Urban cycling is on the rise. A report from the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority indicates a 71% increase in ridership since 2006, and with a bicycle share program rolling out this summer, the city may soon have the highest per-capita bicycle use in North America.
In part of its ongoing effort to track trends in bicycle ridership, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority (SFMTA) surveys commuters and counts bike riders at key intersections around the city. The recently published 2011 Bicycle Count Report indicates a healthy increase in ridership. According to the report, trips made by bicycle have increased by over 71% in the past five years, and have jumped by 7% in the past year.
It's no wonder that cycling is quickly gaining in popularity as a cost-effective means of transportation. It's great exercise, more reliable than public transit, and when you're on a bike you're not burning fossil fuels--or sitting in traffic.
Regional transportation models estimate that there are 75,000 daily bicycle trips in San Francisco. About one fifth of these trips takes place during peak evening hours between 5:00 and 6:30 PM. A majority of the bicycle counts were done manually in two-hour blocks, but the city also installed nine automatic counters to provide continuous streams of ridership data.
Over the past year alone the city has striped 17 miles of bike lanes, created a separated bikeway on a major downtown thoroughfare, added 15 bicycle corrals, and continues to collaborate with the SFMTA for traffic calming, road maintenance, and the prioritization of safe routes. Additionally, the Employee Access bill will make it easier for building owners to create designated high security bike parking, or allow tenants to bring bikes inside. By increasing access to safe bike parking, the citywide scheme could encourage a significant uptick in ridership with relatively small investment of resources.
The steady increase in ridership demonstrates that San Francisco is making progress towards its ambitious goal of a 20% mode share by 2020. A bicycle share and an e-bike share program are in the works and could put the city on track to grow ridership at even greater pace in the coming decade.
Source: SFMTA 2011 Bicycle Count Report