Bike to Work Day 2010 Brings Out Throngs of Bay Area Bicycle Commuters

Richard_Masoner_small.jpgEnough said. Photo: Richard Masoner.

The weather for Bike to Work Day couldn’t have been more agreeable and huge numbers of cyclists took to the streets throughout the Bay Area, early indicators show. In San Francisco, cyclists set a new record for Bike to Work Day, accounting for 75 percent of the morning roadway traffic on Market Street, a one-third increase over last year. Our Streetsblog Flickr pool is seeing some great photos come in from Oakland and San Jose, as well as numerous energizer stations around San Francisco.

campos_bike.jpgSupervisor David Campos laughs about something, perhaps the fact that it’s always sunny in The Mission, and always more fun on a bike? Photo: Matthew Roth

I met up at a commuter convoy on Mission Street this morning with Supervisor David Campos and a handful of cyclists. We rode down Valencia to the SFBC energizer station amid the construction on Valencia and 17th Street, where plastic construction barricades served as countertops for coffee and scones. There was so much bike traffic in and around the commuter station, it spilled into the makeshift travel lanes that had been erected with cones to give the energizer station more room for gathering. Despite the frenetic scene, there were smiles all around, especially from the SFBC volunteers.

kid_and_construction.jpgThe 17th and Valencia energizer station amid the construction project. Photo: Matthew Roth.

The next energizer station we passed was at Market Street and Van Ness, where the SFMTA was handing out free bike lights and co-exist stickers. When I arrived, I was told we had just missed Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Bevan Dufty.

firesigned_Dufty_dutch_bike_small.jpgSupervisor Bevan Dufty. Flickr photo: firesigned

Proceeding on, I pedaled through a crowd of cyclists and found myself passing Supervisor Eric Mar riding in the new green bike lane on Market with Richmond resident and San Mateo County Health Chief Jean Fraser.

Mar_and_Fraser.jpgSupervisor Eric Mar and San Mateo County Health Chief Jean Fraser. Photo: Matthew Roth.

At the City Hall press conference emceed by Renee Rivera, acting Executive Director of the SFBC, we heard some of the expected political rhetoric about the need for more bicycles by some politicians that don’t often ride the ride, but there were a couple of gems that made me smile.

First, Rivera pointed to the green bike lanes and the on-street bike parking on Valencia Street and said she thought the SFBC might not be the only bike advocates in town any more.

"We’re really seeing in the whole city a new spirit of excitement, experimentation, and innovation," said Rivera. "And I would even say, we’re seeing some advocacy from the Mayor and from the staff of the MTA. That really gives us something to celebrate."

Newsom_presser_small.jpgMayor Gavin Newsom at the mic. Photo: Matthew Roth

Mayor Newsom offered the obligatory appreciation to the SFBC for "keeping us honest" and for being steadfast advocates even in the face of adversity with the onerous injunction. Newsom also astutely pointed out one of the things cyclists most love about their rides: "At the end of the day, the one thing that biking does more than anything else is it connects you to other people. You don’t get connected when you’re in two SUVs," he said.

And Newsom noted that despite the injunction, which slowed the infrastructure improvements, cycling has jumped in the last three years. "The reality is that when you saw a 53 percent increase in the number of people getting on their bike, it was suggestive that no matter what CEQA required us to do, that people were going to march a little bit differently," Newsom said.

As for the infrastructure improvements, Newsom pledged to complete the ten projects that were allowed under the partial injunctive relief, including the repaving of JFK Drive and other bike racks.

"I don’t know if there are any sharrows left to put in the streets," he laughed. "They seem to be everywhere. Up my steps, in my living room, there’s a sharrow. It’s amazing, they’re ubiquitous."

In fact, the SFMTA has installed approximately 1,000 sharrows since November, not to mention a green bike box on Scott at Fell, 300 new bike racks and five new on-street "bike corrals," and (brand new) stripes in the Polk Street bike lanes to indicate where the door zone is.

SFMTA Executive Director Nat Ford touted his agency’s bike upgrades
since the partial-lifting of the injunction. "San Francisco’s bike
system got a real shot in the arm last November when the 2006 Superior
Court injunction was partially lifted," Ford said in a release. "As we
look forward to full implementation of the Bike Plan, the SFMTA staff
continue to implement as many improvements and innovations as possible
to encourage bicycling in San Francisco."

