Better Market Street Rendering

The first of three community workshops aimed at defining the vision for a Better Market Street will be held this evening from 6 to 8 PM at The Warfield (982 Market Street).

The stated overarching goal: “Make Market Street the signature sustainable street in San Francisco and the Bay Area by creating a memorable and active identity, with gathering spaces, the ability to promenade, and a vibrant public life.”

70 thoughts on “Calling All Comments For A Better Market Street”
  1. finish the sentence:
    The girl on the bike is about to….
    1) pop her tire on a used needle.
    2) get hit by a texting muni driver.
    3) slip and fall on homeless urine.
    4) never really going to be in this picture

  2. Cue the strident complaints about aggressive pandhandling, untreated schizophrenic homeless people who relieve themselves on the street between bouts of chronic alcohol consumption and drug use and a “solution” involving giving them each a bus ticket to Fresno in 3, 2, 1…

  3. I have always had this vision of SF and its homeless/ drug addict problem:
    every person that receives free services/ housing from the city has to work for them. This can include sweeping the sidewalks, cleaning the windows, picking up trash, watering plants, etc. That way, we don’t have to increase the budget by hiring contractors to do this work, and we can also create a sense of pride of community so that these people will be less inclined to trash the place.
    Those separated bike lanes are beautiful The day I see a toddler with training wheels riding down Market st. will be a very weird day indeed.

  4. Oh ye of little faith. Can you not detect the invisible force-field around all those under 28 or over 67? *sigh* 😉

  5. That rendering looks a bit like what NYC has done with Times Square.
    Also, can we remove “sustainable” from the goals? What does that mean exactly? Does the road have to regenerate on its own and never need repaving?

  6. Oh ye of little faith. Can you not detect the invisible force-field around all those under 28 or over 67? *sigh* 😉

  7. The weather was angry that day, my friends. Like an old man trying to return soup at a deli. Seriously, it looks like a huge storm is coming in that picture. Shouldn’t reforming mid-Market remove the clouds?
    So they are thinking about 1 bus lane and 2 lanes with light rail? I always thought a higher volume of traffic made mid-Market safer than it otherwise would be.

  8. If we’re critiquing the rending, then I’m wondering whether the WW2 style ordnance that’s seemingly bombing the Westfield Center is the artist telling us something?

  9. Note the “Bike Station” with matching bikes in the foreground on the left. Free bike sharing. For the homeless. To resell.
    The city allows the homeless to “sell” parking spots on the street near the SOMA night clubs at nights with an implied threat of damage to your car if you don’t pay them for the parking spot. What makes anyone think the city won’t allow them to sell shared bikes is beyond me. They’ll sign up for the service get access to the bikes and sell them, the re-sign up under the name of the person whose wallet they just “found”. Rinse. Repeat.
    I’d be happy for separated bike lanes. Ditch the rest of this utopian BS. No one in their right mind is going to take their kids to mid market in our lifetimes.

  10. “The city allows the homeless to “sell” parking spots on the street near the SOMA night clubs at nights with an implied threat of damage to your car if you don’t pay them for the parking spot”
    Nonsense. Police tell those guys to knock it off if and when they see them doing it. And the implied threat of damage thing is either you being paranoid, or too timid for the city, or both.

  11. “Should young kids be in the bike lane?”
    Technically not a bike lane (which is separated from car traffic by only paint) but rather a Copenhagen style side path (separated by a hard barrier). Side paths aren’t entirely safe and if implemented poorly they can be less safe than bike lanes or no lane at all. Fortunately Market St. has the right attributes (mainly lack of driveways) to support safe side paths.
    The choice to put little kids in the rendering was deliberately provocative and does no favors for the proponents of this plan. Realistically the demographics of Market St. cyclists are 95%+ commuting adults.
    I’m skeptical about the success of bikeshare mainly due to its high up-front capital costs and long term maintenance needs. Plus the bikeshare livery bike is leaden beast. But if there’s anywhere in the bay area that it could succeed, SF is the right place.

  12. “It’s called a rendering not a “rending”.”
    O. Is that right? Thanks boss. Great job putting the possessive apostrophe after the s in its’ in one of your posts yesterday. You’re really a copy editor’s copy editor, you are. In your own mind.

