Signs of Lax Enforcement of Car Restrictions on Market Street

SFMTA parking control officers posted to instruct drivers not to turn on to Market at Eighth Streets. Photo: Aaron Bialick
SFMTA parking control officers posted to instruct drivers not to turn on to Market at Eighth Street. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Nearly two weeks in, the bans preventing private auto drivers from turning on to most of lower Market Street have, by all accounts, made the street safer and more efficient.

But at an SFMTA Board of Directors meeting this week, member Gwyneth Borden noted that officers posted on Market “don’t seem to be as vigilant as one might like,” particularly during the evening commute.

Enforcement is provided by SFPD officers posted at some intersections, in addition to SFMTA parking control officers (who can’t ticket moving violations) stationed to provide guidance.

While there are no stats available yet to evaluate Borden’s observation, I also noticed two separate instances at Market and Eighth Streets last week where SFMTA officers posted at the corner weren’t paying attention to oncoming car traffic. On two different days when I passed through the intersection, I stopped to get photos of the officers facing traffic to help illustrate the enforcement for a post. But both times, I watched the officers talk to each other for several minutes without looking for turn ban violators.

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin said that “by and large,” the restrictions have been effective and well-received, though there are “some bugs to work out.” He noted that a Muni driver told him it was much safer and easier to drive down Market.

SFMTA Board member Malcom Heinicke said he’s been pleased with the results, but will continue to push for a truly car-free Market. “I look forward to the days when New Yorkers refer to Broadway as the Market Street of the east,” he said.

Recently I was biking east on Market past Eighth, with two drivers simply cruising down the bike lane, in front of and behind me. The posted SFMTA officers didn’t seem to notice.

This car is moving. Photo: Aaron Bialick
Yep, this car was moving. Photo: Aaron Bialick
  • Boo

    yeah very interesting they don’t issue tickets to cars with the same amount of fervor as the ones to cyclists before… the turn restrictions I get as those are a new measure but driving in a protected bike lane, running red lights, those issues are still happening.

    I must say though that aside from the unsurprising lack of enforcement, I have noticed a positive difference with the new changes.

  • Jim

    In addition to the turn restrictions, I wish DPT would be more vigilant about box blocking violations. 1st and Market is one of the worst intersections.

    I have noticed that since the turn bans become in effective that Mission St has become much more congested, and it’s not just due to the box blocking and transit lane violators at 1st and Mission.

  • njudah

    well of course they aren’t enforcing it, the cameras and the politicians slapping their mailers together aren’t there. Julie Christensen has been showing her face at all the SFMTA events maybe she could “do something” about it to show she “cares” lol. (not going to happen, can’t upset car drivers when running for office, just ask Dear Leader Lee!)

  • jamiewhitaker

    Speaks to poor management if there is no discipline for PCOs or SFPD folks just standing around unengaged in the lawbreaking around them. Speaks to the meed for computerized and automatic enforcement. Need automated enforcement for dont block the box, blocked crosswalks, speeding, and illegal turns.

  • Anony

    I wanted to comment on the performance of the people posted to divert traffic. It is very hit or mess depending on the person stationed at the intersection.

    This morning I saw one stand his ground against a truck wanting to turn onto market street.

    The other evening I saw a person abandon his post and stand besides a business chatting on his cell phone.

    Another time I saw one standing like a post and watching private vehicles blaze by him without him even discouraging the left turn onto market.

    Another time I even saw one office divert a car to turn onto market, and this was on Montgomery onto market west bound.

  • NoeValleyJim

    What is her stance on the Polk Street bike lanes again? I never could get a straight answer out of her.

  • kceem

    Asked an SFPD patrol why he didn’t ticket the guy that clearly blew a very, very red light on Fell in front of both of us. He just shrugged and sped off. This sounds like more of the same lack of leadership.

  • Justin

    For some of the cross streets that are not through streets, in other words streets that lead to Market with no through way to the SOMA neighborhood or vice-versa, those intersections should have some raised barrier preferably something transparent, cool, artistic and most importantly durable so that it can easily prevent private automobiles from illegally entering the restricted part of Market St.

