Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez
A traffic nightmare. Congestions madness. Carmageddon.
Those were the fears voiced by naysayers when San Francisco moved to ban private vehicles from Market Street on January 29 this year. Now, newly released traffic analyses may run over those concerns.
Inrix, an analytics firm that specializes in traffic, revealed data Wednesday that shows those worries were “overblown,” the firm said.
And, in a coincidence of timing, transit advocate Chris Arvin also released data to the San Francisco Examiner this week showing that bus and streetcar travel has become far more dependably speedy on Market Street since the new car-free rules were implemented.
Taken together, the data shows the changes to Market Street have had a small impact on traffic speeds but have also made buses more reliable.
“Overall, the closure had a benign impact on travel speeds,” an Inrix spokesperson wrote in a blog post Wednesday.
The $603.7 million Better Market Street Project will take years to fully implement, and will eventually see bike lanes, transit traffic islands and sidewalks reworked to make Market Street a transit-oriented corridor. The first construction phase for the project is scheduled to stretch until at least 2022, according to the project’s website.
But before any of those major street transformations are set to start, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency implemented a “quick-build” change to Market, essentially adding new signage to ban most private vehicles.
To assess the impact, Inrix measured traffic speeds both before and after on Howard Street, Folsom Street, Mission Street southbound, and Mission Street northbound, during morning and evening peak commute times at regular, hourly intervals. They studied the streets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 12 to 25 and from Feb. 1 to 22.
Seen in a Tweet above, many people voiced concern on social media that car-free Market Street would create traffic problems.
On Howard and Folsom streets, traffic speeds actually marginally increased in some cases. But, as some critics predicted, congestion did lead to a slowdown on Mission Street after the car-free rules were implemented on Market Street. The two neighboring streets run parallel to one another.
Perhaps the biggest speed hit was to southbound traffic on Mission Street in the morning and evening commutes, which slowed from 9.7 MPH traffic to 9.1 MPH traffic at about 9 a.m., and from 8.2 MPH to 7.7 MPH at 5 p.m., according to Inrix’s data.
Speeds slowed on Mission by about 4 percent overall, but outside of those peak times listed above, the slowdown was slight.
For instance, travel times on southbound Mission Street at 7 a.m. decreased from 10.7 MPH to 10.4 MPH.
“The decline in performance on Mission Street indicates traffic displaced by the closure of Market has led to an increase of congestion, albeit marginally,” an Inrix spokesperson wrote in a company blog.
By contrast, data compiled by Arvin, a transit-enthusiast who serves on the board of the Market Street Railway nonprofit and museum, shows the reliability of Muni buses rolling downtown rose considerably.
Study: Banning cars on Market had minimal effect on side streets – The San Francisco Examiner
Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez A traffic nightmare. Congestions madness. Carmageddon. Those were the fears voiced by naysayers when San Francisco moved to ban private vehicles from Market Street on January 29 this year. Now, newly released traffic analyses may run over those concerns. Inrix, an analytics firm that specializes in traffic, revealed data Wednesday that shows… [Read More]