How Employees In San Francisco Commute To Work

The way in which employees in San Francisco commute to work has changed a little but not a lot since 2008, with the share of those driving alone has dropped from 37 percent to 35 percent in 2013 and the share of those taking transit rising to 38 percent from 36 percent five years before. If you take the train to work, check out the fastest SD cards to see how you can get a head start on your day. Irrespective of these figures, a large percentage of employees are still commuting by car. This is being replicated across the pond in the UK. What can be frustrating for this portion of the workforce can be overpaying for car insurance. Anyone who feels they have similar frustrations should try and search car insurance companies near me. This should at least make the commute slightly less expensive, unless you end up in a crash with an uninsured driver considering there are a fair few on the road that think they can dodge paying for something they feel they might never need, this is why it’s wise for those that can, to invest in an uninsured motorist coverage policy. However, the actual cost of the vehicle can have a massive impact. This is especially true if your work revolves completely around your car (i.e delivery work or electrician). To manage the costs better it may be wise to use a leasing company like Intelligent Van Leasing.

And while the share of those working in the city who commute to work by bicycle has increased from 2.0 percent to 2.6 percent over the past five years, the share slipped a little from 2.7 percent in 2012, according to the the Planning Department’s latest Commerce and Industry Inventory for the city.

Mode Split for Commuters in San Francisco, 2008-2013

The share of San Francisco residents who commute to work by bike did hold at 3.8 percent in 2013, up from 2.7 percent in 2008, while those who drive alone ticked up a tenth of a point and the share of those who take transit ticked down four tenths from 2012.

As a point of comparison, a little over 6 percent of commuters bike to work in Portland, Oregon, which is the highest share for a large American city and versus a national average of 0.6 percent. San Francisco ranks around fifth nationally.

The biggest shift in how people in San Francisco commuted last last year was a 1.1 percentage point increase in the share of those who walk to work, up from 9.4 percent in 2008 to 10.9 percent in 2013, driven in large part by the building boom downtown which is enabling the trend.

129 thoughts on “How People Commute To Work In San Francisco”
  1. 2.6 % of commutes by bike, and yet we dedicate 30% of major thoroughfares to bike lanes at the expense of other modes of commute.

    Talk about squeeky wheel getting the grease!

    1. 3.8% of residents. 11% of drivers counts. Because apart from a few Marin county superheroes all bike commuters are residents.

    2. 30% of major thoroughfares? uh… right.

      If you can reference even one street in SF, major or not, that has 30% of its profile dedicated to people on bikes… then I’ll agree that you’re not just sprouting BS.

      1. Counting surface area seems like a bogus way of calculating the percent devoted to the project. For example, Cesar Chavez used to be 3 lanes. Bike lanes were added and now it is 2 lanes. So effectively, adding the bike lanes resulted in a 33% reduction in vehicle lanes. Sure some medians were added etc., but the impetus was the bike lanes. And, as predicted, congestion on CC has increased tremendously.

        1. No, the impetus was making a more pleasant neighborhood by beautifying CC, adding trees, a median with more trees, left turn lanes for easier and safer turns, bumpouts for better pedestrian safety, and yes, bike lanes.

          1. Yes. I agree the landscaping is a great improvement, making the area more pleasant. But the bike lanes did IN FACT reduce the car lanes to two and it has IN FACT increased congestion dramatically.

            And I hardly EVER see the bike lanes being used.

        2. You “forgot” to count car parking in your total. The street went from four lanes dedicated to autos, to three lanes.

    3. Standard bike lane width is between 4 and 6 feet. For that to be 30% of the width of a ‘major thoroughfare’ that would mean it was originally between 13 and 20 feet, leaving only between 9 and 14 feet for cars – that would be only 1 travel lane (i.e., one-way). As narrow as SF streets are, I am confident there are none that narrow that are considered ‘major’ (I’m sure you can find some alleys that narrow, but none of them go more than a block and none have a bike lane painted on them.

      And the idea is that as you get more bike lanes set up, it will allow more people currently not riding them to switch. Even if bikes never took more than 5% of people around, it makes sense to have them for those that can, because even getting 5% of people out of cars (or off MUNI) will make it easier for everyone else.

      And hey, it’s not like motorcycles aren’t using those bike lanes already…

      1. yes, we are using the bike lanes. beyond mass transit, preferably subway system to get dangerous bus and bus drivers off the street (whch i find much more dangerous than individual car drivers), increasing the number of motorcycle users is the best thing the city could do. we dont even get a count in the survey. I guess we are “other”. cities across the world have mass use of scooters and motorbikes and that helps traffic greatly. we dont produce as much co2, we have better gas mileage, we take up less space, we follow rules more than cyclists (although we do use their lanes). We respect car drivers. we look cooler than cyclists. we dont wear skinny jeans.

