Heinicke to SFMTA: Let’s Not Dilly-Dally With More Forced Turns on Market

Some 20 percent of drivers on Market Street still violate the forced turn at 10th Street, but SFMTA board member Malcom Heinicke thinks implementing a full ban along lower Market will be more effective at gaining compliance. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/jym/9102707061/in/photostream/##Jym Dyer/Flickr##

In a continued push for a car-free Market Street, SFMTA board member Malcom Heinicke urged the agency to not waste time and money on phasing in more forced turn restrictions, instead calling for a full ban on private autos on lower Market.

“It is my strong supposition that if we close Market altogether, say from Tenth Street or Van Ness all the way to the Ferry Building, and you have an actual uniform ban, that the need for enforcement would be less than if you’re doing it sort of block by block,” Heinicke told SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin at a board meeting last week.

Within the next couple of months, SFMTA staff plans to release a list of recommended intersections to divert westbound car traffic off Market, expanding upon the forced right turns implemented for eastbound traffic at 10th and Sixth Streets in 2009. The sites under consideration include Market’s intersections at O’Farrell/Grant Streets, Sutter Street, Geary Street, as well as Battery at Bush Street, where it feeds traffic on to westbound Market, according to SFMTA transportation planner Andrew Lee.

But while the SFMTA estimates that 80 percent of drivers are complying with the existing forced turn at 10th — where the through-traffic lane was physically removed — only 30 percent are adhering to the turn at Sixth, where no physical measures were put in place to discourage drivers from continuing down the street.

Reiskin cautioned that relying on police enforcement to get drivers to comply with forced turns isn’t cheap, noting that the agency has paid the SFPD up to $1 million to enforce the current turn restrictions. He also said that the ongoing construction of the Central Subway makes it difficult to divert traffic at some spots.

“We don’t have many places — there may be one or two,” said Reiskin, “where we can hard-wire and design in the turn restrictions, but for the most part, we can’t, because we need to allow transit and taxis and delivery vehicles to continue through, which means it’s softer on design and heavier on enforcement, which is extraordinarily expensive.”

In response, Heinicke said he “would favor the whole enchilada” of a car ban on Market to maximize the potential improvements in Muni speeds and safer conditions for walking and biking.

“I think that would also allow you to realize the transit and bike benefits that we’re talking about,” he said. “Two blocks of safety and expedited transit is as good as nothing because then you get to the next block and you’re right back in the traffic and the unsafe zone, so people aren’t going to make the choices we want them to make.”

  • Mario Tanev

    Why not install a camera at every intersection sending tickets by mail to all violators? It’s cheaper and more scalable than in-person enforcement. In fact a lot of stop signs can be removed making transit (and traffic) more efficient if there was a $1000 fine for failure to yield to a pedestrian. If there are violators, Muni gets more money, if there aren’t, Muni gets efficient service. It works in Zurich. It would require change in state law and SF should pursue it. Ed Reiskin’s response is one of helplessness which gives me no confidence.

  • Full ban between Van Ness and the Ferry Building. Give it a try. If the world ends, reverse it.

  • Anonymous

    Bad design + zero enforcement = lots of private cars clogging Market Street.

  • Anonymous

    with a full ban on cars and smooth payment, it will almost be the full implementation of better market for bikes and transit Plan B (or whatever plan doesn’t have dedicated bike lanes the entire way).

  • That people behaving badly segment is fantastic btw.

  • Also, they should paint the transit lane red, like NYC and Boston do.

  • Because this shifts the burden from cops on the road to the courts, and there is an underlying thinking that this violation shouldn’t be something that a driver gets juiced for a couple of hundred dollars since their maneuver is almost certainly harmless, and usually coming from confusion on a somewhat non-standard traffic control device.

    Meaning that Heinicke is 100% correct. Since we don’t really want to enforce it, and we want the benefit, ban the cars completely.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    coming from confusion on a somewhat non-standard traffic control device.

    I am completely missing this.

    What part of “Right Turn Only” is ambiguous?

    I ride Market all the time. Drivers see the signage. They see the lane markings. They then choose to scoot over into the unambiguously-marked Bus/Taxi Only lane.

    I’ve seen this hundreds of times; I don’t believe there’s ever been an “honest mistake”.

    This is not to say that no private cars on Market from Franklin to Embarcadero, at least 6am to 9pm, 7 days a week, isn’t the obvious solution and one that could and should have been implemented 30 years ago.

  • I’ve seen this hundreds of times; I don’t believe there’s ever been an “honest mistake”.

    I believe you overestimate the public. Surprising.

  • Andy Chow

    I’ve seen tourists driving rental cars wrong way down a one way street.

    Probably tourists shouldn’t be driving in San Francisco, but they do rent cars there to drive to places like Napa and Monterey. They’re not going to spend all the time strictly within the city.