  13. I mean, “As before, I continue to admire this house, the more I see it and see its’ setting,” — that’s not even a typo. That’s you not knowing the rule.
    So save it Noearch.

  14. “The city allows the homeless to “sell” parking spots on the street near the SOMA night clubs at nights with an implied threat of damage to your car if you don’t pay them for the parking spot.”
    I’m with you on this Tipster. Try to find “unattended” street parking on a Saturday night in SOMA or Civic Center. (It is particularly bad during events like the Opera, Ballet or Symphony.) Now if I drove a beat up Toyota I really wouldn’t care but (un)fortunately I don’t so I invariably either catch BART, pay for garage parking or pony up the couple of dollars and hope that nothing happens to my car while I’m gone.

  15. in order to have Copenhagen style bike paths you need to have a Copenhagen style populace. The girl and boy in the picture are mythical on so many levels.

  16. least I can spell. The post yesterday was a typo with the apostrophe after the s.
    The one today is absolutely correct.
    Like I said, at least I can spell.:)

  17. no, it’s spelled p i p e d r e a m. Mid-market will never be revitalized as long as it’s targeted as a problem separate from the Tenderloin. You can’t fix a single street in an entire blighted area. “Mid-market” is an artificial zone that is in reality just the southeastern corner of the Tenderloin.

  18. Totally agree that it really is a “pipedream”. The pro bike people continually pretend we are Amsterdam, or some little village by the sea, with no traffic, no huge transit vehicles and everyone eventually bike riding EVERYWHERE.
    Biking to work (or fun) may be a choice for a small group of people, but not for the majority.
    And the fantasy image of actually bringing your very small child down here on her little pink bike, is..well..absurd. Let kids that age ride in GG Park on paths completely free of cars. I cringe when I sometimes see parents with their kids riding on Valencia St. amid the traffic and buses. It could be a tragic accident waiting to happen.

  19. I am not anti-car as I own one myself, but the longer I live in SF the more I think we should take cars off Market Street completely. Between the buses, street cars, taxis, bikes, motorcycles and pedestrians, there is just too much going on.

  20. People are completely misunderstanding this drawing.
    It’s one of those games where you circle,
    “What’s wrong with this picture?”
    1: Girl’s bike helmet covering her eyes.
    2: Missile headed to Nordstroms.
    3: Obvious child molester on park bench.
    4: Rain clouds but no one carrying umbrella.
    Kids, see how many YOU can find?

  21. 5: Lion King still playing when this is complete. Really ?
    6: Mom about to collide with the curb.
    7: Cheese $3/lb. at the Ferry Building Cowgirl (you gotta squint really hard to see that one)
    noearch – Amsterdam accommodates a load of traffic daily. It is hardly a quiet little backwater. And the reason that more people don’t bike is concerns about safety. Plans like this will attract more cyclists.

  22. Agreed – if Market and other streets had separated bike lanes even more people would ride to work.
    My wife for one, and there’s quite the increase in bikes all the time.

  23. Noearch, for 10 years I rode muni and didn’t touch a bike. I tried biking as an experiment for one month in the summer and now I almost never ride muni and almost always ride a bike.
    People do change. I do it because I found it easier, faster and more convenient than muni. If you make it easier than the alternatives, people will use it. And face it bike infrastructure is much cheaper to maintain than cars or buses.
    Ongoing costs are very low. The more people on bikes, the better for everyone, even old codgers who will never change.

  24. Been to Amsterdam several times. Beautiful city. Smaller scaled city than we are. Smaller and narrower streets. Smaller cars. We are not that way.
    And no, we are not Amsterdam, OR as I said, some small “village by the sea”. We are a large, dense, bustling American City. A larger percentage ride bikes in Amsterdam than we do here.
    We are not “Euro” in our culture or way of living or thinking, on a daily basis. We are hilly.
    Biking and cars sharing the same streets/roads will never be completely safe, unfortunately. There is probably room for more increased cycling here, albeit by a small percentage of residents, but not to the extent that exists in Amsterdam today. Simply put, too many people will not give up their cars here in SF. I use mine, less perhaps, but I won’t give it up.

