San Francisco City, in an effort to enhance the Market Street experience, plans to make road improvements on the street as part of a $604 million initiative.
The municipality wants to work on pedestrian, bike and public transport infrastructure along 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers) of street space between Octavia Boulevard and the Embarcadero, making way for a proposal to ban private vehicles — including ride-sharing ones.
“The idea is to reduce the amount of traffic, enjoy Market Street and have a great experience,” says San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru.
The city’s Better Market Street Project aims to shake off the prejudices people have against San Francisco’s vibrant street for being “crowded and scary” by banning all automobiles that aren’t emergency vehicles, public transit, taxis and delivery trucks from certain parts of Market Street. Even the ride-sharing vehicle services popular in the city, Uber and Lyft, will be banned.
“Uber and Lyft are responsible for as much as 20 percent of the traffic on South of Market,” explains Tom Maguire, director of Sustainable Streets. “We have to be very careful not to allow traffic onto Market that could slow Muni. Our approach to traffic is a Transit First approach.”
The bricks composing the pedestrian sidewalk on Market Street, which get “pretty slippery,” will be replaced with concrete paves as well as barriers to keep the cyclists safe. The city plan is also set to add central reserved lanes for Muni and new bike lanes lining the length of the boulevard.
If things go as planned, the street between Octavia Boulevard and the Embarcadero will join the street between Market Street’s Third Street and Eighth Street, where private vehicles were already banned a year ago. Construction on the first phase of the Better Market Street Project is scheduled to begin at the end of 2018.
The majority of San Franciscan commuters rely on private cars. According to a factsheet by SFMTA Municipal Transportation Agency, 82% of San Francisco’s vehicles are cars (385,442 cars). Around 36% of San Franciscans drive alone to work every day, while 33% take public transport, 9.6% walk, 7.6% carpool, 3.6% take the bicycle and 2.4% ride motorcycles or take taxis.