BikeLane.jpgSan Francisco is experiencing a sustained pedal revolution, according to a report released by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency this month.

The annual Bicycle Count Report indicates that the number of people riding bicycles in the city has increased 7 percent since last year and has increased 71 percent since 2006.

“These counts back up what is apparent on our streets every day–that San Franciscans love bicycling, and that bicycling has never been more popular,” San Francisco Bicycle Coalition executive director Leah Shahum said today.

According to the 2011 report, 75,000 people ride bikes each day in the city, with trips concentrated in the Financial District–especially along Market Street–to and from the Mission, and along the Wiggle, a route that snakes between Golden Gate Park and Hayes Valley while avoiding the hilliest streets.

Not only are more people on bikes, but the share of trips made by bicycle is also on the rise. In 2000, 2 percent of all trips in the city were made by bicycle. The recent count indicates that number has risen 75 percent to 3.5 percent of all trips.

This pales in comparison to the share of bike commute trips made elsewhere in California and the U.S. According to numbers from 2010, in Davis, 22 percent of all trips are made by bike, and bike trips in Boulder, Colo., account for 10 percent of all trips. In that regard, San Francisco is not even in the top ten.

“The SFMTA is committed to growing bicycle ridership and improving the safety of bicycling in San Francisco,” SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin said today. “The annual count provides a critical analysis of how we are doing.”

To be able to compare its count data with other cities nationwide conducting bicycle counts, San Francisco tweaked its methodology to better align with national bicycle counting standards.

In previous years, the city conducted bicycle counts in August. This year was the first year the city also counted cyclists in September, when schools are back in session and summer vacations are over.

The peak period tallies from this year–which examined a two-hour window–counted a sample of 10,139 cyclists in September, compared to 8,314 cyclists in August, a nearly 22 percent increase.

The report also provided insight into bicyclist behavior across the city by measuring the percentage of the city’s bicyclists who were observed riding on the sidewalk or riding the wrong way.

Across the city, 94 percent of cyclists were observed to be following the law. For two new count locations on Lincoln Boulevard, a high-speed arterial street with no bicycle facilities, more than 50 percent of riders were observed pedaling on the sidewalk or against traffic.

“Collecting data on the rate of these behaviors identifies places in the bicycle network where facilities may be inadequate or have unsafe conditions,” the report reads.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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