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Release date: 1/28/11

*** Press Release ***

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all surface transportation, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), today announced a public hearing on Friday, Feb. 4 to consider making the pilot required right-turns on eastbound Market Street permanent. A study of the Required Right Turn Pilot project shows a three percent reduction in travel time for Muni on Market Street.

“The Required Right Turn Project takes a measured approach to improving conditions for transit customers, pedestrians, cyclists and taxis,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Executive Director/CEO. “Our numbers show that these minor modifications have produced real results and have contributed to making Market Street more inviting.”

This traffic diversion pilot project requires eastbound traffic on Market Street to turn right at 10th and 6th streets in order to discourage the use of Market Street by through traffic. Transit vehicles, taxis, delivery trucks and bicycles are not required to turn right. The project does not close any portions of Market Street to general traffic, as traffic may still turn onto eastbound Market Street from all cross streets.

The Required Right Turn Pilot project began as an experiment in September 2009 at the intersections of Market and 8th streets and Market and 6th streets to improve conditions on Market Street for Muni customers, pedestrians, bicyclists and taxis. In January 2010, the right turn only requirement was moved from Market at 8th streets to Market at 10th streets. The purpose of the pilot was to determine if the improvements could be made while avoiding the creation of new traffic problems.

The right-turn regulations resulted in improved Muni travel times for eastbound Market Street, and have been well received by bicyclists, taxi drivers and pedestrians. Most of the traffic removed from eastbound Market Street has diverted to eastbound Mission and Folsom streets, where it has been accommodated.

The change from 8th Street to 10th Street was made in order to reduce conflicts between Market Street traffic turning right and pedestrians and bicycles. Unlike the intersection of Market and 8th streets, the intersection of Market and 10th streets has a continuous bike lane. This is due to the fact that it is one of the few Market Street intersections that does not have a Muni boarding island. The 10th Street intersection also has less pedestrian traffic than the 8th Street intersection, which is directly above the Civic Center BART/Muni Metro station, making the 10th Street intersection more conducive to handling right turning traffic than 8th Street.

Initial observations indicated that less car traffic east of the right-hand turns made Market Street calmer for pedestrians and bicyclists and allowed transit vehicles easier access to the center boarding islands. The SFMTA conducted a further study to quantify the improvements. The study evaluated the travel time of over 900 Muni trips on the portion of Market Street between 9th and 1st streets in September 2009, before the Required Right Turn Pilot program began, and the same transit trips in September 2010. Average travel times on Muni decreased just over three percent. The travel time study found virtually no change in the average travel times for Muni buses on eastbound Mission Street, where much of the traffic removed from eastbound Market Street was diverted.

Other key findings of the study include:

  • The right turn requirement caused about 150 vehicles monitored during the morning and evening peak hours to shift from eastbound Market Street to eastbound Mission Street west of 8th Street.
  • Although traffic volumes increased on eastbound Mission Street as a result of the project, no serious congestion problems arose on that street or on eastbound Folsom Street.
  • Bicycling increased substantially on eastbound Market Street between September 2009 and September 2010; however; the volume of bicycles decreased on Folsom Street, suggesting that many bicyclists diverted from Folsom to Market Street as a result of the project.
  • Approximately 80 percent of the traffic required to turn right at 10th Street currently complies with the regulation. Making the pilot project permanent would allow SFPD to enforce the right turn regulation at 6th Street.

In addition to the SFMTA study, pedestrian counts gathered by the SF Great Streets Project showed an increase in pedestrian volumes in 2010 over the same time period in 2009.

Following the public hearing, the proposal to make the required right-turns permanent will be heard by the SFMTA Board of Directors for approval.

SFMTA Sustainable Streets Division Public Hearing

10-11 a.m.

Friday, Feb. 4

Room 416, City Hall

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

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