi," Ann Manhart said, hopeful that the changes will make life safer for her on foot.

While pedestrians and bicyclists welcomed the changes on the heavily used thoroughfare, the new rules created a lot of tension with some drivers.

Drivers who were turned away from Market Street and funneled onto already crowded side streets called the changes a boondoggle.

The fine for making an illegal turn onto Market Street is $238. The city's goal is to eventually get all private cars off Market Street. And on Tuesday, police were out in full force directing motorists regarding the new rule. They are expected to be out there for two weeks.

The Market Street ban for private cars is all part of an effort to reduce accidents and collisions by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's "Safer Market Street" plan.

Authorities said 60 percent of severe or fatal pedestrian accidents are happening on 6 percent of the city's streets, with Market Street near the top of the list. Pedestrian and bike advocates said private cars make up to 10 to 30 percent of the traffic on Market Street, but account for 80 percent of the injury accidents.

Taxi cabs and truck drivers will be exempt from the restrictions set to take place on Market Street.

Mark Matthews contributed to this report.

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