Market Street is pretty much a miracle of modern transit. An average weekday will see 24 Muni routes along Market, as well as a number of regional transit vehicles and private shuttles for employees making the trip to and from Silicon Valley. Add to that about 200,000 pedestrians and an ever-increasing number of bicyclists, and it is easy to understand why the city of San Francisco is looking for ways to reduce the number of private motor vehicles on the street.
Few locals will argue that Market is a safe place, that cars, bikers, buses, trolleys and pedestrians share the street without incident. The stretch of Market between Eighth and Montgomery has just a third of the traffic that Mission Street has one block over, yet Market sees twice as many collisions as Mission. Market is also home to four of the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians and two of the most dangerous for bikers.
Municipal Transportation Agency officials recently announced a kind of second phase to its 2009 traffic flow project on Market. Five years ago, however, the focus was on moving traffic more quickly. Getting cars off Mid-Market at Sixth and 10th streets seemed to do the trick. This time around, one MTA official explained, the focus is on safety.
Some of the work is already in progress. “Don’t Block the Box” signs are posted at intersections, reminding motorists to keep intersections clear in an effort to cut back on gridlock. MTA is also adjusting the timing on traffic signals at key intersections and marking transit-only lanes with red paint. Officials expect that these steps will be completed by June or July.
MTA has now added a new layer of improvements. First, increase enforcement: Law enforcement will be especially on the lookout for motorists who violate left- and right-turn restrictions or who wander into transit-only lanes. And early next year there will be more turn and lane restrictions: Private vehicles will be forced to turn off Market at Third, Fourth and Fifth streets, and MTA will extend transit-only lanes further down Market.
The city appears to be doing its part to improve safety for everyone. The rest may be up to the drivers, pedestrians and bikers themselves.
Source: SFGate, “S.F. has a new plan to drive more cars off Market Street,” Michael Cabanatuan, March 15, 2014