SFMTA Retracts Report of 651% Jump in Bike Traffic on San Jose Avenue

Photo: Frank Chan/Flickr

The SFMTA has retracted its report last week of a 651 percent jump in bicycling on northbound San Jose Avenue after a traffic lane was removed to widen the bike lane.

The actual increase in morning peak-hour bike counts was 14 percent, said SFMTA spokesperson Ben Jose. In the evening peak hour, the reported 221 percent was actually 62 percent.

“A second analysis of the underlying raw data revealed a spreadsheet error overstating the bicycling increase,” Jose said in a statement. “We apologize for our error and will do our best to bring you accurate information going forward.”

The agency issued its correction statement late Friday. Streetsblog reported the 651 percent jump on Wednesday after receiving confirmation of the statistics from the SFMTA, following a blog post from the SF Bicycle Coalition highlighting the statistic last Monday.

The newly-released version of the SFMTA’s data spreadsheet [PDF] includes a note stating that there was “an equipment malfunction during the AM peak data collection period” on one of the post-implementation days when bikes were counted. The note says the data from that day was removed from the counts, which were averaged over 72-hour periods in January 2014 and January 2015.

The SFMTA says the bike counts were taken on the Monterey Boulevard ramp, just before it merges on to northbound San Jose.

All other data in the report remain accurate, including impacts on car traffic volumes and speeds, said Jose.

  • p_chazz

    As Mark Twain is reported to have said “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Doesn’t anyone do any fact-checking at SFMTA?

  • mx

    Do we have any explanation for why the AM and PM numbers were so different too? It seems that one of the following must be the case:

    – People are riding San Jose in one direction but taking another route for their commute home
    – The bicycle traffic we’re talking about on San Jose is primarily non-commuters or a large number of them commute outside of typical peak hours
    – People are riding one way and abandoning their bikes at their workplaces on a daily basis
    – The numbers are still bogus

  • Gezellig

    I was wondering about that big morning/evening difference, too. Do that many people really take BART in or something and bike back? Something seems off.

  • How in the world does one confuse 600+ percent with 14 percent. Did they not even glance at the numbers. It should have been immediately obvious.

  • twinpeaks_sf

    I think they’re just reporting on the northbound Monterey ramp (i.e., only one location). The figures suggest more people commute from the Mission towards Glen Park in the morning, with the evening counts picking up their return northbound. But with a count in the other direction, we can’t be sure.

  • murphstahoe

    They are riding South – as far as the South Bay in the AM, and take the Google bus or Caltrain back home. QED.

    What – I just pulled those stats from out of my tail?

    https://www.strava.com/segments/609630
    25,000 rides recorded N->S
    https://www.strava.com/segments/8874578
    10,774 rides recorded S->N

  • BBnet3000

    Well, at least this is more likely to represent an actual increase in ridership. 600% could only come from a huge amount of diversion from other routes.

  • mike_napolis_beard

    Sometimes people make mistakes. I’m appreciative for them owning up to the mistake and setting the record straight.

  • RinSF

    They do, hence the correction to the aforementioned report.

  • spencerfleury

    I think the first option you list is definitely possible. I find myself taking different routes for the initial and return legs of bike trips all the time. It may not seem necessary if you’re used to car commuting, but trust me, there are often many reasons for doing this that are readily apparent to cyclists.

  • SF Guy

    “a traffic lane was removed to widen the bike lane.”

    Wow, that should really speed up traffic, and clear up the congestion on this street, lol! The only saving grace here is that I don’t live near here, or have to traverse across San Jose Ave.

    Thanks to the bicycle coalition, and spineless politicians who are afraid of their own shadows, SF is a quagmire of blocked traffic punctuated by Hipsters on Fixies slamming their bike locks on car hoods.

  • bike_engineer

    If you think it was a bad idea you need to ride the route yourself and see the improvements first hand. don’t bash something if you cant fully understand it.

  • SF Guy

    You’re right and I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry! Oh my god please forgive me! Forgive me! I’m so sorry! Sorry Sorry!

  • murphstahoe

    Interesting. This was mostly pushed by … the people who live near there!

  • SFnative74

    This change was a request primarily from the people who live on or around that part of San Jose Ave. http://sf.streetsblog.org/2010/08/25/the-long-and-winding-road-to-traffic-calming-the-bernal-cut/

  • Kevin M

    You must be fun at parties

  • I don’t disagree, and yes, people do make mistakes, but one of this magnitude is unusual. 600% is a change in numbers by several place values, 14% is basically no change at all. If they’d even looked at the raw numbers it would have been clear something was wrong. And 14% is so low, I’m actually more inclined to believe the error is there.

  • murphstahoe

    Disband the SFMTA – more parking garages for all!

  • mike_napolis_beard

    Assumption that a worst-case scenario will develop as a result of change in status quo, with no factual evidence to back it up? Check.
    Implicit suggestion that it is “common sense” to make this assumption? Check.

    Application of generalizations to render a complex situation in black and white? Check.
    Instances of hyperbole? 3 – “spineless politicians who are afraid of their own shadows,” “quagmire of blocked traffic,” “Hipsters on Fixies slamming their bike locks on car hoods.”

    Likelihood of being either Phil Matier or Andy Ross, on scale of 1-10? 8
    Troll likelihood, on scale of 1-10? 7.5

  • mike_napolis_beard

    His point is valid – skeptical criticism doesn’t automatically mean he’s “one of them.”

  • SFnative74

    14% change in one year is not as small as you make it seem. That’s especially true for a bikeway like San Jose Ave that is pretty invisible to most people…you don’t just happen upon it, especially in the northerly direction, so it may take time for it to get onto people’s radars as a valid bike route.

  • the_greasybear

    2007 called. It wants its grumpy, autocentric talking points back.

  • anbudmor

    A 14% change is tiny; especially after removing a whole traffic lane.

  • anbudmor

    2007 called, and it wants it phraseology back.

  • murphstahoe

    a lane that should have never existed in the first place.

  • NoeValleyJim

    Traffic is bad in San Francisco because there are too many cars.

  • So, you’re arguing to execute all drivers right?

  • p_chazz

    They should do their fact-checking before they release their numbers to the public not after.

  • p_chazz

    Actually, this topic is HUGE on the Glen Park Nextdoor page, with +/- 200 comments. About 60% are in favor of the changes. The neighbors who live in the area tend to be for the change, the people who are against it are generally from someplace else and use the Bernal Cut to get someplace else.

  • datbeezy

    agreed. it happens, but it’s a bad look. this only makes you wonder if they’ve double-checked any of the other various metrics that are produced.

  • mike_napolis_beard

    Interesting! Would never have known.

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