  25. Also, to correct Tipsters misinformation. (I know..why bother..) Bikesharing isn’t free. It’s like carsharing. You are a member, or you put it on a credit card with a deposit. That unlocks the bike. You ride it to your destination and lock it back up in a bike station. If you lose your bike, you get charged alot of money. Homeless people will not be selling bikestation bikes.
    I’m not convinced that bikesharing will work well in SF. The hills are an issue…bikeshare bikes that I’ve seen are heavy and only have a few gears. And it’s a bit of a logistical and maintenance nightmare. I don’t know much about the economics of bikesharing, but certainly there are programs in Paris and Barcelona and Montreal that seem to be successful. (these are only the ones I’ve seen, I’m sure there are more).
    Everyone is stressing about the kids. It clearly is a “provocative” pic. When I see it, what I read is…wouldn’t it be nice if Market Street were safe enough for this to happen. It IS possible. Check out Copenhagen or Amsterdam.
    Not saying we can be like that tomorrow, but we can continue to make incremental steps. I am seeing MANY more bikes on the street than even a few years ago. And, yes, kids biking with their parents on Valencia. It’s a GOOD thing.

  26. I myself am also one of the ones who have seen the light, and used to be somebody critical of biking and would regurgitate the same complaints I read about here and elsewhere: “I’ll sweat too much,” “There’s too many hills,” “There’s no room for my groceries.” All of these have been completely fabricated in my own head and each has been proven wrong.
    I bike around the city whenever humanly possible (whenever its not raining) and leave my car parked most of the time. I get to my destination quicker (don’t have to look for parking and every SF cyclist knows that once you pass a MUNI bus, it never passes you). I burn off stress on the way there by pedaling. I also save hundreds of dollars a month in fuel and maintenance costs. Biking is really an excellent primary mode of transportation in this city because we are so dense. And most people I talk to who do not bike say they would if it were safer, meaning, bike lanes separated by barriers. So yes, this plan will increase cyclists and I look forward to voicing my support for more separated bike lanes throughout the city.

  27. Yes, Market St. has great potential to become a world class shopping/walking/biking/transit corridor.
    But The City has much work and change to accomplish;
    1. Create the best, cleanest, safest and most reliable transit system in the country. Stop letting the unions control and bully the City with regard to (some) overpaid, lazy, rude and underworked Muni drivers.
    2. Get rid of all the drug addicts, homeless, lazy, street thugs through better and workable social programs. Everyone in need of help should be helped. How? Tough question. I’m not a social worker.
    3. Bring in tons of great retail/food service/ theater and entertainment businesses. Add some mixed use housing/retail.
    4. “Green” Market ST. much like they have been doing in Chicago on Michigan Avenue; many more trees, benches, curbside landscaping.
    Build it and the people will come.

  28. Can you imagine a bike lane down Michigan Avenue? Traffic, congestion and activity are the enemies of the homeless. I would rather see Market street become choked with activity like Chicago, New York or Paris. The view above looks more like a surburban answer to a neglected part of a smaller sized city like Long Beach or Fresno, not “world class” San Francisco. Why must the answer to urban problems be more bike lanes? It is interesting how where cars are removed,the homeless take over, such as at Third Street in Santa Monica and the Civic Center in San Francisco.

  29. citylover – Bicyclists are traffic. I understand and agree with your point about activity being good for a street but there’s no reason why that activity needs to involve cars.
    noearch – True Amsterdam is a lot flatter than SF but what we lack in gentle topography is more than made up by gentle weather (today would be a nice day by Dutch standards).

  30. This will interest me when someone realizes they cannot and will never be able to change Market St. with infrastructure–plantings, sidewalks, street lights–alone. It will take PEOPLE, middle class people who live there and care about it. But more than that–something I know because I live on Van Ness where there are lots of us in the new and old residential buildings increasingly lining the street–it will take police who will back up our aspirations and control the vagrants, aggressive panhandlers and drunks until they find somewhere else to infect. San Francisco cops won’t do that most likely–they all live in the suburbs and think of the city as a cesspool anyway.

  31. Seems like many good things are happening on Market St. Trinity Plaza, new Twitter office, new ACT theater, the CityPlace project. This Market Street makeover looks very promising.
    For those who still debate about if more people will bike in San Francisco, you should know there are already a lot of people doing it today. Maybe it is a niche of 10% of people. But 10% of downtown population is really a lot of people. In the morning, it looks like there is a critical mass on the Market everyday.

