SF to limit traffic on Market Street

September 10, 2009 11:45:42 AM PDT
Some major changes are soon coming to downtown San Francisco.

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Signs are going up on congested Market Street telling drivers they can no longer go eastbound between Sixth and the Embarcadero.

Over the next six to twelve months there will be some big changes on Market Street; there will be outdoor concerts, outdoor restaurant eating and more landscaping.

Starting the 29th of this month regular old vehicle traffic will be banned on Market Street east of Sixth Street. It will be for the use of delivery trucks, cabs, buses, streetcars and bicyclists only. It's basically a test to see how drivers respond.

"There isn't a ton of traffic on Market Street headed eastbound in the mornings for example, but there is enough to delay some of the Muni routes, especially further on downstream on Market Street. And so we see this as a really measured test to see if we can improve Market Street's performance for transit and for pedestrians," said Judson True, Municipal Transp. Agency.

It's an idea whose time has come again say city officials. Just like at Times Square and Herald Square in New York, which are now described as pedestrian playgrounds, instead of traffic clogged thoroughfares. On Market Street, bicyclists, as you would expect like the idea.

"I think it would be great. I don't know if it should be closed off to cars, there has to be a way that we can all get along, but having it open to bikes is good thing," said bicyclist Liz Cabrera.

Drivers we spoke to didn't really object.

"We usually don't come down Market. We usually go down one of the side streets and this is an unusual day for us," said driver Nikki Guard.

Nicky the barber thinks it will hurt business at his place at 4th and Folsom.

"I think they should come up with another route so that it won't affect any part of this side of SOMA or this side of Market Street," said hair stylist Nicky the Barber.

And whatever inconvenience there is for drivers, will ideally be made up for with a Market Street that's more marketable.

This is not a brand new idea; Willie Brown was mayor 10 years ago and wanted to do the same thing, but business on Market Street didn't want it. This time they are taking a wait and see attitude. They will take a look at it and reassess in six weeks. As far as the overall plan for Market Street -- it seems like an idea that cannot be stopped.

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