cover-crosswalk.jpgIt was September, 2009 when the SFMTA began a pilot program requiring drivers to turn right off Market Street, a pilot that was later made permanent. But though the rule’s been in place for nearly two years, one local business group worries that tourists might get mad about getting ticketed for breaking local traffic laws.

According to the Ex, in July SFPD began writing $176 tickets for those who violate the requirement to turn right on Market at 6th or 10th streets. So far, 74 drivers have been nailed for breaking the laws, most of them “tourists who have been led astray by their GPS devices,” an SFPD officer told the paper.

This concerns Carolyn Diamond, who’s been executive director of the Market Street Association since 1985.

“A lot of these people are paying hotel taxes and renting cars when they come here,” Diamond told the Ex. “Now they’re getting hit with traffic tickets? I don’t think they’ll appreciate that too much.”

Then again, who does appreciate getting traffic tickets? But not every person pulled over for flouting the rules has been ticketed — according to SFPD, 124 drivers were released with a warning “because it was clear they did not see signage prohibiting their presence on Market Street.”

Tourists (and GPS manufacturers) should prepare for more confusion, however: according the Chron, the SFMTA board is mulling further changes on Market, including plans to “prohibit right turns from eastbound Market Street onto southbound New Montgomery Street to help reduce traffic backups on eastbound Market. The experiment may be limited to evening commute hours, when congestion is worst.”

It’s not just the downtown stretch of Market where visitors to our city appear to get confused and break traffic laws — just last week, reports Streetsblog a tourist behind the wheel of a rental car made an illegal turn onto Octavia from Market, hitting cyclist and city planner John Billovits, who landed, he says “directly under the no right turn sign” at the intersection.

According to SFPD, however, the “adult female, resident of Germany” driver responsible for the collision won’t be cited. No word yet on if she “appreciated” that.

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Greg Dewar

    If I go to NYC and rent a car and break the traffic laws, no amount of “but I don’t live here and pay hotel taxes” has any pull with the NYPD, I don’t see why we’re weeping tears for what may or may not be happening.

    Typical SF: cry about obeying the law.

  • Greg Dewar

    If I go to NYC and rent a car and break the traffic laws, no amount of “but I don’t live here and pay hotel taxes” has any pull with the NYPD, I don’t see why we’re weeping tears for what may or may not be happening.

    Typical SF: cry about obeying the law.

  • Jeremy_ofSF

    Can we quit the pussyfooting around and just ban private cars on Market Street once and for all? That would get rid of all of these confusing half measures.

    I’m not a traffic engineer, but allow me to play one on the Internet: it seems like at this point, there’s relatively little car traffic on Market Street. People who know downtown know to avoid it. But the few cars left on Market gum up the works for everybody else. It seems like the surrounding streets should be able to handle the increase in traffic in exchange for dramatically improving Muni service.

  • Jeremy_ofSF

    Can we quit the pussyfooting around and just ban private cars on Market Street once and for all? That would get rid of all of these confusing half measures.

    I’m not a traffic engineer, but allow me to play one on the Internet: it seems like at this point, there’s relatively little car traffic on Market Street. People who know downtown know to avoid it. But the few cars left on Market gum up the works for everybody else. It seems like the surrounding streets should be able to handle the increase in traffic in exchange for dramatically improving Muni service.

  • tranimal00

    yeah, sorry… but if you can’t be bothered to read (or CAN’T read) traffic signs and signals, then you deserve that ticket and probably shouldn’t be driving AT ALL.

    i mean, if your GPS tells you to turn the wrong way onto a one-way street… are you going to use your brain and think “hey, maybe this GPS is busted” or are you going to think “it says it’s so, so it must be true” even when a bunch of signs are trying to warn you? common sense, people… get some.

  • tranimal00

    yeah, sorry… but if you can’t be bothered to read (or CAN’T read) traffic signs and signals, then you deserve that ticket and probably shouldn’t be driving AT ALL.

    i mean, if your GPS tells you to turn the wrong way onto a one-way street… are you going to use your brain and think “hey, maybe this GPS is busted” or are you going to think “it says it’s so, so it must be true” even when a bunch of signs are trying to warn you? common sense, people… get some.

  • who_the

    @Jeremy_ofSF: Agree completely. The obvious solution is make Market Street a transit, bicycle and pedestrian thoroughfare. And while you’re at it, do the same with Valencia Street. Then, optimize Guerrero and South Van Ness for vehicle traffic to reduce congestion, which in turn reduces air pollution and driver frustration.

  • who_the

    @Jeremy_ofSF: Agree completely. The obvious solution is make Market Street a transit, bicycle and pedestrian thoroughfare. And while you’re at it, do the same with Valencia Street. Then, optimize Guerrero and South Van Ness for vehicle traffic to reduce congestion, which in turn reduces air pollution and driver frustration.