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.
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.
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.”