Three Designs for a Better Market Street and Bikes on MissionJanuary 14, 2015
The Better Market Street project has identified three alternatives for redesigning the 2.2‐mile segment of Market between Octavia Boulevard and The Embarcadero, alternatives which include the possible redesign of the 2.3 mile stretch of Mission Street from Valencia to The Embarcadero as well.
With an overarching goal of making 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,” the Better Market Street project includes both transportation and streetscape improvements, with new transit‐only lanes, boarding islands, street life zones and separated bike lanes or cycle tracks on either Market or Mission.
An overview of the three alternatives, the Impact study of which formally kicks-off today:
Alternatives 1 and 2 involve the redesign and improvement of Market Street only, while Alternative 3 would redesign and improve Mission Street in addition to providing the Alternative 1 improvements to Market Street. Alternatives 1 and 2 each have two design options for bicycle facilities on Market Street.
Under Alternatives 1 and 2 Design Option A, an enhanced version of the existing shared vehicle and bicycle lane with painted sharrows (shared lane pavement markings) would be provided at locations where a dedicated bicycle facility is not already present.
Under Alternatives 1 and 2 Design Option B, a new raised cycle track (an exclusive bicycle facility that is physically separated from motor traffic and is distinct from the sidewalk for the exclusive or primary use of bicycles) the entire length of Market Street would be provided, except at locations where the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)/Muni entrances or other obstructions would not allow it.
Alternative 3 includes the proposed bicycle facilities on Market Street described under Alternative 1, Design Option A and adds a cycle track in both directions on Mission Street.
The Environmental Review for the estimated $400 million project will run through the middle of 2016 with the design of the selected alternative refined and specified through the end of 2017.
And if all goes as planned, the City’s Better Market Street project, which kicked-off in 2011, will break ground in 2018.
Comments from Plugged-In Readers
I see, McCoppin/Otis and Mission to the Embarcadero. That “Valencia” thing had me scratching my head for a sec.
The car-holocaust is like any genocide. It causes the clueless to scratch their heads.
I think it would make more sense to have Mission Street one way Eastbound towards downtown and Market Street one way Westbound?
Van Ness should be the beginning of the “Downtown Loop” We need two grand thoroughfares to connect South of Market to the rest of the Financial District. Having two large thoroughfares through the center of city should allow room for buses, bicycles, automobiles and streetcars all in one direction.
The downtown district cannot accommodate two way traffic anymore, especially if the new Transbay Terminal and highrises are to be built. It doesn’t make sense to crowd the street with opposing traffic.
I think you should go back a few posts and read more on pros and cons of the plan, its design options and alternates. There’s a ton of consideration being given to re-routing and removing traffic all together from Market.
Absolutely. Reducing Mission to one lane each way is insanity, especially if private driving on Market will be virtually impossible.
Agreed. And I agree with mjtowns that Van Ness should be the beginning of any changes to Market. As a South-Westsider, the ability to turn onto Franklin from Market is pretty important.
And that important left turn is the last left turn that should be allowed all the way to the Ferry Building.
I think it already is.
One way streets lead to much higher speeds, which a) does not move more cars due to the higher distance required between cars (look it up, it’s been researched) and b) produces a less safe street that is c) harder to cross and d) much noises and less pleasant for pedestrians.
Seattle has a lot of one way streets and its urbanists agree that they have to get rid of them. The way forward is not to have highways criss cross the city.
Vancouver, BC, on the other hand has removed all non-commercial vehicle traffic from one of its main pedestrian thoroughfares, Granville, expanded and improved its sidewalks and the activity and vibrancy of the street has increased quite significantly. It’s one of the most pleasant places in the city now. So that’s the model in my opinion.
Yeah, Manhattan’s such a ghost town, what with all those one-way streets.
I think you missed my point.
Manhattan has already lowered its speed limit to 25 mph. Why? Because high speeds do not work well for a city with lots of pedestrians. In SF even if this is done will it be enforced? I’ve been in taxis flying down market street like its a highway. I want less of this behavior, not more.
The design of the street affects how people drive, like an affordance in user experience design. One way designs make people drive faster.
Given the pace of buses on Market today, if you can find a taxi driver who can fly down Market, he (or she) deserves kudos. *I* want to be able to transit across the City in demonstrably less time than it takes to walk. Last night door-to-door from Embarcadero Center to Park Presidio was 55 minutes. For a distance of about 4 miles. Ludicrous. You wonder why people drive, you wonder why people berate Muni – because getting around this City is a nightmare, and every initiative coming out of the City seems designed only to make it worse.
but sierra jeff. the new BRT line will shave 45 seconds off your 55 min commute. that’s progress for SF transportation planners!!
Well, Sierrajeff, and motomayhem, if BRT is done properly, meaning center-running and in dedicated right of way, (and ideally with good TSP) then it will actually be fast. Seattle has a light rail line which is part at grade, but has its own lanes in the center. It also has very good TSP – when train enters the at grade segment, a cascade of green lights starts that is timed exactly for the scheduled run time of the train in that segment. So the result is that the train never stops at a light – only at stations. Despite being at grade it performs as well as a subway or elevated line. If Van Ness / Geary BRT achieve that level of performance they will indeed be very fast.
For Market, I agree that from a transit perspective the investments are somewhat superfluous given what’s underneath. But the point here is to make it a better place for pedestrians. Emphasis on “place”.
Market St. is already wonderful for pedestrians… if they’d clean it.
I am glad at least Anton has a fundamental understanding of modern urban planning. Cities should be designed for people, not cars. If you want to fly around town in your car, please move to the suburbs. The more walkable the city, the better the quality of life for all of its citizens. Accomodating private autos does not mitigate traffic congestion, it only encourages more private auto traffic. Thankfully private autos will soon be barred from Market Street entirely, and at that time the Central Market redevelopment efforts will have been completed and you will see a community where there once was none.
Getting rid of cars on Market might work, but I have always wondered how they would handle deliveries? Would this only be allowed in the middle of the night?
The new law would probably exclude taxis, disabled drivers, buses, service vehicles, delivery trucks, etc.
