While San Francisco’s transit policies encourage more transport by bicycle, a lack of city spending on bike lanes, racks and education calls into question whether ambitious biking goals are within reach, according to a new report by the budget analyst.
Overall, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is striving to increase the number of trips taken by bike in The City from 3.5 percent currently to 20 percent within seven years, and to decrease the 61 percent of trips by cars currently by 11 percent within five years. But it’s unclear if there will be the political will and the financial wherewithal to achieve that.
For bike trips to increase to between 8 and 10 percent of trips taken using all transit modes, it would require a $191 million investment, the agency says. That’s the cost of implementing a number of projects laid out in the SFMTA’s Bicycle Strategy plan.
But the money is not there — at least not yet. The report said the agency would be short some $142 million.
For bike trips to equal 20 percent within the same time period, it would take $580.5 million. This would include such measures as 47 miles of bike boulevards, 47 miles of colored bike lanes, bike signals at 200 intersections, the addition of 2,000 bike lockers, 24,000 racks and three bike stations with 200 spaces apiece, as well as a bike-share expansion, the SFMTA says.
The report found current investment has been relatively low. The agency allocates about $4.2 million of its $851.1 million operating budget and $35.7 million of its $2.6 billion five-year capital budget to bicycle needs, amounting to .49 percent of its operating budget and 1.4 percent of the capital budget allocated to bicycle transportation, the report said.
Compared to other cities, San Francisco’s per capita spending on bike transportation, at $9.16, doesn’t make the top of the list.
Minneapolis spends $12.72, while Seattle is at $10.47 and Portland, Ore., at $9.94, the report said. San Francisco did fare better than Austin, Texas, at $5.93 and Los Angeles at $3.11. The U.S. cities couldn’t compete to bike-friendly Amsterdam, which spends $22.44.
The report, requested by Supervisor Eric Mar, who held a board committee hearing Wednesday on its findings, comes as City Hall is attempting to improve Muni. Mayor Ed Lee’s Transportation Task Force has identified $10.1 billion in transportation infrastructure needs through 2030, with a shortfall of about $6 billion. City officials are eying November’s ballot for transit-related revenue measures — such as a 2 percent increase in the vehicle license fee to generate some $70 million annually.
As the investment strategy — both revenue measures and spending priorities — remains under debate, bike enthusiasts are hoping to secure a larger investment in biking needs.
Safety on the roads, lack of bike parking and theft are among the reasons cited for cycling avoidance.