04 April 2011

San Francisco - Connecting the City

San Francisco visualisation from Connecting the City.

I had an email conversation with Andy Thornley from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and he dropped me this link to Connecting the City website about the visions for making San Francisco a more liveable city. It includes interesting visualisations of what the city could/should look like regarding bicycle infrastructure and liveable streets.

Great stuff. The modal share - when asking people about commuting - is at 3.9%. Which puts San Francisco at #4 in the US.

However, an SFMTA report surveyed San Franciscans as part of its 2008 State of Cycling Report and estimated that about 6% of all trips take place in San Francisco by bicycle.

San Francisco is, in my mind, the Great Bike Hope for the US. Lots of positive energy, political will and visionary advocacy.

The Board of Supervisors declared a new goal of 20% of trips in San Francisco by bicycle in 2020 and the Mayor has signed it so let's cross our fingers for Bikearoni - A San Francisco Treat.


Kevin Cannon said...

What about the hills? :)

Sigrid said...

San Francisco is the perfect bicycling city for so many reasons, hills and all. When I lived there the only cyclists I saw were messengers and a few brave folks on their bicycles. I guess I was one of those brave souls, riding down Howard street one morning on my way to work once I was told by a nice Muni driver how guttsy I was to be riding my bicycle - it shouldn't have to be like that. 5 years later I come back to the City to visit and am impressed - bicycle lanes, cyclists everywhere, it is exciting! There is so much potential not only for the people who live there, but a a city of tourists ~ a great opportunity for those who visit. The best thing that has happend for the City is that the chokehold of politics was finally released and bicyclists there are finally free to ride! Long may San Francisco improve.

Nathan said...

No joke on the hills. San Fran, Portland, and Seattle will always struggle to increase ridership with the given topography. It simply isn't as practical to climb +500ft on your way to work without doing the full 'shower at work' thing. Pretty adverts and pro-cycling campaigns will only go so far. I think it's important to keep in mind these limitations rather than blindly promoting bicycles as the cure all for these places.

We just can't compete with Europe with your (relatively) flat terrain. Some of those cool bike escalator things would help though ;)

taomom said...

Thanks for the good press! I live in San Francisco and bicycle regularly. And I live up a big, big hill. In general, by choosing routes carefully, there are ways to avoid hills or minimize hills on the way to almost any destination in San Francisco. For me, coming home is the problem that I have dealt with in two ways. One is an electric-assist bicycle that makes the hills in San Francisco a breeze. The only problem is that it's too easy and not enough exercise, so in general I ride my regular bike and either push it up the last two long blocks, or ride a longer, more circuitous route that I can manage in my lowest gear without sweat. I am a forty-nine year old mother of three, so I figure if I can bicycle, pretty much anyone can. I don't like competing with cars on my bike, so the proposed physically-separated bike lanes make me very happy. I really don't understand why people are so ready to say bicycling is impossible in San Francisco because it just isn't true.

hamburgize.com said...

@ Nathan

Europe is not all like the Netherlands. Think about the Alps. Even there some cities are very successful in cycle traffic under hilly conditions, for example Lausanne and Zurich in Switzerland or Bozen / Bolzano in Italy, South-Tirole.

Bozen / Bolzano:



hamburgize.com said...

€ Nathan

Hilly Trondheim in Norway offers a lift for cyclists:



ZA said...

Thanks for the shout-out! I'm a proud San Franciscan who cycles at least 1600 miles a year to commute to work, including an approx. 200ft/75m. climb both ways.

The hills really aren't that much of a problem once you get used to them. From the perspective of attracting new riders fearful of them, it can be a problem.

What I think makes the difference is having very wide bike lanes to accommodate new/slower bike-climbers and safer descents (no fear of dooring); and improving bike access on trains and bus. Frankly, the public transit is crowded, often late, and not very pro-bike...so I consider that an area for future partnership and improvement for SF's bicyclists.

Once bikes can be brought on board MUNI trains at Forest Hill & West Portal (now forbidden), the entire Twin Peaks and Sunset neighborhoods will be unlocked and attract cycle-commuters.

She Rides a Bike said...

I enjoyed a recent vacation to SF, taking along my little Dahon for getting around. I was a bit intimidated about pedaling on the hills but found that the only ones that I couldn't manage were those that had accompanying sidewalk with stairs built into them for managing the extreme incline. It was a wonderful experience to see SF by bike, to be able to quickly stop for coffee or a bite to eat and not have to worry about parking a car.

Aaron Bialick said...

Many bicycle advocates estimate the current bike mode share at about 7-8 percent. As far as hills go, Connecting the City is about prioritizing the flattest, most convenient routes for bikes, particularly "The Wiggle" as is pictured above. Given the rapid growth in cycling we've seen even without added infrastructure, people don't seem to let the hills stand in the way.

Aaron Bialick said...

Might I also point out that San Francisco's main thoroughfare, Market Street, is the busiest bicycling street west of the Mississippi, according to the SF Bicycle Coalition. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syTOzF7iQjk

bikefish said...

Just rode home at 8:30 pm on a rainy evening from downtown Seattle to Capitol Hill. There were people on bikes everywhere, up and down and across the hills. As our friends in San Francisco say, it's not that hard to cope with hills - you choose a somewhat more circuitous route, or you hop off and push for a block or two, or toss the bike onto a bus.

Boss said...

I don't get the poster who lumped Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco together.

Portland, in my experience there, is practically flat.

Seattle (i lived here and biked here for years) has wide hills, but very few really steep inclines. The biggest obstacle to bicycling (besides cars and politics) in the NW is probably gonna be the weather, not topography.

San Francisco (my current city) has steep, steep hills. However, it also has very flat valleys that connect the city and the perfect biking weather almost year round. You only need to go up a steep hill in San Francisco if you happen to live on the top of one, otherwise it's almost always possible to find an easier, flatter, alternative route.

Market St, the main thoroughfare in San Francisco, is the busiest street for cycling i've ever encountered. Being American and all.

didrik said...

A: Hills here in SF can often be ridden around.

B: You can always walk up a hill with less effort. So you go a little slower, big deal. At least you're not a wet rat at the top.

C: Most of the city streets are flat or flat enough, and remember: half of every hill is DOWNHILL.

Adrienne Johnson said...

Oh my. Hills are soooo 2010 : )

Hills are not the thing everyone wants to make them and if you live with them on foot you can live with them by wheel. So just all you hush and let us hilly San Franciscans get on with it.

FYI- I have personally witnessed Mr.C-A survive one of our vicious hills on a single speed while terribly hung over.


It can be done. Even by flat landers.

And yes, San Francisco is the great hope for the future! At least, I hope it is : )

word verification-myxpery
It is a myxpery why people get so worked up about hills!

Ground Round Jim said...

I ride in SF and have guardedly optimistic hope for it.

The CGI represents the problematic Fell corridor and GG Park. Looks nice doesn't it? Problematic areas are all over, constrained by topography and narrowish streets.

The biggest issue is the amount of traffic in the city, much of which is passing between Marin County and points north, and the Peninsula, bringing drivers unaccustomed to the density and sometimes crazy cyclists.

Scott said...

Portland isn't that hilly east of downtown. West of downtown has issues.

Nice graphic of a buffered bike lane/cycle track. If you want to see what they look like in real life try:

BTW, if you're proposing to mark entire bike lanes green, you're going to need a lot of the other green ($).