Car-free Market meets expectations

Since vehicle restrictions were placed on Market Street in September, the number of eastbound automobiles on a busy stretch of the artery has dropped by nearly half, while the amount of cyclists more than doubled and pedestrians rose by almost a quarter.

As part of a larger plan to overhaul Market Street, private automobiles are currently forced to take right turns at 10th and Sixth streets, a move designed to free up room for public transit vehicles and make the thoroughfare safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

The move appears to be working for cyclists, whose numbers rose 53 percent on eastbound Market Street, including a 78 percent rise during the morning peak, according to the Great Streets Project, a coalition of planning and transit organizations.

Using the same methodology employed last year by two separate city agencies, the Great Streets Project recorded bike, pedestrian and vehicle counts on both sides of Market Street between Fourth and Fifth streets. The counts were recorded during a series of 15-minute intervals throughout several days in July and August.

Along with the bike figures, those counts revealed that private vehicles declined by 46 percent and the number of pedestrians increased 24 percent.

Kit Hodge, director of the Great Streets Project, said it’s too early to tell if the automobile restrictions on Market Street have directly led to the increases in pedestrian and bike counts, although she said the results are very promising.

“This is exactly what The City wants, which is more people on Market Street,” Hodge said.

Recently, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, released data that showed transit vehicles are moving 5 percent faster on Market Street since the automobile restrictions took place in September. However, those gains have been partially offset by a 3 percent reduction in speed on Mission Street.

Initially proposed as a six-week pilot program, the forced right turns on Market Street have been extended indefinitely.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

 

Traffic chart

2010 vs. 2009:

24 Percentage increase of pedestrians on eastbound Market Street (southern sidewalk)

7 Percentage increase of pedestrians on westbound Market (northern sidewalk)

53 Percentage increase of cyclists on eastbound Market

34 Percentage increase of cyclists on westbound Market

46 Percentage decrease of private autos on eastbound Market

33 Percentage decrease of private vehicles on westbound Market

Source: Great Streets Project

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