SFMTA Approves Ambitious “Better Market Street” Project

San Franciscans soon won’t be able to drive on one of the city’s major thoroughfares.

On October 15, 2019, San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) approved a bold plan that will prohibit private vehicles from using Market Street. Amazingly, this “Better Market Street” project passed without one dissenting vote.

Local leaders believe the transformation of Market Street will show the world how urban planners can support more eco-friendly modes of transportation (e.g. e-scooters and bikes). Lawmakers also believe the increased foot traffic will help struggling Market Street businesses.

According to the SFMTA’s timetable, the Better Market project should be completed no later than 2025. A few members of the SFMTA, however, are seeking additional funding to complete Better Market ahead of schedule. Speaking of funding, the total price tag for Better Market is just over $600 million.

Local crews could begin construction on Market Street as early as 2020. A few of the renovations set to take place include:

  • Expanding sidewalk space
  • Getting rid of brick pathways with concrete pavers
  • Adding curbside buffers for bike lanes
  • Planting trees to create a greener atmosphere
  • Building a new streetcar loop near United Nations Plaza

Project organizers say they will first focus on revamping the section of Market Street between Fifth and Eighth streets. The entire length of this project, however, will extend from Octavia Boulevard almost to the waterfront.

It’s important to note, however, that city buses can still travel along Market Street. Also, cars will be allowed to cross Market Street at intersections.

Unfortunately, since Market Street experiences such a high volume of pedestrian and cyclist traffic, it has a reputation for fatal collisions. Roughly 500,000 pedestrians walk along this street every day.

If all goes well with the Better Market project, the SFMTA might try to replicate its success on other roadways. In particular, city leaders are looking into a way to create car-free zones in Tenderloin.

To learn more about Better Market Street, anyone can visit the project’s main website at http://www.bettermarketstreetsf.org. People can also find out how San Francisco fares in its Vision Zero safety goals by following this link.


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