Protesters Demand an End to Private Cars Jamming Market

They want project for city's iconic street accelerated, by banning turns for cars now

The San Francisco Transit Riders Peter Straus directs a car off Market during yesterday evening's protest. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless indicated.
The San Francisco Transit Riders Peter Straus directs a car off Market during yesterday evening's protest. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless indicated.

Some 100 protesters showed up at the corner of Montgomery and Market Street Wednesday evening to demand a safer street. Many were affiliated with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk San Francisco, the San Francisco Transit Riders, and the People Protected Bike Lane protest. Others were just passersby who joined because of an interest in the future of Market Street.

“I’m excited about the prospect of having more places for people, not cars,” said Courtney Brousseau, who commutes by bike through the area. “It’s a great time to get involved.”

This was his first protest, in this case to garner support for implementing and speeding up Public Works’ Better Market Street plan, which would eliminate private cars from Market Street and reserve it for transit, pedestrians, and bicycles. But so far the project has been progressing slowly, and even initial construction isn’t scheduled to begin for another three years.

Brousseau, right, at his first active protest.
Brousseau, right, at his first non-virtual protest

Protesters didn’t just stand on the corner holding up signs. They also walked back and forth across the crosswalk going north/south along Montgomery, crowding together to make sure cars didn’t illegally turn right onto Market.

“Turns on and off Market are where lots of the problems happen,” said District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, who participated in the action. “I want to encourage the Department of Public Works to move quickly on it.”

In addition to turn restrictions in the short term, and banning cars altogether on Market in the long term, Haney wants pedestrians prioritized, by installing “scrambles” at Market and Montgomery, and potentially in other locations. “There need to be changes.”

Supervisor Matt Haney and Paul Valdez, an advocate who volunteers with the "Ride of Silence," Bike to Work Day, and a whole lot of other things.
Supervisor Matt Haney and Paul Valdez, an advocate who volunteers with the “Ride of Silence,” Bike to Work Day, and a whole lot of other safe and livable streets stuff

Also in attendance–Cat Carter of the San Francisco Transit Riders. “Buses are continually stuck behind people double parking,” she said. The Better Market Street plan should speed that up, by dedicating most of the real-estate to transit, she added. But that’s years off, and for now “Cars and buses get stuck; we want turn reductions so that won’t happen.”

Advocate Tim Hanes, meanwhile, tweeted video of the protest from high on up:

Not far into the protest, SFMTA sent a traffic officer to help make sure motorists didn’t try to shove their way through the crosswalk. The protesters appreciated the additional help.

Thanks SFMTA, for sending some help
Thanks SFMTA, for sending some help

Music played and the protest was peaceful, social and upbeat, with lots of smiles, hugs and hellos. But there was also sadness, with the knowledge that a few miles away a 77-year-old woman was in intensive care. She was hit by a motorist driving a truck at Sutter and Divisadero (A representative from Walk San Francisco informed Streetsblog today that her name was Galina Alterman and she has succumbed to her injuries.)

Photo: John Entwistle
Photo: John Entwistle

“I don’t want to be the next person to die and then they build protected bike lanes,” said Theo Gordon, who also participated in yesterday’s action. “I want cars off Market before another person dies.”

“It’s a great time to get involved beyond tweeting,” added Brousseau. “I decided to be a part of pushing it forward.”

Bikes moving down market, no longer obstructed by gridlocked cars turning right from Montgomery.
Bikes and transit moving down market, no longer obstructed by gridlocked cars turning right from Montgomery.

Want a safer Market Street but couldn’t make the protest? Walk San Francisco has an online petition.

Walk San Francisco is also planning a vigil for Galina Alterman tomorrow/Friday, at Sutter and Divisadero, from 6-7 p.m.

  • mx

    There’s something amazing about the way this has united pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders, who planners and politicians keep seeing as separate constituencies. In reality, we’re all the same people, and 98% of the time, the same projects benefit all of us.

  • Nicholas L

    Great to see Paul and all of the volunteers!

  • crazyvag

    While I support that, the gears are already turning as part of the better Market street plan. Personally, I wish more pressure was applied to protected bike lanes on Folsom/Howard all the way to Embarcadero.

  • bike_engineer

    Its in the works, its just a separate project with separate funding sources because it involves the port. That is why the current plans you see only go so far

  • crazyvag

    And what other things has the port been working on over the last 5 years that are holding up a bike lane? My guess is that no one cares and that’s why nothing has happened since 2014:

  • bike_engineer

    I mean its somewhat the same deal as the Howard and Folsom 2 way cycletracks in SOMA, progress and momentum finally moved forward after the cyclist on howard died because the politicians finally gave the sfmta the power they needed to nix dozens and dozens of parking spaces for better bike lanes. The problem isn’t the city agencies, its the politicians and people who stand in the way of real change because they don’t want their parking removed.

  • p_chazz

    Speaking as a ped and transit rider, I am not sure that I feel united with cyclists when they ride on the sidewalks and through crosswalks against the light.As far as I am concerned, bicycles are just one more wheeled vehicle that I have to watch out for.

  • pch1013

    A scramble is definitely needed at Montgomery & Clay. I’ve almost been hit several times there. I’ve written to the MTA and to Sup. Peskin about this, but have never received a response.


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