Bicycle Traffic Counter Could Come to Market Street by Bike to Work Day

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An SFBC rendering of the bike counter coming to Market Street's eastbound approach to Ninth Street.

San Francisco will get its first bicycle traffic counter within the next month. The SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors sealed the deal yesterday on a bike counter for Market Street between Ninth and Tenth Streets.

The Market Street bicycle counter. Image: SFMTA

Bike counters, which have been installed on major cycling streets in cities like Copenhagen, Portland, Seattle, and Montreal, help the city get an accurate count of bike traffic and promote bicycling by showing that number on a digital display. Every time someone bikes by, the number ticks up. SF’s bike counter will show daily and annual counts of how many people have biked on eastbound Market approaching Ninth.

“The installation of this innovative bicycle barometer comes at a critical moment in San Francisco,” said SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin in a statement. “As more and more San Franciscans are using a bicycle as part of their everyday commute, this visual bike counter will raise awareness of the positive impact bicycling has on traffic congestion, air quality and personal health.”

“I think this will go a long way to make the case for why significant improvements are needed on Market Street,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition.

The SFBC is hoping the SFMTA will install the counter by Bike to Work Day on May 9 to showcase the growing bike traffic on Market, which is one of the busiest bicycling streets in the nation, said Shahum. Manual bike traffic counts from the SFMTA have shown a 98 percent increase from 2006 and 2011, with 750 eastbound bike riders traveling along Market at Fifth Street in one hour on an average weekday morning, she said.

Come Bike to Work Day, said Shahum, “I think we’ll see some pretty astronomical numbers.”

The counter is partially funded by a $20,000 grant from Kongregate, a locally-based online gaming company. The other $50,000 will come from SFMTA operating funds, according to an agency document [PDF], and the Central Market Community Benefit District will maintain the counter.

“This will be a fun opportunity to measure ourselves against the other great biking cities in America,” noted Shahum. “I have a hunch that San Francisco’s going to hold it down.”

Evening commute traffic on Market approaching Valencia Street. Photo: Aaron Bialick