  32. ^@ The Milkshake of Despair^
    I agree that bicyclists are traffic, and admit that my post was a over-reaction to the constant drumbeat of some that if only we could ban cars and parking, the urban ills of this city would vanish. Cars will vanish when sidewalks and streets are safer and cleaner, and when the city has more density and numerous safe quick transit choices. The image above is hardly the signature grand boulevard this city deserves. I would prefer monuments and plazas, traffic circles and fountains, and more tall towers. Bike lanes and prairie grass planters are fine for Walnut Creek, but as jealous as SOME are of Portland or Carmel, I think we should strive towards the true great cities and the atmospheres they contain.
    To take Michigan Avenue as an example, it is not a street for a family bike ride or a lazy stroll, but instead an urban living room with crowds, noise, traffic, statues, fountains and exceptional landscaping all surrounded by a high density created by super tall towers.

  33. I think we all can agree that Market Street is not the grand boulevard that it “could” be. It’s not Michigan Avenue by a long stretch and it’s not the Champs Elyse’es.
    Can it be, someday? Maybe.
    But in my mind, as long as we have government leadership that spends more time debating whether to “allow” circumsism in SF than truly be concerned and desirous of a great urban street,
    It will NOT happen.

  34. I have nothing against bicycles but I honestly don’t believe that any of this bike lane stuff will do anything positive for Market street. Just from a common sense perspective, is the fact that there is a bike lane really going to help create a “public atmosphere” such that more people want to hang out on the street? I don’t think so. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that these bike lanes won’t even cause a large increase the number of bicyclists there. The people that need to use Market street for biking are already free to do so. This will only cut out more access to an already semi-abandoned street.
    We should instead focus on placing all the schizos and other looneys into hospitals so that they can get proper medical care and stop urinating on themselves and disrupting peace on the streets.

  35. @citylover
    Your ideas found fantastic- fountains, traffic circles, monuments- so why don’t you show up at the planning meetings and share your input instead of posting on a meaningless random blog?

  36. Oh, so this is a “meaningless random blog”..and opinions have no value here?
    Thanks for letting us know.
    I like what citylover had to say. And I like that he said them here.

  37. Bike sharing works great in Toulouse, France. HSBC logos on the really heavy one speed bikes no one wants to steal. Like 1 euro a ride.

  38. I believe that the blimp is the defense department’s giant brain in the sky, beaming information about each SF resident, such as where they stand on bike lanes, driveway cuts, parking, modernism, circumcision, use of apostrophes, and their positions on work triangles, to the Citizen Control Center, which is in a concrete bunker 27 levels below the check cashing place.
    Ignoring everything but the angry weather, I’d say this proposed design breaks new ground in r e n d e r i n g.

  39. noearch, the Champs-Elysées is even more auto-centric than Market Street is now, that’s a thought in the other direction, no?
    It’s a false dichotomy to say that city leaders can’t be concerned with circumcision and also want to improve the conditions of Market St., one does not preclude the other and the staff that work on one issue aren’t the same staff that work on the other.
    The City can do anything that we put it’s mind to; people said that the Embarcadero Freeway would/could never be taken down not too long ago. Guess what noearch? Its gone.

  40. Pardon me while I pause for a quick fact check moment…
    City officials haven’t done shit with respect to circumcision, and implying so is pure hyperbole.
    A very simple check of the Innerwebs will show that this is a CITIZEN initiative which was run thru PRIVATE FINANCING which is trying to get a referendum on the SF County Nov ’11 ballot. It is currently undergoing signature verification, and has yet to be cleared for the ballot.
    It is the right of any citizen of SF County to gather ballot measure signatures for whatever they want. County officials are currently verifying this ballot measure, like they are any other. As for the majority of the city government apparatus, I defy anyone to point me to a meeting agenda or line item or anything else with “circumcision” on it.
    Regardless of what you think of the ballot measure or our city government officials (FYI, I’m not a big fan of either), it would help one’s credibility if arguments were actually factual, and not just hyperbolic rants.
    Not that hyperbolic rants can’t be fun, it’s just that the occasional fact mixed in with hyperbole and personal opinion keeps things a little more grounded is all.

