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Bicycle Infrastructure

SFMTA: Market Street Traffic Pilot is Meeting Its Objectives

IMG_2212.jpgThe Market Street traffic diversion pilot only got better for people on bikes when the SFMTA striped bright green bike lanes. Not all drivers are complying with the required turns, though. Photo: Michael Rhodes

It appears the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has come to similar conclusions to Streetsblog's in its review of the pilot traffic changes on Market Street at 6th and 10th Streets: A big thumbs-up for transit, bike riders, and people on foot, relatively minor impacts on traffic, and some uneven results when it comes to driver compliance with the new configuration.

Judging from a brief update [PDF] on the program produced Friday, the "Required Right Turns on Eastbound Market Street" pilot appears to be meeting the SFMTA's goals on most fronts. Traffic volumes on eastbound Market just east of 10th Street declined by roughly 200 vehicles per hour during rush hour.

Most of that traffic diverted to Mission Street, where it slowed down transit vehicle travel times by three percent -- but that's offset by a five-percent increase in transit travel times on Market. Muni noted in an earlier report that vehicles are traveling down Market an average of 50 seconds faster.

People on bicycles and taxi drivers are continuing to respond well to the changes, and most drivers are at least complying with the required turns at 10th Street (no word from the SFMTA on whether they're grateful for being diverted from hectic Market Street.) As Streetsblog reported last week, the vast majority of drivers are behaving well at 10th Street, but 6th Street, which has much less clear signage for drivers about the required turn, has lower compliance, the report concludes.

For now, the traffic treatments that make 10th Street easier for drivers to understand (or harder for them to ignore) aren't possible at 6th Street, since, as the report notes, the roadway is narrower and there's a Muni boarding island. That means no separate lane for bikes, which helps avoid a bottleneck as drivers queue up to turn right. There are also heavier pedestrian volumes at 6th Street, making it harder for drivers to turn right, with the resulting line of right-turners creating some issues for those on bike.

The original objectives of the eight-month-old pilot program, the report states, are to "determine whether diverting private vehicle traffic improves transit reliability, pedestrian safety and bicycling comfort," "observe impact of diversion on [the] surrounding street network and determine whether any problems would be created on the streets that experienced increased traffic volumes," and "decrease use of Market Street as a private vehicle through route."

So has it been a success? The report concludes it has been, and has met its objectives "without any adverse changes to traffic conditions." The city is now gathering additional data for "environmental clearance to make the restrictions permanent if so desired."

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