For Immediate Release: Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012
CITY UNVEILS REPORTS OF THE CONDITION OF MARKET STREET
Reports will Set City on Course to Revitalize Market Street through Public Realm Improvements
San Francisco, CA - The City of San Francisco is releasing its first set of reports for the Better Market Street Project. The 'Best Practices’ and ‘Existing Conditions' reports provide detailed research on the state of Market Street today and identify alternate uses for the corridor based on exemplary precedents around the world. The Better Market Street Project was initiated to revitalize the Market Street corridor -- from the Embarcadero to Octavia Boulevard -- and to re-establish the street as the premier cultural, civic and economic center for San Francisco and the Bay Area.
“I am excited to see how these preliminary findings from the Better Market Street project will inform the future design of our iconic San Francisco thoroughfare,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “With the efforts we are making to revitalize Market Street by creating jobs through new businesses, increasing public safety with our Community Ambassadors program and growing the artist community, we are on our way to transforming our world-class corridor.”
The reports serve as an archive of the feedback gathered from the May 2011 public outreach workshops and include information on how San Franciscans and other Bay Area residents feel and view Market Street. They will also be used as reference for the ongoing planning and design efforts for the project.
“The Better Market Street Project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform Market Street and bring this major artery for the Bay Area to its full potential,” said Mohammed Nuru, Interim Director for the Department of Public Works. “Public Works is committed to creating a space where people want to stay and enjoy and where pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit riders, and other vehicles can safely navigate.”
Looking at a range of streets in cities from around the world, from Broadway in New York City to Swanston Street in Melbourne, the reports provide examples that could address Market Street’s specific goals and challenges -- particularly those effective in balancing the roles of place-making, mobility and economic development.
By using existing data, supplemented with public feedback and studies conducted by various City agencies, the reports provide analyses of Market Street in terms of urban design, street character and multi-modal operations. The reports highlight the Market corridor as a major transportation artery and significant open-space connector, with great potential for accommodating activities and more public gathering spaces.
Also highlighted are the challenges along the corridor including the lack of: north-south connectivity that leads to the isolation of districts along and adjacent to Market Street; inviting approaches to Market from other streets; comfortable cycling infrastructure and amenities; and attractive public gathering spaces. Public transportation is also slower on average than most other parts of the City mainly because of loading activities, signal timing delays, and auto queues. Other insights came from the 'Public Life, Public Space' study, which revealed that people waiting for transit constitute one of the largest categories of “stationary” users along Market Street and that little effort has been made, through design and programming, to inspire them to remain and engage in cultural, social or economic activities.
“We are looking forward to this much-needed renewed commitment and sense of urgency from the City to design and construct a next generation Market Street. We hear every day from the huge and growing number of people biking on the street about how important a better Market Street is for getting them to work, school and around town,” said Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
In general, the reports reiterate that people mostly enjoyed active, sunny areas with options to eat, sit, and take in the cityscape, such as Civic Center, Yerba Buena, Justin Herman Plaza and the Ferry Building. Areas that received unfavorable feedback were located at major intersections with higher levels of conflict between pedestrians and vehicles and areas perceived as unsafe and “dead zones”, particularly at night. The four priorities that citizens ranked most important from the workshops were place-making, or improving the quality and character of public spaces; creating an interesting and attractive pedestrian experience; building an infrastructure that facilitates bicycling; and reinvigorating economic vitality by inviting businesses to replace vacant storefronts.
From the analyses, the project team distilled several key issues that will guide the conceptual design phase of the Better Market Street project; they include improving mobility, enhancing the public realm experience, reducing friction between modes of transportation, enhancing access, developing a unique identity, and focusing on the interweaving of urban form, street character and functionality.
The Better Market Street Project complements existing citywide plans, including the Better Streets Plan, the San Francisco Countywide Transportation Plan, the SFMTA Transit Effectiveness Project, and the San Francisco Bicycle Plan. The current Better Market Street visioning and planning process is funded through a Safe Routes to Transit grant, Caltrans Planning Grant, MTC Station Area Planning Grant, Prop K transportation sales tax and the General Fund.
Better Market Street Project is led by the Department of Public Works, Planning Department, SF Municipal Transportation Agency, and the SF County Transportation Authority in coordination with the Mayor’s Office and other city departments. To read the reports or learn more about the Better Market Street Project, please visit http://www.bettermarketstreetsf.org