  41. I’d like to see a Market St makeover, and bike lanes absolutely belong there. Maybe there won’t be many families as in the picture, but there will be plenty of middle-aged office workers who’d be happy to use it.
    I’ve gone back and forth on bikesharing. It’s expensive. On the other hand, it’s great for tourists, a big plus here, and great for introducing people who wouldn’t otherwise ride. The point about the hills isn’t wrong, but I think it’s not as bad as all that: the stations should be concentrated in the low-lying areas and along major bike routes (which of course avoid the hills). If the destination is at the top of a hill, the person simply drops the bike off at the bottom and walks up. Obviously the network won’t have 100% coverage, but if it connects enough destinations it’ll be plenty popular.

  42. Another thing in this picture. The bike lane merges into traffic obviously.
    Kid’s speed: 3MPH
    Muni Bus speed = 30MPH
    The 2 will meet in 5-4-3…

  43. ^^^ Not so obvious. Perhaps the side path would become a bike lane near intersections and then become a side path again on the other side of the intersection. Side paths need to interface with the main street periodically to allow cyclists to make left turns.
    I tried looking for detailed plans but could not find anything. Perhaps they haven’t yet been drawn up.

  44. Relax Kurt Brown. It’s ok.
    Of course the city leaders can debate and make proclamations or rules or laws on anything they want, or anything the citizens may want. However, I feel, as many good SF citizens do is that the BOS wastes EXTRAORDINARY time on meaningless issues that have nothing to do with making our city better. Witness the continued proliferation of homeless/drug addicts/street people hanging out at Civic Center plaza, after years and years of debate.
    From my observation, the Sit/Lie law has done nothing to clean up Castro St. or Haight St. Old news, what else is new?
    We could make Market St. a great street. But our city leaders are not focused on that. The Champs Elyse’es and Michigan, to name two, are great streets, full of vibrancy, life, trees, cleanliness and great shopping.
    Market St. (at least mid-market is not.)

  45. “We could make Market St. a great street. But our city leaders are not focused on that.”
    Instead they’re worried that if we make Market Street better that it will lead to gentrification, and so Market remains in its worse than rundown status.

  46. I’m not sure why the Champs Elyse’es and Michigan Ave. are used as examples for great streets. They’re grand perhaps though they aren’t the sort of places that I’d prefer to spend much time in those towns. Too much auto traffic.

  47. Something we have in this situation that can be leveraged is the fact that we have both Market and Mission Street used for similar purposes. As Market is more a window to the world than Mission, how about dedicating Mission to faster transit/car traffic, and repurpose Market street as a more pedestrian/cycling area. Market is useless for access to the Embarcadero, which solves that part. The other side is an problem. You need better communication between Mission to Market around Gough or Octavia so that people going upper Mission can easily reach Upper Market or the west side. These 2 streets should merge seamlessly but I don’t know how that could be done.

  48. Agree with MoD about Michigan Ave and Champs, they’re too much of a traffic sewer to really be a great street. Both Paris and Chicago have better streets, IMO.
    For a local version of a great street, I think that Market from 5th to the Embarcadero is pretty damn great, with very little auto traffic and all sorts of vibrancy.

  49. “These 2 streets should merge seamlessly but I don’t know how that could be done.”
    That would involve DBI removing its own building so chances are it will never happen.

  50. I was thinking more using McCoppin for that purpose. But it is cut from Market at Octavia. You can’t cut a freeway that easily…

  51. “Agree with MoD about Michigan Ave and Champs, they’re too much of a traffic sewer to really be a great street. Both Paris and Chicago have better streets, IMO.”
    I strongly disagree, I think both those streets are fantastic. It’s full of cars no doubt but lots of foot traffic, vibrant retail and a fair amount of greenery.
    “For a local version of a great street, I think that Market from 5th to the Embarcadero is pretty damn great, with very little auto traffic and all sorts of vibrancy.”
    Help me understand what is so great about this rather bland stretch of Market St? Yes, it’s better than mid market but that bar is really low. There are at least half a dozen streets in Manhattan that are far better than the example you site. Less automobile traffic is not required for a city street to be a success.

