Following the collection of over six months of data tacking the utilization of bike racks installed in the 18 parking garages managed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), the agency’s Parking Division has requested a reduction in the required number of racks to be installed in at least seven (7) of the garages due to “significant slack capacity” for the racks which are already in place.

The Union Square, Sutter Stockton and Civic Center garages are among those facilities for which reductions in the number of bike parking spaces required to be installed have been requested, with observed average daily utilization rates of 26.5 percent, 48.1 percent, and 14 percent for their existing racks respectively.

Keep in mind that businesses and buildings which have installed private racks, such as Twitter, Dolby and City Hall, have impacted the demand for publicly-accessible bicycle parking.

A City ordinance adopted in 2013 upgraded and increased the number and quality of bicycle parking spaces required for City-owned buildings and parking garages based on expected demand.

81 thoughts on “SFMTA Seeks To Reduce Bike Parking Due To Lack Of Utilization”
  1. I didn’t even know garages had bike parking, and a facility designed for car use is the last place I would think to look for bike racks. Not to mention the lack of foot traffic, which at least feels like a theft deterrent.

    It makes sense to put racks closer to destinations as the time saved helps make biking more appealing.

    1. Indeed. Quiet out of the way bike parking is the friend of the thief. Parking on the street with a lot of foot traffic is a good way to guard against theft. When parking in the Tenderloin in the evening, I lock up to a parking meter right outside of a liquor store. Those skeezy people hanging out there actually deter theft.

  2. Seems stupid to have bike parking in a bike-hostile place like these giant auto parking garages. Much better to put it at actual destinations, so I applaud the move by SFMTA.

  3. But I learned through the comments here on Socketsite that the SFMTA is controlled by pro-bike people and they make all their decisions with the goal of removing car parking and promoting bicycles. Is this not true?

    1. I don’t ride bike but if I did the last place I would park is a big old parking garage. That would defeat one of the great advantages of riding a bike which is locking it very close to the destination

    2. We get it already, futurist hates bikes and bikers. But this action, as others have noted, is simply basing policy on facts, and is no sign of an imminent bike-ocalypse.

    3. I wouldn’t bet on it. A real fact based policy would look at the utilization of some of the bike lanes that have recently been put it (such as on Cesar Chavez and San Jose Ave.) and compare it with the use of those lanes. I drive and sit in traffic congestion on both those streets and rarely see a bicyclist. But I have no hope that the SFMTA is going to even monitor usage much less reverse the changes that have been made.

      1. absolutely agree. I frequently ride my motorcycle in the bike lanes throughout SF because they are mostly empty. I use the bike lanes because the car lanes are jam packed congested. any utilization study would most likely concur that bike lanes are not being utilized well (except market and valencia) . why are we builing more bike lanes when the curren whens are so underutilized. Do the laws of supply and demand not apply to biking?

        1. Do the laws of supply and demand not apply to biking?

          It’s access, not supply/demand. You are confusing public service and commercial offerings.

          Following your logic, we should stop maintaining all the roads in desert areas that see less than sustained car traffic. You know, those nice smooth desert roads bikers love to ride on because they are virtually empty for miles and miles and miles… But… Supply and demand!

          1. yes, and safe access. The rationale for bike lanes is more about creating a safe accommodation for use than throughput or utilization. If is kind of like ADA, except in this case the disability being compensated for is the incivility of drivers.

          2. Jake, my problem with the safety issue is we can create all the separated bike lanes and pedestrian bulbs we want, but would this actually reduce bike accidents? A simple search will show over 50% of serious injuries on bikes are solo falls. Also- many of the bike vs. car injuries have been shown in the 2013 SFPD report that caused outrage from the bike coalition because it listed when cyclists were at fault. The Bike Coalition felt that it did not matter what the cause of the accident was.

            I was near Fell and Masonic when the pedestrian was seriously injured recently and was surprised to see it used again as an example of “out of control drivers” by Vision Zero. The jogger ran out in between parked cars into moving traffic! The jogger was not near a crosswalk, and was running through traffic that had a green light. These facts were ignored by various anti-car sites.

          3. we are in a city with heavy congestion. we should be looking at utilization. Jakes point about ADA is right on. Everything has to be accessible for wheelchairs even when never used. same true for bikes. everything needs to be “bike friendly” at the expense of other transit modes even when severely underutilized. But im not sure why bikers have a similar “protected status” as handicap people

  4. hopefully they will also do the same for bike lanes if the utilization is too low. I can think of a number of them already that i can zip for a mile at a time on my motorcycle without encountering a single bicyle.

    1. Also hope they do this for auto lanes if the utilization is too low. My street doesn’t have cars on it most of the time, it should be a one lane street.

      1. sounds great for non-dwntown core areas or suburbs.

        lanes are constatnly filled with cars in downtown core. Bike lanes are often totally empty except market and valencia

        1. We should let the market conditions at any given time determine road access. First vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, segway, skateboard, moped…) in rules the road. Until a bigger vehicle comes in. Then, it’s up to the smaller vehicle to get out of the way of the bigger vehicle. If the smaller vehicle doesn’t get out of the way of the larger vehicle, and the operator meets his or her maker, then think of it as “creative destruction.”