          1. not so sure. the hot air of BS put out by the bike coalition may put out as much exhaust as all the motorbikes in the bay area

    4. 30% of our thoroughfares to bike lanes? That’s not even the case in Portland. Are you confusing SF with Amsterdam. I didn’t realize that we had even one of the cities major streets dedicated to bike lanes, oh wait…there is that block behind safeway…guess you are right. Oh you ignorant Carbon omiters are so full of Gas!

  2. By way of contrast, in the USA 86 percent drive to work, with 76 percent of those driving alone, according to the 2010 Census American Community Survey.) Only about 5 percent of Americans take a bus, train or subway. About 2.9 percent walk to their place of employment, and .6 percent take a bike.

  3. Damn, 50% increase in bike share while driving alone drops by more than 5%. Didn’t realize the trends were that overwhelming.

    Also, I thought that transit sucked here? Why the huge increase?

    1. Parking and bridge tolls are really expensive. Congestion is really bad. You will tolerate a lot to save $35 a day

    2. Anon, you have answered your own question.

      “Also, I thought that transit sucked here? Why the huge increase?”

      A huge increase without the corresponding huge increase in infrastructure equals transit sucks here.

        1. My parents say it was quite good in the 1950’s and early 1960’s I know it was sucking by the late 1980’s

          Somewhere in-between sucking started

    3. “Transit sucks” depends on what you are trying to do. Most of the transit is focused on getting people to and from work (and largely down the market street corridor). It doesn’t do a great job of that, but it is much, much cheaper than the alternative. Where transit really fails is in getting to and from anywhere else in the City (or outside of the side). For those purposes, transit generally ranges from poor to impossible. That is why so many people care about having a car and having adequate parking. Not because they need that to get to work, but because they need it for everything else in their life.

      1. The perception that Muni “fails” is a common myth. Our family of four does just fine using Muni as our primary mode of transportation and none of us commute to/from downtown.

          1. Two thoughts:

            1. It is all relative. Visit any California city that is not SF, Oakland, or LA to get a taste of mediocre transit. In Tahoe it truly stinks.

            2. Transit effectiveness depends a lot on where you live. Perhaps bus rider lives closer to good transit than spencer.

          2. you are now arguing that our transportation system is favorable compared to Tahoe? Really? thats what you want to to compare us to?

            I was thinking maybe we should look at NYC, LA, Chicago, Boston, Wash DC, but maybe im overstretching. As long as we are better than tahoe, then we must have a great system.

            By the way, all 5 of those cities have superior public transport to us, which is a shame, since our city is only 7×7. It should be much easier here

          3. Well it is better than Tahoe’s but that’s not the point. Also I feel that SF Muni is equal or better than Chicago’s CTA and LA’s MTA. Sure those systems work good for in/out of downtown but to any other destinations they’re just OK. LA in particular can be lame if your destination lies outside of the city limits. At least SF has BART, ferries, and Caltrain for regional trips.

            I haven’t spent enough time in Boston or DC to form an opinion but NYC is world class.

          4. Chicago’s transit is atrocious outside of the Loop and a little slice north of there. Absolutely atrocious.

  4. I’d like to know how “other” breaks down. Assuming that various contraptions like segway, scooter, roller blades, and e-bikes get lumped into walking or bicycling then what is left? Donkey? Personal Zeppelin? Surfboard? Jet pack? Telekinesis?

    1. They only breakout “other” for motorcycle (0.8%) and taxi (0.3%) (namelink). I wouldn’t be surprised if it also includes no answer, unspecified, etc.

      1. OK, taxi makes sense though I’d assume that motorcycle gets lumped in with “drive alone”. I believe that a push scooter and roller blades are considered pedestrian by the law. e-bikes are bicycles. Not sure about segway though, perhaps that’s another “other”.

  5. After all the money and neighborhood fights, re-construction of streets, removal of auto lanes and parking, and complete political hijacking of the SFMTA, you would think the bike number would be higher than 3%. If there are two groups that deserve to have more say at the MTA, it would be transit users and pedestrians, NOT the S.F. Bike Coalition. But what will the MTA do do for revenue if car users continue to decline?

    1. Anon, you are woefully misinformed. In recent years, the SFMTA has devoted less than 1% of it’s budget towards bicycle improvements.

