The ban of private cars on San Francisco’s Market Street will have an enormous, positive impact on the city and the surrounding areas. Uber and Lyft drivers and people driving rental and private vehicles will no longer be able to travel through Market Street. The only vehicles that will be permitted are historic street cars, buses, electric scooters and cycles. San Francisco is the latest major city to adopt a ban on certain vehicles. New York City, Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis and Los Angeles have in some capacity enacted methods to ban private vehicles or promote the uses of public transit.
Critics argue that the ban will be ineffective and inefficient, due to traffic being diverted to the surrounding streets. However, the benefits of placing restrictions on the number and types of cars allowed to enter a very populated street like Market Street will positively impact the community and the environment regardless of the short-term problems that may arise.
One such benefit will be increased ridership on public transportation in San Francisco such as the Bay Area Rapid Transit line (BART) or public buses. With more people riding the bus or the BART, the congestion of traffic will be less severe and more people will be able to travel around the city within the hour. According to a Twitter graphic from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), people driving in private cars can transport around 600-1600 people per hour. However, with less cars on the road and more bikes and buses, that number substantially increases to about 10,000 to 25,000 people per hour, which is much more efficient.
Additionally, it is environmentally sustainable to reduce the number of cars on the road because the amount of air pollution and smog will be reduced. According to the National Express Transit, buses emit 20% less carbon monoxide, 10% as much hydrocarbons and 75% as much nitrogen oxides per passenger mile than an automobile with a single occupant. Residents would also be saving billions of gallons of gasoline due to public transit being more fuel efficient.
Furthermore, reducing the amount of vehicles on Market Street will significantly cut down the number of traffic accidents, as Market Street is known to be one of the most dangerous streets in San Francisco. Many pedestrians and cyclists fear being struck by a vehicle while traveling through a crowded street. From 2010-2016 alone, 5,846 pedestrians were involved in a traffic accident and over 130 people have died as a result. In a booming city like San Francisco with its massively growing population, decreasing the number of people that end up in the emergency room will be greatly beneficial to the community.
Lastly, being a resident of San Francisco is already quite expensive as is. Those who own and operate an automobile on a regular basis have to pay for gasoline, maintenance, insurance and parking permits for residential or work spaces. While using public transportation might be slightly more time consuming than driving a private car, the cost benefit will outweigh any added time saved by driving one’s personal vehicle.
While there certainly would be inconveniences in regards to banning private vehicles on a busy street like Market Street, the benefits of doing so outweigh the negatives. More people will be able to travel in an efficient manner and with more riders on public transit, the roads will be safer and less pedestrian accidents will occur.