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Annual bike count shows commutes in SF up nearly 9 percent

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San Francisco residents are commuting to work within The City at an increasing rate, according to a new report from the SFMTA. (S.F. Examiner)

Bike trips in San Francisco are off the chain.

Daily commutes by bicycle in The City are up by record numbers, according to the newest Annual Bicycle Count Report, released Friday by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The report draws its bike count from three sources: automated bike counters at 15 locations in San Francisco, manual evening bike counts at 80 locations in September last year, and American Community Survey Data.

Out of San Francisco’s total commuters within The City, bikes made up 4.4 percent of trips in 2014. That’s a jump from 2.3 percent in 2006, with an increase of 86,000 new bike commuters.

There are an estimated 82,000 bike trips in The City per day, according to the report — an 8.5 percent increase in bike trips from 2014 to 2015.

Many of those commutes are on Market Street, the numbers show.

SFMTA Director of Sustainable Streets Tom Maguire said seeing Market Street commutes jump by 25 percent in one year illustrates a “tremendous demand.”

“We’re racing to catch up to it,” he said.

More people cycling in San Francisco is “a great thing for the health of our communities,” said Chris Cassidy, spokesman for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

“But this also makes it clear that the city has to continue improving the safety of streets in every neighborhood across San Francisco,” Cassidy said.

A heat map of cyclists in The City shows a surge of cyclists growing in the urban core, downtown and in the Mission — the flattest areas of San Francisco. However, bike growth did not occur much at all in the Outer Sunset, Excelsior and Ingleside neighborhoods.

Bike commutes were up in some neighborhoods considered farther from the urban core, like Potrero, the Presidio, the Inner Sunset and Inner Richmond.

“The neighborhoods where we see the biggest increases in cycling are the neighborhoods where we’ve been making improvements in the last five years,” Maguire said.

The SFMTA has 21 miles of planned bike improvements for 2016.

“Neighborhoods that back in 2005 were without a big mode share, like Inner Richmond or Inner Sunset, or even the Outer Mission, are now showing up as some of the highest [bicycling] rates in the city,” Maguire said.

Cassidy said it’s important for the SFMTA to expand safe bike access in underserved communities, because though they use bikes frequently “they all too often aren’t the first to see bike lanes that would provide them safety and comfort they deserve.”

Maguire said he enjoys cycling with his kids through Golden Gate Park, which features bike lanes separated from traffic by on-street parking. That’s a design choice, he said, The City will employ more often in the future.

It’s also a unique design because it allows for the preservation of parking, Maguire said.

“We don’t want to make a choice between parking and cyclists.”



82,000: Estimated number of bike trips in San Francisco per day

8.5 percent: Amount weekday bike trips rose from 2014 to 2015

1 million:
Milestone number of annual bike trips on Market, reached in Dec. 2015

4.4 percent:
Share of commute trips San Franciscans made by bike

125 miles:
Length of bike lanes in San Francisco

21 miles:
Length of new bike improvements to be built in 2016

Source: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

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  • Randy Stortroen

    Of course, that “design choice” is a fait accompli as governments at all levels cannot stop building props under the automobile industry, from bailouts to subsidies of every description. Meanwhile, they apply another set of policy prescriptions that discourage driving. This industrial policy flim-flam puts all of us in a bind, whether we subscribe to the car culture, bike culture, or both.
    That may be changing due to a devolution of authority for local street design from the federal highway administration to states and localities (following the AASHTO Green Book) but the city has to grab the nettle – not its strong suit. As it stands, even if everybody in the city rode bicycles the streets would be lined with cars, vans and trucks like so much street furniture they bought on easy credit (another prop). And they will be there for longer and longer the less they are used.
    For now, putting people to work “using up” their cars by offering rides is the best solution state and local government in these parts agree on. So ride on I guess but also watch this space, and be prepared to wince at the sight.

  • Stanford7783

    I’m skeptical

  • peanutcrunch

    Now if they could just follow the road laws.

  • Mitchell

    Story should be titled, “Buzzed by Mosquitos”!

  • Just like drivers? That’s a bit of a low bar!

  • Bit of conflating “Bike Commutes” and “Bike Trips” here. Every commute is a trip, but not every trip is a commute.

  • SF Guest

    It takes one to know one.

  • dat

    Zing! Oh man, I bet it took you a while to come up with that insightful comment!

  • @dat – Such originality leaves one dazzled at its sheer brilliance.

  • @roymeo – Yes, it’s not clear, though it seems to be comparing the same thing year to year.

    Our usual Census data for commutes is designed to undercount bike commutes, and people like Rob Anderson like to use those numbers (inaccurately, as it turns out) as if other kinds of bike trips don’t exist.

  • sfparkripoff

    Under the FY2013 – FY 2018 SFMTA Strategic the SFMTA States that their goal is “achieving a citywide mode share goal of less than 50 percent auto and 50 percent non-
    auto (transit, bicycling, walking and taxi) of all trips to, from, and within San Francisco by 2018.”

    Here’s a fun fact. The SFMTA’s “mode share goals” to reduce car usage is also BANKRUPTING the retirement accounts of thousands of public workers (including SFMTA). You see California’s state pension system, CalPERS and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System hold almost $10 billion in major fossil fuel (oil and gas, coal,) company stocks.

    Since the city implemented “Transit First” City Hall, SFMTA, and thousands of other public workers have lost more than $5 billion on their fossil fuel investments.

    Its really quite simple. When people stop driving the government stops collecting the gasoline taxes that fund public transit projects that pays public employee salaries. SFMTAs anti-car policies not only killing off tax revenue from small businesses but they are also killing off their own CalPERS retirement accounts. As the SFMTA moves closer to their (transit, walking, and bicycling) mode share goals they will also accelerate the the demise of their own pension stock funds.

    Mwah hahahahahahaha! I think this is the thing they call schadenfreude.

  • People who are anti-bike always bloviate about how bicyclists should be following road laws and I don’t want to align myself with these people since most road laws make no sense in regard to bikes. (For instance and especially, coming to a full stop.)
    That said, there is one law I’d like bicyclists to be held to rigidly: ride with traffic.

  • Alicia

    That said, there is one law I’d like bicyclists to be held to rigidly: ride with traffic. RIDE WITH TRAFFIC!

    That might be one of my top 5, but my #1 would be to make sure you have lights, and use them, if not all the time, at least during any time of impaired visibility.

  • Ziggy Tomcich

    The reason so many more people are biking each year in this city is because they’ve realized that it sucks way less than driving or taking Muni!

  • SFnative74

    Great to see the increase! Biking is a great way to get around this city – you can go 3 miles in 20 minutes without breaking a sweat and you can almost always park right in front of your destination. I’ll walk, drive, or take transit when it makes more sense, but biking is great!