SAN FRANCISCO—On Wednesday, January 29, will mark the first day that private automobiles will be banned on San Francisco’s Market Street, a major road that connects businesses, recreation, and neighborhoods. The closure will stretch from Steuart Street to Van Ness Avenue and from Main Street to 10th Street. Cars may still cross at Market Street without turning on the roadway. 

Officers from the San Francisco Parking Control and San Francisco Police Department will be directing traffic and calling attention to the new changes that aim to transform the street into a pedestrian, bicycle, and transit-oriented zone. Taxis will still be allowed, but Uber and Lyft drivers are banned because the city has not developed a strategy to determine if the driver is making a personal trip or carrying a passenger.

With no physical barricades, only signs permanently mark the new restriction on the stretch from 10th to Spear Street. Drivers who challenge the new ban can face a fine of $238 by the SFPD or SFMTA parking control officers.

The new detour was considered and is expected to cause little impact on current traffic conditions. The SFMTA suggests not only will the extra “100 cars per hour” blend with other cars and transit on Mission Street, but the new turn restriction on Market Street should improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety when crossing.

Better Market Street projects Phase I of their plan to continue into 2021 as they push further down to Fifth Street. Future plans include a protected sidewalk-level bikeway, passenger loading zones, and cosmetic improvements to the Market streetscape. The projects full scape will extend to Octavia Boulevard, continuing a transition to more transit exclusive lanes. The expected budget for the project is $603.7 million. A new turnaround for the F-Market and Wharves historic streetcar and extend the car-free portion past Van Ness Avenue.

The car ban is the first execution of the “Better Market Street” project, a public works initiative dedicated to delivering, “transformative transportation, streetscape and safety improvements,” as well as, “a place to stop and spend time, meet friends, watch people while sitting in a café, or just stroll and take in the scene.” 

The next phase will extend the bus-only lanes east from 3rd Street to Main Street. Taxis and non-Muni buses will no longer be allowed in those lanes. This phase is expected to last until at least 2022. 

Written By Dominick McIver and Alyssia Castillo