Starting on Wednesday, January 29, Market Street between Steuart and Van Ness will be almost — but not entirely — free of cars. And if you or your Uber driver mess up and turn onto Market anywhere downtown, you or they may be subject to a ticket and a $238 fine.
As SFist alerted you just after the new year, the "car-free Market Street" transition that is part of the larger Better Market Street initiative kicks off at the end of the month. And this means no more private vehicles of any kind — except para-transit vans and commercial delivery vehicles! — will be permitted to head downtown past 10th Street, or uptown between Steuart and Van Ness. Traffic will be diverted onto parallel streets like Mission, Howard, and Folsom, but the SFMTA thinks that this will not change traffic in any meaningful way — also, it's been about a decade since regular cars could shoot straight down Market anyway, though they were allowed to turn onto it for a block or two.
Taxis with city-issued medallions will still be seen on Market Street, so along with bus, streetcar, and delivery van traffic, Market will likely seem just as busy with vehicles as before. Curbed has some answers for those drivers who still have questions — most notably those with disabled placards should know that no, you can't drive down Market either unless you have a commercial plate/you're operating a para-transit service.
Also, car traffic will still traverse Market Street at every intersection, so "car-free" is kind of a stretch, as descriptors go. The cars just won't be able to make right turns onto the street anymore.
There will be a bit more breathing room for those brave enough to bike to work every day, however, and the changes are likely to confuse tourists in rental cars much they way they have been confused by all the one-way streets in SF since time immemorial.
Bicyclists can now look forward to the next phase of the Market Street bike lane project, which will see the construction of a raise bike lane at sidewalk level between Fifth and Eighth Streets, and then the whole length of the thoroughfare.
Also, the sidewalks are all getting redone with new pavers, new trees are coming, and more.
Below is a computer-generated video rendering that imagines the tranquil scene in a world without taxis or delivery vehicles.