SFMTA Approves Plan to Ban Turns on Market Street Despite Uber Opposition

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board today unanimously approved a plan to prohibit private vehicles from turning on to a busy section of Market Street in an effort to make the area safer for pedestrians and bicyclists and improve the flow of public transit.

The Safer Market Street plan would ban turns on to Market between Third and Eighth Streets for private vehicles but allow them for public transit, bicycles, taxis, commercial and emergency vehicles, according to SFMTA officials.

In addition, it would establish new passenger loading zones and disabled parking areas north and south of Market Street, extend transit-only lanes all the way to Third Street and create new bulb-outs at several intersections.

The plan drew strong support from groups including the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk SF and city taxi drivers, but was vocally opposed by ride-booking service Uber. The company last week rallied its passengers and drivers to sign a petition calling for further study of the proposal and today said it had gathered 17,000 signatures.

Wayne Ting, general manager for Uber San Francisco, told the SFMTA board that Uber was a “strong supporter” of San Francisco’s Vision Zero plan, which calls for eliminating pedestrian deaths by 2024. However, he argued that the plan was unfair because it gave taxis “preferential treatment” over ride-booking service vehicles, which do not carry commercial licenses.

“If right turns on to Market Street are making Market Street less safe, then no vehicles should have the opportunity to make those turns,” Ting said, drawing several hisses from audience members.

His concerns were rejected by a number of speakers, however, who noted that Uber has actively fought to avoid being licensed and regulated in the same manner as taxis in other circumstances.

“If Uber wants to be regulated like a taxi then they can have the benefits of being regulated,” said Nicole Ferrara, executive director of Walk SF, before today’s meeting.

Ferrara noted that another ride-booking service, Lyft, had expressed support for the Safer Market Street plan. However a Lyft spokeswoman speaking at today’s meeting also spoke in favor of “consistent treatment” of for-hire vehicles.

The area affected by the new restrictions is home to four of the city’s top 20 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians and the top two for bicyclists, according to SFMTA staff. A total of 162 injury collisions occurred between Eighth and Third streets between 2012 and 2013, nearly 60 percent of which involved a person walking or biking who was struck by a car, officials said.

“The kinds of crashes happening on Market Street are largely caused by vehicles making turns,” said Tom Maguire, director of sustainable streets for the SFMTA. “The only way to reduce these collisions is to reduce dramatically the number of vehicles who are making turns.”

A survey conducted by the SFMTA in 2014 found that 84 percent of people on Market Street had arrived by means other than a private vehicle, and even those who did use a private vehicle didn’t drive on Market Street.

SFMTA staff estimate the plan could divert 30 to 50 percent of vehicles off of Market Street, creating a 3 to 5 percent increase in traffic on neighboring streets.

“These improvements are a step in the right direction for the safety and comfort of everyone who uses Market St.,” said Noah Budnick, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “SFMTA’s research found a crowded and dangerous corridor, and they identified a solution to improve safety while reducing congestion. It’s a win-win for San Francisco.”

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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  • sfparkripoff

    The SFMTA continues to engineer traffic congestion in and out of the
    Financial District for one reason and it has nothing to do with “Vision
    Zero” . Its all about creating congestion so that the city can implement
    a congestion pricing scheme that will charge a fee for vehicles
    traveling into the most congested areas of the city of San Francisco at
    certain periods of peak demand. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_congestion_pricing
    The congestion pricing charge would be combined with other traffic
    reduction projects that are being used to gridlock the city.

    The funds raised through the charge will be used for public transit
    projects, and for the citys budget shortfalls. The San Francisco
    Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) is not in the business of transit.
    They were created by lobbyists and the construction trade to funnel
    taxpayer dollars to private companies. https://web.archive.org/web/20020814163621/http://www.spur.org/prope.html MUNI has never once reached the 85 percent on-time goal mandated by Prop. E, the measure’s main selling point to voters

    Where have the BILLIONS dollars gone? Since 1999 the SFMTA morphed
    “transit first” into re-designing streets, car sharing, ride sharing,
    tech buses, bike sharing, multimillion dollar parking meter contracts,
    and now purchasing speed cameras to further RIPOFF citizens. Over the
    last 15 years SFMTA tripled their budget from $350 Million to $950
    Million while that population of SF has only increased by 20%.

    Did you ever ask why SF is so expensive? Its our own government that
    causing it! Hows that “transit first” policy working out for you San