Remember that whole idea about shutting part of Market Street to vehicle traffic, kind of like what they've done with sections of Broadway in New York City? Well, it's coming to pass in a pilot program, at least for a six-week test run, starting on September 29th. Vehicles traveling eastbound (downtown) on Market will be encouraged to turn right on 10th Street, and then forced to turn right on 8th. Any cars that get onto Market Street via 7th will be forced to turn right on 6th. (See map here.) While comparisons have been made to Las Ramblas in Barcelona or NYC's new traffic-free plazas along Broadway, the difference here is the compromise which will still allow bus, taxi and delivery vehicle traffic down Market -- forcing only unwitting East-Bayers and tourists who don't already know to avoid Market Street to drive in endless, crazy-making circles.
Granted in New York, cars and taxis can still move down Seventh Avenue through Times Square, but as anyone who's been there recently can attest, it's a total traffic nightmare and jacks up cab fares anywhere in the vicinity (but yes, there are now nice places to sit and sun yourself while watching the jumbo-trons). San Francisco plans to incrementally shut Market Street completely to vehicular traffic, beginning first with the creation of mini-plazas with outdoor seating and landscaping, and ultimately with the addition of new medians and cobblestones pending a 5+ year planning process. Owners of businesses in the mid-Market area (between 5th and 8th Streets) believe that these changes will help their blocks feel more friendly to pedestrians. We would like to point out that many of those pedestrians themselves -- particularly the mentally ill and severely alcoholic -- will simply use this as an excuse to stand in the middle of the street more often.