San Francisco banned private cars from a major section of Market Street yesterday. It’s the first step in a plan to make the area safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Dozens of people gathered in downtown San Francisco this morning to celebrate the lack of cars on Market Street. Private vehicles are no longer allowed here, from Van Ness to the waterfront.
“This is an absolutely historic moment,” says Jodie Medeiros, the executive director of pedestrian advocacy group Walk San Francisco. “This is no longer a crazy idea — this is something that we can normalize.”
Walk San Francisco has been working to make Market Street safer for years.
“This has been a long time coming,” Medeiros tells me. “There’s been so many people that have been working on this project for a decade.”
More than a hundred car crashes happen on Market Street every year. The vast majority involve pedestrians or bikes.
Now, the city has decided to take action with a plan called Better Market Street. It’s a multi-year project to make the street safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit users.
Previous car restrictions on Market Street have received opposition from rideshare companies like Uber. But this time around, Uber and Lyft supported the changes. The SFMTA Board unanimously approved the project, which was also supported by Mayor London Breed.
The street is already transformed today. It’s full of bikes, with only public transit and the occasional taxi passing by.
More changes are planned for late this year or early next year. Those will include painted pedestrian safety zones and a protected sidewalk-level bike lane.