    The problem is the whatever the proposal to ban autos on Market is that there will be a lot of exceptions (for example to commercial vehicles, local traffic, etc), and that you can’t use concrete islands to force right turns off Market. Also a lot of people rely on GPS that don’t have all those exceptions built in.

    In Hong Kong, many streets have block level restrictions to limit private automobiles to facilitate transit, but nearly all drivers there are Hong Kong native and are professional drivers. San Francisco on the other hand is wide open where tourists from all over America and beyond can drive in the city.

  • Andy Chow

    This is a sign in Hong Kong to ban private autos and trucks for transit (which franchised buses are) with the exception for local access traffic: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151346932846287&l=081edb31f6

  • Anonymous

    Maybe they could combine that with facial recognition software and send $1000 tickets to bicyclists who ride on the sidewalk and run red lights.

  • Dean Clark

    Sounds like a great idea. Makes a lot of sense, lets start tomorrow!

  • mikesonn

    You are so witty!

  • Anonymous

    Heinicke: “Two blocks of safety and expedited transit is as good as nothing because then you get to the next block and you’re right back in the traffic and the unsafe zone, so people aren’t going to make the choices we want them to make.”

    Aaron, can we make this the quote of the week?

  • Anonymous

    High five to Mr. Heinicke! It’s about time we had people at the MTA Board who aren’t afraid to aim high and fight for a real solution. A car free Market would have a great effect on all the Muni lines that go down Market.

    And, like with all good ideas, it’ll get lost at the Do-Nothing-Endless-Talking SFMTA. People look at SF and just laugh at how fucking stupid this town is.

  • mikesonn

    This brings up SFMTA’s decision to add a right turn lane on 3rd for traffic wanting to get onto Market.

    The right hand really needs to talk to the left.

  • SteveS

    I’ve seen some people who look honestly lost at the intersection; I think the signage would be a lot better if they added a couple do not enter signs to go with the right turn only sign (which can make people think they got in the wrong lane, not the the road is closed altogether).

  • Jim

    An all-day, everyday private car ban has been in effect for a long time now southbound on Sansome from Washington to Sutter. Only buses, taxis, commercial vehicles, and bikes presumably, are allowed on that stretch. There are “no turn” signs in addition to “do not enter” signs in place, but those signs do not deter any private cars from driving on Sansome.

  • guptil

    Well, If you believe in what you write here, lets agree for an IMPARTIAL INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION as a sane person rather than BIASED BASHING on the Freedom Fighters Tamil Tigers wothout blaming the racist Srilanka who did the Genocide and deny access to any Independent media let alone an independent investigation.

  • Anonymous

    I bike that route every day for my commute and I just noticed 1 sign about this recently. Sansome is still fairly lightly used by cars, I usually only have taxi/delivery/buses sharing the lane, but the signage is abysmal and easy to miss.

  • Mario Tanev

    Parking fines and fare evasion are not handled by courts, but administratively. Why not change the law to allow right of way violations to be handled the same way? I understand there are challenges, but it is what makes most sense. The public has the right to know what the most efficient solution is, and SFMTA should advocate for it. If there are obstacles, those presenting them (the state) should have to argument why they exist.

    Fare evasion, overstaying a parking spot and so on are also sometimes honest mistakes, but that can be explained in the appeal. Frankly, even setting the fine at $100 should be enough to deter an offense. And I think there already is a fine for driving in those blocks. A camera just makes detection and enforcement of the violation more efficient. We’ve created a forgiving culture where it’s OK not too look at signs and then claim ignorance, just so people can drive faster without paying attention. I don’t see the merit of tolerating such a culture.

  • biking in SF

    “People look at SF and just laugh at how fucking stupid this town is.”

    Wow, really? If that’s how you see this town, that’s pretty sad. Do you see the world through dung-colored lenses?

  • Anonymous

    when it comes to getting things done re: transit/bike/walking, it’s EXACTLY how people see us. We talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk, and we lord it over everyone else about how fucking great we are, but when you look at the record, the accomplishments are few, and just operating the goddamned MTA properly on a daily basis is faith based.

    LA beats us on transit. There, they don’t talk about things all day, they get things done. In fact right now they’re talking about their metro system – as in “How do we get it all done FASTER”. Here in SF we wallow in “process” and “babbletalk.” Wake up and stop drinking the Kool Aid that SF is superior and “green” – it’s NOT.

  • but those darn crack addicts have faces that change seemingly daily – I mean, dental records are pretty much useless…

  • People look at SF and just laugh at how fucking stupid this town is

    Apparently you’ve never been to Houston.

  • BJones

    “LA beats us on transit”.

    You are the poster child for SF bikers!

  • biking in SF

    That’s cool, man. Go on hatin.

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