No private cars on a stretch of SF's Market Street

Wednesday marks a momentous day for San Francisco's Market Street, as a part of the thoroughfare goes car-free.

Taxis, transit, emergency and commercial vehicles will be allowed, but not private vehicles.

The ban affects the busiest sections: Eastbound from 10th to Main and westbound from Steuart Street to Van Ness Avenue.   

Bold "Do Not Enter" signs were still wrapped in plastic Tuesday night, but by morning commute, they will be uncovered and new rules of the road in effect.   

For drivers who find themselves in violation, it can mean a $238  ticket,  although warnings will likely be given for the first month or two. 

"We want to let people know what the new rules are, and why they're no longer allowed on Market, however we are fully prepared to cite if necessary,"  said SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato.   

The car purge is a major step in transforming Market Street into a corridor that is more inviting, more efficient, and most of all safer for those who walk, cycle, or scoot along it. 

"Cars are always a problem in the city" said transit commuter Eduardo Gonzalez, "with a lot of accidents and fatalities, all kind of bad things."

Five of the ten most deadly intersections in San Francisco are on Market Street. 

It accounts for more than 100 serious injury accidents annually, usually cyclists and pedestrians tangling with vehicles.   

The auto ban covers the busiest 2 mile stretch from Van Ness to the waterfront. 

"I'm really excited about it as a cyclist and a mom who wants to cycle with my child," said bicycle commuter Zan Armstrong, cycling home on Market Street. "If my husband is late getting home, I worry that he got hit and it's going to be a call from the hospital, so I'm really hoping to have those fears go away." 

To enforce the new signs, parking control officers will be posted at 11 key locations to make sure drivers don't venture where they're no longer allowed.  

The officers will be present during morning and evening peak commute hours. 

Traffic crossing Market Street will continue to move freely. 

Taxis are allowed to remain, but not ride share services such as Uber or Lyft, which has some drivers steamed. 

"It sucks, it's just absolutely horrible, will create a lot of congestion, and traffic will be a nightmare for everybody,"  said an Uber driver who drove off without giving his name.

Uber, located on Market Street, supports the change, and plans to identify pick-up and drop-off zones on side streets. 

Critics of the car closure are concerned it will simply shift traffic onto surrounding streets. 

Mission Street, one block over, already carries twice the load of Market Street, due to turn and lane restrictions already in place.