'Better Market Street' To Restrict Private Vehicles, Install Protected Bike Lanes

Changes are coming to Market Street. The thoroughfare will soon ban private vehicles—including ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber. 

Instead, the street could see protected bike and public transportation-only lanes.  

The initiative is part of the $604 million Better Market Street project. In the works for years, the project is set to bring pedestrian, bicycle, and public transportation improvements to 2.2 miles of one of the city's busiest streets, between Octavia Boulevard and the Embarcadero. 

Image: Public Works

Once the project is completed, plans include restricting private vehicles from certain portions of the street. Market between 10th Street and the Embarcadero could only see commercial vehicles, buses and the historic F-Line streetcars.

Private vehicles—including ride-share vehicles—are already restricted from turning onto Market from 3rd to 8th streets.

A study last year showed that the restrictions improved pedestrian safety and reduced speeding and other risky driving behaviors. The changes even had a positive impact on Mission Street, which also saw a reduction in risky driving behaviors.

The plans emerged during a recent San Francisco County Transit Authority meeting last week. The environmental review phase is expected to be completed next year, said Public Works director Mohammed Nuru.

City officials want Market Street to become the premier cultural, civic and economic center of the city.

Better Market Street's vision would create public plazas and sidewalks, showcase public art and performances, provide dedicated bicycle facilities and deliver efficient and reliable transit, proponents say.

Image: Public Works

Plans are still underway, as according to Nuru, the agency is only nearing ten percent completion of construction drawings needed for the project. 

Construction could start in late 2018 or early 2019, but where it will begin has not been determined. 

By then, locals would also say goodbye to the red brick sidewalks. According to the Chronicle, the red bricks do not meet ADA requirements. 

To make room for a sidewalk-level, protected bike lane from Octavia to the Embarcadero, the sidewalks would also extend further into the street.

“Bikes are central to Market Street, and bikes should have a prime and safe place on that street,” Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, told the Chronicle. "If we can get Market Street right, and make it a safe, welcoming, easy place to ride a bicycle, it impacts biking all across San Francisco.”

Image: Public Works

The project is a joint effort of city agencies, as Public Works, the Planning Department, the Municipal Transportation Agency, the Public Utilities Commission, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and the County Transportation Authority.

During the meeting, Supervisor Jane Kim said it was "frustrating" to not see an outcome, noting that snce she came to office six years ago, project planning has been "ongoing."

Better Market Street plans also include major utility and infrastructure improvements, including the replacement of track and center lanes, traffic signals, power systems, as well as a new traction power substation.

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Better market street to restrict private vehicles install protected bike lanes