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The future of Market Street is in our hands once again

 In Uncategorized

Almost exactly one year ago, we celebrated the final approval of the Better Market Street plan. This transformative plan had been in the works for a decade, and its approval meant we would finally realize our vision for a different kind of Market Street. A Market Street that is one of the city’s safest places for people walking, not one of its most dangerous… and a street that really feels like our city’s Main Street and grand promenade.

Then in January, we joyfully witnessed a key piece of the Better Market Street plan come to life when private vehicles were removed from the Ferry Building to Octavia Boulevard.  

But now, the Better Market Street plan that was approved is being rethought by city agencies due to budget realities brought on by the pandemic. 

An accelerated and brief planning process is about to kick off (with public comment now scheduled from November 2 – November 13; we will be sure to keep you posted)… and there’s a lot to be concerned about given what I’ve seen of initial revised plans.

We must be sure that what comes out of this process holds true to our vision, especially in regards to safety. 

The most significant change from the original plan is the removal of the sidewalk level bikeway. The revised plan protects the current amount of sidewalk space, from the building frontage to the current curbline. That’s great news. But the plans include little to no improvements to crosswalks, despite the fact that half of the city’s deadliest intersections are on Market Street (Market and 5th is #1 most dangerous citywide).

This fails to achieve the ultimate goal of increasing safety for the 500,000 people who walk down Market Street every day. The City needs to propose additional safety measures to prioritize pedestrian safety at intersections and crosswalks along Market Street. Period. 

Walk SF continues to be concerned about the long-term picture for enforcing the ban on private vehicles (delivery trucks, taxis, buses and paratransit are allowed). In the initial months, SFMTA’s Parking Control Officers did a fantastic job reminding drivers that Market Street was off-limits, but they were posted there for only the first few weeks. The City needs the plan to address how to keep Market Street car-free, or we risk diluting the power of the most important pedestrian safety piece of Better Market Street.

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