      1. its not about the budget alone. its about decrease of auto lanes and parking and creating congestion. with only 2.6% of people cycling now vs. 2 in 2008, then we can assume in 2018, there might be 3.2 . At the most, only 3.2 % of sterets should have special focus on bike lanes. I think the plan they have gives way too much attention to cycling at the expense of the other 97.4%. personally its helpful to me and gives me more lanes to zip around on. But its clearly VERY BAD policy and planning. the number of commuters cycling will never pass 5%. therefore, i think only 5% of streets in the core areas should have bike lanes.

        1. So you’re not actually concerned about the budget, but rather just prefer auto traffic throughput be prioritized above all else. I’m not a cyclist, but I applaud anything that makes our streets more safe for pedestrians, by widening sidewalks and removing traffic lanes.

        2. “the number of commuters cycling will never pass 5%”

          Can you explain why you think SF will never exceed 5%? Take in consideration that Portland has already exceeded 6%. Yes, Portland: a city that is less dense, has nastier weather, is as hilly, and has a higher count of mullets per capita compared to SF.

          1. Portland got to 6% in 2008 and has plateaued there since. True, it did get to 6.3% for 2011 but then dropped back to 6.1% for 2012.

        3. Wow, this is pure gold:

          the number of commuters cycling will never pass 5%. therefore, i think only 5% of streets in the core areas should have bike lanes

          Following that logic, only 36% of streets should have car lanes and 11% should have sidewalks. Yeah, that sounds like sound policy. Build it!

        4. I would love it if 5% of the streets in San Francisco had separated bike lanes. Right now about 1% do. Do you agree that the number of bike lanes should triple or quadruple then?

  6. Just a note of caution on using this version of the data instead of the source data (ACS 2013 commute to work for SF workers at namelink). First, the margin of error on the bike commute estimate is fairly large, about 20%. Doing calcs with those kind of error bars without understanding the source of the uncertainty can be very misleading.

    The ACS commute data is the best we have and as authoritative as we have, but all we can be confident of (to something like 90% confidence, i.e. 10% chance it is wrong) is that bike commute for SF residents in 2013 was between 4.4% and 3.2% and for SF workers was between 3.1% and 2.3%. I don’t think the exact number matters as much as the trend, up a lot short term, and increasing 50-100% in absolute numbers every 10 years or so for a long time.

    Second, 2008-2010 includes a sharp economic hit. A lot of people got poorer quickly, a lot of car commuters disappear from the numbers and bike, walk, and transit increase in percentage. Exactly when the surveys are done in those years can sway the numbers.

    If you look at a longer baseline of ACS commute and work data, say from 2005 to 2013, San Francisco created more than 100,000 jobs and added less than 10,000 cars to the commute. The margin of error is large enough that there may have even been no cars added. During this time more than 60% of the growth in commute was transit. Transit together with walking accounts for about 3 out of 4 added commuters from 2005 to 2013. Maybe some of that’s because of better BART/MUNI/Caltrain and more housing built near jobs, maybe some is people too poor to drive.

    1. For jobs added anywhere near downtown (SOMA, Mission bay etc) it doesn’t have to be too poor to drive to shift modes. It just has to be expensive enough monetarily and in time (congestion is pretty bad now) to change someone’s mode.

  7. the trends are more important than the snapshot. These bear out the results of a new generation of workers/habits/choices, increased development near Downtown/SoMa/East Bay BART Stations, and some not-inconsiderable transit improvements over the last ten years. Reassuring as the transit “boon” appears to be, the walk and bike mode split increases will likely grow even faster.

    What this calls for (screams for?) is a serious adjustment of investment in transit capacity, especially more fleet, and more separated rights-of-way. People will take transit if we’d only let them, but today there are still one-car Muni trains heading outbound at 5 pm, standing-room-only 40-minute BART rides, and Caltrain customers making the Sophie’s Choice between their bike or getting to work on time because the cars are overflowing. This hurdle — the uncertainty that you’ll get a seat, or even get on a train — is a huge challenge for the many choice riders who’d otherwise happily never drive to work again. To an extent, you could make the same observation for cyclists who seem to fill every new green lane we paint, and make do with the vast gaps in the network.

    1. I agree friscan, the Bay Area “good” transit is at risk of becoming a victim of its success. BART and Caltrain riders are now driving *away* from the city’s core just to have a better chance of getting a parking spot and a seat on the train. Both the transbay tube and the Caltrain corridor are at near capacity and we’re decades away from adding any new significant capacity. Same for the freeways though they’re even worse off because there’s no space left to create a new 300′ wide 8 lane roadway.

      We need to start right now on a new transbay crossing and quad tracking Caltrain all the way from SJ to SF because by the time it is ready those systems will be turning away riders for years due to overcrowding.

