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San Francisco bans private cars on Market Street for walking, biking and transit

Bicycle commuters
A bicyclist gestures towards a car during a busy commute on Market Street in San Francisco. The move to bar private cars is a bid to reduce such conflicts.
(Los Angeles Times)

Beginning Wednesday in San Francisco, private cars are banned from a popular stretch of Market Street near the waterfront Ferry Building.

That move, effective early Wednesday, is permanent and designed to ease traffic tangles on Market, San Francisco’s busiest street. It also gives pedestrians, cyclists, buses and streetcars more room, but may confuse visitors who may not have known this was coming.

Private vehicles are now forbidden on Market Street between 10th Street and Main Street eastbound, Steuart Street to Van Ness Avenue westbound.

Market STreet traffic restrictions
San Francisco’s Market Street will be restricted to vehicles beginning Jan. 29.
(San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority)
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The affected area is a favorite route of tourists because it connects Union Square and the Ferry Building and includes the popular cable car turnaround at Market and Powell streets.

Another key detail for travelers: Uber, Lyft and other ride-hail company drivers are banned along with other private cars from that stretch of Market Street, but taxis are allowed. Also allowed: paratransit vehicles, buses, emergency vehicles, commercial vehicles and the route’s historic streetcars.

A San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority report called Market San Francisco’s “busiest street for people walking, cycling and riding public transit,” with about 500,000 pedestrians per day, 72,000 people riding Muni transit vehicles and as many as 650 cyclists an hour during rush hour.

It has also been dangerous. In the last five years, transit officials say, this part of Market Street has averaged more than 100 injury-collisions a year, most involving cars hitting pedestrians or cyclists.

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This change is part of a larger campaign, known as Better Market Street, that seeks to improve 2.2 miles of Market between Steuart Street and Octavia Boulevard. Work is to continue through 2022.


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