Radical Road. Ride on. Market Street in San Francisco soon to be car free

Having ridden a bicycle in San Francisco since 1972, I am overjoyed.

It’s a time for celebration in San Francisco and major kudos to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition in particular.  The City sets the pace for progressive change.

“Time has come today,” sang the Chambers Brothers in their classic 1960’s song.

Time came today in San Francisco in the fight to give cyclists and pedestrians preeminence on City streets. The busy Market Street thoroughfare will be off limits to private vehicles beginning in 2020.

San Francisco Examiner – Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez 10.15.2019

Applause broke out after the SFMTA board unanimously approved the project.

SFBC III 10.15.2019

San Francisco will soon kick cars off one of its busiest thoroughfares when Market Street goes car-free in January 2020.

That’s after a vote by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors on Tuesday, which approved the Better Market Street plan to transform the downtown street into a pedestrian boulevard and free up traffic to let buses flow more quickly.

“It is bold, it is transformative,” SFMTA board director Amanda Eaken told the public at City Hall shortly before the vote.

Malcolm Heinicke, SFMTA board chair, said he has remained on the board for eight years in order to see this project to fruition.

“This will not just be a better Market Street, this will be a magnificent Market Street,” Heinicke told the public. “We will have the above-ground subway for our bus lines. We will have a similar priority for our bikes and our taxis.”

The future was on everyone’s lips at the Market Street hearing at City Hall.

More than 60 people spoke, nearly every one of them in support of the project. That included entities and people who usually oppose transit projects: the business community, city leaders, and more.

SFBC II 10.15.2019

Even Mayor London Breed lent her support to Better Market Street, and in a letter to the SFMTA board wrote, “I urge your approval of this project so we can transform Market Street to be safer, more reliable for transit, and more inviting for anyone enjoying our city.”

This is a “once in a generation” effort, said Viktoriya Wise, acting director of sustainable streets at SFMTA.

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Photo above:  San Francisco Bicycle Coalition circa 1972

The $603.7 million Better Market Street Project has been more than a decade in the making. Under Mayor Gavin Newsom, SFMTA briefly piloted a car-free Market Street, and Third through Eighth streets now have turn restrictions that nudge many vehicles off Market.