Market Street motorists take note: after nearly two years of scattered enforcement, cops are cracking down — by handing out $176 citations — on cars traveling on prohibited parts of San Francisco’s downtown artery.
Since September 2009, private automobiles driving eastbound on Market Street have been forced to take right-hand turns on 10th and Sixth streets as part of an initiative to speed up transit and increase pedestrian and cyclist usage on the thoroughfare.
Although traffic cops have always monitored Market Street, there was never dedicated enforcement there, said Capt. Al Casciato of the department’s traffic division.
But at the request of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages all traffic operations in The City, the Police Department started conducting stings in the area on July 29. Since then, 74 motorists have been ticketed for traveling on off-limits parts of the street, a citation that costs $176, Casciato said.
The enforcement periods have occurred during a two-hour stretch of the morning, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Casciato said most of the motorists getting busted are tourists who have been led astray by their GPS devices.
Carolyn Diamond, executive director of the Market Street Association, a local business group, said she hasn’t heard any noticeable complaints about the recent crackdown on motorists. Although she did have concerns about how the new enforcement policies would affect visitors to The City.
“A lot of these people are paying hotel taxes and renting cars when they come here,” Diamond said. “Now they’re getting hit with traffic tickets? I don’t think they’ll appreciate that too much.”
Casciato said not all motorists pulled over by cops have been slapped with tickets. During the recent enforcement period, 124 cars were only given “admonishments” instead of tickets, because it was clear they did not see signage prohibiting their presence on Market Street.
He said there will be new signs erected on Market Street soon. Many motorists haven’t noticed the current postings, including one particular trouble spot where cars are turning onto the restricted roadway from Polk Street.
Paul Rose, spokesman for the SFMTA, said the agency was encouraged by the results of the forced right-hand turns even before the Police Department’s recent enforcement focus. He said transit speeds have picked up, the number of cyclists has increased, and vehicle traffic has been less congested on Market Street since the auto restrictions were put in place.
“Any enforcement from this point on will allow for continued improvements and even better results,” Rose said.
Not heeding traffic signs can be costly.