The Priceonomics blog has declared San Francisco the biggest market for bikes in America. The site used “number of bikes for sale” as an index of the likelihood that a city’s residents are in the market. Fair enough, if nothing else, it means there’s a pretty serious perception that people in San Francisco are interested in biking. San Francisco ranks pretty well on “Best Cities for Biking” according to Bicycling.com.
But a ton of cyclists and an appetite to hit the roads does not a great biking city make. There’s plenty to be said about the rough relationship that San Franciscan cyclists share with their automobile neighbors, and indeed the city’s lay out itself, with narrow streets and steep hills, doesn’t exactly scream “ride these streets!”
People are working to change that, though. San Francisco Metro Transportation Agency is installing 15 new bike corrals throughout the city, which should provide space for about 150 more bikes. That may not sound like a massive figure, but seeing as there are only nine such corrals currently in the city, it’s a significant bump. This move doesn’t constitute a sea change, but it is progress nonetheless. To wit, the benefits are:
- Better visibility for bikers. When drivers see bike corrals, especially on corners, they expect to see riders as well.
- Better visibility for local businesses. These bikes will take up the space of a single car space. That means up to 12 people where before only a few could park. That means more foot traffic around street-facing businesses, and hopefully more people brings more business.
- Corrals open up space for cafés and sidewalk seating. Aesthetically, a bunch of bikes is nicer than having cars so close to potential sitting areas.