On Bike to Work Day, City Leaders Call on SF to Step Up Bikeway Expansion

Supervisor David Chiu: "Does anyone think we can do better in San Francisco?” Photo: Volker Neumann/SFBC

City officials and advocates rode in to City Hall today alongside thousands of commuters for San Francisco’s 18th annual Bike to Work Day. According to the SFMTA, 1,031 eastbound bicycles traveled through the Market and Van Ness intersection between 8 and 9 a.m. this morning, making up 73 percent of vehicles on Market and averaging 17 bikes per minute.

While the city’s recent cycling boom and expansion of bike infrastructure were widely celebrated, some leaders said SF could do much more to catch up with cities like New York, Minneapolis, and Davis and make cycling on its streets safe and accessible for riders of all abilities.

“Does anyone think we can do better in San Francisco?” said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, eliciting cheers from the crowd. “San Jose just decided to segregate bike lanes in their downtown area. In Davis, California, they bike at four times the rate of what we do here in San Francisco. Can we do better than Davis and San Jose?”

“Right now, we are spending about a quarter of a percent of our MTA budget on cycling improvements,” said Chiu, who spearheaded the 2010 legislation that led the city to adopt the goal of increasing cycling to 20 percent of all trips by 2020. “We need to do better.”

Supervisor Jane Kim, seen here on her ride through District 6 today, said she'll only feel safe riding regularly on her own with protected bike lanes. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfbike/7172395354/in/photostream##SFBC/Flickr##

D6 Supervisor Jane Kim said that while she enjoyed riding with a convoy on Bike to Work Day, she would only feel comfortable biking regularly on her own with protected bike lanes on streets like SoMa’s high-speed motorways — a sentiment shared by many San Franciscans. “I want to keep working make sure we have that type of infrastructure in San Francisco,” she said.

Mayor Ed Lee, who rode in from the new parking-protected bike lanes in Golden Gate Park with SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum and city officials, didn’t seem to have the same sense of urgency for expanding bikeways as other proponents, but did speak about how they could improve his would-be commute. “I think there’s something we can do at the turn onto Van Ness so that I can come to work very easily,” he said.

Mayor Ed Lee rides with his transportation advisor, Gillian Gillett (right), on a Bike to Work Day convoy on Oak Street where a protected bike lane is planned. Photo: Volker Neumann/SFBC

The broad show of support from city leaders, said Shahum, was encouraging. “It’s not often we get so much political support for an issue.”

The turnout for Bike to Work Day this morning appeared to be SF’s biggest yet. Along the Panhandle, one of the city’s busiest bike corridors, a rush-hour platoon of roughly three dozen bike commuters were seen lined up waiting for the light to change at Masonic Avenue. Bike to Work Day counts have increased 66 percent over the last five years, according to the SFMTA. The agency also says 54 percent more people were biking on compared to a regular day one month ago.

D5 Supervisor Christina Olague, who rode in along the Wiggle, said she’s “very committed” to seeing the Fell and Oak Street protected bike lanes implemented by this fall. Although her eastbound ride in was “pretty smooth,” she said, the lack of a protected lane on Fell means she might “have to worry about getting back.”

After the pageantry of Bike to Work Day is over, the question remains whether leaders will make good on the commitment to making the city’s streets safer and more accessible for people to bike to work every day.

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin rides with the convoy on the Panhandle. Photo: Volker Neumann/SFBC
D10 Supervisor Malia Cohen speaks with Supervisor Eric Mar (left), Mayor Lee, Supervisors Scott Wiener, Christina Olague, and David Chiu. Photo: Volker Neumann/SFBC
D11 Supervisor John Avalos, a regular bike commuter, rode in from the Excelsior District. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfbike/7172386872/in/photostream##SFBC/Flickr##
Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru (left), D2 Supervisor Mark Farrell (center), and the SFBC's Andy Thornley in front of City Hall. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfbike/7172660722/in/photostream##Frank Chan/SFBC/Flickr##
  • mikesonn

    Leah was at the SF2G roll-out at 24th/Mission BART. Got a chance to thank her for everything the SFBC has done (though I may not agree with some priorities, they do a ton of great work).

    Cheers to everyone who got out today and enjoyed a beautiful morning! Happy BTWD!

  • Zack

    Kind of disappointed that Ed Lee apparently didn’t make stronger statements, aside from those concerning his own “potential” commute.  Too bad Avalos didn’t beat him….

  • LeeS.

    Was Cristina Rubke there? Yesterday’s article said she would be.

  • Yes, but she preferred not to speak until confirmed to the MTA board.

  • LeeS.

     Thanks.

  • Mario

    Did the sf2g today but avoided Cortland and instead tried out San Jose, Alemany and Geneva. Not bad but:

    1. I couldn’t trigger the left turn light from Alemany to Geneva. This happened to me several times on the peninsula section, but I expected more out of SF. It doesn’t seem pedestrian friendly there either side one has to push a button to cross.

    2. There are a lot of debris in the bike lanes. San Jose is of course the worst offender, but Alemany and Geneva kind of sucked too.

    3. Traffic on Geneva is fast and needs calming or at least the Sloat treatment. At first there are sharrows. There are bike lanes for a total of two blocks which makes it more dangerous since drivers expect you to use them, but their short length requires swerving. Of course as San Francisco morphs into Daily City there is no more pretense: no bike lanes, no sharrows but 35mph painted on the street. As I approached Bayshore traffic was getting heavy, and I think at a later hour it would have been a nightmare.

    4. Amazingly there are bike lanes on Bayshore heading north to Tunnel Ave, but cars drive and stop in them.

    5. Tunnel Ave’s pavement is starting to feel bumpy. They repaved it a year ago, which was a great improvement, but cars are starting to destroy it again.

    Overall the state of bicycle infrastructure in San Francisco is much better than the rest of the peninsula, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

  • mikesonn

    Tunnel has the dump and the oil/gas tanks so there is a TON of heavy truck traffic on that stretch.

  • Thanks to the city of Brisban for the street sweeping of the bike lane on Lagoon Rd.  Sent them an email in the morning on Wednesday, they emailed back within 15min and got it done.

  • mikesonn

    Thanks for doing that SuperQ and thanks to Brisbane for getting it done. That stretch had a ton of crud in it for months.

  • J

    Despite the many strides NYC has made recently for biking, I can only dream of this level of political support for biking. I don’t think any of our city councilmembers bike to work, and only a select few are outspoken in favor of bicycle improvements.

    The base in NYC is shaky at best, while SF has a solid foundation of support for cycling. In the long term, this should translate to rapid gains for bicycling in SF. Now, you just need to figure out how to translate that support into actually getting projects implemented, which is where NYC still has you beat.

  •  One Janette Sadik-Khan is worth several Supervisors/Councilmembers