Why San Francisco Is Putting Pedestrians First on Its Main Thoroughfare - Politico

Legend has it that the young civil engineer who laid down the route for San Francisco’s Market Street in the 1800s so enraged people with the street’s unusual width that a mob chased him out of town. More than a century later, Market Street is one of the city’s key arteries, a wide boulevard on which the city’s historic streetcars jostle with buses, taxicabs, private passenger cars, Uber and Lyft rides, delivery vehicles and thousands of people biking every day. During peak hours, there are 100 buses running in either direction.

But Market Street is also the center of something traffic officials somewhat ominously refer to as the “High-Injury Network,” a collection of about 13 percent of the city’s streets that accounts for three-quarters of the serious and fatal traffic injuries. From January through April, 11 people have died in the area.

“Market street is the spine of San Francisco,” Brian Wiedenmeier, the executive director San Francisco Bicycle Coalition said. “There’s a lot going on already. The last thing we need is more vehicles.”

Next year, the car traffic that has made Market Street so clogged for decades—and also hazardous—should be gone.

Better Market Street, a project organized by six San Francisco city agencies, will transform 2.2 miles of the famous corridor, between Steuart Street and Octavia Boulevard, into a pedestrian oasis. The renovations will feature sidewalk level bikeways, wider public transportation boarding islands and improved sidewalks.

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