  • ejcsanfran

    More enforcement? Whatever for?

  • the_greasybear

    Tickets are *only* for harmless bicyclists. Every SFPD officer knows that.

  • Nicasio Nakamine

    I can’t say I’m shocked. I see that sort of craziness all the time.

  • SuperQ

    One of the more interesting things I’ve noticed about Germany is that the stop lights are just after the limit line. This induces drivers to not go past the limit line since they are no longer able to see the stop light. Not having the lights on the opposite corner also seems to help reduce people gunning it on the yellow, but that could also be German driver’s training.

    For example this intersection:

    The limit line is about 5 feet behind the marked crosswalk, and the light is about 10 feet in total past the limit line. You don’t need a “stop here on red” sign because it’s obvious you’ve gone too far when you can’t see the light anymore.

    One minor thing that is done to help with intersection clearing is that after the lights go red, a green arrow on the opposite corner is lit up to signal to drivers in the intersection that it’s safe to turn left.

  • NoeValleyJim

    I am surprised you didn’t get honked at.

  • Sparafucile

    If only.

  • planning5

    At a Middle Polk neighborhood meeting Christensen said it was important to go ahead with the hardscaping as soon as possible, but that anything involving “paint and lines” could be revisited later. This struck me as insensitive or ill-informed after all the meetings and public comments and hearings and compromises on the the Polk bike lanes.

    In general she seemed to be a bit vague on issues or seemed to overemphasize her role in things – such as the negotiations to keep Capp’s Corner open where she forgot to mention that Gov Brown and Lawrence Ferlinghetti had been involved (acc to Marina Times). She seems to oppose rent control and voted against a moratorium on mkt rate building in the Mission at the BOS – if that gives any sense of her priorities.

  • Anony

    Noticed today that all the PCO’s were gone from the intersections. Cars are starting to once again filter back onto market as there is nothing to stop them.

    We just need a flat out ban so if police see a car on market, they can just ticket them instead of having to actually observe them making a turn onto market. It’s plain more efficient that way.

  • That design is illegal in the US. The reasoning, (Im not saying its right) is that drivers would be looking up at the light rather than straight at the scene in front of them. Of course, in Europe, there is a second light at eye level.

  • Gezellig
  • City Resident

    On a related Market Street note, this past Saturday night around 10:45 pm I noticed dozens of cars driving in the red transit and taxi only lane with perhaps three or four SFPD cruisers intermittently traveling along, too (right behind the private, non-taxi vehicles). Especially since the Muni Metro subway is shut down early now, keeping the transit lane free is more important than ever. I am not even asking SFPD to ticket or even stop such violations but a mere announcement over the loudspeaker would get the message out. Instead, their tolerance of this sends the message that it is okay to ignore the posted rules. When it comes to all things driving, it’s really hard (and sometimes, in San Francisco, seemingly impossible) to break the windshield perspective.

  • NoeValleyJim

    She told me “the preservation of incumbent businesses should be the highest priority” when I asked her about Polk Street. Which is deliberately evasive I think, but does imply that safety comes second.

  • Anony

    I get the impression that most cops that patrol this area dont care about any violations unless they see someone getting shot or stabbed.

  • Anony

    An update on the second day without PCOs. Traffic with private vehicles during the commute hours are almost back to pre-no-turns onto market street levels.

    I give it to the end of the week until Market is clogged with private autos again.

  • SFnative74

    I’ve seen plenty of cars driving on this section of Market St.

  • SFnative74

    On two occasions, I’ve seen a driver blatantly blow through a red light at high speed directly in front of an SFPD squad car on the cross street. In both cases, it would have been easy for the SFPD officer to put on the sirens and go after the person, but of course nothing happened. It’s no wonder drivers feel like they can get away with speeding, red light and stop sign running, not yielding to peds, blocking intersections, etc. Everyday, I see hundreds of violations by drivers.


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