Official SF bike count shows big increase, but not big enough to meet city goals

New separated green bike lanes have helped make cycling safer and more attractive in SF.
Courtesy of SFBC

As anyone who has traveled the streets of San Francisco knows, there’s an increasing number of bicyclists out there. And the just-released biennial bike count from San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency attempts to quantify that increase: 14 percent since 2011.

The agency counted bikes at 51 key intersections around the city during the afternoon/evening commute from Sept. 10-19, counting a total of 23,225 bikes. Comparing 40 counted intersections in 2011, that’s a 14 percent increase; or a 96 percent increase since 2005 when comparing the 20 intersections measured then.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition trumpeted the report as good news, including in its press release this quote from Mayor Ed Lee: “Every year we are seeing more people riding a bicycle in San Francisco, and the latest bicycle count data proves it.” And SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum said, “It’s clear that if we build it, they will come. No other mode of transportation is growing as fast or has a higher return on investment in terms of improving our city for everyone.”

But the reality is that the city is lagging far behind its own stated goals to make cycling a safer and more attractive transportation options, largely because of a severe underinvestment in its cycling network. The report notes that the city has invested $3.3 million in its bike network since 2011, but that was mostly playing catch-up from when a court injunction stalled all bike projects in the city for four years.

The SFMTA report doesn’t calculate the critical number in terms of how we’re really doing — transportation mode share, or the percentage of overall vehicle trips taken by bike — an estimate it is now working on in a separate study.

An American Community Survey in 2012 put SF bike mode share at less than 4 percent, which is a far cry from the 20 percent by 2020 that is the city’s official goal, one it has little chance of meeting without a serious increase in infrastructure investment and other changes. The SFMTA’s own stated goal is 8-10 percent mode share by 2018, the result of failure to make needed investments, which amounts to an admission that the city’s official goal is little more than political pandering.

“We’re still moving forward on all the goals that we set to accomplish, but we do have have funding needs,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose told us, insteading emphasizing the agency’s goal of attaining a 50-50 split between private automobile use and all other modes of transportation, including Muni and cycling.

The SFBC has worked in close partnership with the city, but the continuation of Shaham’s quote in her press release also indicates that she’d like to see the city doing more to promote safe cycling: “It’s time for the City to truly invest in our bicycle network, and ensure that our City’s streets are welcoming and comfortable for the growing number of people riding.”


young, single, male and fit.

But the Bay Area is probably at least 5,000 square miles do cycling can only ever be a marginal contributor to our transportation needs, restricted to those whose needs are not too far from their front door.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

"Cycling is popular with tech workers..."

No it's not. Why do you just make stuff up?

I looked up "cycling is popular with tech workers" and found nothing on it other than an article on 3 tech workers in 3 different countries who bike to work. That's 3 tech workers. It's hardly popular. Fleets and fleets of 2-story tall tech shuttles are popular to ride, not cycling.

So your statement is not true. I suspect some techbots own bicycles and pretend to ride them but they never get used. The problem is that textbots are too heavily addicted to their gadget and it's very difficult to text/gadget and ride a bicycle at the same time....and dangerous.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 1:10 am

Agreed. I don't think tech has time to ride a bicycle; they're doing busy with boring coding from early morning until evening. They get on those shuttles very early and the ones that come back from Silicon Valley into the bedroom community known as San Francisco don't start arriving in full force in the Castro until early evening up to around 9pm or so they're still coming in. They usually stop illegally where I'm waiting for the 33. In the entire time I've been waiting for the 33, I've only seen maybe 3 tech people all total get a bike off the shuttle. They may go to the gyms at their companies but that's not the same as cycling. My partner says there are no tech people at his gym; it's mainly the same people who have been there for years. Two of my former clients were tech people and neither of them did any type of workout. One owned a bicycle but "hadn't gotten around to riding it yet" were his words. The other guy was more average-build to slightly heavy. Dismiss this myth that "Cycling is popular with tech." Oh and by the way, last night the 33 couldn't get by a tech shuttle AGAIN and clogged up 18th/Castro for some time. The 33 kept honking and honking and that shuttle didn't move which was PARKED in the 33's bus stop illegally. I guess those shuttle drivers don't understand that Muni owns the streets in this city.

Posted by GuestInTheCastro on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 3:07 am
Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 8:34 am

Uh yeah, actually it is popular with tech workers.
On another subject maybe some of us don't want to ride bikes. They should put their energy into making public transport. And I totally agree that not all of us are young and fit and have the energy to ride a bike everywhere. Does the mayor ride one to work?
And I'm so F-ing sick of this trend of the word subsidized being thrown around right now! Cyclists think they are subsidizing cars landlords think they are subsidizing renters. get over it people!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 16, 2013 @ 10:24 am

I'd like to know at what goal we can expect to see an end to the self-indulgent "me" parade that is Critical Mass.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

If we were at 20 percent mode share, a level common in many European cities but unheard of here in the car-loving US, I don't think many people would still see Critical Mass as relevant. BTW, when do you'll think we'll see an end to the self-indulgent "me" parade that is the daily traffic jam of cars with just a driver and no passengers? Talk about selfish! 