    2. as a frequent user of bike lanes, i complete disagree with the observation that cyclsits are filling every new bike lane. while they are used daily by certain people. At any given time, they are mostly empty. the regular lanes for cars are Always full. the bike lane capacity is much larger than the number of cyclists. if i werent using the bike lanes, i would make the argument that there are enough bike lanes to cover the increase of cyclists for the next 20 yrs. this city needs subways. takeing away car lanes for buses is equally bad as it will create mass congestion and mass pollution of idling cars.

        1. you must be kidding. this is certainly not true in the core of SF. the bike lanes we have are underutilized, and you know that.

          1. Sure the core is busier longer, the the fact remains most streets are lightly used during the day. And when you see them busy, it’s because the cars aren’t going anywhere.

            I’m on Broadway right now looking out my window and there are hardly any cars. Go to just about any residential neighborhood and there are few cars moving after 7pm.

            Bikes don’t get stuck in traffic, so you don’t see them backing up like cars.

      1. All these arguments about “bikes only represent such-and-such” are deeply flawed. You do not restrict sidewalks on 11% of the streets because walking commuters are only 11%!

        Access is the key here. But motorists do not like to share.

        If we go deeper into the ludicrous: for instance you could make the claim that there is no need for a bike path on the Western Span of the Bay Bridge because there are no bike commuters crossing the Bay from Oakland to SF.

        Hey, there is ZERO PERCENT of bicycle cyclists commuting on the BB. Therefore no need for any bike lanes!

    3. Yup – just this a.m. I caught the 31 at Balboa & 12th (a block from my house) at 5:57 a.m. (my pre-New Years resolution to hit the gym before work!) – counting the wait for the bus (which was 5 minutes late), it was 42 minutes door to door, to go 4.6 miles. That’s abysmal – and particularly inexcusable at that hour, when there’s virtually no traffic. That’s one reason people drive; to save time. If I had $35/day to burn, I’d definitely drive over taking transit, and I’m a huge transit booster. But if we had a subway or dedicated rapid transit corridor, that trip could and should be made in less than half that time – and then much of the incentive to drive would go away too.

      1. my wife wants me to give up the motor bike due to 2 small kids. I promised her when there was a subway on geary at least to arguello, i would agree to do it. until then, no way. i can get anywhere in the city in less than 10 min and obviously no parking issues. we drive our car a lot due to kids and groceries and shopping and out of town trips, but daily i use the motorcycle. she wont let me take the kids on the motocycle. Ive been riding for 25 yrs, with no accident. Im lucky and have quick reflexes. seriously the biggest problem for me are MUNI drivers. they are horrible. the bike lanes help avoid MUNI on the motorcycle.

        1. You keep bragging about how you drive your motorcycle in the bike-lanes all the time. I guess the law is for everyone else, huh?

          1. whats the difference bwtween me and those bicycle with a little motor on them. Are we both illegal. Listen, some laws are meant to be broken and dont impact public safety. the bike lanes are mostly empty. Im not going down bike lanes with cyclists in them. the car lanes are congested and the bike lanes are open. im doing my civic duty to my fellow 97.4% of non-cyclists by not further congesting the main lanes. im not bragging. im a utilitarian. most motorcycle riders enjoy efficiency.

          2. I like how moto mayhem keeps talking about riding in BICYCLE lanes, then says motorcycles follow the rules better than bikes. Using a bike lane with a motorcycle does impact public safety. I’m sure it doesn’t create too many issues due to your “quick reflexes”, but by the very nature of what you are doing, you ARE impacting public safety. As a biker, I am okay with it as so far as it doesn’t impact me, but (as noted in one of your previous comments) don’t be hypocritical and say motorcycles respect cars and follow rules more than bikes. Bikers do the same as you, “some laws are meant to be broken and don’t impact public safety.” As an example, yielding through stops signs makes a lot of sense when your bike is leg powered. Although I do it, I wont pretend it doesn’t impact public safety, but that is the result of trying to have one form of traffic rules to account for bikes, cars, and motorcycles. Just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

          3. Pedal assist and/or (the law is a bit hazy here) less than 1000W electric bikes are considered bikes and can use bike lanes. More powerful than that or gas powered is a moped or a motorcycle and can’t. It’s mostly simple.

        2. “i can get anywhere in the city in less than 10 min and obviously no parking issues.”

          That’s about as true as everything else you say.

          1. have you ever driven a motorcycle in SF? give me 2 points in the city and I will try it tonight jsut for you

          2. I rode a motorcycle for a decade and while it is faster than any other mode of transport, it is not as fast as you claim. I never rode in the bike lanes. Be a real man and split lanes like God intended it 🙂

            Lowell High School to Fisherman’s Wharf will take you quite a bit longer than 10 minutes.

