NOPA resident Mariana Parreiras tallied bicyclists in the SFMTA 2009 Bike Count Project
Fell Street bike lane approaching ARCO at Divisadero
The route bicyclists use most to reach NOPA and points further west at the end of the workday registered an impressive 84.7% increase in number of riders over the last three years, according to a new San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) report. In the last year alone the count increased by 23.5.% During its annual one-day bike count, MTA interns tallied 375 cyclists passing through the Fell and Scott Streets intersection using the Wiggle bike route, a huge jump from the 202 bikers counted at that location in 2006 and a more than respectable bounce from last year's count of 302.
The bike count occurred between 5 pm and 6:30 pm during August of last year. The analysis compares numbers of cyclists counted at the same location and during the same time period since SFMTA began the counts in 2006. The Fell and Scott intersection is among the top ten busiest sites for bike traffic included in the study that also looked at 33 other locations in San Francisco. Based on the counts at all these sites, bicycling in San Francisco increased by 53% since 2006. The SFMTA explained that the annual bike count helps establish trends in bicycling over time and does not purport to count the total numbers of cyclists on city streets overall.
However, a pilot project on Fell between Scott and Divisadero does register all cyclists at all times. This smaller study found that the total number of cyclists using the Fell Street bike lane ranges from 34,000 to 41,000 a month. Not surprisingly, the better weather months, August through October, see the highest use. The total 24/7 count is obtained from an automatic counter, an “inductive loop counter,” embedded under the roadway a few inches. Each time a bicycle passes over the loop the system adds it to the total count. The loop is capable of distinguishing between bicyclists and other users of the road. And, good news for the cash-strapped city, the counters require little maintenance and operate on batteries that last for ten years. The SFMTA expects to enhance its annual bike counts by installing additional automatic counters throughout the city.
The significant numbers from the manual and the automatic counts emphasize even more the need for safer passage on Fell Street. Recent bike improvements, including the new bike box at Scott & Oak Streets and the center bike lane on Scott between Oak and Fell, have improved the safety for the high number of cyclists using the Wiggle bike route. Yet high speeds by motorists on Fell and the traffic tangle on Fell at the ARCO service station remain hazards to cyclists and pedestrians. As reported in BIKE NOPA here, the SFMTA intends to re-time traffic signals on Fell Street to 25 mph by March, but the agency has been slow to experiment with traffic design changes on Fell near the ARCO station. However, this week SFMTA began forming a working group to develop improvements at this location and provide feedback on any trial changes implemented.