SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Protestors swarmed into a crosswalk in downtown San Francisco Wednesday, calling for an immediate ban on private vehicles including ride-share services such as Uber or Lyft, along the city's main Market Street corridor. They say a ban is needed to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
A coalition of pedestrian safety, bicycle, and public transit advocates gathered in bright yellow shirts.During rush hour at Market and Montgomery Streets the protestors created a continuous flow along a crosswalk, blocking vehicles from turning onto Market Street.
"We're here today to call on the city to say no cars on Market, " said Matt Brezina, an organizer with the group People Protected, "The truth is they've already implemented turn restrictions coming eastbound from Twin Peaks towards downtown. so why were they able to do that but they're not able to make westbound turn restrictions."
"The private vehicles, it seems like they stop at random places with no warning to pick up and drop off people, especially Lyft or Uber," said Arulselvan Madhavan, a San Francisco resident who works downtown.
The protestors acknowledge that the city has already implemented a pilot project that bans cars on one stretch.
San Francisco's Better Market Street Project, made up of multiple agencies, has called for only allowing access to Muni, taxis, delivery trucks and bicycles.
Protestors say the city should act immediately and not wait for the project approval.
The Better Market Street Project Manager Cristina Olea says it isn't so easy.
"We can't implement any of the improvements without getting environmental clearance," said Olea.
Olea says the proposal is receiving state and federal funding so it must clear two environmental reviews.
If passed, the project would ban all private vehicles, including those for handicapped passengers and ride-share vehicles, from traveling on Market Street.
"Paratransit and taxis are still allowed to use Market Street and they can use the commercial loading zones to offload or let people off but
Uber and Lyft will not be allowed on Market Street. They would have to use passenger loading zones on the side streets," said Olea.
Some residents say something must be done soon.
"It's nuts. It took us about 15 minutes just to get a few blocks," said Tony Patti, a San Francisco resident, "I think anything to relieve congestion in this part of the town, they have to be creative and try something."
But others are concerned about banning private cars that drop off disabled passengers. And ride-share users say they don't like the idea of being forced to use taxis.
"It's become such a prevalent part of my day to day life and I'm sure folks in the tech industry would also agree, it's a huge advantage and I think we should continue to keep the market competitive," said Ellie Welsh a San Francisco ride-share user.
Olea says the project is expected to go to the planning commission in September or October and then have federal clearance by December.