Policy by the Numbers
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San Francisco bicycle count shows enormous growth in ridership
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Last week, the
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
(SFMTA) released its much-anticipated
2011 City Bicycle Count Report
. Among the data contained in the 22-page document is one overarching finding: San Francisco is experiencing a bicycling boom. Just how big of a boom? A dramatic 71% increase in the number of people biking in the last five years.
The city of San Francisco began conducting annual citywide bicycle counts in 2006 to measure bicycle ridership trends, evaluate the efficiency of the current bicycle network and influence future bicycle infrastructure planning. Each year, the SFMTA sets up manual bicycle counting stations at 23 locations around San Francisco, counting bicycles that pass through the area over a two-hour stretch of time. They then compare the counts from year to year. The results, in the SFMTA’s own words, have been “impressive.”
The 2011 report [
] showed that 22 of the 23 count stations, the numbers of riders increased in 2011. The count station at Market and 11
Streets, a major thoroughfare for downtown bicycle commuters, showed a 43% increase since last year, and a 115% increase since 2006. Market Street has a protected bike lane in this area, and bicycling advocates at the
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
attribute much of the increase in ridership at this count station to this separated bikeway.
Perhaps the most telling statistic is the increase of bicycle counts at locations with new bicycle infrastructure added this year. In 2011, more than 17 miles of bike lanes were added to San Francisco streets, including 2.5 miles of buffered bikeways. Bicycle count locations with new bike lanes showed an especially large increase in ridership. For example, Townsend Street had bike lanes striped in 2011 and showed a 54% increase in counts.
In addition to the positive findings, the Bicycle Count Report also shows that San Francisco has a long way to go before reaching the city’s official goal of 20% of trips by bicycle by 2020. The 2011 report shows that 3.5% of San Francisco trips are done by bicycle, higher than the national average, but still not there.
In order to move us closer to ridership goals and invite more people to bike, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has developed an ambitious vision for San Francisco of 100 miles of safe, comfortable and inviting crosstown bikeways called
Connecting the City
. The campaign’s website uses videos,
computer-generated visual mock-ups
to help riders and policymakers imagine the potential benefits of each route.
What’s next for San Francisco biking? Mayor Edwin Lee has
called San Francisco a national leader in biking
, and the report says, “the SFMTA is committed to growing bicycle ridership, providing new infrastructure, and improving the safety of bicycling in San Francisco.” The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is working hard to help the city use this valuable data to begin immediately implementing the policy strategies that will increase bicycling even more dramatically in the years to come.
Posted by Kristin Smith, Communications Director at San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
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