Better Market Street is Here

Your SF Bicycle Coalition has called for years to see physically protected bike lanes built on Market Street from the Embarcadero all the way through Octavia. Those calls are finally being answered and in truly remarkable fashion.

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By the end of 2018, the City seeks to begin construction on a visionary new design for Market Street. No longer will Market Street feel like a race during commute hours, as people jockey for position at every intersection, squeezing between Muni and swarming vehicles left and right. A brand new design — proposed jointly by SF Public Works, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and SF Planning Department — offers a win-win situation for everyone. This design would elevate the bike lane to sidewalk level and fully separate people biking and walking from the bustling transit on Market Street.

With clear direction from City leaders to advance the project swiftly, SF Public Works looks to accelerate one of the six segments through design in order to begin construction by the end of next year. This new design proposal and timeline was just announced, and the SF Bicycle Coalition is committed to making this long-held dream a reality.

For years, a cross-agency effort quietly advanced the “Better Market Street” project, billed as a transformative overhaul of the 2.2-mile corridor stretching from Embarcadero to Octavia. Past design proposals for the project fell far short of a real transformation though, with significant trade-offs, whether you were walking, biking or taking transit. One option even considered removing Market Street entirely as a bike route and re-routing the thousands of people biking there every day onto Mission Street. And construction wasn’t even slated to begin until 2022.

So what changed?

In 2015, the SFMTA installed the city’s first-ever raised bike lane on Market Street to test whether that design would offer the safety benefits of a physically protected bike lane. By the end of 2016, after extended analysis, surveys and feedback from focus groups, it was clear that those designs were insufficient.

At the Better Market Street Community Advisory Committee meeting on Monday, City staff agreed.

“We were not happy with the results,” said Simon Bertrang, project lead at SF Public Works. The raised bike lane was “not something we would want to ever build on Market Street, so we went back to square one.”

Meanwhile, it became clear that the transit infrastructure on Market Street needs maintenance  and improvements to accommodate increased Muni service. With over 100 Muni vehicles on Market Street every hour during peak commute times already today, waiting to replace traffic signals and tracks, and installing a new power substation, became more urgent than ever.

Fortunately, this new consensus design emerged for Better Market Street, borrowing from the biking capitals of the world like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. As this project returns to the public eye, however, your input and dedication is needed. City-led outreach and engagement will begin soon to help shape the details of the project in order to meet the accelerated timeline.

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Better Market Street is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform San Francisco’s main thoroughfare. Join us in building this visionary future together.

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