Turning streets into pedestrian plazas is no novel idea. Implemented in cities worldwide to mixed results, San Francisco now looks to follow the more successful variety, by starting the planning process to change one of its most famous thoroughfares, Market Street, into a more lively public space.
Aaron Bialick, of Streetsblog reports, "[m]any of the concepts...like car-free zones, raised bike lanes, faster transit, and more inviting public spaces...are hallmarks of the world's greatest streets, and planners in the multi-agency effort are aiming to adapt them to Market using a swath of survey data about how the street is used."
Experiments with restricting automobile traffic has proven successful in other cities, like New York City's Broadway and Copenhagen's Nørrebrogade. Like these precedents, Market Street contains a high usage of bicycles and transit, with "85 percent of people on Market Street [getting] there without a car," and "a quarter of transit boardings in SF [taking] place on Market," states Bialick, citing information provided by project staff.
Obstacles remain, such as the estimated $250 million price tag, of which only the funds for re-paving the street are currently available. Still, the project hopes to be completed in 2015.