          3. “i can get anywhere in the city in less than 10 min”

            Do the math moto. Unless you are ridiculously breaking the law, both speeding and running red lights, you cannot come even close to 10 minutes anywhere in the city.

            I’m sure you can get some places in 10 min, but your claim is complete BS.

        3. 10 minutes? Geez, the longest trip in SF is roughly 12 miles which clocks you at 72MPH. Are you doing that kind of speed in the bike lanes?
          Of course if you live in the center of gravity of SF, roughly Twin Peaks, you “only” do 40MPH and that includes stop signs and traffic lines.

          Do you have wings? Because from the numbers, it looks like you have wings on your bike-lane-riding motorcycle.

  8. It’s criminal that Bart doesn’t run only 10 car trains during rush hour. And there is no relief in sight for at least a few years.

      1. i strongly believe we should have a usable subway system within SF before investing any money in a new transbay tube. its faster already via transit to get from oakland to downtown SF than from half of SF to get downtown.

        the money should be saved to do this. the city should suck it up and stop using bandaids, BRT, bike lanes, and make a long term investment in making an actual large impact on transit. the city must be raking in tax revenues right now. we should all be willing to suffer for 10 yrs for a major fix in the future.

        1. More than half of SF is relatively low density with a very dense core so I am not sure it makes sense to say SF needs to have subways within the city first.

          1. so you think providing another subway for suburbanites to get into the city from the east bay, when there already is one, is a higher priority for the city than having a subway through its commerical coridors and major thoroughfares such as geary and divisadero. 38 geary is the busiest buses in the city and one of the busiest in the country. and it sucks. if you want to impact car commuting within the city, then this is a bigger bang than another transbay tube. its certainly better for the city at least.

          2. I don’t believe in trying to unnecessarily block one because of a lack of the other. A 2nd transbay tube is needed, and a proper subway in SF would be great. But they are unrelated. The biggest hurdle for a SF subway is political, and there’s no reason to tie a transbay tube to that mess.

          3. Geary is the only argument I can see for a SF only subway. It is hard to see where a Divis north south subway would go to be a wise investment. How many trips would that generate?.

            The main point though is BART already exists as a political entity and has the ability to tax more residents to build subways. The most trips in the Bay Area are still generated from workers going to downtown SF and there is a lot of density in the Easy Bay as well. The most logical both politically and in terms of generating the most trips is a line that goes from a dense part of the East Bay through downtown to take pressure off the existing stations and then out to Geary.

            Muni can’t built a real subway and SF is pretty small anyhow. I do totally agree with you that they need to stop building BART to the distant burbs and to focus on stations in SF, Berk. and Oakland

          4. You keep mentioning divisadero like this makes sense. Where does this Divis subway go from and to? I doubt it justifies rail. Is there a large demand for North to South travel here?

            Geary I agree is about the only location all in SF where a subway can be justified but a) Muni can’t built or operate a subway b) BART already can and exists as a political entity c) SF as a downtown and a few core hoods are really the only dense areas but this distinction you are making is artificial as there is also a lot of travel demand from the East Bay to downtown SF

            Much of Oakland is much denser than much of SF. It is not clear to me in SF where all these short subways you want should go to and from and how SF would pay for them.

          5. “The biggest hurdle for a SF subway is political, and there’s no reason to tie a transbay tube to that mess.”

            I would tie it in cause I think the only way it will all happen is with the tunnel that can support BART and conventional rail with a lot of federal money. You think the MTA/CTA are up to building a subway in SF after what we have seen on the Central Subway? This is mickeymouse transit

            SF is just too small and provincial to do this alone

      2. Oh, there’s a pot of gold all right. It just get raided monthly by Caltrans for freeway projects. Anyone want to take a guess at how much Caltrans District 4 (our district) has spent improving freeways in the last decade?

  9. @anon, the 50% increase in bike share is probably weekday intra-day trips since traffic where the bike stations are located (mainly downtown) is congested, Muni is… well, Muni and walking from point A to point B would be too long.

    You also only get thirty minutes on the bikes before additional fees kick in, and as I mentioned the bulk of the bike stations are downtown, with a few sprinkled around the Embarcadero and AT&T Park, so I’m doubting a large part of the real numbers associated with that 50% increase is bike-based commuting.

    1. Can’t Think of Cool Name – these percentages aren’t about Bay Area BikeShare, specifically (or hardly at all, really, given that it’s brand new). Rather, they are about the share of all bike and other modes for San Francisco commutes.

  10. Although I totally support the efforts to increase bike ridership, I also assume that most of the people who make up the 2 to 4% who bike to work over the years covered are doing it as a short term attraction. A steady number of people opt in and opt out every month to give it a try. I know two people who have steadily biked to work for over 20 years, but (almost) everyone has tried it once or twice, including me.

