A trial project diverting private automobile traffic off Market Street will become permanent following a unanimous vote by the SFMTA Board of Directors today. The changes have made the the city’s main thoroughfare more inviting for people who walk, take transit and bike by requiring eastbound drivers on Market to turn right at 10th and 6th Streets.
The improvements are “bringing more people to Market Street despite the tough economic times,” said Kit Hodge, Director of the San Francisco Great Streets Project. Since the trial began in September 2009, transit speeds and pedestrian and bicycle traffic have shown a marked increase .
The street is now “the busiest bicycling street west of the Mississippi,” with bikes making up 75 percent of morning vehicle traffic on last year’s Bike to Work Day, according to the SFBC .
Letters of support from those who feel more comfortable biking on Market Street “completely put to bed the urban myth that the cyclists in this town are young, strong men,” said Director Cheryl Brinkman. “The same people who are on our buses and our streetcars – the same variety of professions, ethnicities and ages – that’s who should and want to be out there on bikes.”
With reduced congestion and bus lane encroachment from automobiles, Muni travel times have decreased by about 3 percent, and “no serious congestion problems arose” on Mission and Folsom Streets, according to the SFMTA.
While the turn at 10th Street has seen approximately 80 percent compliance from drivers after targeted enforcement  and a number of tweaks , critics have noted the 6th Street turn hasn’t seen the same level of attention or compliance. SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said making the turns permanent will allow San Francisco Police to enforce the rule.