I don’t know if you are trying to be funny or not moto, but the actual savings from the Van Ness BRT will be 7 minutes. Much more from the Geary BRT.
utterly insane to consider removing car lanes from mission st. this would make lives for auto and motorcycle drivers an absolute nightmare and snarl tracffic all over. Mission is already packed with cars because market st is such a mess. why add the bike lanes on Mission when Market already includes them and basically takes the same path?
Howard, Folsom, Harrison… all major streets just south of Mission are multi-lane, relatively high speed corridors. Mission Street is a major Muni bus corridor and, downtown, the right lane is transit only (so it’s effectively a two lane street already). With TEP, eventually the Caltrain extension, and other transit improvements (such as this Better Market Street) the objective is to speed up transit so that fewer people opt to drive in one of the densest downtowns in the United States. Mission Street (and downtown/SOMA) will do well with a road diet (indeed, with multiple such diets).
So how is reducing Mission to one *shared* lane each way – instead of one (largely) bus lane and one general use lane, as today – going to speed things up?
bus rider. all of those streets are already packed to the gill. have you driven down mission lately? none of the auto drivers respect the transit only lane because it already slows things down way too much. I could support this from Embarcadeo to 3rd or 4th, but the areas south of that don’t make sense to me. hard to argue that 5th through 11th is “one of the densest downtowns in the United States.” its really not dense at all.
Check out the South of Market plan. Howard/Folsom/Harrison are to be downsized and made more ped-friendly, possibly even made into 2-way streets. Now if Planning/MTA had the guts to do that with Oak and Fell…
If Planning/MTA had the ignorance (FTFY) to do that to Oak and Fell, this City would grind to a standstill. Fell is one of the few decent (meaning, more than averaging 10 mph) ways to get to my home in the Inner Richmond. I’m tired of everything being reduced to the lowest common denominator of service.
To sierrajeff and moto mayhem, again improved transit (TEP, Better Market Street, Van Ness and Geary BRT and other improvements) will noticeably speed up Muni. It’s likely that many (most?) SOMA motorists are attempting to access I-80/Highway 101, but for those who are accessing downtown and SOMA locations, faster Muni becomes a more attractive option than driving and dealing with congestion (and perhaps feeling compelled to knowingly break the law, as moto mayhem alludes to). Not to mention, faster Muni also makes BART and Caltrain (and trans-bay AC Transit) a more attractive option by providing a speedier SF link to regional transit – thereby reducing SOMA congestion.
Changing the surface of Market Street will not improve the timing and service level of the Muni underground (which is pretty much at capacity during the morning and evening rush hours). And even if it did, the massive a.m.-inbound, p.m.-outbound Muni underground demand has nothing to do with the cross-bay, I-80 traffic. Muni underground could be empty and pristine, and it wouldn’t take away a car driven from, say, Piedmont to SoMa.
Sure it does. Faster transit service to The Sunset will make it a more appealing option for those with jobs in SOMA.
It is absolutely bonkers that it’s 6 years from kick-off to construction start… Especially considering construction will probably take another 2.5 years. I can only assume that the reason the timeline has been stretched out so horribly, is for budgetary reasons?
Have there been any announcement of architects attached yet?
I agree, why a year and a half to design? Let’s not over design it… lets just make it simple and start a year earlier on the construction.
The website lists designers for the concept phase 1:
Gehl Architects – Prime, Urban Design Lead
Perkins+Will – Project Management
CMG Landscape Architects – Streetscape Design
In Option B, why is the transit boarding island next to the shared lane on the left side? Shouldn’t it be next to the transit-only lane, as it is on the right side? If the bus has to leave it’s designated lane to pick up passengers, it will have to wait behind whatever traffic is already in that lane–doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose?
Why aren’t we improving the travel times on the other corridors first? Market Street already has multiple options for traveling the same route.
Indeed, why not have all feeder lines end and turn back at Market (e.g., from my neighborhood, the 5, the 31, etc.) and then have dedicated “high-speed” shuttles up and down Market? Part of the problem with Market is that all feeder lines from all over the City funnel onto that one route.
The feeders shouldn’t stop at Market, they should CROSS Market. There was a time when there wasn’t much South of Market to go to/from. That has changed.
That would be fine too! I just think it’s a problem that so many lines feed *onto* Market.
agree market st already has lots of transit options and is friendly for muni, trains, bart, bikes and pedestrians (if you ignore the agressive panhandling). What about focusing on Geary and Van Ness where transit sucks.?
Get rid of the transit boarding islands altogether, they create congestion (so often you see one or more buses, that are ready to continue on, stuck behind a bus or trolly where someone is taking their sweet time to load).
And the Mission Street changes are a joke. It’s frequently gridlocked now at 2 lanes each way; but they want to shunt yet more cars onto it (from Market), while reducing it to one lane each way?
It’s like the Planning Department is endeavoring to turn SoMa into a dense high-rise area (which I support), while another arm of the City is trying to turn the SoMa streets into quiet boulevards. You can’t have the Upper East Side of Manhattan density, and single-lane country lane traffic, in the same reality.
Actually, you can. Just go visit Vancouver, BC, or if you are more adventurous Barcelona. They are way nicer than Manhattan and one of the reasons is the much lower traffic. If you live in the city you use your car mainly for weekend trips.
1) “Nicer” is subjective – I like Vancouver, but I also like Manhattan.
2) When I’ve been in Vancouver, the traffic – to/from the airport, downtown, across the Lion Gate Bridge – has certainly not been anything to brag about.
3) We aren’t talking about the Richmond or Sunset, where the majority of traffic (other than on 19th Ave) is local. The FiDi and SoMa have a huge number of non-resident traffic (both commercial, and tourist). If someone can do a license-plate study of traffic on Market and Mission and show that it’s just as local as traffic on Geary or Lincoln, then I’ll pay more attention – but I strongly suspect that that will not be the case.
Traffic to the airport? I haven’t experienced that in years despite frequent visits.
