Solo driving on rise; transit use dropping in S.F.

A new report by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition reveals that more people are choosing to drive solo, while the number of people walking, using public transit and carpooling is on the decline.

The study, conducted by the Urban Transportation Caucus — which consists of four transit and bicycling advocacy groups in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York — examined transportation trips in four major cities during the period between 1990 and 2000, the last year data for all cities was available.

In San Francisco, 41 percent of all transportation trips in 2000 were single-occupant auto trips, up 5 percent from 10 years prior. During the same period, transit trips decreased by 10 percent, to 31 percent, while walking trips decreased by 11 percent, to 9 percent, according to the report.

Carpooling also decreased by 9 percent, to 11 percent of total trips from 1990 to 2000, the report states.

The only bright figure in the report revealed that bicycle commute trips in San Francisco increased from 1 percent to 2 percent during that same decade.

Chicago and New York also experienced increases in solo driving trips and declines in walking, carpooling and transit trips. For example, solo driving trips increased by 9 percent in Chicago and 4 percent in New York, according to the report, while transit use was down by 11 percent in Chicago and 1 percent in New York.

“We need our city leaders to be setting the right policies and providing the resources we need to make green transit a real option,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “More people want to ride transit than do. More people would like to bike to work than do. You see faults in the system that are holding them back.”

The study also showed that more than half of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions stem from transportation, compared with 23 percent in New York and 21 percent in Chicago. In Seattle, however, 60 percent of that city’s emissions come from transportation.

San Francisco has a goal of reducing emissions to 20 percent below the levels of 1990 by 2012.

arocha@examiner.com

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