San Francisco blogger, February 14, 2013
Last month, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency presented its five year Bicycle Strategy, aimed at improving and growing bicycling in the city. The new plan is an essential piece in keeping the city economically competitive, while improving the quality of life and enhancing transportation connections to ensure visitors and residents can bike more and drive less.
While the Bicycle Strategy focuses on upcoming changes, it also highlights a few recent improvements. Since 2008, the SFTMA has installed 1,400 additional bicycle racks in bike corrals and on sidewalks, bumping the citywide rack count to 8,800. San Franciscans also have 20 new miles of bicycle lanes, for a citywide total of 215 total bikeway miles including bike lanes, multi use paths, and bicycle routes with shared lane markings (sharrows). The John F. Kennedy parking-protected green lanes in Golden Gate Park, in cooperation with the Recreation and Parks Department, mark the city’s first and only, for now, parking protected lanes.
At a Glance
The Bicycle Strategy will focus on four goals to achieve the SFMTA Bicycle Strategy Vision: Improve safety and connectivity for people traveling by bicycle; increase convenience for trips made by bicycle, normalize riding bikes through media, marketing, education, and outreach; and plan and deliver complete streets projects.
Long Term Areas of Improvement
The Bicycle Strategy identified several areas of improvements to be made to make bicycling more attractive. One of these areas is creating a greater bicycle network by improving and connecting neighborhoods together via waterfront and coastal bicycle facilities, crosstown connections and separating bicycles from traffic in our neighborhoods to create comfortable networks for all users. Improving bike parking to a minimum of one bicycle rack per block on commercial corridors is another area highlighted in the strategy. A new “Comfort Assessment” methodology will determine the need for and type of upgrade based on the level of traffic stress factors.
Improving Bicycle Safety
Though the number of people bicycling has dramatically increased during the last ten years, the bicycle collision rate has remained the same. Severe injuries and fatalities usually result from collisions between people in automobiles and people on bikes. Yet, those who engage in unsafe bicycle riding behaviors are less than 4% of overall bicycle riders, a small minority, according to the Bicycle Strategy. Considering only 15 out of 150 public schools in the city receive bicycle safety education, improving safety education will improve overall safety going forward.
Increase in Funding
Still, there is more potential and demand for new and improved bicycle conditions. If San Francisco is going to become a city with a world-class bicycling network, more money needs to be allocated to fund improvements.
City leaders and community members have called upon the SFMTA to increase its funding commitment. Currently, the SFMTA spends 0.46% of its capital funding on bicycling—that’s less than one half of 1%.
“Clearly, funding has not kept pace with the tremendous growth of bicycling in San Francisco,” Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said in a statement. “We urge the SFMTA leadership to use its new Bicycle Strategy as an opportunity to get serious about bicycling as a major part of the city’s transportation future and to invest accordingly.”
Public support for increased funding for bicycle infrastructure was concluded by a recent survey. According to a November 2012 study by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, 66% of those surveyed were in support of increasing funding for bicycle maintenance and programs.
In order to reach the City’s goal of 20% of all trips by bike by 2020, San Francisco will need to increase funding, as it is currently spending less than most major US cities that have committed to growing bicycling mode share.
“It is time to step up to commit to becoming a great bicycling city. San Francisco has already proven that a large and growing number of people want to bike for transportation,” San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said.
Download the SFMTA Bicycle Strategy PDF here.
Photos courtesy of the SFMTA Bicycle Strategy.