  11. “And while the share of those working in the city who commute to work by bicycle has increased from 2.0 percent to 2.6 ”

    of jesus, please build more bike lanes for this mass amount of people and growth of the supreme cyclist lordships. Well this just shows what an utter waste of money this bike infrastructure expansion is. dear city, please spend your money where it can have a greater impact. for gods sake. stop taking away lanes from cars and transit. 84% of commuters are using motorized vehicles (bus, carpool, cars). this number did not drop at all. you are needlessly creating congestion by prioritizing 2.6% over the 84%. does that sound smart to you?

    1. 2.0 to 2.6 is an astounding percentage increase. Perhaps you don’t understand percentages, but yes, if something is increasing at a 30% rate while something else is stagnating, it’s usually a good idea to pay attention to the one growing.

      1. i have a phd in neuroscience and epidemiology, so get statistics very well. obviously agree % increase are important, except when they still represent such a tiny fraction. for instance, even though the % increase for public transit was smaller (36-38%, which is a 5.5% increase), this 5.5% increase is more imapctful than the 2 to 2.6 % , or 30% increase for cycling. Its more impactful because it represents more people and taking more people out of cars. frankly, in this case, the 30% is meaningless because it only represent 0.6% of commuters. when this number actually increase by a couple of absolute % points, then it will be more meaningful. as of now, there seems to be more than enough bike infrastructure to facilitate the potential 3.5% share of commuting cycling may get by 2025.

        1. I’m going to restate what you said slightly differently because I think what you said is true. For small numbers, like the number of cyclists, sampling has giant error bars. The error when sampling cyclists might be +/-.5%, so this should be said 2+/-0.5% to 2.6+/-0.5%, in other words we have no clue whether there was an actual increase in bike ridership or not and if it did increase, how much it increased.

          As the numbers get bigger, we sample more accurately and also the real effects of small changes are far more apparent. So we can far more easily say definitively that an effect was seen.

          That said, I got an e-bike recently and I love it. If more people got them, I think we’d see more cyclists!

          1. “in other words we have no clue whether there was an actual increase in bike ridership or not and if it did increase, how much it increased.”

            That’s true, but when sampled repeatedly, and a trend is clear, it leads weight to the validity of the increase.

            e-bikes are great, but they are still very expensive. I hope they grow in popularity, which should help bring the price down.

          2. I’m not sure e-bike cost is that much of an issue. Decent ones start around 2k, which is a lot, but not compared to what people spend on transportation. The problem is that there is no safe parking for bikes once you get to where you are going. Everyone I know has had a bike stolen, and that’s a problem if we want more cyclists.

          3. $2K is a lot of money, and about 10 times what it costs for a decent used bike. I agree it’s still a great alternative, but it’s a big commitment for anybody that isn’t sure they are going to be biking regularly.

            Yes, the lack of safe bike parking at destinations is definitely another deterrent.

  12. lol.
    25 years from now, we’ll still have under 5% of commuters using bikes, but 50% stuck in traffic on crowded busses. We’ll wonder why on Earth did we take lanes away from busses to give to bikes? Finally coming to our senses, we’ll convert all the bike lanes to bus-only, and tell bikers to stop crowding up the streets and just take transit like everyone else does.

    1. Oh, and 50 years from now, with a daytime population approaching 1.5 million, we’ll realize that maybe we should start saving up to build some new subway lines…

  13. Since 2008 I’ve taken every form of transit for my commute except biking. I recently switched from driving to taking the bus. It adds 1 hour per day to my commute but costs $30 per day less. That’s one less hour with the kids each evening. Still deciding if it’s worth the extra commute to save the money but I sure do not miss driving through this traffic.

    1. $30 a day is about $7,500 a year, or $75,000 per decade. I get the desire for that extra hour with the kids, but depending on what you do, perhaps that savings can be used for extra vacation time with them, which might be worth it. Certainly a personal decision.

  14. I run nearly every morning in many parts of the city, and it is astonishing to me how many cars are on the road, and very, very few bikes. The figures in this survey do not surprise me at all. Biking is never going to be the mode of choice for more than a tiny fringe. That does not mean it should not be encouraged, but it is a fact. Too tiring, too sweaty, too time-consuming for all but a few (for those few – kudos). If a particular improvement of the ride for bikers has any negative consequences for transit or cars, that particular project should probably be set aside. If biking ever gets to about a 15%-20% threshold, you can change that policy. Never gonna happen.