The Canada SkyTrain line takes you to the city in 20 minutes, faster than you could drive with no traffic at 4am…
The Lions Gate bridge? You have the SeaBus ferry (15 min to the city every 15 min!). The only answer to congestion in dense areas is transit on dedicated right of way. No matter what optimizations you make to your road network you will never be able to produce the needed capacity save for tunneling giant highways….Big Digs…
In Mahnattan 85% of people come in by train. For a small minority of 15% to disturb the rest is ridiculous and people have proposed numerous times to close every other street to traffic. SF is not there yet but density and cars just do not go hand in hand. Just look at every dense city.
Just leave it the hell alone until there’s a budget to redo the fixed transit lines (sometime in the 22nd Century).
save the money for a usable subway system on geary and van ness
^ This! So much more bang for the buck.
Where are we going to get the $15B for these projects? At this rate, it will take at least 100 years.
You are so right Sierrajeff. NYC manages to keep things moving for pedestrians and bicyclists without restricting cars to one lane each way on Broadway, 5th Ave., Park Ave., etc.
There is no way and no reason to try and make SF car free, which seems to be the goal of the current crop of transportation bureaucrats at City Hall. It won’t work.
If only the objective were to make this town car free. The objective is to improve transit speed, improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, and improve quality of life for all by having select streets be less inundated with automobile noise and exhaust and thereby become more conducive to strolling, shopping, dining, and enjoyment of the city.
Having a cars nearby has never prevented me from shopping, walking or biking in New York, Tokyo or London. With two levels of transit tunnels and numerous above ground bus and trolley lines, where is it shown than cars are preventing Market Street from working? I have never seen a traffic jam on Market Street except during Critical Mass. . The safety concerns on Market Street are not because of cars, but because of numerous criminal problems, homeless issues, and other unsafe behaviors.
I’m glad to hear that the air and noise pollution of nearby cars and motorcycles does not disturb you, but this project is about making Market Street safer and more enjoyable for all – while improving Market Street’s function as a transit and pedestrian corridor. As it now stands, plenty of SF residents prefer not to bicycle on Market Street. Despite several improvements for bicyclists, many potential riders still do not feel safe bicycling – with the ongoing presence of too many clueless motorists (who appear oblivious to signage, ie. signs that limit access, prohibit turns, and forbid motorists from blocking the box). Once Market becomes a safer street for bicyclists, there will be more riders and more “eyes” on the street. More bicyclists and more pedestrians from all walks of life results in more commercial activity and a desire to linger and enjoy the city (a la Valencia Street) – resulting in a safer street and likely reducing Market’s “unsafe” feel.
I see motorists blocking the box and gridlocking traffic at Van Ness and Market every single work day. I wish MTA would put a cop there to write tickets, it is right in front of their offices, they must know about the problem.
Of course they know about the problem. It’s a matter of priorities.
In December they did an enforcement on the approaches to the Bay Bridge during the PM rush hour. The first day I watched 6 cops at 2nd and Bryant ticketing for block-the-box and for HOV lane violations. They still weren’t enough to keep up with all the violations.
Within a few days the drivers had adjusted, the traffic dropped down and was better behaved, and they cut back to 3 police, but even after a week of enforcement there were still more violations than those cops could keep up with.
There was a carryover in the driver behavior for a few weeks, but now it is back about like it was before.
I do wish SF would take some pointers from NYC. The Prospect Park West bike path is great– that’s what they should have done on JFK in GGP. They’ve also made better progress on protected bike lanes throughout the city.
I would rather have a traffic choked Market Street that was attractive, dynamic and “world class” in its atmosphere and design, than a car free street of dismal retail and ugly architecture that we have right now. There are many great streets around the world where cars do not take away from the pedestrian experience. Michigan Avenue, Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard, ANYWHERE in Manhattan, or even Champs Elysees to take just some examples. Cars are not what is making Market street not work for this city. Drugs, crime and homeless issues are why parts of Market Street are a “no go” zone for many.
Exactly. Somehow Park / Madison / Fifth / Sixth / Seventh and Eighth Avenues in Manhattan all manage to serve heavy traffic loads, *and* heavy pedestrian usage, all while containing vibrant world-class businesses in some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Bumpouts and painted lines won’t make Market Street world-class; making Market Street functional – an arterial that supports the community rather than stifles it – is what’s needed.
(And to your last point – I think there’s a reasonable argument to be made that if there were more traffic on Market – more eyes and activity – then a lot of the seedier activities wouldn’t occur. )
“More eyes” on Market Street – surely all those motorists that have been driving Market over the past decades have done well to reduce crime there. What’s needed are the eyes and ears of pedestrians and cyclists and transit riders, people who are more attuned to their environment and who aren’t cocooned in a noise-reducing shell.
Indeed. Market *has* cars today and that’s clearly not helping.
And all those streets in NYC that have a lot of traffic – what makes them vibrant is all the people walking, not the traffic. Traffic and the noise it creates only detract from that vibrancy.
Let’s look at London as that has a larger variety of urban environments:
Marylebone Rd (aka A501): 6 lanes of cars, but not much retail, not much vibrancy/pedestrians
Regent St: 4 lanes, with 2 mostly for buses, most traffic is either transit or taxis, lots of retail and lots of vibrancy
Carnaby St: 0 lanes – completely pedestrian street, extremely vibrant as well
Now, you may say, if Regent and Carnaby have similar vibrancy, then you can’t argue either way – well, Carnaby is a whole lot more pleasant, however. If you wanted to dine outdoors, you’d do that on Carnaby, not on Regent.
We are looking to make Market like something between Regent and Carnaby. And I think that can work well.
Could someone point to me any study that shows some huge amount of automobile traffic or back up on Market Street itself. (I am not talking about crossing Market Street). I don’t know of many people who use Market as a way to get cross town. Lombard, Geary, Van Ness-Gough-Franklin, etc. etc. are the streets drivers tend to use.
As mentioned earlier, the only time I have seen major auto congestion on Market Street is during Critical Mass.
So Anonandon and anon1 are the same person? How many sock puppets do you have?
I think the Manhattan argument is a bit off-base. Most of Manhattan is so dense that there are people jamming the sidewalks even though conditions are adverse.
You know, 8th Ave in Manhattan hosts a fairly nice parking-protected bike lane.
Bloomberg closed Broadway from 42nd to 47th, Allen Street has a pedestrian mall, Orchard street is closed entirely to vehicular traffic for about a mile, etc. I read that 20 car-free pedestrian malls were created under the previous Mayor: City plans bicycle lanes.
