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