    We need to get commuters out of their cars and on to transit, which means expanding transit options. Right now, it is far quicker for many to drive to work, so they do – I don;t blame them at all. We need to improve that not by making driving take longer, but by making transit more frequent and quicker. That is where our dollars and energy should be spent. Pedestrian safety should also be a top concern given the numbers. My commute (castro to embarcadero) is fastest by Muni, so that is what I take. If driving were quicker (or biking for that matter), I’d use that mode of transport. I suspect that most take into account the same considerations.

    (nb: don;t anyone try to tell me that my commute would be faster by bike. Not even close. I’ve done it plenty of times. Muni is way faster, and that is even before adding in the shower that is needed on the other end)

    1. Yes, it is hard to beat a straight shot down Market on a subway with frequent departures. That’s probably the fastest and most efficient transit on the West Coast (of the entirety of both North and South America!). But veer a few blocks away from this transit spine and transit times don’t compete with biking. For example from the Castro Theater to the Ferry Building is about 15 minutes on Muni. Biking is a little over 20 minutes (without needing to break a sweat). But move the start point over to the base of Buena Vista Park on Haight and the transit time doubles to 30 minutes, easily beaten by bicycling.

      And note that these times don’t even account for latency. Normally on transit there isn’t a bus or subway train waiting with doors open for you to step right on. On average you wait half the headway time for a bus or train to arrive unless you have extraordinary synchronization skills.

      I disagree about bike mode share remaining at a small fraction. There’s a direct correlation between making bike trips easy and comfortable and the number of people riding bikes. Take Valencia street for example. After bike lanes went in the number of bicyclists exploded. There’s a direct cause and effect lesson there.

      We’ve had over a half century of building roads with only cars in mind. That creates a hostile environment for bicyclists. No wonder few dare get on the road to jostle with huge cars. It can be scary.

      Getting to work should not be a frightening experience. Until most trips can be made comfortably the number of bicyclists will remain fairly low. But build a nice infrastructure and their numbers will explode. There are real-world examples of this phenomenon.

      1. For the multitude of reasons already stated, the number of bikers for the activities being discussed here will never be appreciable. Your “phenomenon” is illusory.

        1. I might add that I only say that in the context of what a negative impact reducing vehicular lanes to construct bike lanes has had on traffic flow. However “commendable” might be the notion of encouraging increased use of bikers over internal combustion driven vehicles, it simply does not begin to outweigh the negative effects.

    2. I think that since 3-4% (depending on whether you mean all commuters or just San Franciscans) commute by bicycle and as much as 6% of all trips are made by bicycle (according to the MTA) that bicyclists deserve 3-6% of the roadway, not the 1% we have now.

      I guarantee that if we see the kind of dedicated Class 1 protected bike lane network that we would see at 5%, bicycle usage would explode. I am not sure if we could get to Scandinavian levels of 30-40% mode share, but I am sure we would approach Davis’s 15%. This would help congestion for other road users immensely.

    3. Castro to Montgomery in 16 minutes by bike, and stopping at every light. I don’t even break a sweat.
      Now on the way back it goes up and you’re going home. It’s like doing a decent 3K and at least you’re going somewhere.

      1. Pretty good! 18 minutes door-to-door on Muni this morning (including a couple blocks walk on both ends). Read the paper on the way and arrived dry as a bone. Haven’t seen any cyclists out today.

        1. Yeah there are a lot fewer bikes on the road this morning for some reason :-). I made it to the office mostly dry thanks to the miracle of gore-tex. My face was wet but everything else is dry.

          1. Pretty awesome, and with so many traffic lights out, I bet you were moving twice as fast as the cars.

  15. I think there is a mistake in Table 7.1. The 2013 Employees values are exactly the same as the 2010 Employees values (35.3 Drive Alone, 10.5 Carpool/Vanpool,…,1.9 Other). That would be very unusual in real data but a common enough cut-and-paste mistake, and this data is just republished from the US Census ACS.
    Here is what I see in the 2013 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates for the matching rows in Table 7.1:
    33.3% Drove alone
    9.4% Carpooled
    39.4% Public transportation
    7.8% Walked
    2.7% Bicycle
    4.9% Worked at home
    2.6% Taxicab, motorcycle, or other means

    If anyone wantS to triple check this, it only takes a few minutes. You can download the data tables in excel format from these links to the ACS Table for 2010 and 2013, B08406: SEX OF WORKERS BY MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION TO WORK FOR WORKPLACE GEOGRAPHY – Universe: Workers 16 years and over, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates:



    Oh well, trust but verify.

