February 27, 2021

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Advocates Despondent Over Bummer Market Street – Streetsblog San Francisco

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At SFMTA’s board meeting yesterday, the agency approved a severely watered down “Better Market Street” plan. The tally was five to seven, with Directors Amanda Eaken and Manny Yekutiel voting “no.” From the Chronicle‘s report:

One of the biggest points of contention in the new plan is the bike lane change. The originally proposed 5-foot to 8-foot lane on the sidewalk was replaced by an 11-foot shared bike lane on the street. The agency said that the original bike lane wouldn’t have been big enough to accommodate the 25 percent spike in cycling that hit the streets from January to March last year.

Bike advocates said the changes won’t make cycling safer.

That’s an understatement.

As Streetsblog previously reported, the new design has bicycles sharing space with taxis, delivery trucks, city vehicles, and any errant private motorists who ignore Market’s restrictions on cars. The design depends, once again, on sharrows–the bane of bicycle riders everywhere and a marking that should only be used on the quietest of residential streets.

The bait and the switch, from the "BummerMarketStreet" page.
The bait and the switch, from the bummerMarketStreet page.

“Since the revised proposal came out, our members have been angry and frustrated, and they turned out in force on Tuesday for a meeting that went well into the evening to make sure those concerns were heard. We believe that City planners need to do more before we can truly call this plan a ‘Better Market Street,’ and we continue to push them to innovate so that cars will stay off Market and the project can meet its stated safety goals,” said the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Janice Li.

Walk San Francisco’s Jodie Medeiros sent Streetsblog the following statement, which she also delivered to the SFMTA Board: “A half a million people walk on Market every day. Half of the city’s top ten most dangerous intersections are on Market. Market Street is an incredibly complex street to fix and meet all the diverse usage. So many people–including the project team and the public and advocates–have invested SO MUCH for the past decade in pursuit of making Market Street the grand boulevard for our city.  Now, as we forge the best path forward given new resource constraints, we cannot stop pushing for the vision that has inspired so many of us: a people-first, safety-first Market Street.”

“Sure, it might be better for an athletic 20-something male bike rider during rush hour.  But for a 60-year-old man, with perhaps lights not working well on his bike, riding at 10 p.m. home from an essential job, I think the sounds of a taxi driver revving up behind him will not make the ride home from a long day of work a comfortable one,” pointed out Matt Brezina of the People Protected Bike Lane movement. “There is still no accommodation in their plan for an 8-year-old or an 80-year-old to feel comfortable traveling by bike. If we can’t do it here, how are we going to do it on Alemany, Bayshore, or Ocean Ave?”

The advocates at the San Francisco Transit Riders were similarly disappointed, calling out the lack of additional space for buses. “Some things we found to like about the revised Market Street project are: 1) improved stop spacing, and 2) the signalization of access to bus stops. Those two modifications address some of our key accessibility, usability, and safety concerns with the 2019 Better Market Street plan,” wrote Cat Carter. “However, we’re very skeptical that one lane each way will be sufficient to handle demand in the very near future, and certainly not as we open up, or especially if we implement congestion pricing. We have not heard from staff what the options are if and when this doesn’t work.”

“This project is a huge disappointment…. as Director Heminger said, paraphrasing, sometimes when everyone is equally upset it means you’ve found a good compromise, but sometimes it means you’ve got a mess on your hands,” wrote advocate Dale Munroe. Munroe and other advocates who spoke to Streetsblog put the blame on SFMTA staff and Director Tumlin for a lack of commitment to safety. “We definitely have a mess on our hands… Cyclists WILL be severely injured or killed as a result.”