Market Street Bike Count Off to a Record-Breaking Start in 2015

Image: SFMTA/EcoCounter
Image: SFMTA/EcoCounter

The Market Street bike counter tallied 97,302 people rolling by in March — the highest monthly total yet. Last year, the monthly count rose steadily until October, so bike ridership on Market is expected to keep breaking records. April could be the first month to break the 100,000 threshold.

Throughout March, typical weekday ridership ranged between 3,200 and 3,900 bikes on eastbound Market between Ninth and Tenth Streets.

A design tweak at the beginning of the year that led the counter to more accurately capture bike trips explains a large chunk of the increase this year. But safety improvements have certainly helped SF’s busiest bicycling street continue to flourish as well. A bigger boost could come when turn restrictions for cars between Third and Eighth Streets take effect starting in the summer.

“At this pace, 2015 is looking like the year that San Franciscans will top off the ‘bike thermometer’ on Market Street and hit over a million rides,” said Noah Budnick, executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition. “The bits and pieces of improved infrastructure there are a down payment on a street that will be transformed.”

As city agencies shape the Better Market Street redesign, “Mayor Lee must meet this ever-growing public demand for more and better bicycling by rebuilding Market as a world-class street that is the backbone of a connected, convenient and enjoyable network of safe streets for biking,” said Budnick.

San Franciscans may take the throngs of bikes on Market for granted, but Los Angeles Times reporter Laura J. Nelson was stopped in her tracks today when she tweeted this photo across the street from the counter:

  • @jdbig

    Was always curious why the red, inbound transit only lane starts after the intersection. Anyone have insights?

    Seems starting the red lane right away might be a better cue for unauthorized drivers to head south on 10th (or send more drivers through the green lane gauntlet despite the soft-hit posts).

  • Andy Chow

    How much is because of the unusually dry and warm weather during the last few months?

  • gneiss

    What does it matter?

  • Andy Chow

    That increased bike usage at this time of the year may be an unintended consequence from global warming.

  • murphstahoe

    The only rain cloud here is the one permanently over your head

  • joechoj

    All consequences of global warming are unintended, in fact, because global warming itself was unintended.
    Dry weather certainly helps bike ridership. Here’s hoping this accelerates investments in biking, both by citizens and the government.

  • I was in Portland a couple weeks ago to visit Reed College with my daughter, and I was surprised at how few cyclists I saw, far fewer than I see in San Francisco. Perhaps I was in the wrong part of town, (mostly east of the river–pretty flat, easy biking) but I drove down lots of streets with bike lanes and zero cyclists. My daughter and I visited SE Hawthorne (which out hipsters even Valencia/Haight) and saw few bicycles. We drove around downtown and through Portland State University, and saw some nice bicycle infrastructure, but few bicycles. The weather was fine that day. Of course there are parts of San Francisco you could drive around and see precious few bicyclists as well, but still, I was surprised. I would love to go back, do a bicycle tour of the town and find out where all the bicyclists are hiding.

  • jonobate

    Yeah, I was similarly disappointed in the state of bicycling and transit when I visited Portland a couple of years ago, given all the hype I had been hearing. Simple fact is that Portland isn’t a dense city, and that’s what drives bicycling and transit ridership more than anything else.

  • SFnative74

    Last year was the same sort of weather. Wet December, very dry after that.

  • Jimbo

    this does not accurately count the number of people. it counts number of trips. possibly 35% of this number is the number of people

  • This is #SanFrancisco Visuals look great. Success is tough. #SanFranciscoBicycleCoalition battles City Hall and motorists 24/7 …That was my Twitter response to the LA Times Reporter’s “pretty striking” observation

  • SF_Abe

    Huh? Are you saying 65% are empty bikes? How would that work?

    Are you a Bob Gunderson or a Rob Anderson?

  • the_greasybear

    Portland is spread out on a mostly flat grid, so unlike SF, bike traffic is diffused throughout rather than channeled through the flattest routes. That said, the bridges into and out of downtown are chokepoints, and that is where you’ll see the most bike traffic. At rush hour, Portland’s downtown bridge bike traffic is every bit as impressive as Market Street.

  • keenplanner

    I think there is a lesson for a connected grid there. The grid (and
    relatively flat terrain) make even un-dense city areas attractive for
    cycling. Convoluted suburban developments do not.
    I had a great time cycling all over Portland last year. It’s true that, because of the street grid, cyclists are more dispersed, and I never saw anything near the numbers that I have seen in SF. Nevertheless, it was a great city for cycling. Though not dense outside the downtown core, it’s not a sprawling brain-dead suburbia. And what beautiful trees and front gardens people have. Really nice.

  • It is inaccurate to say that the SFBC battles “motorists.”

  • This question would make much more sense if we were talking about February counts. (You know, the usually-rainier month during which Caltrain decides to count bikes.)

  • Ok. What Term Would be Appropriate? How about “Entitled Folks Behind the Steering Wheel of Steel.”

  • The red lane marking just illustrates what has been the restrictions on the lane for a long time via white letters on the street and multiple signs.

    Are you asking why the BUS/TAXI ONLY lane doesn’t start sooner, or why the trying-to-make-it-blatantly-obvious-even-while-playing-with-your-phone red markings don’t start earlier in the existing BUS/TAXI ONLY lane?

  • The SFBC is an organization focusing on positive messaging, safety, etc.

  • You’re saying almost everyone headed eastbound on Market on a bike, who rides over the induction coils which are in a soft-hit post protected bike lane, separated by enough space from other cyclists to be counted rides around the block 2 more times to get triple counted?

    I thought I was the only one who did that. But just about every single cyclist does this and also spaces themselves out and rides over the right part of the street to get counted?

    The counter is calibrated to bicycles and doesn’t count the few cars that drive down that green protected lane. It doesn’t even count homeless shopping carts.

  • Nor “battles City Hall”.

  • Jimbo


  • In SE and NE Portland you won’t find many cyclists on the main commercial strips like Hawthorne Blvd. All the people on bikes are a couple blocks over on the Neighborhood Greenways (aka Bike Blvds). For example, SE Salmon St and SE Harrison St run parallel to Hawthorne. SE Clinton is another Neighborhood Greenway; it sees close to 3,000 cyclists per day in the summer months. NE Williams, which is on a commercial strip, is a one-way street that gets over 4,000 cyclists per day, which is higher than Market St in SF. Downtown Portland doesn’t have great bicycle facilities, so the cyclists are dispersed.

  • The reason you see so many cyclists on Market Street is because it is one of the few flat routes in SF. On top of that, it is direct and it is where a lot of the action is. Portland’s bike mode share is way higher than SF’s.

  • jd_x

    Oh my god: I just realized how Bob got his name. That I did not see this before is an utter shame.


Record-Breaking Bike Traffic on Market Street Neared 100,000 in July

Record-breaking bicycle traffic on Market Street nearly broke the 100,000 threshold in July, according to the bike counter on SF’s most heavily-pedaled thoroughfare. Last month, 99,461 people were counted in the bike lane on eastbound Market at Ninth Street, topping the previous record of 97,302 in March. The record for daily bike counts was also set in April […]