A study made for the Better Market Street Project, discussed the numbers of people and type of activity needed to bring a Street from a "feeling of desolation" (170 people per hour) to a "feeling of urbanity." (1000 per hour)
The traditional belief is that cars cause congestion by driving up and down Market St looking for parking. But the study estimates 85% of traffic goes only as far as two blocks --- either to cross Market or to reach parking. There are 30,000 parking spaces within a 5 minute walk, the average occupancy of which is 45% to 73%. "Drivers have a difficult time locating parking due to lack of signage."
Most out-of-City drivers arrive on Sixth, Seventh, Ninth and Van Ness Streets. Rather than forcing cars to turn off Market Street at Sixth, Eighth and Tenth, the only forced turn should be at Fifth St. Market St car congestion is at its most serious between Fifth and First. The turn at Fifth would also guide drivers to the large City garage at Fifth and Mission.
Banning cars does not speed up bus time
Another belief has been that cars slow bus transit time. In fact, the current car restrictions cut bus and trolley transit time by only 50 seconds between First and Ninth Streets. Now that Muni allows Clipper Card holders to enter any bus door, loading times (which are the real delay) will be cut more significantly than 50 seconds.
Another consideration is that the current forced right turns are the most severe danger which bicyclists now face on Market St.
If workers, shoppers, restaurant goers, and night-lifers were permitted to drive two blocks or so on Market St between Van Ness and Fifth St to a parking garage or lot, there would be a potential of up to 30,000 new people to make Market Street safer and livelier.
If the considerations above were made to happen, there would be a potential of up to 40,000 new people to 3,600 “people of leisure.”
The numbers, as rough and as proximate as they are, suggest that it is feasible to balance workers, residents, shoppers, Nightlifers, tourists and "people of leisure" to proportions comfortable to all.