Market Bike Counter: 3,231 Cyclists in a Day — And That’s an Underestimate

The Market Street bicycle counter, seen here at about 10 a.m. on Bike to Work Day. Photo: Aaron Bialick

San Francisco’s first digital bicycle counter was activated on Bike to Work Day yesterday, and the day’s official total was 3,231 cyclists on Market Street. But that’s probably a significant underestimate, since many bike riders on that block choose to ride outside the bike lane where the ground sensors were installed. Many riders seem to prefer to ride in the adjacent traffic lane, which was closed to cars in 2009.

The SF Bicycle Coalition says Market is the busiest bike street west of the Mississippi. Meanwhile, Copenhagen claims the busiest bicycling street in the western world — Nørrebrogade, which sees over 36,000 bicyclists a day. So, can San Francisco catch up?

You don’t have to head to Market Street to keep track of the bicycle count — the SFMTA has a regularly-updated tracker online.

  • Terra C

    If you’re interested in the Market St counter, you might want to check out our little team’s DIY bike counter project, “The VeloMeter,” that debuted yesterday at the Mission BTWD Energizer Stations. We hope our mobile counter provides more flexibility to improve the visibility of bicyclists and bicycling at more locations and special events around San Francisco. More info is available at our Facebook page ( or our website ( Be in touch if you want to hear more!

  • sjbrown

    Another way in which the counter underestimates is that when clumps of riders go over the sensor together, it only registers one or two riders. Saw it happen frequently yesterday.

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully this year the SFMTA will release its 8:30-9:30 hand count of eastbound bicycles on Market at Van Ness. In prior years it was in the 1,100 range–for a single hour out of the day.

  • GuestCommenter

    All your street are belong to us.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome. Be cool if the online tracker was updated realtime ….

  • DJ

    Copenhagen gets about 10x that on its busiest stretch but at least it’s a start.

  • justin

    It’s too bad the counter got placed where it did … while a nice gesture, the eastbound protected bike lanes between 10th and 8th are not worth using: crossing 10th, you have to veer right around the turning cars since the bike lane is in the middle of the street between Van Ness and 10th. Halfway to 8th, the protected lane abruptly ends, and has buses parked in it 100% of the time, forcing cyclists to veer left again. Any bike safety class will tell you to ride predictably in a straight line and not swerve in and out around obstacles. At least a third of bikers I see don’t even bother with the lane here, meaning they will not be picked up by the counter. Like Valencia, it’s good intentions, but poor road design in the end.

  • Matt

    Not to mention it only counts traffic on one block of Market. Many commuters join Market further down the street or have already exited Market at that point.

    If anyone knows, I’m curious as to how the decision was made to put the counter on that block and what went into it, not that it matters particularly.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s a combo of the company that donated the $20,000 being located nearby, and the mid-market businesses that are going to maintain it.

    I agree tho, I join at 5th street and don’t get counted on my usual commute 🙁

  • Copenaghen counts 35 thousand per day in the busiest bike lane (Norrebrogade), but this is a good start for SF!

  • Donkey

    They should install these bike counters at red lights to show how many bicyclist run them and how much revenue the city is missing out on from the traffic violations. If the revenue was then captured, we could then install these on every block of the city!

  • jj

    why is this counter shutdown?

  • ashley

    the bike counter isn’t on. Did the repaving of the road have something to do with this?

  • SF Examiner says there are 24 automated counters that are all reporting data. Where’s that website?

  • A bike counter’s location isn’t chosen in order to get the highest numbers possible. It’s to count change over time – and that can be done anywhere. As the conditions on Market Street change – on this block and the ones before and after – the counter will track the changes in ridership, which can be used to help understand the reaction to the changes.


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