Did You Know: Market Street to be Car-Free in 2020

Yes, you read that headline correct. San Francisco’s Market Street will become car-less in 2020.

As reported from The Examiner this past October, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors passed the Better Market Street Plan. “It is bold, it is transformative,” SFMTA board director Amanda Eaken told the public at City Hall shortly before the vote.

In 2020, you won’t be seeing a single Prius, Uber, Lyft, or Camry making wrong, illegal, or dangerous maneuvers from Embarcadero to Octavia Street. Cars will, however, be allowed from Octavia onward into Castro. Though some argue a much more dangerous set of streets than it’s first 20 blocks, cars can still drive up into Twin Peaks. “This will not just be a better Market Street, this will be a magnificent Market Street,” Malcolm Heinicke, SFMTA board chair told the public. “We will have the above-ground subway for our bus lines. We will have a similar priority for our bikes and our taxis.” But critics of the bill have strongly voiced their opposition of the Bicycle Coalition’s appeal in this, “The so called bicycle coalition fails to mention the [redacted] cyclists that blow through red lights and cut vehicles off unsafely to make illegal turns off Market St.”

As the Examiner reports, “The $603.7 million Better Market Street Project has been more than a decade in the making. Under Mayor Gavin Newsom, SFMTA briefly piloted a car-free Market Street, and Third through Eighth streets now have turn restrictions that nudge many vehicles off Market.”


Supporters rallied outside City Hall in favor of the Better Market Street plan ahead of a vote at the SFMTA Board of Directors on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019.  Photography courtesy of Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner.Supporters rallied outside City Hall in favor of the Better Market Street plan ahead of a vote at the SFMTA Board of Directors on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019.  Photography courtesy of Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner.

Supporters rallied outside City Hall in favor of the Better Market Street plan ahead of a vote at the SFMTA Board of Directors on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. Photography courtesy of Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner.

Some of the elements of the plan are already in place, but the city hopes to have a complete overhaul of Market Street done by 2022. Market Street’s sidewalks will be widened to make the street safer for its 500,000 daily walkers to cross, with more street furniture installed to make Market resemble a public plaza. Bike lanes will be protected from traffic to keep more than 4,000 daily cyclists safe. And the 200 buses that run down Market Street every hour will move faster, delivering more reliable transit for Muni riders across The City. And yes, Uber and Lyft vehicles are also subject to the car ban. Cars will still be able to cross Market Street at intersections, but drivers who turn on the street will risk a moving violation, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“Market Street is at the heart of our city, and we need to do everything we can to make it a safer, more livable, and more vibrant place for our residents, workers, and visitors,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “Last year, there were 123 injury collisions on Market Street and the majority involved people walking and biking. Better Market Street and the project’s near-term improvements are critical to achieve our Vision Zero goals and ensure everyone can feel safe on our most traveled street.”

Cyclist Paul Valdez bicycles Market Street daily. During public comment, he told the SFMTA board he often fears for his life because Market Street does not have protective barriers now to protect bicyclists. “I used to have a silent mantra that said ‘Market Street will be the end of me,’” he said.

Though on a revolving laundry list of the cities priorities, we’re skeptic as to how the city will enforce a no-car Market Street in an already congested climate? More cops on street perhaps? Muni officers lining the sidewalks? And to Uber, who’s headquarters lines Market Street. Might we suggest, for our city residents, ditch your cars and go only public transport?

// Have an opinion about this article? Send it our way. Photography by Scott Szarapka


Did You Know: Market Street to be Car-Free in 2020
Scroll to top