Bike to Work Day Shifts Into High Gear Tomorrow

Image: SFBC, based on data from SFMTA

San Francisco’s streets are expected to fill with bike commuters tomorrow for the city’s 18th Bike to Work Day.

The city has more bike lanes, more people on bikes, and more political momentum for bike policy today than in years past. “We definitely expect to see more people bicycling on Bike to Work Day this year than ever before,” said San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum, “given that the number of people of biking every year has been increasing significantly — 71 percent over the last five years, given that it’s supposed to be really lovely warm weather, and given, most importantly, that the city has added more dedicated bike space in the last year than ever before.”

In San Francisco’s most visible display of bicycling growth, SFMTA Bike to Work Day morning commute counts show that bike traffic has risen steadily over recent years on Market Street, which the SFBC now calls the busiest bicycling street west of the Mississippi. Last year at the Van Ness Avenue intersection, bikes made up 75 percent of vehicle traffic as car traffic plummeted on the corridor.

Since the bike injunction was lifted in 2010, the SFMTA has striped bike lanes in locations around the city, including some of SF’s first physically protected routes. The parking-protected bike lanes on John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park are “substantially complete” as of this week (save some finishing touches), according to the SFMTA. Construction is also nearly complete on a two-way bikeway on Cargo Way.

The 23 miles of bike lanes added by the SFMTA since August 2010 “really cover very diverse neighborhoods,” said Shahum.

Bike commuters tomorrow will benefit from new curbside, post-separated bike lanes on DivisionLaguna HondaAlemany and Cesar Chavez as well as the green lanes on Market. Buffered bike lanes have also been striped on Bayshore and Sloat, and new conventional lanes can be found on 17thFolsom, Illinois, North Point, Townsend, Kirkham, Phelan, HollowayOceanPortola, and McCoppin. The SFMTA also continues installing bike racks (in corrals and on sidewalks) and sharrows throughout the city.

“When there’s more dedicated bike space, time and time again we see more people bicycling, and we see a more diverse cross-section of people biking,” said Shahum. “We see more parents riding with their kids to school, we see more older folks riding to a farmer’s market, we see more of San Francisco’s work force biking downtown rather than heading in in their cars.”

Market Street commuters on Bike to Work Day last year. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Riding into City Hall tomorrow will be a large cast of city officials, including Mayor Ed Lee and all but one member of the Board of Supervisors. (D7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said he used to ride every year prior to his son’s birth, but bicycling is no longer “practically an option” as he needs to drop his wife and son off by car.)

Almost every member of the SFMTA Board of Directors (save Jerry Lee, who is out of town) will also be riding, according to Shahum, including Christina Rubke, Mayor Lee’s recent board nominee to replace Bruce Oka. Other officials expected to ride include SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, SF Environment Director Melanie Nutter, and Carla Johnson, the new director of the Mayor’s Office on Disability.

The decision makers participating in tomorrow’s event will have to raise their commitment to safe cycling throughout the rest of the year to help the city reach its bike mode-share goals. As the SF Bay Guardian pointed out yesterday, while cycling is on the rise, the current rate of improvements is far from sufficient to meet the city’s goal of getting 20 percent of commuters on bikes by 2020 (it’s currently estimated at 3.5 percent).

Despite some recent high-profile project delays, Shahum said, “It’s really exciting to see that some of the problem areas that the mayor and others experienced riding last year are getting stepped up attention and are getting improvements now.” She noted that the long-awaited protected bikeways on Fell and Oak Streets are also headed to an SFMTA hearing next Friday, May 18.

Tomorrow morning, 11 commuter convoys will head to City Hall from various neighborhoods throughout the city, and 27 energizer stations will be set up along the way, half of which will have a “bike doctor” on hand to help commuters keep their bikes in shape. The SF-to-Google (SF2G) Peninsula convoy, which Shahum noted usually carries about 40 riders on its regular rides throughout the year, is expecting to be joined by 500 people (they had 400 last year).

At City Hall, Shahum said the SFBC will be highlighting the economic benefits that bicycling brings to the city, announcing six of the city’s top bike-friendly businesses chosen from “tons and tons” of applicants who are encouraging their employees to bike with incentive programs and secure bike parking.

“We’re hearing from so many people that there are employers who are deciding to move to or stay in San Francisco because their employees love living in a city, and they want to be able to bike and take transit,” she said.

Image: Mark Dreger/SFBC
  • Erik

    That’s a great map from the SFBC. Do you have the source possibly with a higher res version?

  • Yep, just switched it out for a higher-res version.

  • Jacob Lynn

    Surprising that “transit” only has a one percent mode share on Market St.

    1) I assume we’re ignoring BART.
    2) Is this figure on a per vehicle basis, rather than per capita? I could believe the numbers in that case, but it doesn’t make much sense to present that way.

  • A third of Muni lines go on Market at some point or another. I think you’re right to say they’re counting vehicles. One bus, then, is counted the same as one bike.

    Transit wins the mode share split on Market by a long shot!

  • Mark Wong

    They are also not counting the Muni trains and BART trains running below Market.

  • This is also Market at Van Ness – are those MUNI lines on Market above Van Ness?

  • Rob Anderson

    City taxpayers give the SFBC $50,000 a year to do Bike to Work Day. Funny none of your sources mention that.

  • mikesonn

    You didn’t link to yourself? It’s a Bike to Work Day miracle!!

  • Zack

    MTA spends 0.25% of its budget on bike infrastructure, compared to 3.5% of trips taken by bike.  That’s a bargain, my friend.  Tax payers give a lot of money to a lot of things, like paying to maintain street parking and roads, which costs a whole heck of a lot more than $50,000.

  • Rob Anderson

    $50,000 is the least of it. The city and Caltrans gave the SFBC $250,000 to do public “outreach” on the Bicycle Plan, even though they were a special interest group with a stake in the outcome of the process. And exactly how many people in the SFMTA and the SFCTA are working on bike-related projects? Like to see a tally on that. The MTA used to post the names of the people working in the bike program, but, not surprisingly, they stopped doing that, probably because it was hard to justify a staff of a dozen people.

    I think it’s interesting that no one mentioned the $50,000. Wonder why that is?

  • How much did the city give your lawyer? Didn’t she have an interest in the outcome?

  • ubringliten

    Until gas tax is more than 17 cents a gallon, we cyclists pay a lot more than you car drivers.  I don’t drive and I own a home that is near $800,000 and don’t have any kids.  How much am I paying to maintain the roads for you?

  • Rob Anderson

    Yes, but the city could have avoided that expense to city taxpayers by following the law and doing an environmental review. We warned them, but like you they were so fanatical about the Bicycle Plan they ignored our warnings early in the process, dismissing us with contempt. The only way my lawyer could get paid for her time was to win the case, which she did.

  • Rob Anderson

    It’s just typical that no one but me mentions the fact that the SFBC gets money from the city. You aren’t doing me any favors, since I haven’t owned a car in more than 25 years.

  • Rob Anderson

    The MTA can’t even keep city streets decently paved, which should be of concern to you bike dudes. City Hall is using you bike chumps as a PC figleaf even as it pours $123 million into the Central Subway sinkhole, not to mention all the six-figure administrators in MTA.

  • mikesonn

    Bikes are to blame for the Central Subway, Rob? Maybe if they made the Stockton Tunnel into a bike boulevard.

    And the streets are worn down because of all the heavy private auto traffic, every new bike rider is saving the city money by not driving all over the city. But yeah, no need for logic here.

  •  Since the SFBC work on Bike to Work Day is being paid for by the public, it has to go out for bid in RFP. Maybe the Coalition for Adequate Review should bid on the job next year.


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