Two-Way McAllister Provides a Direct Route for 5-Fulton Riders

McAllister Street looking west at Leavenworth Street. Flickr photo: ##

Two-way access on the east end of McAllister Street has been restored for Muni buses, bicycles, and commercial vehicles, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced last week.

The conversion, completed last Thursday, provides a more direct route to Market Street for the 5-Fulton Muni line, which has long been forced to detour off McAllister at Hyde Street. The bus line is expected to save three minutes on inbound trips for its nearly 16,000 annual riders and save the SFMTA an estimated $200,000 per year, the agency said.

“For folks that are riding the 5, it will really help with quicker trips and reliability and make sure that buses are more evenly spaced apart,” said San Francisco Transit Riders Union spokesperson Robert Boden. “One of our members rides it on a daily basis and she mentioned that sometimes that turn onto Market Street can be very difficult for drivers, and there were times when the trolley buses would become disconnected from the wires.”

Under the reconfiguration, three one-way lanes were converted to one through lane in each direction, bringing calmer and more inviting conditions for people walking and biking on the two blocks between Market and Hyde Streets.

McAllister, which serves as a relatively flat and direct link between the Civic Center and NoPa areas, is a popular route for bicycle commuters. The SFMTA painted sharrows in the westbound direction to connect with those installed in June.

Private automobiles are still prohibited from using McAllister as an eastbound through route. However, drivers can access street parking and drop-off zones in front of the Renoir Hotel from the end of 7th Street, also known as Charles J. Brenham Place, which was also converted to a two-way block. Private auto and delivery drivers are required to make a right turn onto Market Street at the east end of McAllister.

Two-waying McAllister was recommended in the SFMTA’sTransit Effectiveness Project as a way to improve bus service. The overhead wires were installed as part of the Capital Investment Program, which “includes the rehabilitation of the aging trolley bus Overhead Contact System in various parts of the city.”

The new overhead wires on McAllister are currently being tested, and SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said the 5-Fulton route change will take effect sometime this month.

Image: SFMTA
McAllister looking east toward Market, where drivers must make a right turn. Flickr photo: ##geekstinkbreath##
Freshly painted sharrows set to dry. Flickr photo: ##



  • I hope this calms things, as my route home takes me down 7th and onto McAllister. My qualm with this intersection is that the 7th bike lane is on the right and most of the 7th -> McAllister auto traffic wants to turn right onto Leavenworth. That means once crossing Market cyclists have a narrow window to get from the bike lane into the middle lane on McAllister as both lanes can turn right, so failing to get into the middle puts you at risk of being hit by cars in the middle lane that want to make the right turn.

  • icarus12

    Yes, I drove the new route by car twice in the last two days.  During rush hour the new route for cars was congested.  Terrible.  During non-commute hours it was fine.  But in both times, my perception was that the experience for bicyclists was not improved a jot — quite the contrary.

    As a bicyclist on that route myself, I have always headed over to the left side of Seventh/McAllister, so as to be able to continue west on McAllister without getting hit by cars turning right onto Leavenworth.  Now, I still have to get over the left, but in the middle lane, protected only by the sharrows.  Reminds me of the stupid sharrows on Sutter Street.  No biker in their right mind used those middle lane sharrows — too dangerous.

    So while I applaud the improvement for the sake of the Fulton #5 line, we should in no way think of this change as helpful to bicyclists.  To the contrary it endangers bicyclists more.  Further, the improvement for buses has negatively impacted car drivers.  In the case of car driving, that may be a worthy cost to pay, but let’s not paper over the facts: sometimes better mass transit results in poorer quality driving for private autos.  In this case better mass transit has resulted in worse results for bicyclists too.

  • SURE, there should be dedicated signals as a solution, but you won’t find these in the NACTO guide.

  • Anonymous

    Why can’t bicyclists go left on Market for a half block to UN Plaza instead of negotiating the 7th Street /Leavenworth/McAllister intersection? 

  • icarus12

    To pchazz: Bicyclists probably should not turn left on Market for three reasons:
    1) The left turn from 7th onto Market is from a restricted lane, I think.  Maybe it’s for buses.

    2) There is no legal cut through UN Plaza, since it’s a pedestrian plaza.

    3) You have to ride 2 and 1/2 blocks on Market out of your way before being able to legally turn right onto Larkin to then proceed another 1 1/2 blocks to McAllister.  I think it’s a 5 block detour (though I have never tried it).

  • Gryphonisle

    If we really want to speed up Muni buses, more routes need to be streamlined with stops on the far side of intersections—too many stops are on the near side, which then causes the bus to miss the light, and on some busier stops, it will miss the next one also as when the light turns, people run up to the bus and by the time they board the light has changed again.  Getting rid of stops is another must.  Having to stop on every corner is an idiocy, on a few blocks the buses stop at both ends of the same block.

  • Anonymous

    Then you have the opposite annoyance: the bus stopping at the stoplight, waiting, then stopping again on the other side to pick up passengers. The two effects are basically equivalent, to a first approximation. I do wonder if there are any experimental results?

  • Anonymous

    SF wants to go both ways again, baby! 😀

  • Guest

    This has added ten minutes to my commute and has caused huge traffic back up for those of us trying to get from 101!  Another huge waste of tax payer money. 

  • Are you in a car or a bus. Transit users have had their commute reduced. San Francisco is a transit first city.

  • Cshay

    They traded a three minute speed up for the 5 Futon for a 5 minute traffic jam at Market for folks trying to go north on 7th to the northern side of the city. What a disaster!

  • Cshay

    People take taxis, and 7th street was the most efficient way out of SOMA to the north side of the city. Now there’s a traffic jam


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