  16. Since I’ve seen a lot of comments about “Class 1 Protected Bikes Lanes” mentioned several times in multiple threads, I decided to find out what the definition is and what the specification is based on that definition. I found the below on the California Department of Transportation website, Highway Design Manual, Chapter 1000 (!?!?!); Bicycle Transportation Design:

    “Class I Bikeway (Bike Path). Generally, bike paths should be used to serve corridors not served by streets and highways or where wide right of way exists, permitting such facilities to be constructed away from the influence of parallel streets. Bike paths should offer opportunities not provided by the road system. They can either provide a recreational opportunity, or in some instances, can serve as direct high-speed commute routes if cross flow by motor vehicles and pedestrian conflicts can be minimized. The most common applications are along rivers, ocean fronts, canals, utility right of way, abandoned railroad right of way, within school campuses, or within and between parks. There may also be situations where such facilities can be provided as part of planned developments. Another common application of Class I facilities is to close gaps to bicycle travel caused by construction of freeways or because of the existence of natural barriers (rivers, mountains, etc.).”

    The “Bikeway Design Criteria” is too large to copy and paste. Here’s the URL to the PDF:

      1. @NVJ, technically, I agree. But in reality, its a different situation. Take the 2nd Street proposal, where the buffer zone between the bike lane and traffic lane is a slight grade elevation. Any auto, bus, or truck can easily swerve over the grade and into the bike lane. And I think its going to happen quite a bit if that plan is implemented as proposed.

  17. I wish folks would focus on how to use SF’s topography to increase bike commuters instead of worrying about some average for all of SF.
    Very roughly the NE quadrant of SF is the prime bike commute area because of the physical topography and the job centers downtown and near downtown. Some neighborhoods like Mission already have 8% bike commuters, while the western, southern, and hilltop neighborhoods are 1% or less. It should be easier/cheaper to boost the former than the latter.
    You should be able to live in this area and bike to work conveniently and safely. That’s why dedicated bike lanes on Market and Folsom make sense, and the wiggle at Divis had to be made safer. Sometimes you gotta build a bike sewer line along a car sewer line, even if that means taking away a quarter of the car sewer lanes.
    The problem is much harder for narrow streets that are already oversubscribed by multiple uses, such as Polk, Second, or Ocean. Very difficult to dedicate pavement there without breaking some other use that was already underserved. By contrast, the bike lanes on Townsend near the Caltrain station and Harrison in the Mission have worked well because those streets had some slack to give and the designs respected all uses.

    1. DITTO. Too many bike haters. Bike lanes are getting added in very strategic places. They serve to help calm traffic and make for a better pedestrian environment as well. No one is taking your precious car away and no one is saying that transit needs to take a back seat. Traffic is not bad because the roads are not big enough – it’s bad because too many people want to drive. Give people options and see what happens. Car traffic is not going to go away but the same amount of space will move more people in different modes.

      1. NO. Too many bike zealots who insist that bike lanes be forced into locations which severely negatively impact the vast majority of traffic flow yet are underutilized solely to promote/validate a chosen “lifestyle.”

  18. Cycling is the most efficient form of transportation ever invented in terms of resource needs. It also requires very little space and infrastructure, which is key in a dense city like SF. And other than a motorcycle or scooter, it’s the fastest way to get around SF. The reason the number of people using bikes here is because there is too little on the roads for cyclists. To argue we should not build bikeways because there are few cyclists is like saying we shouldn’t build a bridge because there are few people swimming across to get to the other side. While riding a bike is not for everyone, raising the percentage up to just 5 or 6% would means thousands of car trips off the road each day, something that benefits everyone.

  19. In attending one of the Polk Street neighborhood meetings, there was a discussion of a compromise that would allow a developer to build a public pay parking garage in exchange for the loss of some of the Polk Street retail parking. Brinkman in particular was absolutely against this idea. I would therefore say that once the parking space is lost, it is almost impossible in this political climate to get a new one allowed, even if it is “off street” private parking. I believe I read somewhere that although the population of the city has grown by almost 100k, there are less parking spaces today (both street and private) in the city than there were 15 years ago.

    1. “although the population of the city has grown by almost 100k, there are less parking spaces today (both street and private) in the city than there were 15 years ago.”

      As well there should be.. Do you want parking spaces and number of cars to increase with population? The whole city would be gridlock 24×7 in a few years.

    2. The idea of replacing on-street parking with an equal number of off-street parking garage spots is totally reasonable if the private developer would charge market rates. Sorry to hear it was shot down. Was there an expectation that the city would continue to subsidize parking after the spots were moved? If so that might have been the objection.

  20. i am tired of all the bikes crashing into cars. enough already. time for bikey culture to stop doing stupid things. yes, car drivers do stupid things. always have. always will. always will be a ton of steel. bikes? always much smaller. so stop doing stupid things, cyclists

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