SFMTA approves private vehicle ban for portion of SF's Market Street

SFMTA approves private car ban on a large stretch of Market St.

You will no longer be able to drive your private-owned vehicle along a large, more-than 2-mile stretch of San Francisco's Market Street spanning from Embarcadero to Octavia Street.

On Tuesday, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) approved a ban on private vehicles, which includes rideshares like Uber and Lyft, as part of the Better Market Street Project

The vote is being hailed by pedestrian and bicyle advocates as a way to prevent and cut down on deadly crashes, which have plauged the city in 2019. It encourages mass transit. Taxi cabs and commercial vehicles would also be allowed. 

 In a statement, San Francisco Mayor London Breed voiced her support for the project.

"Market Street is at the heart of our city, and we need to do everything we can to make it a safe, more livable, and more vibrant place for 
our residents, workers and visitors," Breed said.  "Better Market Street and the project's near-term improvements are critical to achieve our Vision Zero goals and ensure everyone can feel safe on our most traveled street," she said.

The idea of banning vehicles along Market St. was re-introduced this past spring, but has been years in the making. 

"What do we want? Better Market Street! When do we want it? Now!," said District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney at today's vote. Over the summer, Haney had introduced a resolution to the board of supervisors to declare a state of emergency over the recent spike in traffic-related accidents and deaths. 

A jubilant crowd outside of San Francisco City Hall cheered.

"We're going to have protected bike lanes!  And we're going to have protected sidewalks!" said Malclolm Heinicke, chair of the SFMTA boad of directors, excited over the ambitous remodel of Market Street.

"Today's vote is a historic opportunity to transform the main corridor of our city into a safe, inviting place to walk and bike and take transit," Haney said. 

"It is absolutely time for a car-free Market (Street). So we see over 100 pedestrian and bike injuries a year on Market Street," said Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk SF. 

As part of the plan, sidewalks would be widened, trees, lighting and safety measures added, and all of th eunderground pioping and utilities would be replaced. 

City officials said they don't believe traffic will be drastically affected.  

"Right now most of the cars cross Market Street and so that crossing will still be there ar many of the locations," said SF Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. "Not many cars are going up and down Market Street." 

Not all drivers are convinced. 

"I think it's best to leave it the way it is just because there's so many people that are still moving to the city. There's still so many vechicles, so by taking out Market Street you just end up adding more vehicles on the street out there," said David Yao of Hayward. 

Work will be done on the project in five stages beginning around January 2021, but car restrictions could begin as early as in 2020.