          Unregulated free enterprise transportation will deliver us from the restricting tyranny of petty civic bureaucracy. Markets!

      2. @anon: your snarkiness is tedious, but I will expalin the issue since you obviously are too narrow minded to think of it yourself. The problem with many of the bike lanes that have been created is that they have created significant congestion. It is a really poor use of resources to make hundreds of people wait in traffic so a couple of people can bicycle. Sure there are some residential streets that could be narrower — but it is not like there are a lot of bicyclists or pedestrians using those streets either. Probably the best thing to do would be to narrow them and increase the parking — which would be used. (I understand your ideological blinders would prevent you from seeing that)

        1. LOL, bike lanes creating congestion, but suggesting that we add more parking? Perhaps you’re not clear on how congestion is made, with, you know, cars.

        2. It’s not a bike lane issue. In a dense city, a good proportion of traffic will be from drivers looking for street parking.

          What we need is create more off-street parking, reduce street parking, which would reduce the number of vehicle going in circles. They should make this off-street parking partly subsidized. Say the City would pay the first 30 minutes, pay 50% of the next hour, so that people will have a real incentive NOT to clog the streets looking for metered parking that they could view as either cheaper or easier.

          1. i totally agree with your points on parking garages. The city definitley needs more garages to ease street congestion. , but it is also a bike lane issue when the city is proposing to remove auto lanes for bike lanes when current ones are already severely underutilized.

          2. BUT the stated policy of the SFBC and the SFMTA is to reduce street parking as well as private garage parking as well. During the Polk Street bike lane battles, neighborhood merchants proposed agreeing to a reduction in on street parking (and the bike lanes) if a parking garage would be considered for approval. Cheryl Brinkman mentioned at the first or second Polk Street public hearing (available online) that the goal was “not one new parking space”, and that she was for “reducing the number of parking spaces, period”. The garage idea was blocked by all the usual loud voices while the merchants and neighbors were ignored.

          3. A garage to replace the re-purposed street parking is a fine idea so long as it is privately funded. But in this case the Save Polk Parking crowd just wanted another freebie from the city.

          4. I might spend 5 minutes online to find the link, but the garage that was rejected WAS to be built by a private developer. NO city funds were involved. I believe this issue was discussed on a previous Polk Street thread. I dare any developer to try to build a private garage in this city, there is no way anyone would allow it with the current Board.

          5. Anon – I guess my search-fu is weak today because I could not find anything about a proposal by the Polk St. merchants to build a privately funded parking garage. Replacing on-street parking with 1-1 privately funded parking garage spots would be a win for the city and I’d be surprised that the city would turn down such a proposal, especially since the Polk street width is so constrained.

            Can you please post a link?

    2. And all those sidewalks! Totally wasteful, empty most of the time. They should be repurposed as parking lots!

      Actually, that’s already happened in my neighborhood…

  5. These bike racks are generally hard to find, crammed in a piss-ridden corner, just about where you’d imagine getting mugged or serial molested… So it’s no wonder why they don’t get used. Wayfinding would probably help.

    1. Why shouldn’t bicyclists have to suffer the same indignities of a public garage as the rest of City residents?

    1. they are taking their time to “put the numbers in context” because they don’t meet their needs for messaging about how bike use is exploding

        1. His lawsuit delayed the initial creation of the bike network, but also forced SF to detail the plan to fight the lawsuit, which made them more prepared to build it once the suit settled. google “Ironically, bike hater Rob Anderson advances cause of cycling in S.F. “

          1. Whatever one says about Rob Anderson’s view of the biking/SFMTA political empire, Rob has shown with his public articles and presentations at public hearings that the biking accidents that are causing streets to be re-designed and parking to be removed are many times NOT caused by motor vehicles being at fault. If some bicyclist is running a stop sign, red light, trying to cut in front of a right turning truck or bus by attempting to pass them on the right, how is that the fault of the motor vehicle? Solo falls and disobeying traffic laws are the number one cause of injury to cyclists, and even Leah Shahum cannot hide that statistic, though she sure tried for 20 years.

    2. When the numbers do appear, they most likely will make the bike riding increase appear greater than it is by providing percentage increase only. For example, if 10 people ride a bike, and the next year 20 do, they will report 100% increase in bike riding.

    3. They are notoriously slow about releasing numbers — and admit it is because the numbers don’t show what they want.

      1. Buy a bike and park it there. We’ll see how safe you feel. Also: see any of the number of bike chop shops on the sidewalk.

  6. I imagine Bay Area Bike Share which was available in Q4 2013 has had an impact as well.

    As a bike commuter, I bring my bike to my desk or use the secure bike racks my office building provides. When I worked near Civic Center many years ago I used the parking garage bike racks. I recall them being rather full, so I’m surprised usage there is low.

    It doesn’t surprise me that Union Square and Sutter Stockton are under utilized, they’re a pain to access. From my personal experience, I would use the bike racks at the Mission St parking garage and walk rather then wade through the tourists and traffic.