And if you’re still looking for the perfect end to Bike to Work Day, Bike Away from Work Parties in Oakland and San Francisco are set to take off this evening.

Please keep sending your photos to our Flickr pool throughout the day and stay tuned for a Streetfilm.

BTW_SF_Bay_GGB_Clif_Small.jpgThe energizer station near the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo: Bike to Work SF Bay
green_bike_lane_small.jpgThe people behind me on the new green bike lane. Photo: Matthew Roth.
John_Brazil_mayor_reed_small.jpgSan Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, on right. Flickr photo: jmbrazil
John_Brazil_dog_trailer_small.jpgBiking to work in San Jose. Flickr photo: jmbrazil
  • Awesomeness all around. Hopefully most of these people had so much fun that they’ll be out there for the rest of summer. I’m kinda the go to bike guy now in my office (sad, I know) and a 40-something lady rode in today and was talking my ear off about it. She was super excited about how great she felt and how easy it was. She mentioned that she is looking forward to doing it more often. We talked about how it’s nice to get some exercise in and fresh air, you don’t have to go to the gym as often or for as long as before, and you feel so much more awake.

    This is great, but I’d love to see a couple (preferably monthly) bike to work days a year. Great job everyone!

  • Bike to work. Work to bike.

  • the greasybear

    For daily bike commuters, the general consensus is that it’s been much harder to park downtown today than it has ever been, including prior bike-to-work days.

    Does anyone have the actual Market/Van Ness 8-9am vehicle counts? They released them last year.

  • patrick

    I go to work on the late side (get in about 10) but I still saw a few more people than usually, especially on my way towards market street.

  • SFMTA Bicycle Program on FB: “1038 cyclists rode down Market Street in front of SFMTA headquarters on their way downtown this morning between 8am and 9am. 75 percent of all traffic during that period on eastbound Market Street was bicycle traffic!”

  • Nick

    There were so many bicyclists on Market Street you could hardly see the green paint.

    Any word on how many new members the SFBC signed up today? Membership has got to be getting close to 12,000 which would be double the number prior to the injunction.

  • Why is our always suited and coiffed Mayor wearing a baseball hat and slacks? Does he not notice everyone else wearing their usual attire while riding?

  • Um slacks = baseball hat…

  • Um slacks = baseball hat = sweats. Ok where’s the edit button.

  • patrick

    @Justin Fraser, yeah I noticed that too, not to mention that during his interview with channel 2 news this morning he said he looked or felt ridiculous 2 or 3 times.

    On an unrelated note, props to all those who volunteered at the energizer stations, your effort is greatly appreciated… and to any first time riders, welcome!

  • Justin/patrick- while Newsom has done some nice things for bikes, I think he still considers it an odd way to get around the city, i.e. not for him. He even made a comment about two SUVs not being able to talk to each other as they ride down the street, this coming from the man who rarely is seen traveling outside his own SUV. He could have easily worn his usual attire, but he treats biking as an oddity.

  • Nick

    I think the “ridiculous” remark was a way for Newsom to poke fun at himself. You’ll remember 3 or 4 years ago on BTWD that he created a minor stir by saying quite seriously that he felt ridiculous for showing up to work in street clothes.

  • Sean T Hedgpeth

    Newsom still thinks that biking to work is some sort of casual Friday. Its not a holiday, its a promotion day for biking EVERYDAY.

  • TMTOWTDI

    Hey, at least Newsom showed up this year. My recollection is that year’s past have not always seen him in attendance. Something to the effect that he rode a stationary bike in his gym. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

    And I wasn’t the only one that noticed Carmen Chu’s earnest statement about being excited to bike to work again, NEXT YEAR!?!?!

  • Gascon/Newsom: [[Flexing calves]] Um, can you show me the way to the spin class?

  • Great article!

    Safety first everyone! Riding bike is fun but make sure you are visible to everyone. Wear light cloths and have proper equipment. This LED head and tail light kit save our life. Not only it is bright but light too.

    http://www.agreensupply.com/products/Headlight-and-Flash-Taillight-Combination-Bicycle-Light-Set.html

  • Great article.Glad so many people turned out.

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