Marketbikelane.jpgA pilot program that requires eastbound traffic on Market Street to turn right at two intersections was made permanent today by a unanimous vote of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors.

The pilot project began in September 2009 to improve traffic conditions on Market Street and reduce conflict between vehicles and pedestrians and bicycles.

Officials, however, wanted to ensure the forced turns would not create new, unforeseen traffic problems, the transit agency said.

The program forced private vehicles to turn right at Sixth Street and 10th Street, diverting traffic to Mission or Folsom streets. All of Market Street remained open to traffic, though, because vehicles could still turn onto eastbound Market Street from any other street.

The program resulted in improved San Francisco Municipal Railway travel times and increased bicycle traffic, the transit agency said. Pedestrian counts have also gone up.

Transit vehicles, taxis, delivery trucks and bicycles are exempt from the forced right turns.

“Our numbers show that these minor modifications have produced real results and have contributed to make Market Street more thriving,” transit agency executive director Nat Ford said in a statement.

Eastbound Market Street travel times on Muni decreased by an average of 3 percent due to the forced right turns, the transit agency said. Muni travel time on eastbound Mission Street, where many of the private vehicles were diverted, remained the same.

Officials have not been able to enforce the right turns during the experimental phase of the program, but San Francisco police can now force vehicles to turn, according to the transit agency.

About 80 percent of drivers traveling east on Market Street voluntarily turn at 10th Street.
The forced turns were originally implemented at Sixth Street and Eighth Street, but the Eighth Street turn was moved to 10th Street in January 2010.

Janna Brancolini, Bay City News

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