The Alliance for Biking and Walking released their 2012 benchmarking report, and with 10% of San Francisco’s commuters doing so on foot and another 2.8% opting to cycle, the city ranks third in the country when it comes to the percentage of people walking and biking to work. In addition to 2.8% of San Francisco residents commuting by bike, the share of trips made by bike has grown from 2% in 2000 to 3.5% in 2011: a climb of 75%.
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum was quoted as saying, “These counts back up what is apparent on our streets everyday — that San Franciscans love bicycling, and that bicycling has never been more popular. We look forward to continuing to work with city leaders, neighbors and local businesses to help even more people bicycle by connecting the city with safe and inviting crosstown bikeways, helping the city reach its goal of 20 percent of trips by bicycle by 2020.”
According to the study, the top 10 cities with the highest percentage of commuter walk and bike share were:
2. Washington, DC
3. San Francisco
5. New York
6. Portland, OR
10. New Orleans
You can see the exact breakdown of pedestrians and cyclists among the top 10 cities in the graph below:
In addition to looking at the number of cyclists on the road, the study also focused on the cyclist’s behavior, looking to see whether San Francisco’s bike community was following the rules of the road. The study found that 94% of observed cyclists were indeed following the law. And, the areas that accounted for the highest amount of cyclists riding against traffic or on the sidewalk were locations with no bike lane and potentially unsafe or inadequate conditions.
This raises the question of what improvements need to be made if the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition hopes to reach its stated goal of having 20% of all trips into the city on bike by 2020. According to the study, “Bicycling and walking projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just 7 jobs created per $1 million spent on highway projects.” The study adds, “Cost benefit analyses show that up to $11.80 in benefits can be gained for every $1 invested in bicycling and walking.”
With San Francisco also ranking eighth in the country when it comes to bike and pedestrian fatalities, maybe it’s prudent to invest in additional safety measures to protect people walking and riding to work. If San Francisco (and the U.S. as a whole) wants to compete with countries where cycling accounts for 9 to 26% of all trips, cyclists need to feel confident they can get where they’re going efficiently and safely. It’s encouraging to see that the number of cyclists continues to grow, but there’s still a lot that can be done to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists alike.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edmdusty/2339484629/