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Posts from the "Market Street" Category

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Market Street: Transit Paint Upgrades Coming, but Car Bans Still Missing

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New intersection markings could help reduce the number of drivers “blocking the box” on Market this spring, but the SFMTA has continued to postpone proposals to get cars off Market altogether. Photo: Bryan Goebel

Despite calls for more measures to get cars off of Market Street, and the benefits brought by the forced turns already put in place, the SFMTA still has yet to propose any new restrictions on private autos.

Market will have its transit-only lanes will be painted red, and cross-hatched markings will be added to discourage drivers from blocking intersections. Photos via SFMTA

Market will have its transit-only lanes will be painted red, and cross-hatched markings will be added to discourage drivers from blocking intersections. Photos via SFMTA

The agency does, however, plan to make some paint upgrades to help keep Muni moving this spring or summer. Existing transit-only lanes will be painted red, and a cross-hatched paint striping telling drivers not to “block the box” will be added at intersections where cars chronically back up and block cross traffic. SFMTA staff told its Board of Directors this week that the agency and the SFPD would also develop a plan to step up nearly non-existent enforcement of transit lanes and box-blocking on Market.

Yet the agency has repeatedly delayed its promises to put forward proposals for new forced turns or potential bans for private autos on Market, to the frustration of car-free Market champions like Malcolm Heinicke, an SFMTA Board member, and Supervisor David Chiu, who introduced his second resolution urging the SFMTA to move the efforts along. The resolution was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors this week.

“I want the people who ride those buses on Market Street to have something close to the experience I have underground of a real right-of-way and real capacity,” Heinicke told SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin at a meeting on the agency’s Strategic Plan and budget Tuesday. “I’m not suggesting any malice or obfuscation here, but my question is, what’s the delay?”

Heinicke had requested that SFMTA staff present a proposal for car restrictions at the previous planning meeting one year ago, and Reiskin said it would come by this winter, but then postponed it to Tuesday’s meeting. Now, Reiskin says the proposals will be ready to be considered as part of the SFMTA’s two-year budget, which is scheduled to be finalized by March.

Reiskin chalked up the delays to the complications caused by ongoing projects like the construction of the Central Subway. “While we have identified some preliminary proposals along with costs and impacts, there’s more work that needs to be done to figure out the interaction with all the various projects that are currently happening on Market Street.”

“I share the frustration, and take responsibility for the fact, that we don’t have something by now,” he said.

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Streetfilms Captures Bicycle Rush Hour on Market

Just wanted to drop some fun nuggets in here for fans while I’ve been on vacation in the Bay Area.

If you ask me, Market Street in San Francisco continues to do battle with Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge as the busiest bicycling channel in the United States. It’s been three years since my last visit, but Market bike traffic continues to grow and dazzle during the commuting hours.  So I cajoled myself to grab my camera from the hotel one morning and in only about 20 minutes picked up enough for the following short montage.

Of course, it makes you think back to the recent controversial New York Times article warning that there are perhaps too many bicycles in Amsterdam. I’d love to know what they would write about this alarming number of bikes taking over a major city street.

The day prior I attended my first SF Sunday Streets event. This one was in the Mission and it had a wonderful laid back vibe with the majority of the attendees walking.  There was also much more live music than any other ciclovia-cycle closed street event I have ever been to. My favorite was this bluegrass band Rusty Stringfield which played a great alfresco set to dozens of passerby who were comfortably lounging in the street on furniture.  Watch this, we need more of this in the world.

Another thing I can report: I stumbled upon San Francisco’s re-installation of its Market bike counter following a road re-paving (last year Portland minted the first in the U.S., see video here). As these photos show, the ground sensors were re-activated to detect the daily “sea of bikes” and the counter was up and running as of this morning.  Hat tip for the edit/clarification to Prinzrob in the comments.

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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: 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.”

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SFMTA: New Curbside Space at Market and 10th Will Be a Bike-Share Station

In case you were wondering what would become of the newly empty curb space at Market and 10th Streets, where the traffic lane stripings were re-configured over the weekend, it turns out the SFMTA plans to put a bike-share station there.

“With Bay Area Bike Share set to launch this August, the SFMTA saw an opening to initiate striping changes that would better utilize space on this segment of Market St., and provided room for an upcoming bike sharing station on the south side of Market St, just east of 10th St.,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose wrote in an email.

