The SF Department of Public Works began making major pavement improvements along lower Market Street this week.
The awful state of Market’s pavement has for years made the street a labyrinth for bike commuters, who must often swerve to avoid potholes while looking out for motor vehicles and trolley tracks. Nonetheless, Market has become San Francisco’s busiest bicycling street. Not content to wait for the scheduled street reconstruction in 2016, the SF Bicycle Coalition has pushed DPW “for quite a while” to smooth out some of the most dangerous stretches, said Executive Director Leah Shahum.
“The terrible pavement quality on Market Street is one of the things we hear the most,” she said. “It’s more than an inconvenience — it really is a safety issue, because so many times, you look down and realize you’re about to go into a pothole that is literally so dangerous that you are forced to swerve in an unpredictable way.”
DPW is re-paving large patches on Market, which “sticks much longer” than just filling potholes, said Shahum. Crews are working at night to avoid disrupting commuters. DPW spokesperson Greg Crump said work began Monday and is expected to be finished by September 20. The agency is targeting 25 trouble spots [PDF] spread out along Market from Octavia Boulevard to the Embarcadero, with a total of 15,230 square feet to be paved. Ten spots have already been completed.
“Our staff spent a lot of time walking the entire street, block-by-block, foot-by-foot, to identify the biggest problem areas” with DPW staff, said Shahum.
The SFBC regularly reports pavement problems to DPW with its “Good Roads” watchdog campaign (named after the national 1890’s movement to pave streets for bicycling). DPW often fills potholes on request, but it’s been years since there’s been a re-paving effort of this scale on Market.
Shahum said the SFBC’s push for pavement improvements on Market last year hadn’t made any headway, but that DPW Director Mohammed Nuru’s responsiveness in the last few months has been encouraging. “I think [DPW] really recognizes how many people are biking on Market Street, and how many people feel unsafe because of this problem,” she said.