We could learn a lot from Manhattan.
If crime is why market street does not “work” the let’s address crime. That has nothing to do with whether there are cars on it or not (as it is there are cars on it and the crime is still there).
anton, maybe we should make san francisco totally inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t live in the urban core and has to drive a car to get downtown. What world do you live in?
Do those people not have access to any Bart station?
Giving drivers access to Market St. requires more than just maintaining traffic lanes– it requires parking, too. That’s a LOT of space per person. If you have 50,000 square feet of space, do you use 25,000 for offices and 25,000 for parking so that all the people in those offices can all drive there? Or do you use all 50,000 for offices, even if it’s inconvenient for some people to use alternatives? The answer is pretty obvious, especially when the alternatives are well-developed.
Sure, you can still reserve a few thousand square feet for a few people to park, but any way you cut it it’s a lot of space for not a lot of people.
That is exactly right. No one drives their car to Grand Central Station, expects to park it there and then walks to shopping or work. They take transit, or use a cab, or bicycle or walk. This area will have Midtown Manhattan like density soon and will not physically be able to support the traffic and parking required for everyone to drive and park to their destination.
There is plenty of existing parking near Market Street (pdf map at namelink). Hundreds of thousands of cars a day cross Market St and more than 100k of them park within walking distance. The constraints for car commuters to SF are the capacity of the Bay Bridge and Hwys 101 and 280, not the parking.
Jake, the constraints for car commuters to SF are also the capacity of SOMA streets (for all those drivers attempting to access downtown). As SOMA gains more residents, its streets become more congested. Many of these new residents are ideally situated to conduct at least some of their daily business sans auto and, importantly, these residents will surely benefit if their streets are less congested and less overrun with cars. Indeed, some new SOMA residents become outspoken critics of the near daily deluge of cars that clogs SOMA streets. Most socketsite readers support increased housing in SOMA. With so many new residents, we may as well make the local streets as livable as possible.
The worst congestion on SoMa streets is backup from the highways. If the Bay Bridge and 101/280 ramps were unconstrained, i.e. well under capacity, then there would be much less congestion in SoMa.
The latest congestion study found that the Bay Bridge eastbound PM is the worst in the entire Bay Area. The primary choke point is where the Rincon Hill ramps merge with the flow already on 80 eastbound. During the PM peak hour 5-6k cars get on 80 eastbound from SoMa (namelink). The backups from that bottleneck are often several miles long on the highway and a half mile or more on the surface streets.
Similarly during the PM rush hour the on ramps to 101 and 280 south back up deep into SoMa. Embarcadero and 6th St often backup all the way to Market. The Octavia and western SoMa streets regularly backup as well, though with shorter queues.
Thousands of cars are ‘stored’ on SF streets in these long queues crawling to the highways and on their way out of SF to the east bay and peninsula.
One reason the AM congestion is not as bad in SoMa is that they intentionally use the lights after the toll gates to throttle the cars getting on the eastern approach to the Bay Bridge. A similar throttle in SF would have to be applied at the various downtown/SoMa parking garages and meters.
Reducing the physical street capacity that currently conveys this traffic, such as converting auto traffic lanes to bike lanes or bus only lanes, will not reduce this congestion. It will make the queues longer, which means more congestion not less, and more frequently, and for longer durations on average.
About half the cars driving in SoMa and downtown during the commute are from out-of-town, not SF residents. Less than 30% of SoMa residents with a job drive to work. Adding or subtracting 5-10k thousand housing units in SoMa will have very little impact on the congestion. Adding or subtraction 50-100k jobs has and will have much more impact on congestion than any of these plans.
Jake, I appreciate your detailed response. As you point out, current arrangements apparently are not working as SOMA streets are already congested. You seem to ignore the benefit improved transit will bring to congestion. Street space is finite. Since buses carry far more people than cars it’s smart policy to provide transit only lanes (most automobiles have 1 occupant, rarely 2 or more, and most public buses have perhaps 2 dozen or more passengers). Transit only lanes enable transit riders to get to their destinations faster, encouraging more people to travel by bus instead of by single occupant vehicle. Better transit and street modifications (ie. more transit lanes and safer, protected bike lanes) bring benefits to all – in the form of improved mobility, less congestion, less pollution, and more livable streets and neighborhoods.
SoMa streets are congested by design. After the 1989 earthquake SF decided to tear down the elevated freeways that carried traffic between the highways in SoMa and north of Market all the way to Broadway at the foot of Telegraph Hill and to the slopes of Cathedral Hill.
Those decisions dumped a deluge on the SoMa surface streets. There was no mystery then or now about where that traffic was going to go. All you have to do is look at the parking garage map (pdf at namelink). What little traffic engineering has been done channeled it down the streets that now have the greatest backups, but the enormous volume flows all through SoMa.
These little tweakings of the layout of Mission and Market and their MUNI/bike lane configurations aren’t going to convince many (or likely any) of the more than a 100k car commuters that arrive on 101 and 280 to switch to transit.
If you want to speed the MUNI commute for folks coming from the Mission or Castro directions to downtown, then this may have a minor benefit. But don’t kid yourself that it is going to reduce traffic congestion. It is going to push more cars onto Howard and Folsom and other alternate routes. It will increase congestion in the heart of SoMa not decrease it.
FWIW, the number of jobs in SF in 1990 was about the same as in 2011. Also, the number of commuters from San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties was about the same. The numbers have ticked up with the job growth of the last few years. You can expect that for every 4 jobs created in SF, two will be filled by commuters from outside of SF, and one of those will be in a car.
Hmm, someone on Socketsite said this about a month ago:
“If you look at a longer baseline of ACS commute and work data, say from 2005 to 2013, San Francisco created more than 100,000 jobs and added less than 10,000 cars to the commute. The margin of error is large enough that there may have even been no cars added. During this time more than 60% of the growth in commute was transit. Transit together with walking accounts for about 3 out of 4 added commuters from 2005 to 2013. Maybe some of that’s because of better BART/MUNI/Caltrain and more housing built near jobs, maybe some is people too poor to drive.”
