No more turns onto one section of Market Street, says SFMTA

Private vehicles trying to access Market be warned: It will soon be illegal to turn onto Market Street between Third and Eighth streets.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved the new turn restrictions.

Dubbed a “Safer Market Street,” the new restrictions will begin in August, according to the SFMTA.

The move is seen as critical to achieving dual goals of the agency: reducing pedestrian injuries and speeding up 12 of San Francisco’s most often ridden Muni routes.

Notably, San Francisco has a stated policy goal called “Vision Zero,”which aims to drop traffic-related deaths to zero annually by 2024.

The stretch of Market between Third and Eighth streets saw 162 traffic and pedestrian collisions between 2012 and 2013, and contains four of The City’s top 20 most dangerous streets for traffic safety.

Much ire arose over taxis being exempted from the proposal, an exemption that ride-hail apps Uber, Lyft and Sidecar won’t share in.

“This is not about pitting taxis against Uber,”said Tom McGuire, director of sustainable streets at SFMTA. “This is about protecting people on Market street.”

Many taxi drivers, taxi companies, citizens and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition backed the Market street restrictions.

In a surprise turnaround from its previous opposition, Uber San Francisco’s General Manager Wayne Ting said he supports turn restrictions —but only if they’re issued to all drivers.

“That should include taxis,” Ting said.

A Lyft representative agreed.

Commercial vehicles, transit vehicles (like Muni), bicycles and emergency vehicles are all exempt from the new restrictions, not just taxis.

Under the proposal, new white zones will be created at the intersections along Market Street to make loading and unloading passengers easier for all.

Board director Malcolm Heinicke has long championed restricting cars along Market Street.

Heinicke said to create an exemption for ride-hail apps would be nearly impossible to implement, and would allow thousands more cars onto Market street.

“It creates enforcement issues I don’t see a solution to,” he said.

In the video below, Uber San Francisco General Manager Wayne Ting makes a case for all vehicles to be restricted, including taxis.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

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