  52. Good points Willow. We have a similar point of view.
    For someone to actually call the Champs and Michigan Ave. “traffic sewers” is simply not correct, and not at all an accurate description. These are among the worlds great urban streets, and yes with cars. The cars do not make these streets less enjoyable and less beautiful. Plentiful greenery, sculpture, great night lighting and an abundance of superb retail destinations bring in tons of people, tons of walking.
    And yes, that strip of Market St. from about 5th to the Embarcadero is not horrible, but not “great”. It needs more landscaping, art, seating, more retail at ground floor.
    There is a certain viewpoint here in SF that all, or almost all cars are evil. They are not. Unfortunately, many bike-centric residents simply cannot see the balance. To them it is all bike, and no cars.
    As you said, a great street is not unsuccessful because there are cars on it.

  53. noearch: I think providing access to safe bike lanes has it’s place, but you’re right, we need to think on a much larger scale. San Francisco is unique in so many ways, but are we going to be a grown up city, or revert to being a slightly larger version of Berkeley? We have traffic problems all over the Bay Area but Market St is definitely not one of those hot spots. (As someone mentioned earlier in the thread, it is basically a semi-abandoned thoroughfare. Whenever I have guests from out of town they are decidedly unimpressed by our “main” street.)
    Honestly, the rendering above is really no different to the way Market St is today sans the tacky wild grass growing in the planters. This kind of timid cutesy planning is great for smaller towns but it is going to ensure that Market St remains under utilized and things don’t change in any significant way.

  54. noearch – Do you really believe that no quality of life problems are introduced by auto traffic? The noise alone can be very annoying. And the pollution and safety issues literally affect livability. Not only do the presence of cars make streets less enjoyable to those on the sidewalk but they also endanger pedestrians.
    I’m not implying that cars should be excluded so don’t bin me in the “cars are evil” crowd. But we shouldn’t be blind to the problems brought on by automotive traffic.

  55. “But we shouldn’t be blind to the problems brought on by automotive traffic.”
    Sure, but that doesn’t mean that “no auto traffic allowed” is the right answer. I get that Bikutopia requires an economy run on bloggers and cupcake shops, but it’s not very realistic.

  56. And yes, I know you said that, Milkshake — just wanted to reiterate it. This is already an automotive dead zone eastbound, and I’m not convinced it has made the neighborhood better.

  57. Part of what makes a successful urban living room is to give people the chance to mix, move, and see and be seen. Noise, music, horns, are all part of what energizes city space. Cars are part of the show with pedestrians checking out eachother as well as those in cars, trams and bus vehicles. The more congested the more popular the urban space becomes. I would rather see the bike lane become a part of a much wider sidewalk with well designed landscaping that reflects an urban context. The landscaping acts as a buffer between pedestrian space and bikes and vehicles.
    It is tulip time back in Chicago right now and that city puts on quite a show.

  58. NO, NO, NO! mod> I never said nor implied anything of the sort, regarding cars and quality of life issue. Please stop trying to put words in my mouth, or others and stop baiting me. Not the forum for that.
    If car noise is REALLY a problem for you, then wear ear plugs.
    anon94123 added some great comments about congestion and urban excitement. Great photos too, by the way. Chicago does know how to do it well. We could learn from them.

  59. Sorry noearch, I took your statement “The cars do not make these streets less enjoyable and less beautiful.” as meaning that you didn’t think that cars impacted the quality of life, enjoyment being part of that.
    sfrenegade – I agree that any traffic is better than none. The more eyes on the street the safer and more comfortable we are. Market is wide and direct and should be optimized to attract the most traffic. Cars should continue to be part of that mix of traffic.

  60. When I think great streets, I tend to think more along the lines of Florida Ave in Buenos Aires or even La Rambla in Barcelona (though that one’s a bit touristy).

  61. (Derisive laughter). I have to use the same analogy I used about the Hoff Street makeover. This is like painting over a rotting deck- it’s pretty, but it’ll still collapse on the party.
    Ah yes, gentrification of an area filled with the lowest common denominator will certainly make it safer for all- ha! When hard times occur, wouldn’t you think the city should allocate more money on long term projects like education of the youth and job training? Eh, whatever, right?
    I pay about 14K on property taxes in SF, and I get one vote like every other gen “X,Y,me” out there. But, I wish that I can allocate more of that money to education. I’m not the sort of person who wants to make the rich, richer or the poor, poorer. I want what is right.
    It’s complex, it’s hard, but if more energy and manpower is spent fixing a levy that is leaking out social degradation, then the city will definitely thrive.

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