Continental Crosswalks and Sharrows Striped at Market and Sixth Streets

New sharrows replacing large arrows should make the forced turn clearer to some drivers, but many still continue through the intersection. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) highlighted crosswalks and added sharrows at the intersection of Market and Sixth streets last week. The improvements should improve pedestrian visibility and help drivers comply with the mandatory right turn put in place last year.

“It’s an excellent first step in improving this dangerous intersection,” said Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe. “The new striping makes the crosswalks much more visible.”

Crews laid down “continental” stripes on the crosswalks and bicycle-guiding sharrows in the intersection, replacing the large straight arrows that seemed to mislead drivers into continuing down Market Street.

The improvements come as part of the SFMTA’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety in the area, which lies in District 6, where the bulk of the city’s pedestrian crashes happen. The forced right turns put in place at Sixth and Tenth streets aim to take cars off Market Street to bring a safer trip for people walking and cycling on the thoroughfare as well as a faster trip for Muni riders.

Photo: Aaron Bialick

Dan Nguyen-Tan of PUBLIC Bikes was pedaling across the intersection today. “I love what we’re seeing on Market Street,” he said. “Any of these improvements that clearly communicate to drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists where they should go to minimize potential conflict is great for all modes of transportation.”

Drivers have largely been obeying the turn at Tenth Street, but most still ignore the signs at Sixth. SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said the agency plans to replace existing “Right Turn Only” signs with ones featuring clearer symbols at both intersections. “We are hoping this sign will be more effective,” he said.

Image: SFMTA

Police seem to have also stepped up enforcement of drivers who flout the mandatory turn since the re-striping, said Stampe, who works nearby. “It’s great to see concerted enforcement of traffic laws that protect pedestrians that get cars off that stretch of Market Street,” she said.

However, she pointed out, the cars diverted onto Sixth Street seem to shift the problem into an area already suffering from the impacts of fast-moving motor traffic.

“Residents along the street are not very happy with the forced right turn without pedestrian improvements to the area,” said Stampe. Although Walk SF supports the forced right turn on Market, she thinks “it’s a very justified ask on their part.”

Livable streets advocates, Sixth Street residents, and officials from the Department of Public Health urged action to improve pedestrian safety on the street at an April hearing called by D6 Supervisor Jane Kim.

At a recent SFMTA Board of Directors meeting, staff discussed a pilot project to calm motor traffic by removing rush-hour restrictions on car parking on Sixth, which mostly serve to encourage speeding. Directors favored pursuing further car restrictions to improve safety along the Sixth and Market Street corridors as well.

“There’s a need for a lot more improvements to the area than re-painting crosswalks,” said Stampe. “There is a stark need for wider sidewalks along Sixth Street because the area has such inadequate public space.”

“I’m eager to see what comes next.”

Photo: Aaron Bialick
  • Kevin

    I miss the big white and orange signs in the road that worked to physically block traffic at 6th and 10th street. Whatever happened to them? Sure, they looked janky, but they worked much better than a sign nobody pays attention to.

  • Caleb

    Sign R3-27 “No Straight Ahead” is all well and good, but I suspect most California drivers will look first to what illuminated signals tell them… replace the solid green lights at 10th+market and 6th+market with right-turn green arrow lights, and you’ve solved the problem.  The cars will follow.

  • Guest

    I suspect most of the pedestrian injuries in that area have some significant amount of blame on the peds… there’s a lot of people with bad or unstable attitudes. (Not uncommon for people to start crossing at very slow speed when the blinking red counter is at 1, or people to say ‘i don’t care if they hit me’ when I’m passing by on my bicycle and there’s a car behind me, and i have a pretty stale green.)

  • Im glad to see R3-27, but I wonder why it took so long? The old sign is garbage. Too much tiny text, and the format makes people think “oh crap, I chose the wrong lane” not “can’t go straight”.

    The zebra stripes look great, but the paint job looks sort of bad. Sort of looks like a DIY job.

    I like Calebs idea of changing the green circle to a green arrow.

  • Masonic will be the death….

    The striped crosswalks are great along with the fresh painted sharrows, and proper signage. Unfortunately at sixth and Market those that drive through will continue to do so no matter how much paint is laid down. SFPD needs to simply enforce the turn with tickets as that is the only way to change the behavior.

    Nothing better than being swerved at, or run up on by some irate driver while they break the law.

    I second Jass’s comment on the quality of the crosswalk job. I rather liked the faux pink marble look that is now covered. Alas divers ignored it so now we have what we have. Safety over aesthetics. Maybe some day drivers will act a bit more mature and less self entitled and we can have nice old world style crosswalks again.

  • TransitRider

    A green arrow signals to cars that they can turn without having to yield to peds, so it wouldn’t work here unless the time was taken away from the ped crossing to give time for the green arrow.

  • A blinking yellow might be appropriate, as seen at other must-turn intersections like 15th Street at Guerrero.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a very unusual requirement, the required left, and it’s difficult to foresee people obeying it all the time. Even with thorough enforcement you have significant numbers of people who are new to the area. Traffic laws generally work best when their purpose is clear and people expect them. If this is to succeed, it’s going to need some physical changes to make it clear that this is the beginning of a different sort of road–as it is, it’s wide open and inviting. The sign is a step in the right direction, though.

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