Market Street Closed to Uber and Lyft in San Francisco
On January 29, 2020, a section of Market street became off-limits to all private cars including rideshare vehicles like Uber and Lyft. The move has been in the planning for some time, and the city made official on Wednesday.
The car-free zone extends from Tenth and Main Streets in the eastbound lanes and between Steuart Street and Van Ness Avenue on the westbound side. The closings are part of a larger called “Better Market Street” and the fit with San Francisco’s goal of reducing and eventually eliminating people’s dependence on personal cars.
Uber and Lyft
In a bit of irony, this will have a personal impact on Uber employees who use Uber to get to their headquarter building sitting a few feet inside the banned area on 10th Street. This move will also greatly impacts how Uber and Lyft do business in the area as they will be greatly restricted on where they can pick up and drop off their passengers.
A study in 2016 found that over 3,000 rideshare trips happened on a Friday along just one side of one block of the banned area of Market street, and rideshare use has exploded greatly since then. So this potentially 100,000 plus rideshare pickups and drop-offs each day.
So where will all the Uber and Lyft cars go?
The project has included hundreds of marked rideshare pickup and dropoff zones on side streets that run across Market street. Many feel that these zones should exist even in areas without a car ban as they potentially solve problems that come with rideshare cars blocking bike lanes, delivery zones and bus stops.
There are 15 side streets that cross Market Street in the banned stretch which means that Uber and Lyft passengers will have no farther to walk than to the next street and then to a marked rideshare zone.
A Lyft spokesperson said that they applauded the efforts to make revitalize Market street as it would help in “reorienting our cities around people and not cars.” Both Lyft and Uber have put up their digital geofences around the ban by making the banned areas off-limits to app users and indicating the closest marked load zones.
Pedestrians and Bikes
Some groups that are hailing this as progress include cyclists and pedestrians who have long complained of the danger cars have posed in the area for years. Market Street has been a hotspot for bicycle/pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes for years. This will open up the area cyclist and pedestrians who will now be able to concentrate on just avoiding one another without worrying about the motor vehicles.
Exceptions to the Rule
In a bit of payback for all the rideshare grief that the taxicab industry has been enduring, cabs are on the list of those still allowed to enter the no-go zones. The reason for this, a spokesperson for the project said, is that cabs are part of the official paratransit plan for the city.
Muni-buses, emergency vehicles, specified commercial vehicles and all paratransit vehicles including taxicabs are all still allowed to travel up and down Market Street.
These exceptions are drawn on the lines of public safety and the continuation of the city’s refocus on public transit for the region. Only time will tell if the closure has the net benefit the city planners have hoped for.