Oct 18, 2023 - News

Bay Area residents taking more bike trips than before pandemic

Change in average daily bike trips per 1,000 people
Data: StreetLight Data; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Despite concerns about safe cycling infrastructure in San Francisco, Bay Area residents are taking more bike trips than they were pre-pandemic, according to a new report.

Why it matters: Biking is a more sustainable form of transportation, but recent cycling accidents have led to safety advocates calling for improved infrastructure in San Francisco.

What's happening: Average daily bike trips per 1,000 people in the San Francisco area increased from 42 in 2019 to 65 in 2022.

  • That's from a new report by mobility data firm StreetLight Data, which uses GPS and other location data to measure urban transportation patterns.

What they're saying: "I would attribute little to none of that increase to infrastructure or policy," Luke Bornheimer, a sustainable transportation advocate, told Axios San Francisco.

  • "We lack a connected network of truly protected bikeways," he added. "And in spite of that, we're seeing increasing ridership" in part due to increased awareness around the health and environmental benefits of cycling.

Of note: Of the nearly 464 miles of bike paths in the city, 121 of them had protective barriers as of last May, according to the SFMTA.

  • If the city were to prioritize creating such a network, "these numbers could be exponentially higher," Bornheimer said.
  • In San Francisco proper, residents took more bike trips last year than they did in 2021, but fewer than in 2020, according to data provided to Axios by the SFMTA.

Between the lines: The SFMTA's rollout of the new center-running bike lane on Valencia Street has been the subject of ongoing controversy in part due to the confusion that has ensued among drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

The other side: "The situation on Valencia is already way better than it was before," Stephen Chun, a spokesperson for the SFMTA, told the San Francisco Standard, adding that fewer cars are entering bike lanes.

What to watch: The SFMTA recently began evaluating the design of the center-running bike lane, Chun told Axios San Francisco, and is committed to "any changes necessary," including replacing the bike lane.

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