Fancy that.

The SFMTA says it does plan to re-install the plastic posts along the bike lanes, and Rose said the Market Street bike counter “will be up and running soon after modifications and re-calibration.”

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DPW to Re-Pave a Major Stretch of Market Street This Weekend

The outer lanes of Market Street will be re-paved between Van Ness Avenue and Sixth Street this weekend, the Department of Public Works announced today. The work is scheduled to start on Friday at 7 p.m. and finish within 24 hours.

“This will be a major improvement to the city’s most important bicycling street,” said SF Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum in a statement. “For the growing number of people biking on Market Street — whether traveling to work or connecting to regional transit or visiting neighborhoods connected by our city’s main artery — this repaving could not come soon enough.”

DPW has patched up some of the most dangerous spots over the years — most recently last September — but the agency says the street hasn’t had a proper re-paving in about 30 years. ”This repaving initiative will last longer and create a much safer and more comfortable experience for the thousands of people who use the street every day,” said DPW Director Mohammed Nuru in a statement.

DPW does have plans to re-pave the rest of Market’s curbside lanes east of Sixth Street in two phases: “The stretch between Steuart and Third streets is tentatively scheduled for June 21-22, and the section between Third and Sixth streets is tentatively set for mid-July,” said a press release from the agency. “Work on the intersections will be completed after the summer tourism rush and special events.”

The $700,000 project is funded with gas tax funds, according to DPW. During construction, bikes, automobiles and trucks will be detoured off of Market. Muni and other public transit vehicles will still run in Market’s center lanes, and all boardings will take place on the center islands.

There are no known plans to re-pave the center lanes, which are generally only used by trolley cars, buses, and autos, until the repeatedly-delayed Better Market Street project is completed in 2019.

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Watch: Time Lapse of Market Street Bike Traffic on Bike to Work Day

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The SF Bicycle Coalition has released an awesome time lapse video of over 1,000 people on bikes rolling by the Market Street bicycle counter on the morning of Bike to Work Day.

The SFBC’s volunteer photographer Volker Neumann took photos every five seconds with a camera mounted to a nearby telephone pole.

Photos and statistics are great, but nothing shows the potential to grow bicycling in San Francisco quite like the sight of serious bike traffic in action.

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Market Bike Counter: 3,231 Cyclists in a Day — And That’s an Underestimate

The Market Street bicycle counter, seen here at about 10 a.m. on Bike to Work Day. Photo: Aaron Bialick

San Francisco’s first digital bicycle counter was activated on Bike to Work Day yesterday, and the day’s official total was 3,231 cyclists on Market Street. But that’s probably a significant underestimate, since many bike riders on that block choose to ride outside the bike lane where the ground sensors were installed. Many riders seem to prefer to ride in the adjacent traffic lane, which was closed to cars in 2009.

The SF Bicycle Coalition says Market is the busiest bike street west of the Mississippi. Meanwhile, Copenhagen claims the busiest bicycling street in the western world — Nørrebrogade, which sees over 36,000 bicyclists a day. So, can San Francisco catch up?

You don’t have to head to Market Street to keep track of the bicycle count — the SFMTA has a regularly-updated tracker online.

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Eyes on the Street: New Bike Markings and Crosswalks at Market/Octavia

Photos: Mark Dreger

The SFMTA installed some green-backed bike stencils and upgraded ladder-style crosswalks at Market Street and Octavia Boulevard, the intersection that sees the most pedestrian and bicycle injuries in San Francisco.

Mark Dreger and I were pleasantly surprised to stumble upon the improvements yesterday while riding home from an awesome Sunday Streets in the Mission. The markings should help call attention to people walking and biking through the intersection and reduce crashes while San Franciscans wait for camera enforcement against drivers who make illegal right turns on to the freeway (the use of enforcement cams there was deemed legal in January).

This particular use of green-backed stencils paired with dashed lane markings may also be a sign of the SFMTA’s continued experimentation with intersection markings to improve bike safety. Though the agency has used these types of markings at Market and Van Ness Avenue17th and Church Streets, and several intersections along the Wiggle, SFMTA staff has said that their primary purpose is not to make people on bikes more visible to drivers, but to help guide bike riders through intersections. The reason, an SFMTA staffer told me, is because the agency doesn’t have sufficient data to show that bike markings stenciled through intersections are effective at reducing crashes.

