May 21, 2013

Alexis Chavez

A group of people on bikes ride by the Market Street bike counter shortly after its unveiling on Bike to Work Day May 9.

San Francisco’s bike lanes are more full than ever, with more and more people biking our city’s streets every day. But just how many, you might ask? Thanks to the brand new bike counter unveiled on Market Street May 9, bike counts are now visible to all who pass by on a day-to- day basis.

Facilitated by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and funded in part by donations from San Francisco-based gaming company Kongregate and by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the digital bike counter, also known as a bicycle barometer, was unveiled at 7:15 a.m., just in time for the first wave of bike commuters, on this year’s Bike to Work Day. Located on the south side of Market Street at the intersection of 10th Street, the bike barometer measures traffic in the eastbound bicycle lane, with counts digitally displayed as riders pass by.

Originally pioneered in Copenhagen, other American cities, like Portland and Seattle, have recently installed bike counters as well. Market Street, one of the city’s main east-west transit corridors, has seen some of the largest ridership increases at a 98 percent growth between 2006 and 2011, thanks in large part to the installation of safe hit posts which provide the green-painted bike lanes a physical separation from moving traffic.

“As more and more San Franciscans are using a bicycle as part of their everyday commute, this visual bike counter will raise awareness of the positive impact bicycling has on traffic congestion, air quality and personal health,” SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said in a statement.

Community, business and city leaders rally with bicycle commuters in front of City Hall on BTWD May 9.

With more than 71 percent increase in the number of people biking between 2006 and 2011, according to the SFTMA, more people are biking than ever before. Bike to Work Day is a great way to celebrate the joys of biking in San Francisco, but it is also a wonderful way to introduce more people to the ease of bicycle commuting.

In fact, San Francisco had a record-breaking Bike to Work Day this year, with bikes accounting for 76 percent of all eastbound traffic on Market Street between the hour of 8:30 and 9:30 a.m., the highest percentage since the SFMTA began counting in 1998. In the last five years, Bike to Work Day bike counts have increased a total of 20 percent.

Market Street isn’t the only corridor to see an increase in ridership. According to the SFMTA, bike counts are on the rise all over the city. Embarcadero and Townsend streets show a 192 percent increase, while Stockton and Sutter streets show a 259 percent increase. An in-pavement automated bike counter on the Fell Street bikeway shows a daily average of 2,000 riders.

“We know bicycling counts for businesses that are trying to attract the best and the brightest,” San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Director Leah Shahum said at this year’s Bike to Work Day press conference. “They’re doing so by attracting folks that want to live in the city and work in the city and walk and bike and take transit.”

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