    1. I agree. Never have I consider to use those garage because it is a pain to get through the downtown traffic. Consider replacing them with Bay Area Bike Share. I am looking forward for its expansion.

  7. I wouldn’t read into this as an indication of a decrease in biking. Both the buildings I’ve been working in over the last 5 years have increased bike parking in the their private garages. You also need to get to work early or it is hard to get a spot. Both offices have also expanded bike parking within the office space. These are anecdotal accounts, but I bring them up just as note that in some area’s there is a shortage of bike parking.

    1. I have worked in 4 downtown buildings in last few years. In all cases the bike storage is well used, often to the point of bursting. Two buildings have doubled the storage in reaction to demand. My current building have used about 10% of parking area for bike storage. But the number of bikes might easily double the number of cars parked in the 90% or the area.

    2. Same thing for my building. Private parkings at your job are pretty safe and you won’t lose sleep over whether your bike might still be there.

  8. I’m one of those “bike people” but I agree completely with the comments here. If they aren’t being used get rid of them. Let’s operate based on evidence, not superstition and warfare over every underutilized square foot

  9. I hate parking a bike in a parking garage. Some of the ramps are pretty steep and you have to watch out for cars rounding corners – completely not expecting there to be a bike there (I don’t blame them). I’m not surprised these spaces aren’t getting used. Bike corrals on the street work much better.

  10. How much was it to construct bike parking in garages? How much time and expense was spent on the feasibility study on bike parking in garages? How much to remove the bike parking in garages? I want these amounts to be taken out of the Bike Coalition’s budget.

    1. Exactly. And every time that a street is changed from initial use where a study was performed at some point, that money should be taken out of the budget for roads. Caltrans should basically have a negative budget by now, considering that we’re always changing roads – why didn’t they get it right the first time?

    2. Oh give me a break. Putting a bike rack across a few parking spaces in a parking garage costs almost nothing. Bike infrastructure in general is exceedingly cheap, as it is mostly pavement striping or bike racks. Only when you get to separated bike lanes do cost become material.

  11. The bike room at my job is protected (key fob) and so packed they had to reclaim some extra space for expansion. Public parking? What’s the point? When you go to a public space, you will park on the sidewalk whenever you can find a spot. But going into a car parking? Never done it. Seems like a waste of time compared with the slightly less secure street parking. Plus in the street you actually have pedestrians passing by which can deter theft.

  12. The SFMTA was supposed to put bike lockers in the garages like Caltrain has but never did. Bike users know that unsecured garage lockups have a high theft rate.

  13. Why would anyone park their bike in a parking garage? I wasn’t even aware there was bike parking in parking garages.

  14. With some exceptions, bike parking is usually hidden in a corner, which is an invitation for thieves. I’ve noticed usage is much higher in garages with bike parking is out in the open — such as the Mission Bartlett garage.

  15. If I was biking to Macy’s, why would I use the public garage? I want to be able to ride my bike through the front door of Macy’s, and then up and down the aisles as I shop.

    1. FYI there’s a pole next to the hot dog stand right across the main Union Square entrance. 5 seconds from bike to the elevators. That’s my spot.

      1. Is that pole there for Holiday Diversity – a Festivus Pole to go along with the Union Square Christmas Tree?

        Way to go, SF. I look forward to the Airing of Grievances come December…..

        1. Yeah, cyclists are a bit like dogs, going from street pole to street pole.

          Btw, this is my spot and I’d better not see a 3-wheeler on it, EcceMoron.

        2. The Festivus Pole compliments the Menorah @ Union Square during Hanukah.

          What would be the best part of Hilary winning the election in 2016? Jewish in-laws in the White House giving the Clintons some sage advice! And one giant Menorah @ the White House.

    2. You joke, but I’ve wondered whether the local supermarket would let me wheel it through the aisles and load up the baskets directly, at least in the off-hours. It’s not much bigger than a shopping cart. I should ask the manager there…

  16. The only place I have seen large underground bike parking work is in Japan where lots of people bike and there are no spots outside buildings.

    Will the MTA be removing “no Parking” during commute hours where it is not needed.

  17. I didn’t realize so many garages had bike spots till I looked up Bike Link options. Two problems: poor publicity and poor location in the garage. No way would I leave my bike on a standard bike rack in the corner. I would use bike link. The one time I did with near union square, it was so far in their, and the garage attendant was clueless about its existence. We walked around several minutes looking for the lockers. Clearly this program wasn’t well used as no one knew it existed.

  18. Ummm… um., guys? You know all these buildings that are going up on every other block that people will supposedly be living in? Should we maybe hold off, see if anyone is actually living in those units, then see if they need bike racks before we take them out and have to put em right back in?

    1. For the most part, they have their own storage spaces. I think it’s unlikely that people living there would want to store their bikes in a public garage nearby.

  19. Bike parking not used? SFMTA action = get rid of it.
    Car Parking oversubscribed? SFMTA action = do nothing
    hmmm. A wee bit of inconsistency.

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