This Weekend’s Traffic Frenzy: A Success for Sustainable Transportation?

The SFMTA created a temporary separated bike lane on the Embarcadero this weekend. Photo: ##

This weekend’s massive convergence of events saw possibly one of SF’s largest influxes of travelers ever. And by many accounts, the city’s efforts to get visitors to come by transit, foot, and bike were largely a success.

No doubt, transit riders were packed: BART saw 319,484 riders on Saturday, blowing its previous weekend ridership record of 278,586 out of the water. SFMTA officials estimated Muni took on an extra 100,000 to 135,000 extra riders each day, according to the Chronicle.

The bike counter on Fell Street counted a record 4,000 bikes on Saturday. Image via ##'s Livable Streets Facebook page##

The surge of bicycle traffic “Wiggling” it to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival also broke the single-day ridership record for the SFMTA’s bicycle counter on Fell Street, which counted 4,000 bikes on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a Mercury News headline read, “traffic woes [went] mostly unrealized” throughout the Bay Area.

Around the Embarcadero, the SFMTA tested out some of the strategies in the People Plan, which is aimed at facilitating car-free travel to the America’s Cup yacht races. The agency set aside a widened, physically separated area for pedestrians and bicyclists on the Embarcadero in the northbound direction. That allowed planners to test out the impacts of removing a traffic lane to inform plans for improvements during the main races next year, as well as any possible permanent changes further down the road.

A 47-Limited bus uses the transit-only northbound lane set aside on a block of Polk Street. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Muni also ran limited-stop bus service on the 47 line throughout the weekend, sectioning off a transit-only block for northbound traffic on Polk Street. That helped ensure buses didn’t get caught up behind car traffic during its turnaround on the north end.

How was your experience moving around the city this weekend? Was it a breeze, or did being packed on a Muni bus stuck in traffic put a damper on your plans? Let us know in the comments.

A sign that bicycling is "in": Families were among the flocks of people coming by bike to watch the America's Cup and Fleet Week events near Fort Mason. Photo: Aaron Bialick
  • mikesonn

    Several of us rode our bikes from North Beach to HSBG. It was a nice pleasant ride. There were many cyclists out but it wasn’t crowded until we hit the actual park (even the panhandle wasn’t bad). Headed back, we were the only cyclists on Page pretty much (there were still shows going on but it was about 6:30. Market was busy but nothing crazy overall.

    I didn’t mess with EMB or the northern waterfront at all either day. On Sunday we tried to take the 45 from North Beach to Marina, but the service was disrupted by the North Beach parade. It was after 12 when we went looking for the bus and only after we were standing there for 10 min trying to check Nextbus did a Muni employee come up with signs explaining the reroute.

  • Subtlesaphire

    Due to a last minute request from my brother to babysit my nieces, I decided to take them to San Francisco, not realizing what was going down there. We left Fresno at 7am. Spent the morning at the Exploratorium and were pleasantly surprised to see an air show whilst we ate our lunch in the park. We then drove over to Yerba Buena Gardens and then spent the evening at Pier 39. Traffic was a little slow but we enjoyed seeing the crowd of Giants fans walking to the game. Next year, I definitely want to make it to the events.

  • Biked from my flat near Alamo Square to work by Caltrain both weekend days… And if anything, thought the city was even emptier than it usually is on weekends. Of course, the route is not a major tourist area…. But I suspect a lot of people were staying home because of the dire predictions.

  • I arrived back in the Richmond district around 4:30 pm Sunday after several days of camping… spent 55 minutes doing figure 8s around the surrounding blocks waiting for a parking space to open up. Lots of tow trucks and DPT cushman’s out and more than a few Taxi cabs who did not understand the concept of stop signs. 

  • Upright Biker

    Rode bikes with my wife and kids from North Beach down to North Point, through Aquatic Park, over Fort Mason, into the Marina and finally to Crissy Field. My wife, who was riding with us for the first time and bringing up the rear, said she kept envisioning disaster at every turn. Kids had a blast, even with me barking at them to watch the door zone and mind the cross traffic. 

    The hardest part was the Marina, as it was packed and there was no clear demarcation of where and in which direction bikes and pads should be traveling. We ended up riding in the bike lane along the Boulevard. This was quite fine given the slow speed of the traffic. 

    But the more I ride with kids and with less “street-seasoned” riders, the more I become convinced that physically separated, dedicated bike paths are the key to making the streets of SF more livable for everybody.

  • jdbig

    Polk street was “transit only” southbound from the Bay to perhaps Greenwich… SFMTA staff was happy to let me ride through on my bike though.

  • voltairesmistress

     Agreed.  Saw a dad with about 4 kids on bikes, some of the kids probably 6-7 years old and wobbling.  This was at the Washington/Arguello intersection in the Presidio.  Incredibly hazardous.  I just stopped the car in its tracks.  I think it’s great he had everybody out riding.  But it did underline the need for children especially to have physically separated parallel paths on which to ride just about everywhere.  Otherwise, we are basically telling parents to keep their bicycling children off the streets, because it takes adult judgment to navigate those real hazards.  In Finland and Germany I’ve seen separated bike paths everywhere, even paralleling just about every 2 lane highway between suburbs and city.  But parallel, separated paths are going to be hated by hard-as-nails riders. I certainly hope we can get to consensus about this.  Maybe various demonstrations of its viability will win people over to it — like on JFK drive in GG Park and with the future 2nd Street, and hopefully with a new Market Street.

  • My family and I traveled to the wharf from Sunnydale, we took the T-line to 4th and King and it ran smoothly, after we caught the E-Embarcadero which ran a little slow; however, it got us were we wanted to go.  I really hope muni decides to permanently place the E line since it connects the north with the south portion of Embarcadero and you don’t have to transfer.  Finally, the extra lane for pedestrians and to close Fishermen’s Wharf to traffic  made life better, I cannot imagine how crowded the sidewalk would had been if city officials did not do that.  I believe MUNI did a great job, however, I feel muni could had added vehicles to both the F and E line’s since they were relatively crowded and instead of discontinuing the E line at 6, it would had been better to keep the line running until 8 to accommodate the giant and 49er fans.

  • Collinssfca

    Saturday afternoon I rode my bike from 16th & 4th in Mission Bay around the Embarcadero to Aquatic Park.  The dedicated bike lane was needed but was largely full of pedestrians overflowing from the sidewalk as we approached North Point.  The temporary dedicated bike lane didn’t begin until after Broadway.  I think it should have started at Howard where it becomes three lanes or run the entire length to Pac Bell Park.  Or better yet, open the entire eastern half for bike and pedestrians and run two-way auto traffic on the western lanes.

  • Andy Chow

    The traffic was better on the weekends than on Friday. I think a lot of people were more willing to use transit and bikes on weekends than weekdays. The rest of the folks probably escaped town or stayed home. There were plenty of events outside of SF on the weekend as well.

  • Andy Chow

    Caltrain also ran two trains an hour (normally once an hour) on the weekend back to back on the same schedule, and many of them were full.

  • mikesonn

    Not true on frequency (caltrain did run more trains) and they were very packed.

  • Andy Chow

    The frequency was still hourly (I never said that they ran more frequently), but they just put two trains (running a few minutes apart) rather than one.

  • mikesonn

    “two trains an hour” implies the same direction. I guess you meant one in each direction?

  • Andy Chow

     No. Two trains an hour to SF, just a few minutes apart. Get it?

  • mikesonn

    Oh, then you are wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Is the “separated bike lane” mentioned in the photo the place where the cabs are parked? 


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