Posted by steven on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

is 3,000 miles across may not be that relevant.

Bikes are fine for trips under 5 or 10 miles. But then what? And what about the need to transport the whole family? To pick up and/or deliver large and heavy items?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

I notice that you ignored my question and instead offered an irrelevant diversion. What does the width of the country have to do with getting around San Francisco? And why would getting around San Francisco really be so different than getting around Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, or other major European cities with bike mode share over 20 percent? We're talking about how people commute to work, not the mythical cross country trip that few will ever take in either a car or on a bike, and there are no trips in San Francisco longer than 10 miles. As to your point about times when people need cars, there certainly are times when cars come in handy (although I see plenty of cyclists on the roads taking kids to school or groceries home), but that's not the majority of car trips, most of which are short distances traveled by sole occupants, which is far more selfish and impactful to society than a monthly group bike ride. 

Posted by steven on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

Commuting to work for many SF'ers involves either a trip from one of the surrounding counties to SF ot, for many, a trip down the peninsula or across the bay from SF.

Many of those trips are not possible by bike. Example - Novato to San Mateo, or Dublin to Pacifica.

As always, you are very SF-centric, ignoring the fact that the real city is 50 miles from side to side with 5 million people.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

More whining from a ardently devout supporters of the Motor Vehicle Gridlock Industrial Complex.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 3:23 am

I just don't buy into this whole "bikes are good; cars are bad" groupthink.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 8:37 am

Absolutely, while many (or most) of them pretend to be "green."

"What does the width of the country have to do with getting around San Francisco?"

It's called being loco/a (as usual).

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

not just within the city. Lose the parochialism. The Bay Area is a high conurbation.

You can take a bike on some trains and buses but, even so, commuting by bike is between ponderous and impossible for many people in the Bay Area.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

There's always some excuse or road block why it can't be done. "Many people" would bike if they wanted to. Period. But they would rather sit on their lazy fat ass in their big vehicle by themselves and then wonder why they are out-of-shape or why they are fat here and fat there and can't quite figure out what they can do about that that doesn't require any work on their part. It's extremely rare to see an overweight cyclist. Cycling is one of the healthiest things one can do for themselves and our environment.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

Can a senior ride a bike? A disabled person? A small child?

We're not all affluent white male tech workers wearing spandex, you know?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

They wear Lycra in Aspen, no?

Posted by marcos on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

Pale-faced flabby white male tech SF tech workers look terrible in it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 7:05 pm

Can a senior ride a bike? YES. I have two relatives (partners) who are in their 80s who bike several times a week.

A disabled person? Depends upon the disability.

A small child? YES. I was a small child when I was given a bike with training wheels. I see small children in my neighborhood riding bikes. That's what training wheels are for.

Does ignorance come naturally for you?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 7:44 pm

In practice, the vast majority do not, and certainly not on busy SF streets.

Cycling is primarily for young, fit, healthy people and, from what I see, they are usually white, male and affluent-looking.

Not a solution for most people and never will be.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

They make some of the stupidest people here in the US. And based on your comment(s), you're one of them.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 8:16 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 8:38 am

is it considered ignorance to not bother to do what you think other people should be doing?

Is leaving people alone to do their own thing ignorance?

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

search engine:

1. Seniors on Bikes
2. Seniors who ride bikes


Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 7:49 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

"We're not all affluent white male tech workers wearing spandex, you know? "

Yeah, the ageist tech industry hires so many "seniors," disabled people and small children.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

Cyclists - typically young fit healthy white tech workers

Non-cyclists - everyone else.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

Your attitude reminds me of people who choose to be "old" regardless of their actual age. Some people choose to be "old" at 30 ("oh I'm too old to do such and such" they think) and come up with the shit you've written.

NOT RIDING a bike can make a person "old." I've seen that happen many times with people. There are so many health benefits to riding a bike, rather than choosing to be "old" as you've clearly done.

Research, read about it. Don't take pride in your ignorance.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

Very true. I ride my bike over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin and back and I'd guess that at least half of the cyclists who ride over the Bridge to Marin are 50 years old and older. There are so many, many people that cycle regardless of their age. Age is not a factor. How healthy a person is and how well they feel is more of a factor because one has to have the energy to ride and endurance. There's also a variety of ethnic backgrounds who ride. It's not all white. The problem is that the trolls on here don't know any of this and speak from a position of ignorance as you say, because all they do is sit on this site day and night and write their ignorant and snarky comments. Such immature people. But it's their empty life they're wasting.

