SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — After less than a year of launching and going car-less on Market Street in San Francisco, the Better Market Street project is making big adjustments to cut spending due to the pandemic.

Plans for the project are now scaled down, leaving out elements that some bicyclists say are essential for their safety.

It’s called Better Market Street Project, but some say these new changes aren’t for the better.

By now you’ve probably noticed parts of Market Street shut off to personal cars as part of the project. However, other changes in its 2019 plans to make it more walkable and bike-friendly are now lost in new 2020 plans in an effort to cut costs during the pandemic and address an increase in bicyclists.

“Now just in the last couple weeks, they presented a redesign which changes the whole thing and people who walk, people who bike, people who take transit are now unsupportive of a plan that had so much excitement and so much celebration,” San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney said.

Haney said there’s been notable changes.

“They’ve changed the way that the transit lanes are designed. They’ve taken away the protected bike lane and they’ve taken away some of the pedestrian improvements and all we want for this street is for it to meet its potential and to be safe and accessible,” Haney said.

Some of those changes compared here.

Instead of a sidewalk level, a dedicated bikeway is seen in green on the left, the 2020 plans on the right put bicyclists back on a slightly larger roadway, shared with other vehicles.

“That separated sidewalk level bike lane is gone and bikes are back where they are today, sharing street space with taxis and delivery vehicles so that safety goal seems to be missing,” Brian Wiedenmeier said.

Wiedenmeier is the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, a group that says a dedicated bikeway is necessary to keep bicyclists safe. 

By dropping that component, project leaders say they’re saving $63 million. However, the 2020 plans for this first phase of the project will still cost roughly $121 million-plus $7 million for the redesign.

“Again we recognize the need to obtain cost savings in this revised design but for over 120 million dollars many of the benefits that were in the original proposal are gone and we’re having trouble seeing the value that remains.”

Project leaders are hosting an online open house from Nov. 2 through the 13th, in addition to two meetings where people can meet the project team and provide feedback.

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