Eyes on the Street: Market Street Advance Stop Bars

stop_bar_3.jpgNew advanced stop bars have been striped on Market Street between 10th Street and 5th Street. Photos: Matthew Roth

It has been six weeks since the MTA started diverting private automobiles off Market Street, an effort to improve conditions for pedestrians, Muni vehicles and cyclists in the eastbound direction, while measuring the economic impact of reduced traffic on the corridor. The traffic diversions are part of the Better Market Street vision to revitalize the Central Market streetscape between Van Ness Street and 5th Street, including musical programming, sidewalk tables, and the Art in Storefronts pilot program.

The stop bars are the first treatment of the Calm the Safety Zone project that was inspired by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority in its 2004 study of treatments for improving safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists near the intersections and Muni boarding islands on Market Street.

MTA Spokesperson Judson True, who said the stop-bar placement would be completed by Monday, wrote in an email, "As part of the Market Street Calm the Safety Zone project, we are moving the stop bars 10 feet back from their existing location to give more advanced stopping distance between motorists and pedestrians. The advanced stop bar is a best practice for pedestrian safety."

Although the MTA doesn’t plan to release results of the traffic diversions for several days, Streetsblog has learned from interviewing businesses that participated in stakeholder meetings with the agency that the MTA said vehicular counts during the AM rush hour are down 60 percent, while bicycles make up 60 percent of the street’s users to the east of 8th Street during the same time.

stop_bar_2.jpgNot everyone cares where the new stop bars are placed.
  • Cars do not stop behind the stop line. They just don’t. They stop with their front bumper a hair’s breadth from the crosswalk. The only way car drivers might even notice a pushed back stop line is if the area were painted a different color and the city mounted a massive ad campaign saying “don’t stop in the green” (or whatever color it was painted.)

    I’m sorry to say that the single time I rode down Market Street all the way to 4th street during Better Market Street trial, the only block that seemed absent of cars was between 8th Street and 7th (after DPT people made cars turn right on 8th.) After 7th St cars came out of nowhere and filled up the street again (no DPT people at 6th.) Can’t say my ride was pleasant, calm, free of car fumes, or that I didn’t constantly have to worry about cars. Perhaps without the trial it would’ve been even worse, but I don’t think that’s saying much.

    I’m not sure why anyone in their right mind wants to drive down Market Street anyway. For SOMA, Folsom Street is better; for Union Square and the Financial District, taking one of the one way streets like Bush is better. I don’t think I’ve driven down Market Street past Eighth Street more than twice the past fifteen years. (And both times I realized it was a big mistake.) In some ways, closing Market Street off to cars after Eighth would be a kindness so that drivers would no longer torment themselves trying to drive it.

  • taomom – about driving on market – seriously…

    Hooray for de facto bike boxes!

  • Nick

    Looks like MTA is installing accomdations for motorists in an effort to ultimately discourage them from using the street.

  • i like the advance stop lines. i was watching the streetfilm ‘cars gone wild‘ film and thinking, ‘man, we need a way to stop motorists from intimidating everyone so much.’ this looks like a good way.

    are the stop lines a step towards bike boxes?

  • the greasybear

    Is there any reason to believe motorists will suddenly respect ‘stop bars’ in a way they don’t respect bike lanes or the other painted lines on our roadways? It’s not like there will be any actual enforcement, will there?

  • Sasha

    @taomom: I totally agree about not biking on Market.
    I work at Van Ness & Market, and my boyfriend lives at 7th & Howard. Since the 8th St. diversion started, I actually have a harder time getting to his house because at rush hour, vehicles bottleneck in the right lane on Market at 8th. The only other lane is the MUNI track/cab-only center lane, which doesn’t have any signage indicating it’s okay for bikes to use (and I’m not psyched about the tracks anyway). And since I want to turn right on 8th, I’ve been stuck between a line of confused/angry drivers.
    And all this, of course, after dodging injury and death for the block between 9th & 8th because the tour buses blithely park in the bike lane outside the hotel there.
    I’m just going to keep chanting “Progress, not perfection.” And I do appreciate the progress! =]

  • I visited DC recently and found that downtown, cars stopped 3-6 feet BEFORE the stop lines. It was amazing. This seemed to be a result of crosswalks being too narrow and drivers knowing that pedestrians were going to use more space.

  • Are bikes supposed to stop behind the “stop line” the same as cars, or is this a “bike box”?

  • I think irregardless of what bikes are supposed to do, I’ve been observing that they (and I) are treating them as bike boxes.

  • zsolt

    I recently had a bad experience Downtoan Oakland regarding this “bike box assumption” which put me on notice to not in fact assume that everyone treats these the same. I find that some drivers are irritated by bikers positioning themselves in front of them at red light, even though this is the safest place to be for bikers. The irate motorist I encountered almost wrecked me because I failed to get going in the same nanosecond as the light switched. He presumably felt that I was slowing down his new BMW with my commuter beater. It was completely unprovoked otherwise. As he sped off I did spit through his open passenger window, something I should not have done, but it was a fight or flight reaction to what amounted to aggressive intimidation with a deadly weapon and my adrenalin shot through the roof.

    I am not shy about asserting myself in traffic and taking the lane, however I have stopped positioning myself in front of cars at reds. If there were real, Portland-style bike boxes, that would be a different story. But just as a word of warning to fellow bikers — some drivers do get pissed if you do this, especially if you dare to miss the moment the light switches to green and get out of their way.

  • Maybe after the Injunction is lifted SFMTA will “Portlandize” these with color, a bike symbol, and “cars stop here” lettering on the stop line. I don’t believe most drivers know what that line is. it’s not very obvious.


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