On Monday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Economic Development Committee held a hearing to put the City’s work on improving Market Street under the microscope. Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Chiu repeated their previously expressed concern with the delays to the project, which was slated to be underway in 2013 and has now been pushed to 2017 or later.
Supervisor Chiu and a diverse group of local business and community stakeholders pushed the City to implement pilot projects and other near-term improvements to speed up transit time and improve safety for people walking and biking along our City’s busy corridor. Supervisor Wiener called for more immediate enforcement of double parking and transit-only lanes, which endanger people biking and walking and impede transit.
The Department of Public Works is currently in the process of much-needed repaving of the outer lanes of Market Street between Van Ness and Stewart streets, but it remains unclear if the City will move forward with additional near-term improvements to the street. Transportation leaders urged the City to get this project back on track and move forward with improvements for people walking, biking and taking transit on Market Street.
“For more than 150 years, Market Street has been about motion. It is literally our city’s main artery and we need to focus our efforts and resources to make it flow more efficiently, for transit riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike. If we compromise this goal for other considerations, we will be saddled with higher Muni operating costs and less safe conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians for decades to come,” said Rick Laubscher, President of the Market Street Railway.
“Every day, a quarter of a million people walk on Market Street; it’s time to prioritize safer crossings along our city’s main walking boulevard. Plus, over half of all Muni buses run on Market Street at the evening rush hour; if we can speed up those buses we can improve our public transit system citywide. The Mission option shows no benefit for transit. We need to see clear actions to achieve better walking and better transit on Market – quickly,” said Elizabeth Stampe, Executive Director of Walk San Francisco.
Community leaders, transportation advocates, business owners and everyday bike riders spoke up against thie proposal to move bikes onto Mission Street, and urged the City to refocus its efforts on improving biking on Market Street.
“Market Street is one of the busiest biking corridors in the country, and the huge and growing number of people biking on Market have already enlivened this street. We urge the City to continue its work to improve biking on this key corridor. A truly better Market Street will include separated bikeways the full length, which allow locals and tourists to explore and shop along our city’s main boulevard,” said Kit Hodge, Deputy Director of the 12,000-member San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
“I prefer riding Market over Mission Street for the mere fact that Market Street is historic and is a crucial connecting spine of the city to my work, retail and other forms of transit. It is much more convenient in many ways. On my way home, I sometimes find myself ‘detouring’ to a local business/retail because of the accessibility from Market Street,” said Paul Valdez, who bikes daily from the Mission District to his job at a downtown Marketing firm.
“As a building and business owner on Market Street, who bought in when people would have laughed at the idea of housing and Twitter on upper Market, bicyclists have done more to bring life to this wasteland than anything else. There is a new, vibrant face to Market Street which makes our City seem personal and vital,” said Christopher Dolan, who owns Dolan Law Firm on Market Street.
The City will hold two more public meetings on Market Street in July, where the public can weigh in on the design options. July 17, 6-8:30PM at Parc 55 Hotel ballroom; July 20 from 10AM-12:30PM at the Main Library.
To learn more about the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s vision for Market Street bikeways, visit sfbike.org/market.