Bicycle use spikes in San Francisco, report shows

The number of San Franciscans using bicycles for transport has nearly doubled since 2006, and more riders are wearing helmets and using dedicated bike paths than ever before, according to a new report.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency released its annual Bicycle Count report Thursday. Since the agency began collecting data in 2006, the number of riders recorded has increased by 96 percent. This year, 76 percent of riders wore helmets — an all-time high — and 95 percent were observed properly using bikeways.

Advocates have long argued that bicycling reduces traffic, eases pressure on public transit and street parking, curbs pollution and leads to safer roadways. The report indicates that public investment in bicycle infrastructure has paid off.

“It’s clear that if we build it, they will come,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “No other mode of transportation is growing as fast or has a higher return on investment in terms of improving our city for everyone.”

On Thursday, Mayor Ed Lee pledged continued support.

“With an increasing amount of people riding bicycles, we must continue to fund improvements for better safety, connectivity and convenience in our city’s bike network,” he said.

Observations were made at 51 city intersections during peak evening commute times in mid-September. At the 21 intersections that were also part of the 2006 tally, the rider count jumped from 4,282 to 8,379.

“Bicycling isn’t just a fun, affordable and convenient way to get around the city; it also plays a critical role in our agency’s goal to increase the overall sustainable transportation mode share … to 50 percent by 2018,” said Ed Reiskin, the SFMTA’s director of transportation.

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