So I think we can grow jobs without growing more suburban commuters. We have 50,000 housing units in the pipeline, most of those will be filled by people with jobs in San Francisco. I also think people will crowd more into the current housing. We are not building anymore freeway infrastructure, at least not in the core, and it appears to be already at capacity, so I don’t see how we can get too many more people commuting in. Maybe in buses.
Njv “We have 50,000 housing units in the pipeline, most of those will be filled by people with jobs in San Francisco.”
I would love to see data from recent buyers of new construction to see where they work. The congestion on 101 in the morning going south out of the city appears to be as bad or worse as that traveling into the city, and it is definitely worse in the evening commute. I’ve been doing that commute for 20 years . It’s never been a “reverse commute” during that time but the last year has been very different
NVJ, that post of mine was a warning about the dangers of cherry-picking data sets and taking data out of context to support your predetermined position. A behavior which you have once again exemplified.
Consider that from 2005 to 2013 nearly half of the job growth (about 45%) were commuters from outside San Francisco. That 55:45 split is typical and has held for about 25 years. There is simply no evidence in the data for your belief that “we can grow jobs without growing more suburban commuters.” Not sure why we would want to, but quite sure we won’t.
Here is something germane that is in the data: during this same 2005 to 2013 timeframe, while we undoubtedly saw a large percentage increase in bike commuters, in absolute numbers the increase in the commuters that drove alone in a car was greater than the increase in bike commuters. Got that, for every new bike commuter to work in SF over the past 8-10 years there was another solo car commuter.
It’s almost as if every time someone gives up their downtown parking space to bike in from the Mission or Inner Richmond another person from the east bay or san mateo drives in to park in that space.
I know, how could these people not “switch to better modes of transportation, like transit, cycling or walking.” Mind boggogling isn’t it. Haven’t they heard of Amsterdam? Oh well, the magic of supply and demand in a tragically selfish world.
As for “how we can get too many more people commuting in.” Well, the combined capacity of the two bridges (BB and GG) and two highways (101 and 280) that carry most of the car commuters is greater than 30k cars per hour inbound to SF. All it takes are people willing to leave a little earlier or later to expand the length of the peak commute enough to more than make up for all the new bike commuters. And the Bay Area already has millions of car commuters as a pool of people that might make that choice for a job in SF and a home in the suburbs.
Irrespective the design particulars and urban development philosophies encapsulated and discussed here, I’m surprised nobody has raised an eyebrow about the cost.
6 years: OK, maybe, par for the course excessive analysis and “consensus building.”
But $400 million, to re-pave and landscape at most 4.5 miles of streets? Do we get a few miles of cut and cover subway out of the deal too? Gold-plated public toilets?
i would certainly rather have a half mile of subway as opposed to this. Why doesnt the city save their money for long term transit solutions that will really improve transit? Im sick of all the expensive band-aids. dont spend on transit for 5 years, save the money and then do something real.
I was involved in the community outreach for the Better Market Street Project since 2011. I do not like putting cyclists on Mission, please scratch that option, along with Option A.
Option B is favored and The City has a great opportunity to prepare for the growing number of cyclists in the future. Additionally, The Safe Market Street Project is already going to roll out no turns on Market Street as part of the Vision Zero Project. Essentially, this year’s changes will restrict autos turning onto Market Street between 3rd and 8th Streets. These restrictions will apply to private vehicles and motorcycles. Only private vehicles with disabled placards, bicycles, taxis, all transit, shuttles, ParaTransit vehicles and commercial vehicles will be allowed to turn onto Market Street between 3rd and 8th Streets. Both directions of the existing transit-only red lane will be extended to 3rd Street. There will be white loading zones near the affected intersections where vehicles can pick-up and drop-off passengers who need to access Market Street. These are great improvements working with The Better Market Street Project.
thanks for the input and perspective. Option B with your other input sounds pretty reasonable. I think all the negative reaction, especially from me, was about the mission street alternative 3 plan, which is horrible.
Did you consider putting *all* they cyclists on Mission and leaving Market 100% to buses, taxis and delivery vehicles. That would seem to make the most sense to me.
Reducing traffic on Mission St and Market St will cause most drivers to take other routes that are faster anyway. The rest will switch to public transit, which by 2019 will include another subway line. My question to everyone against the market plan is: have you driven down market, mission, howard, folsom, bryant, and brannan streets and which ones were the fastest?
if more people are diverted by taking away a street , then all the others becomes slower too. they are all already too slow during commute times
Good. Then people will switch to better modes of transportation, like transit, cycling or walking. That is the point.
Except none of those are better modes of transportation. Public transit as at full capacity, cycling is too dangerous (and the roads are in terrible condition), and walking isn’t always the best choice for everyone.
better for who? better for the elite 3% of residents who commute via bicycling?
It’s not 3% moto, why are you still so confused about this?
It is less than 3%. Jake has posted the links to the actual MTA surveys numerous times. Even the San Francisco Bike Coalition agrees with the statistics Jake has posted. Why does one person pretend that more people commute by bike than ANY posted link has shown?
It is four percent moto, you know this. It was posted on Socketsite last month anon:
“The share of San Francisco residents who commute to work by bike did hold at 3.8 percent in 2013, up from 2.7 percent in 2008”
Not to be mean or anything anon, but you do you have a learning disability?
The absolute difference between 3 and 3.8% is not very meaningful, but I apologize to have slighted the other 0.8% of elitist cyclists who rule city policy
The difference is over 25%, which seems rather large to me. Glad you think that we rule city policy, but you haven’t heard anything yet.
absolute numbers are more important than % in this case. large % increases of a very small number are not that meaningful and you know it.
Huh? Though 0.8% is small it represents hundreds of people who made the switch to bicycling. The trend is very significant when correlated with improved bike facilities.
People won’t switch to a transportation mode unless they can reach all of their destinations safely and comfortably. Car infrastructure basically satisfies this requirement for about 100% of possible journeys. Bike infrastructure on the other hand is very patchy. There are a lot of gaps where bikes end up jostling with car traffic. Most average or beginner bicyclists won’t feel comfortable doing their weekly travel on bike alone. That is changing though as piece by piece the gaps are closed. Each gap closure enables some additional people to use a bike. This is what is limiting the growth of bike commuters. At the rate we are going this will take a long time even though bike infrastructure is a bargain compared to what it takes to support autos.
