As the SFMTA figures out how to increase bicycling to 20 percent of all trips citywide, some neighborhoods are already approaching that milestone. A map that the SFMTA compiled from bike-to-work data in the 2010 U.S. Census shows that as of two years ago, some neighborhoods far exceeded the citywide rate of 3.5 percent.
In the Mission and Hayes Valley, more than 15 percent of work trips are made by bike, according to the map. A number of other neighborhoods, like NoPa, western SoMa, and the Inner Richmond have bike commute rates of at least 5 percent and saw jumps as high as 275 percent over the 10-year period.
“This map confirms what we are seeing every day: more people are biking than ever before, especially in those neighborhoods that have made it more comfortable to bike,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition. ”This is strong evidence that if the city continues to increase its investment in better biking by connecting neighborhoods with safe, inviting bikeways, San Francisco can reach the goal of 20 percent of trips by bike by 2020.”
Why is bike commuting so popular in these neighborhoods? Some common characteristics jump out, like proximity to downtown and access to flatter routes with bike lanes. For instance, Valencia Street connects the areas around the Mission, and the Wiggle and the Panhandle connect NoPa, the Haight, and the Inner Sunset.
SF State University Geography Professor Jason Henderson thinks overcrowded Muni lines could also drive more residents to try bike commuting. “These are areas where Muni is filled to capacity,” he said. “For example, in Hayes Valley, by the time buses coming from west towards downtown pass through, they are overcrowded. Haight 6 and 71 are always full once crossing Fillmore eastbound.”