Posted by GuestInTheCastro on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

I have stopped responding to ignorant "Guest" comments. They thrive on the attention, much like a poorly behaved three year old cackles with glee after being scolded for pooping his pants.

Most of these posters are no better and don't have the excuse of being children.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 14, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

There are both good and bad posts from Guests.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

Your attitude is even more annoying! You assume that ANYone can ride a bike. You need to meet some older, very young, and people with disabilities.
There is no way my 75 year old mother with asthma could ride a bike around the city. She is a 44 year resident of the city by the way and is fairly healthy but she has never ridden a bike in her life nor does she want to. And she shouldn't have to.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 16, 2013 @ 10:31 am

Thank you!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 16, 2013 @ 10:27 am

That is why biking works so well there.

Posted by Richmondman on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 11:15 am
Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 11:43 am

Also, bicycling has doubled in usage in the last 7 years, so the nay-sayers have been proven wrong. I am sure we can get to 20% of all trips by bicycle, but probably not too much more than that, given the hills.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 14, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

from cars before we have total gridlock everywhere.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

So you have no problem with the self-indulgent "me" parade that is called DAILY MOTORIST GRIDLOCK, yet you have a problem with a bicycle ride that occurs ONE evening a month for a few hours. You are an example of insanity with priorities completely fucked up. And I don't know how you would ever "see" Critical Mass because CM is around the time you are on this site writing more snarky comments.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 12:55 am

People don't like it when others openly break the law with a police escort.

Posted by Richmondman on Dec. 13, 2013 @ 11:17 am

I pay a very large tax every year when I register my expensive automobile. I don't understand why I should be expected to share the road with a bunch of freeloaders.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

You pay a reasonable tax that doesn't even cover the cost of your car's impacts to society, from road maintenance to public health. You don't own the roads, we all pay to build and maintain them to standards that can accomodate your wasteful transportation choice. You should be thankful that the rest of us are subsidizing you instead of acting like an overentitled road hog.  

Posted by steven on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

actually substantiate it?

Since bikes pay no license, registration, tax or insurance, it's not intuitively obvious that bikes subsidize cars.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

Why ask Steven to substantiate something?

He is stating the phrases that advance his narrative.

Why would he need to substantiate them?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

As opposed to a partisan hack with an agenda.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

Is a made up meme of the moronic left.

I'm not a car driver at all, the veneer thinness of the lefts obsession around taxation and who drives cars is comical though.

As in all things the left makes their own reality.

Lets clear this up.

Steve has repeatedly been "educated" on this. But like all true believer he keeps at it.

The percentage amount of money spent on roads will never match the percentage amount of people who drive. More people as a percentage drive than the percentage of taxes spent on roads.

The progressive "thinks" that drivers should pay for all sorts of government shit, even though it may not relate to what they use, while "progressives" "think" we are all in this together when it comes to paying for schools and all of their pet idiocy, but not roads!

So if you are for paying for schools even if you don't have kids thats OK, while if you have a car you are not paying your fare share, even though you pay for other people's kids.

Most people don't have a problem paying for other people's kids, even car owners.

This is why idiots like Steve are considered deep thinkers with fellow idiots. they whine about certain groups not paying their fare share, while they insist that certain groups should have to not pay their fare share.

Car owners don't pay a fare share, while people who make other choices do. Bike owners pay a fare share, illegal aliens who have kids pay a fare share etc... the only people who do not pay a fare share are people who own cars.

This is why people like Steve are considered comical idiots be the majority.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

I am sure they pay more in taxes than your average pickup driving yahoo. Unless you think techies don't pay taxes.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

afford a car. But in Sf, a bike is a status symbol. You have to blow 2 grand on it, plus more for all the lycra and shit.

Tom Weisel - the guy who for a wing at SFMOMA named after him, started that trend.

Cycling is the new Yuppie pastime. That is why white male tech worker gentrifiers like Marcos ride a bike, although he is too fat to look good in spandex.

Or anything.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

"We are all in this together," as long as we agree with progressive idiots.

Whatever your tax level, you don't pay your share as long as you own a car.

If you own a car and make $20,000 you are not paying your share.

If you own a car and make $250,000 you are not paying your share.

If you make $000,000.00 and and have three kids in public school you pay your share.

If you make $1,000,000 and ride a bike you are paying your share.

If you make $25,000 you don't pay your share.


It's not about what you pay at any level, it is all about the fact that progressives like Steve are... children.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

let me clear up

if you make 1,000,000 you pay your bike riding share.

if you make 25,000 you pay your bike riding share.

if you make 000,000 you pay your bike share but not your car share.

No matter how little you make you always pay your bike share, no matter how much you make you never make your car share.

Whatever your income, you will always be fucked by the progressives true believer idiots like Steven.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 7:55 pm

Might want to try that sober next time Mattie.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

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