I wonder what the bike percentage would be if you included ALL the people who come into San Francisco every day to work from outside the city, as well as all the people who leave the city to work in other areas. I would think this would shrink the bike share to less than 2%. Still I am happy to see that close to 4% of San Franciscans get to work on bikes. Even if all of us city dwellers were to switch to bikes, that would not stop the traffic coming into the city every day.
The “other subway line” will run perpendicular to Mission, so curious how people will change their trips from Mission to the Central Subway. And if other routes are faster now (and I dispute that assertion), they certainly won’t be once traffic shifts off Mission.
People may travel on Mission, but they’re likely not traveling only on Mission (whether in cars or on transit). The network effect means that improving N-S transit will increase ridership E-W as well, even if E-W service levels are unchanged.
I like using Howard and Folsom. Bryant works if I am going to the Hall of Justice. I avoid Market if possible. Not because of vehicle traffic but I hate the vagrants (either drunk, high, or crazy) lurching into the street with a death wish. Some days I want to grant them their wish.
Why can’t we have bike lanes on all streets… both Market & Mission. Alternative 1, Option B + Alternative 3.
The density of both streets is very high, and keeping cycle tracks on both will ensure there isn’t bike congestion.
bike congestion? hahahahaha. the bike lanes are empty 90% of the times. lucky for me, that allows me to use them on my motorcycles
Agreed that the lanes are not congested yet. But that is changing. Not long ago I used to just stop right in the bike lane to answer my phone knowing that no-one else would be riding up behind. But nowadays I make sure to get clear off of the road before stopping because there’s often someone seconds behind. Every year there are more people taking to the roads on bikes and better infrastructure is a big factor in attracting new bicyclists.
I run into bicycle congestion every day on my commute, which is mostly on Valencia and Market.
“Bike congestion every day”? Lol.
BTW- did they ever get the bike counting machine fixed? Last I read it was counting cars and buses accidentally as well.
there are a lot of cyclists on market , but it is far from crowded. Crowded for every other mode of transit means stopped at a standstill. on a bike you might have to slow down slightly from 15 mph or have to go around a slower cyclist. or god forbid, wait at a light with 10 other cyclists. thats not crowded by anyone’s definition. market and valencia are also the most used streets by cyclists. for drivers and muni and other transport, almost EVERY street in the core is truly crowded. Building more bike lanes for various reasons might pass muster, but to do so because it is “too crowded” is just a joke
The bike lanes on Market are below 50% of capacity according to the official SF bike count. And Market St intersections had some of the highest counts in the city.
We might need bike lanes on additional roadways to improve safety and to encourage cycling, and we might need to improve signalling to improve bike transit times, but we don’t need more bike lanes to alleviate impending bike congestion.
We should be so lucky as to have that problem to solve.
@Jake, you are very good with the statistics, and you might want to look into the whole “safety” issue that is floated to push some of these changes. Numerous sources have cited that over 50% of serious biking accidents in San Francisco are “solo falls”(or “cyclist only”) with no auto vehicle involved. There have been big discussions about this on cycle community sites such as Streetsblog or the SFBC. The fact is biking is more dangerous than riding public transportation, walking or driving or riding in a vehicle.
The New York Times wrote about the UC study that showed that the MTA was only using police reports, and not including injury reports from Emergency Rooms across San Francisco, and therefore under counting biking injuries, and mostly only receiving police data with auto vehicles involved in collisions. When one includes the additional cycling injury reports from hospitals, it is obvious cycling is more dangerous whether they receive “protected” lanes or not.
If one were to remove all autos from Market, you would still have many cyclist injuries on Market Street, especially because of the MUNI tracks. After the cars are removed, I would not be surprised that the next step in making it “Safe” for cyclists will be that they demand MUNI rail tracks be removed from streets across the city.
Give it a rest Rob.
I know that I have to slow down and miss some lights because of other slower cyclists in front of me. I think that is the textbook definition of congestion. I don’t think we need to build any extra or wider bike lanes yet, though the ones on Valencia are too narrow and too much in the door zone. They need to be swapped with the parking spaces.
I think the actual percentage of injuries caused to cyclists because of some type of encounter with an automobile is 18%. 82% of all injuries suffered while using a bike are from solo falls. To reduce this number would require better street surfaces and getting riders to take out their audio ear plugs, as well as following laws and traffic signals and stop signs.
Another good idea is to requires licenses and registration for cyclists with a clearly visible plate. The education needed to pass the test would be helpful for quite a few, and the plate helps catch them when the committee crimes
“I know that I have to slow down and miss some lights because of other slower cyclists in front of me. I think that is the textbook definition of congestion”
Which textbook are you reading? I have to do the same in my car occasionally near my parents farm town of 500. Occasional slowing is not congestion. the bike lanes across the city are empty most of the time and market and Valencia have a number of free flowing cyclists only during commute hours. If the number of cyclists quadrupled overnight, then possibly those 2 streets could be considered to have traffic. However still wouldn’t be at a near standstill like cars and buses. The rest of the streets would still be mostly empty.
There are very few protected lanes in San Francisco. In places like Amsterdam, with real protected bike lanes, the injury rate is less than 1/4 of what it is in the US.
Similar statistics are true in Paris. Unless American cyclists are much more likely to get involved in solo falls, your claim is not possibly true. In Paris and Amsterdam is it more dangerous to be in a motor vehicle than on a bicycle and in both cities, overall fatality rates are lower than in the United States. Having a strong bicycling culture makes the streets safer for all road users.
Having been to Amsterdam numerous times, I often see small children and infant-sized kinders riding in the back of their parent’s bicycle (or in a wagon tote-along) and thought it looked dangerous. I went up to the parent and asked. Parent shrugged and said it is not dangerous, you must be from the U.S. because everything IS unsafe there. Many elderly ride bicycles which is practically unseen here. I have been warned several times by locals in Amsterdam that I was in danger as a pedestrian because I mistakenly walked into a bike lane.
