End of an era: Market Street to go car free Jan. 29

Ban on private vehicles part of project to speed transit, improve pedestrian and bike safety

Car-free Market Street is here.

Private vehicles will no longer be allowed to drive San Francisco’s major thoroughfare, Market Street, as of January 29, The City announced Tuesday.

While vehicles will still be allowed to cross Market, they will be banned from Market itself from eastbound lanes between 10th and Main streets and from westbound lanes between Steuart Street and Van Ness Avenue.

The closure, part of the Better Market Street project, was approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors in October. While San Franciscans are used to seeing projects like the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit system take years, Better Market Street is moving fast.

That’s thanks to a “quick build” practice adopted by SFMTA in recent years, where some elements that are faster to construct are put up on the street while The City prepares for more permanent, lasting structural changes.

Shifting cars off Market Street may speed up the roughly 200 buses per hour that traverse it, according to the SFMTA, and improve Muni reliability throughout San Francisco.

The change is just the start of the $603.7 million Better Market Street project, which will transform Market Street in the coming years.

Market Street’s sidewalks will be widened to make the street safer for its 500,000 daily walkers to cross, and more street furniture will be installed. Bike lanes will be protected from traffic to keep the more than 4,000 cyclists who ride Market daily safe.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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