The two Market and Octavia stencils are placed only in the eastbound direction at the spot where illegally-turning drivers would intersect with bike traffic, and they seem designed specifically to call drivers’ attention to passing bicycle riders, much like crosswalks do for pedestrians. Or, as Mark put it, the new markings are “cross-bikes.” Perhaps we can expect to see more of this treatment throughout the city.

Update: According to a Facebook comment from a staffer who runs the SFMTA Livable Streets page, the bike markings are intended for both visibility and guidance: “One key goal here is to further discourage illegal right turns by providing an additional visual clue to any motorist contemplating the illegal turn.”

After the jump, photos of another bike upgrade at Baker and Oak…

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Bikeway on Mission Street Would Cost More Than One on Market

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Constructing raised, protected bike lanes on downtown Mission Street would cost more than building them on Market, according to SF Municipal Transportation Agency Director Ed Reiskin.

A possible vision for Market Street with a raised, protected bikeway.

The Mission bikeway proposal, which recently surfaced as an option to be studied in the repeatedly-delayed Better Market Street project, would entail abandoning long-sought bike safety improvements on Market, which is where bicycle riders naturally tend to travel. The Department of Public Works and the SFMTA have said the Mission option, which would also re-route Muni’s 14-Mission buses on to Market, would be simpler to engineer, allow the 14 to use Market’s wider bus lanes, and could include a “green wave” for bikes on Mission.

The proposal for protected bike lanes on Mission instead of Market. Images: Better Market Street

But even factoring in the cost of reconstructing Market Street’s granite curbs to build raised bike lanes, the Mission option is projected to be more expensive, Reiskin told the SF County Transportation Authority Board (comprised of the Board of Supervisors) at a hearing yesterday. Though the cost estimates for each option aren’t immediately available, Reiskin said that even if protected bikeways weren’t included at all, construction costs on Market Street would only be cut by an estimated 10 percent. The total cost of the project is estimated to be as high as $450 million, up from the $250 million figure provided last year.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who, along with Supervisor John Avalos, called for hearings to scrutinize the Mission bikeway proposal and project delays, noted that “ten percent is not a dramatic increase,” and that debates about whether or not to build a protected bikeway on Market should focus on policy outcomes, not cost.

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Delayed Again, “Better Market Street” Could Move Bikeway to Mission Street

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Better Market Street project managers announced today that construction will be pushed back another two years to 2017, and one of the three options to be studied will include protected bike lanes on Mission Street instead of Market Street. Images: Better Market Street

The latest news from the Better Market Street project could be a setback for implementing a safe, accessible bike network in San Francisco — not just because construction has been pushed back to 2017, four years past the original date — but because one of the three proposals that planners will study involves building a protected bike lane route on Mission Street instead of Market, while re-routing Muni’s 14-Mission bus line on to Market in the downtown stretch.

The SF Chronicle reported on the proposal today, saying that protected bike lanes on parallel Mission would be easier to engineer and “far safer” for bicycle riders compared to Market. Routing the 14-Mission onto downtown Market, meanwhile, would allow more room for buses than the 9-foot-wide bus lanes on Mission, where Muni drivers today must often occupy two traffic lanes to squeeze through.

But by abandoning Market as a priority bike route, the Mission Street option would go against a primary principle of bike planning: Improving the most direct routes, which people are naturally drawn to use. Market Street, the city’s wide, main thoroughfare, serves as the most convenient and direct east-west bicycling route from downtown to the Wiggle. And with bicycles comprising a significant share of the vehicles on Market, it’s been claimed as the busiest bicycling street west of the Mississippi.

“Bikes are a critical part of the current and future economy, social safety and transportation on Market Street,” said Kit Hodge, deputy director of the SF Bicycle Coalition. “The companies that are now moving to mid-Market depend on great bicycling access. It would be odd for the city to roll back its own mid-Market revitalization efforts back by limiting biking.”

As Department of Public Works spokesperson Mindy Linetzky told the Chronicle, “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink and improve San Francisco’s premier street. Market Street is San Francisco’s main street. It should look and work like one.”

So will the vision for San Francisco’s “premier” street include bicycles?

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