By the way, I’m one of I’m sure the many who don’t think of Amsterdam as the city I would like SF to be. Far from it. Why do so many people love Amsterdam? The wife and I both put it low on the eu cities we like. Also, those of us are are motor enthusiasts are often told to move to the suburbs or Texas if we want cars and motorcycles. We could say the same for the bike fascists. I’m sure Amsterdam would love to have you too. they could probably take on the 3.8%
Let’s see whose ideas are more popular with a majority of San Franciscans shall we? Your motorhead ideas vs. my walking, transit and cycling.
Good Grief! NoeValleyJim, were you not the one who was “outed” on this site as “having” to own and use an automobile? I seem to remember you then claimed it was your wife’s car. (this is what the head of the SFMTA claimed when he was shown to be driving to work, even though he claimed he has never owned a car in his life) How do you get to Tahoe, or Big Sur, on your Amsterdam Dutch bike? As a proud Tesla owner, I have long since stopped trying to figure out the irrational hatred expressed here by those of us who use vehicles for appointments and work situations that are not served by public transit.
im all for transit too. but in the absence of vision on transit in this city, more bike lanes for the 3.8% wont cut it.
anon, I think it is irrational to believe that we can continue down our path of auto-first transportation in the presence of increasingly strong evidence that we are destroying our environment, the environment all of us depend on for survival. Are you a climate change denier perhaps?
NVJ, you should go after plane travel. the carbon footprint there is even worse. we can solve the exhaust issues through innnovation, not by getting rid of technology and resorting back to bikes and horses. However, the political will is not strong enough to go after polluters at risk of stalling the economy. we need faster innovation in this area. it will come, but private autos will still be here and used frequently in 50 yrs. just hopefully much lower carbon polluting cars
Since some people have wondered about how many of the people that work in SF commute by bike, I looked it up and went back through the Census data. Here is the actual percentage of people that work in SF that bike commuted from 2005 through 2013, all data from US Census ACS one-year Table B08406:
Notice that the percentage grew steadily from 2005 to 2010, roughly doubling, and then about leveled off in the 2.6-2.7% range.
Those that follow this stuff will know that SF didn’t start the recent rollout of bike lanes until after a court injunction was lifted in 2010. So, while it is only a few years of data, this data does not indicate that creating the bike lanes has had a material impact one way or the other on the percentage of people that work in SF that commute by bike. Not saying that the bike lanes did or did not, only that the Census commute data doesn’t support a claim either way.
Now that seems counter-intuitive, so imagine who are most likely to bike commute to work in SF, who is the ‘target market’:
1) about 55% of the people that work in SF also live in SF and few people bike commute from outside SF to a job here.
2) about 80% of SF workers are younger than 55, and the 55 and over make up a tiny percentage of bike commuters
3) a big swath of SF is not conducive to bike commuting due to both the topography and being further from the main job center. These neighborhoods currently have 1% or less of their workers commute by bike. About 45% of SF residents live in these neighborhoods.
4) less than 30% of SF workers from bike-friendly neighborhoods are car commuters, the rest are unlikely to become bike commuters because (rounded) 20% walk to work, 10% work from home, and 40% take transit
Taken together that results in about 7% of people that work in SF as the demographic. Let’s round way up to 10% to add in the bike commuters older than 55, the bike commuters that do live in the bike unfriendly neighborhoods, and to be generous given the margins or error of all this data.
Anything much larger than that would mean either people switching from transit to bike, or people from the less bike friendly neighborhoods switching to bikes, or the share of people commuting in from outside SF goes down. None of these effects appear in the Census data going back for at least the past 25 years.
Interesting analysis Jake, thanks for it. It is paradoxical that we don’t see much of a bump yet from adding bicycle lanes. We have added very few lanes so far though and almost no protected bike lanes. Everywhere else in North America that it has been tried, adding bicycle lanes has increased cycling mode share. MTA says that bicycling went up 14% from 2011 to 2013, but ACS doesn’t show that much of a lift. I am sure that given the margin of error of both measurements that either one could be true.
The big target for increased cycling is not in commute trips, but other trips: those trips of 2 miles or less which constitute half of all automobile trips in San Francisco. The SFMTA in the past has estimated that 6% of all trips in San Francisco are made by bicycle. I am not sure what their methodology was — phone survey I believe — but it is clear that the mode share for cycling is higher for overall trips than just for commute trips.
I think there is a huge potential for people moving from transit to bicycling. Part of that is personal bias, since I have made the switch myself. But when I saw how much faster, cheaper and more reliable my commute became when I started cycling, I couldn’t believe that I did not make the switch sooner. Not to mention all the health benefits and the fact that I stopped catching colds.
Right now there is a huge untapped potential audience in women. I think the ratio of male:female riders is about 3:1 on the streets of San Francisco. More protected bike lanes would probably improve that.
NoeValleyJim, where do you get the 6% from? Isn’t that during the course of one week? I use my bike about twice a week for city trips (coffee or weekend fun), but use my car 5 days a week to commute to San Rafael from the Marina District. I think Jake’s 2013 2.66% statistic is the one that matters. I see the traffic coming in over the Golden Gate bridge every day and if you were to take two lanes away from Lombard for “protected” bike lanes, it would not make one bit of difference to the drivers coming in from Marin County.
You only think commuters matter? I do not. All trips contribute to global warming. SFMTA 2008 State of Cycling Report states that 6% of all trips in San Francisco are made by bicycle.
“Nearly 16 percent of phone survey respondents reported bicycling an average of two or more days per week for all trip purposes (Figure 5).
• It is estimated that there are approximately 128,000 bicycle trips made each day in San Francisco.
• Approximately six percent of all trips in San Francisco are completed via bicycle.”
I don’t think that San Francisco should spend a lot of time and money encouraging people to drive into The City. They don’t really contribute much to our community other than pollution. Most of them don’t even pay taxes.
NoeValleyJim – the apparent lack of cause (new lanes) and effect (more riders) might be due to the lag in information diffusion. It takes a while after a lane is created before potential cyclists notice them. This is especially true since the streets and roads that drivers and cyclists prefer are often different so if you only drive it may be a long time before you drive down a street with new bike lanes.
