Cars funneled off Market Street

Market Street was the scene of some minor confusion Tuesday during the first day of new automobile restrictions on the thoroughfare.

As part of a six-week pilot program, private automobiles traveling eastbound were forced to take right-hand turns on Eighth and Sixth streets, leaving a long swath of Market Street solely to the domain of transit vehicles, commercial cars, taxicabs and bicyclists on Tuesday.

San Francisco police officers and Muni’s parking control officers provided direction at the intersections, and although a few motorists mistakenly stayed straight on Market Street, there were no blatant dismissals of the new rules during the morning commute.

“Just like anything new, it’s taking some getting used to,” said Judson True, spokesman for Muni, the city agency overseeing the pilot
program.

Police officers are scheduled to direct traffic at the two intersections at least until Sunday, according to Lt. Michael Favetti of the police department’s traffic division.

Muni has already erected official traffic signs alerting motorists to the mandatory right-hand turns. Favetti said that it would be up to officers’ discretion whether to ticket motorists for violating the new policies.

“For the first few days, if there is someone who’s clearly confused about the changes we can probably just let that pass,” Favetti said. Those cited for breaking the new rules would receive a fine of $167.

Officials involved in the pilot program admitted they had a few kinks to work out, such as defining what is considered a commercial vehicle, how to avoid logjams for cars turning right on Sixth and Eighth streets, and how to encourage cyclists to stay to the left when going straight through the affected intersections.

The six-week pilot program is part of an overall push to revive the thoroughfare.

Muni will then evaluate whether to continue with the automobile restrictions.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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