I’m a bicycling navigation geek and absorb street and routing information like a sponge. Yet I sometimes encounter a new bike facility that’s been in place for years which I previously didn’t know existed. Lately I’ve taken to consulting google map bike directions for familiar routes just to see of google knows something I don’t.
thanks jake. I have to revise my numbers again. i was saying that the elite 3% bike, and NJV made me change to 3.8%, so it wasnt quite so elite anymore with that 0.8% absolute jump. now it appears the right numberi s 2.66%, so i should call them the super elite.
so the 2.66% of young white male cyclists are setting our transportation policy
I’d suggest that you attend one of the meetings where policy is actually discussed to see the actual demographics.
I just looked up the Wikipedia list of top 25 cities with highest percentage of bike use and we did not make the list. (click on name for link)
Figure out the difference between residents and all commuters moto mayhem. You keep confusing the two: 3.8% of residents who commute to work in San Francisco are bicyclists, 2.66% of all commuters in San Francisco are bicyclists.
3.5% was the last “official” SFMTA estimate for the percentage of all trips taken by SF residents by bike. Curious that NVJ linked to the 2008 SFMTA State of Cycling Report, instead of the 2012 version. Another example of cherry-picking data? SFMTA bike reports are at namelink.
Also, the MTA data NVJ referred to is Census ACS data. The MTA doesn’t have any other credible source. They just use the ACS sample that is limited to residents of SF, instead of all the people that commute to work in SF. I’ve pointed this out on previous threads.
It certainly makes the argument for building bike lanes look much better when you exclude about 45% of people that work in SF that would never use a bike lane because they come from other counties. And yes I know that about 1200 people bring their bikes on Caltrain to the 4th St station. Good for them, they are the 0.2% that gets counted as transit though they also ride a bike for a small portion of their commute distance. It will be interesting to see what happens to their numbers after the central subway opens.
FWIW, the ACS data shows a 13.4% increase in the number of bike commuters to work in SF from 2011 to 2013 (15,344 to 17,396). It has been growing about 6% per year since we started building bike lanes in 2010. It was growing faster before 2010 both in absolute numbers and in percentages.
More importantly, the total number of people working in SF has been growing as fast as the growth in bike commuters. That’s why there isn’t a noticeable increase in the bike mode share of commute.
From 2010 to 2013, per the ACS, there was a 12.0% increase in the commute to work in SF. Here is the breakdown of that 12% by mode:
2.0% Car, truck, or van
6.6% Public transportation (excluding taxicab)
0.9% Taxicab, motorcycle, or other means
0.5% Worked at home
The growth in the number of people that walked to work was 5 times as much as biked, 20 times as many people chose public transit as chose to bike, and 6 times as many people chose to drive as to bike. Looks like the growth in Uber/Lyft/etc was much more than bike.
I guess I don’t appreciate why SF should encourage people to bike over transit in highly congested areas like Market and Mission downtown. That would tend to increase congestion. Maybe NVJ should get back on MUNI and stop clogging the limited bikelanes.
And NVJ, I can’t wait to tell my child’s very wonderful pediatrician that she isn’t welcome in SF because as a commuter from San Mateo County she doesn’t “really contribute much to our community other than pollution.” Are you planning to hermetically seal SF while repainting traffic lanes as bike lanes? It would make it more difficult for the 100k or so San Franciscans that commute to work outside the city, but (insert vague statement about global warming, pollution, taxes, …).
I don’t think the sprawled out suburban land use form is going to be sustainable in the long term. We will certainly run out of oil and it doesn’t look like we will have enough renewables in place by then to allow people to have these long commutes. We could build a bunch of coal-fired power plants but that would exacerbate global warming. We need to cut back on our energy usages in general, not just transportation and the large suburban boxy houses are energy hogs.
Your main problem Jake is that you imagine that the future is going to look like the past. It will not. Have you read the Slumurbia article from The Atlantic?
Now it is not going to happen overnight, and it is going to take some adjustment, but we are going to end up in a very different place as a society energy-use wise over the next 50-100 years. No point building infrastructure for a soon-to-be obsolete form of transportation.
I don’t think that San Francisco should encourage people to bike over transit. But I think San Francisco should encourage both over automobile usage.
The ACS survey only covers commute trips Jake, not all trips. The MTA does their own surveys to try and capture non-commuter cyclists.
As of 2013, about 419k people commute between San Francisco and other counties to work:
– nearly 120k residents of San Francisco work in other counties
– nearly 300k of the people that work in San Francisco live in another county
Hopefully, this helps people to appreciate the scale of the daily workforce exchange between SF and the rest of the Bay Area.
Here is the source data, all from the 2013 ACS 1-Year Estimates, in two groupings:
1) people that work in San Francisco including both SF residents and commuters from outside SF
2) residents of San Francisco that work either in SF or commute to work outside SF
1) People that work in San Francisco
653,091 Workers with place of work is SF
353,392 Workers with place of work is SF and are SF residents (54%)
299,699 Workers with place of work is SF and are not SF residents (46%)
017,396 Workers with place of work is SF and bike commute (2.66%)
The margin of error on the 2.66% bike commute estimate is so large that the value is anywhere from 2.3% to 3.1%.
2) People that live in San Francisco and work
472,449 Workers are residents of SF
353,392 Workers are residents of SF and place of work is SF
119,057 Workers are residents of SF and place of work is not SF
018,174 Workers are residents of SF and bike commute (3.85%)
5.1% of Male Workers are residents of SF and bike commute
2.4% of Female Workers are residents of SF and bike commute
The margin of error on the 3.85% bike commute estimate is so large that the value is anywhere from 3.3% to 4.4%.
FWIW, from these numbers we can estimate that about 5% of the SF residents with a job in SF get to that job by bike.
By the way, I’m on a business trip in Atlanta. It’s one of the worst cities for % of solo driver commuters, even though their subway, MARTA, is quite good. I live here for 3 months in mid 90s and used it frequently.
The problem, especially now, Is the price of gas. The station close to my hotel is selling regular gas for 1.82/gallon. Hard to get prople to switch or invest in renewables when it’s that cheap
Good data, thanks Jake!
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